DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is the property of Paramount, this story depicts a loving/sexual relationship between women.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Kathryn Janeway sighed at the noise. She was not up to company, even if it was only on the small screen in her room. Sighing again, she drew herself up from the couch and straightened her hair, which she'd been playing with absent-mindedly, as she crossed to the desk. Connecting with the incoming message, she wasn't too surprised at whose face she saw.
"Alynna," she acknowledged, waiting.
"Hello Kath." The silence was awkward, but Kathryn did nothing to alleviate it as Admiral Alynna Nechayev looked at the tired blue/grey eyes. "You been crying?"
"Uh huh. Look, I don't wish to appear rude, but is there a point to this? I'm rather tired."
"I'm coming over."
"Oh no you don't," Kathryn hurried. "Not tonight. Please."
"I said, I'm coming over. I'll be there in a few moments. I'm quite close by."
About to object again, Kathryn frowned as the screen went blank and the symbol for Starfleet Command/United Federation of Planets burst into view instead. "Damn," she muttered as she headed towards the bathroom to freshen up a little. She hadn't even made it to the door when she was interrupted again. "Oh, God," she moaned with feeling, as she leaned her head back and closed her eyes before allowing Alynna entry. "You said 'close by', you didn't say 'outside'," commented Kathryn sharply as she once again headed towards the bathroom.
"I just wanted to warn you I was coming, that's all, not ask your permission."
"Because I'd have said no? I was about to but you disconnected, you sly..."
"Is this any welcome?" the slim, petite Admiral hit back quickly as she leaned against the doorframe with arms folded, watching Kathryn begin to splash water on her weary face.
Kathryn ignored the last comment and continued washing, eventually holding a towel up to her face, hands clenched to it. She was almost unwilling to take it away from her eyes - unwilling to see her new reality. Eventually she looked at Alynna. "Still looking good," she appraised, "but why are you here?" She added, in a cold and slightly wary voice, "And what kind of welcome did you expect, anyway?"
Alynna met Kathryn's stony frown and smiled slightly. "Oh, don't worry, I'm not here for the past, I'm here for you now. I thought you might need someone, and I know you're too proud to ask, much less let anyone see how much this will have affected you."
"Well, you're right about that, on both points. Yes, I am too proud, but that's me, you know that. And this has affected the hell out of me. I..." tears came into her eyes unexpectedly as she continued to stare at Alynna before walking to her slowly, still clasping the towel to her chest. She watched as Alynna pulled away from the doorframe and opened up her arms to receive her. "It's just... finished," Kathryn sobbed as she felt the arms wrap around her, "ended. Just like that. Honestly, I don't know how to feel."
"I know. It's just how I thought you'd feel, that's why I risked your wrath to come here!" Smiling, Alynna fondly stroked the auburn hair of the now-quiet woman. She led her over to the couch and sat, taking her in her arms again the moment they touched the cushions.
Kathryn allowed it, allowed the arms around her that were helping her to adjust to the shock. "For seven years I wanted to see Alpha again," she confided. "I promised the crew I'd get them home. Even today we were still in Delta; fighting for our lives, our principles, our way back here. And now?" She drew back and looked at her ash-blonde companion. "Now I'm home, and I've got to tell you, Ally, it's one hell of a shock to the system to just simply stop, like this - to have nothing to do, no one to protect, no goal to achieve, no ship to run." With the tears beginning again she added, "I feel so... lost!"
Pulling Kathryn to her again and stroking her hair, Alynna said, "Do I know you, or do I know you? I knew you'd need me tonight, and here's right where I'm staying. I'm going to hold you later, until you fall asleep, my love." Alynna allowed herself to smile at the thought.
"You told me to go once."
"Yeah, but you've got to admit, Kath, you pissed me off."
"It was in me, you knew that! I couldn't do otherwise; I had to go. I'd have ended up hating you, resenting you at the very least, if I'd stayed."
"I couldn't face it, my love. It was my weakness, I know, but I couldn't face you careering off all over the place, captaining a Starship, while I waited home for you. I know that Earth had come a long way technically, but the job was still dangerous, and I couldn't handle the worry and the loneliness." Alynna fell silent, wondering if she should speak out the next thought... why not: "It hurt when you found Mark, you know. I really thought it was me you loved."
Kathryn sat up, taking Alynna's hand in hers and looking into her eyes. "Oh, I loved you well enough, but I couldn't do that freely once you'd decided to clip my wings, could I? The resentment took over; after that I couldn't stay."
The next question would hurt to ask, but the answer Alyanna might hear would probably hurt more. "Do you love him? Mark? Do you still love him?"
"I loved him - before I knew you, you knew that. But what I felt for you was stronger and so I never started anything up with Mark. Later, when you..."
"So I killed it all by myself?" Alynna said, staring at the floor, knowing it to be the truth.
Kathryn smiled wearily and pulled at the hand she was holding, "Hey, I thought you came round here to cheer ME up?" She gave a lop-sided smile at the woman she used to feel so much for, surprised that a mild attraction was still there, probably always would be, although... Softly, she said, "Ally, you didn't kill it, I did. I couldn't be the 'stay at home' type but that's what you wanted, and I couldn't give it to you. If I'd loved you enough, maybe..."
"If you'd loved me any more, you'd have really hated me for trying to stop you. I know that now. I was so stupid, so blind to your needs, Kath and, I know it's a little late, but I'm so sorry," Alynna said, reaching out and cupping Kathryn's cheek in her hand. "I should have been more giving."
"You couldn't change how you were inside. I respected that." Kathryn brought the hand she'd been holding up to her mouth and placed a gentle kiss on it, flicking her eyes up to the admiral's and frowning at the sad smile she saw there. "I couldn't change you any more than you could change me we just weren't compatible."
"And you know the irony?"
"I've been worried about you for the past seven years, without even a word, until recently, to know that you were still alive." Alynna paused and after a while she asked nervously, "Did he wait?"
"Mark? No, he didn't. He thought I was never coming home and got on with his life, like I supposed he would. Seven years is a long time to hold a dream." Kathryn drew in a deep breath and stood up, looking down at her ex. "Well," she smiled, "I'm going to take a shower and then it's supper. OK?"
"What do you want? I'll get it ready."
"I thought you might know..." chided a smiling captain, gently.
"Well, I'd hate to presume. I mean, a lot can change in seven years!" Alynna stood and placed a gentle kiss on Kathryn's cheek as she said, "Go, scat, get your shower."
Alone again, Kathryn stood in the flow of the water and closed her eyes. She saw the Borg ship; she saw the Federation Starships; she saw Admiral Paris' face, welcoming her home and then... A huge sob racked through her body as she tried once again to deal with how her life had changed so completely in the past 4 hours.
"Sleep's not going to happen for you, is it?" commented Alynna, stroking Kathryn's head in the dark - the redhead lying beside her, nestled across her chest. Earlier, the two women had sat and chatted after their food. Kathryn had shed tears and the admiral had fallen silent as and when it was required, reading her ex-lover like a book and conforming to the needs of the emotionally and mentally shattered woman.
Now, in Alynna's safe arms, Kathryn had momentarily thought sleep a possibility, but she was too hyper. "I can't, I'm sorry. If I'm keeping you awake, I could always..."
"Hey, I'm here for you, remember? I didn't expect you to be your old 'normal' self after what's just happened to you." Silently she continued her soothing, stroking motion on Kathryn's hair, staring into the darkness. "I suppose they're all here, in this hotel? Your crew?"
"What was my crew. I don't expect they're faring any better than I am right now." Silent for a moment, and with growing emotion, she added with a heartfelt cry, "It was all so sudden! So many years with a routine and then gone. Home! Such a shock."
"What will you do afterwards?"
"After the de-briefing? I'm going to make my way to Mother and Phoebe, lose myself in their restorative powers for a short time before heading back to Starfleet Command."
"And romantically?" It was almost a whisper.
Kathryn was too obviously silent for too long a time before saying, in a strained voice, "We should really try to get some sleep."
"OK," agreed the admiral, placing a kiss on the red hair before closing her eyes. Half an hour later however, Kathryn's wakefulness was tangible. Even in the dark the admiral could feel her energy, and it seemed to be increasing, not decreasing. Kathryn, meanwhile, was taking care to remain still, thinking her friend was sleeping.
"You're still awake, aren't you?" breathed Alynna, sure she was right but not wanting to wake Kathryn if she was wrong.
"Uh huh." Kathryn moved off Alynna and lay on her back beside her, staring up into the dark with sightless eyes. She heard the other woman moving and then felt her breath and realised Alynna was partially leaning over her.
"I know what always made you sleep, Kathryn. It never failed."
"I'm not sure that's appropriate," fended off Kathryn weakly, understanding immediately what her ex-lover had in mind.
"It'd work though, wouldn't it?"
"I can't say I couldn't use it. It's been a long time and you're right, it always did relax me but doesn't that come into the realms of using you?" She paused. "I don't love you, Alynna. Not now."
Out of the dark there was a rustle of bed linen and then a pair of warm lips brushing her own, tentatively, holding back to await acceptance. All at once, Kathryn knew this was what she needed right now, her body suddenly begging for expression and release, and then sleep. Inflamed she added, "But what the hell," and clasped Alynna's head, holding tight as she pushed her lips on to the other woman's, craving sensation, passion.
Rolling around, she eased Alynna down on her back as she re-positioned herself on top, sitting up, stretching up her arms to pull her nightgown over her head. "I want to see you," she growled, "OK?"
"Computer, lights one quarter." At the computer's chirp, she looked down at her partner. "Ally, I want this, but be under no illusions, I don't want 'us' back again. Can you handle that?" In answer, Alynna wriggled slightly, pulling her own garment up and over her head. Kathryn helped her and then fell to kissing her almost roughly, causing both women to moan and increase the intensity of the kiss.
The two women knew each other's bodies very well, they knew all the zones, all the right pressures and what to do to gain the necessary outcome. They had always enjoyed arriving at their destination together and were, at this point, very close to achieving just that. As the frenzy between them grew, Kathryn felt the unmistakable waves beginning to move through her and threw her head back, allowing her body to lead her to sated oblivion. At the height of her release, she clasped Alynna to her and cried out hoarsely, "B'Elanna!" as she then slumped exhausted against the woman who had arrived moments before her.
The stunned admiral eventually interrupted the silence by asking, "Something you want to tell me?"
"Not tonight. I'll tell you in the morning."
It wasn't long before Alynna realised her 'plan' had worked Kathryn had fallen soundly asleep.
"I don't think she likes me," hissed B'Elanna to her esteemed captain, while looking around at a room filled with the crew of Voyager - a makeshift get-together arranged by Starfleet. The odd glances from the admiral throughout the evening had finally gotten the better of her.
"I think you'll find it's me she's a little ticked off with at the moment, not you."
B'Elanna brought her gaze to the blue/grey steel of her captain's eyes. She scanned her face for any clues before asking, "Why?"
'Do I tell her or not?' Kathryn hesitated, trying to decide whether or not to put her sexual cards on the table before this woman she adored. They were off the ship now, there seemed no sense in hiding it, and if she made it clear she'd had a female lover in the past, then maybe... "We used to be lovers, before Mark."
To her credit, B'Elanna's outward gaze never altered. Inside, however, all kinds of reactions were taking place, none of which she fully understood. All she could manage to say was "Oh." She noticed her captain's glance, a glance that was probing her for a reaction, needing it, it seemed but she was careful not to show anything at all. At least, not until she'd worked out the strange array of feelings Kathryn's words had disturbed within her. "So, why is she 'ticked off' with you?" she managed evenly.
'She took that well, but I wish I knew what she was thinking,' Kathryn wondered, fervently hoping that Tom, who was hovering nearby with little Miral in his arms, wasn't going to join them any time soon. "We spent last night together and I think she hoped we'd pick up our relationship again, now that Mark has someone else."
B'Elanna nodded slightly, indicating a non-verbal 'Go on.'
"I told her 'no', that I didn't love her. And anyway..." Kathryn sipped her drink wondering just what she should say next.
"...there was someone else."
"But I thought Mark..."
"It isn't Mark," answered Kathryn quickly, burning her look into the dark eyes of her lieutenant before Tom finally made it to his wife's side.
The look of confusion in the half-Klingon's eyes was evident, although she tried hard to cover it before looking around to force a smile for her husband. "Having fun?" she asked him, reaching out her arms to show she would take Miral.
"I don't know how I feel," said Tom, handing his daughter over. "I mean, only yesterday we were..."
"I know what you mean," interrupted his captain. "Hell of a shock, isn't it? I feel so redundant that I tried to issue orders to the shower this morning!" She was trying to inject some levity into this odd feeling that was surrounding her and B'Elanna.
"Any plans?" Tom questioned.
"I'll be here another three weeks at least, while the de-briefings last, and then I thought I'd head home; see Mother and Phoebe for a while. You?" She looked at B'Elanna.
"We have to look for an apartment," answered the engineer, looking at her captain strangely as though trying to gauge something that she couldn't quite work out.
Maintaining the eye contact, Kathryn asked, "Where?" in a low voice.
"I... uh..." B'Elanna took a deep breath and looked at Tom, "We're not sure yet, huh Tom?"
"Your wish is my command," Tom answered with his usual boyish charm before smiling at both women, kissing his daughter's cheek and moving away, pointing towards Harry. "I'm going to go and..."
Kathryn gave her lopsided smile to Miral as she touched the baby's cheek, stroking it gently. "May I?" She reached towards the child as it was gently transferred to her arms. "My seven year 'excursion' practically put paid to my dreams of having one of these," she said sadly - B'Elanna nearly missing the quiet words in the noise of the room.
"Well, isn't this a pretty picture?" asked the admiral somewhat cuttingly as she approached the little group of three. "Yours, my dear?" she asked of B'Elanna, knowing the answer already. "And what's its name?"
"Miral. We're going to call her Miral, after my mother," informed B'Elanna, looking distinctly nervous in the admiral's presence.
"Ah, and then I suppose you and your... husband..." Alynna paused, looking purposefully at Kathryn, drilling it into her that this woman was not free, "will be on your way?"
B'Elanna was no fool - in fact, no one had ever accused her of it. She was smart. She was smart enough to pick up the not-so-veiled undercurrents running between the two senior officers and she was equally smart enough to realise she had something to do with it. Seeing the Doctor over Kathryn's shoulder, she excused herself, needing to be anywhere but here. "Uh, the Doctor. I want to ask him a few things about Miral, if you don't mind?" She looked into Kathryn's sad eyes and took back the baby carefully before giving her captain an apologetic look and leaving.
Whatever Alynna said next, for the next hour in fact, washed over Kathryn. All she could think about was the look in B'Elanna's eyes before she'd excused herself. 'She knows,' she thought, not really sure if the knowledge made her feel better or worse.
'She knows I love her.'
Goodbyes were never easy things to handle and, after seven years in close and mostly jovial company with people, goodbyes were akin to ripping off skin.
There were many tears during the three weeks that Kathryn spent at Starfleet Command; many feelings she would rather not have lived through, seeing B'Elanna and Tom leave, seeing her friends (her family) disappear one by one, as their de-briefings came to a close.
Alynna had had the good grace to stay away after that second night. There had been an almighty row on their return to Kathryn's room and the admiral had bowed out, sensibly, realising that perhaps she hadn't handled things too well.
Alone in her room, and in full knowledge that she would not be punished by Starfleet for the actions of her future self, Kathryn was free to pack some things together and go home, to Indiana. She had been given unlimited leave and told that there would be an admiral's commission for her on her return to the Base.
She picked up a few more items and pushed them into her bag, thinking about Indiana, her home. 'But it won't be home, will it?' she mused, 'without B'Elanna.' She packed her final things as unshed tears stung the backs of her eyes.
"Phoebes. Is it ready so soon?"
"I learned to cook, you know, while you were gone. Pretty well, as it happens."
"You learned to grow up too, baby," said Kathryn fondly, rising from the grass she had been sitting on in the garden and brushing off the back of her pants. She had sat and stared at the swing in the evening light for what seemed like ages, waiting for the meal. Both her sister and mother believed it was best not to disturb her. Now, she wrapped her arm around her baby sister, smiling, and allowed herself to be led to the kitchen.
"You'll wash your hands, my girl," warned Gretchen Janeway, a woman who would never, it seemed, relinquish the mothering rights on her 'children'.
"I will indeed." Kathryn smiled at the pair of them and walked over to the sink, watching with humour the way her younger sister attacked the contents of the oven with precise and knowing movements. "Phoeb, I don't think I'll ever get used to seeing this!" she joked.
"Ah, you wait 'til you eat it though. It's a dream, sis."
"And she's not kidding." Gretchen stole a look at Kathryn; she was worried about her elder daughter. Since her arrival last night, she had said very little to either of them and seemed to be almost in shock. It was to be expected, after all that had happened to her, but still, a mother worried. "Come on," she pulled on Kathryn's sleeve, "you'll enjoy this," and she led her to the table.
It must have been at least half way through the meal that Kathryn's muscles started to relax and her tongue finally loosened. She began talking about all sorts of things, things that had happened to her in the past seven years, and her feelings about being alone to deal with it all - being, as she was, in command. Her mother and sister sat and listened, occasionally putting food into their mouths with their forks. Watching Kathryn's face intently, they were trying to share what she'd been through, although neither were able to really appreciate the enormity of it all.
When she finally fell silent, she looked exhausted. So much so that her mother decided her 'baby' should get some sleep. Kathryn nodded her approval at the suggestion and hugged and kissed the pair of them and then went to her room.
The tears, her ever-present companion of late, came as soon as she sat on the bed and looked around at her location. It was in this room that she had cried over her father's and Justin's death; in this room she had told her mother and sister of Mark's proposal; in this room she had dreamed a thousand dreams, some of which came true. Today this room would learn of her current inner turmoil of her disorientation at being home, and the loss of the close proximity of the woman she loved, B'Elanna Torres.
The knock made her jump. "Kat?"
"Come in sweetheart, I'm only sitting here thinking."
"You're sure I'm not disturbing you?"
"You could never disturb me, darling. Come and give your big sister a hug, I think I need it." Phoebe saw the tears and the look of hopelessness and drew her sister into her arms, waiting in silence for the words that were sure to come. Within the next few minutes, Phoebe heard all about B'Elanna; all about the pain of being in love with someone who appeared happily married to someone else, and had just had a baby by him. They talked and talked, Kathryn finding solace in her sister in a way she never had before, finally saying to her, "You know, you really have grown up, haven't you?"
"Uh huh. And I'm married too."
"You're...? And when were you going to tell me?" Kathryn accused, delighted at the news and the look of happiness on her sister's face.
"And I have two children!" To Kathryn's open-mouthed smile she continued, "You'll meet them tomorrow, Gary's bringing them over. A girl named Janey..."
"Ha, my old nickname!"
"Yeah, I know. And a boy, Christopher."
"How old?" asked their delighted aunt.
"Janey's five and Chris is just three. Kat, you're going to love them, they're everything I dreamed of. Janey's yours, even has red hair like you: she has your temper and your love of questions, and she never takes anything on face value!"
Many questions ensued and many answers were given after which a certain captain began to look genuinely tired. "Look, we can catch up some more tomorrow, OK? You need your sleep."
"Oh God," groaned Kathryn deeply, looking up at her sister as the woman rose from the bed. "You really are a mother now, aren't you?" She smiled then, as she bid her sister goodnight and headed for the bath.
It seemed Janey really was Kathryn's, as her sister had put it. The two of them holed up in various locations all over the estate in the following days, talking, playing, laughing and reasoning. Kathryn was genuinely impressed with the small child's ability to hold an almost adult conversation a trick she used to pull at the same age apparently. Chris proved to be a shy and retiring child and was happy to leave his aunt and his sister to their own devices, no matter how hard Kathryn tried to entice him to join them.
Suddenly Gary ran from the house and approached them, smiling. He scooped up his daughter in his arms, to the child's delighted whoops, and grinned at his sister-in-law. "You have a message, in the main room."
"Thank you Gary. And you," she looked up at the child held aloft, waving a finger up at her, "be good, and I'll see you later."
"OK Aunt Kat. Don't be long."
The screen was reading 'Incoming Message'. Kathryn sat and reached out to the control panel beneath it and pressed 'enable'. All at once her breath caught as she struggled to retain control. "B'Elanna!"
"You alone?" asked a strangely acting engineer.
"Yes, why? Are you?"
"He's out, again. With his friends, endlessly celebrating Miral's birth. Sometimes I wish..." She stopped and looked into her captain's eyes, realising nothing she had just said really meant anything to her. "I miss you," she whispered. She saw the struggle going on within Kathryn's eyes as she continued, "That stuff, before I left the party. What was that about?"
"What stuff?" It sounded hollow and she knew it. This woman couldn't be fooled. As Kathryn looked at her ex-engineer, she felt herself open a little to the face she'd missed so much. Reaching out her hand, she placed her fingers at the base of the viewscreen and said huskily, "I miss you, too."
"But you're not going to tell me, right?"
Even miles apart as they were, the moment was electric; both of them staring into each other's eyes, B'Elanna asking, Kathryn withholding until at last the older woman sighed. "What can I tell you that you don't already know - that you didn't already perceive on that evening, hmm?"
More silence as B'Elanna closed her eyes and scrunched them tight, squeezing a tear down her cheek. "You're right. I needed this time to think, I guess to weigh up what I felt."
"Oh, God, Lanna, don't say any more. I understand. Really."
"Oh, no. You don't. And you're not my captain right now, so I'm telling you," she said smiling. "Shut up and listen, OK?"
Kathryn nodded, smiling, as her other hand made its way across her mouth in an unconscious effort to stop herself interrupting.
"I saw it in your eyes that night. I gotta tell you, it shocked me. I had to get away, about as far away from you as I could. I was so confused, I just needed to think." The hybrid's gaze never faltered as she stared into the blue/grey eyes, surprised at the intensity of the feelings they gave her. "I need to see you."
Kathryn removed her hand from her mouth and swallowed hard. "You know," she replied with some difficulty, "I would always welcome a visit from you - and Tom, and little Miral."
"Alone. I need to see you alone."
"Are you sure?" The fear that perhaps B'Elanna was acting without thinking about what she stood to lose leapt to the forefront of her friend's mind.
"Look, just meet with me. I don't think I can be sure of... anything until I've spoken with you alone." Kathryn put her hand up higher on the screen, touching B'Elanna's 'cheek'. "And even then, kiddo, I may not know what to make of all this. So don't go getting your hopes up, OK?"
It seemed the lieutenant was not too far away by shuttle. They arranged to meet the next day at 14.00 hours, at the home of a sympathetic friend who'd agreed to be out for a few hours. And then, suddenly, the viewscreen was dead and B'Elanna was gone. So were Kathryn's legs. She stood up and walked feebly back to the others, unsure of how to react to B'Elanna's words. As she stood in the doorway of the living room, looking out into the garden at the children and their father racing around in the sun, she wondered what her life had in store for her. At this stage, she didn't dare hope for too much.
Kathryn looked up at the large oak door expectantly, having rung the bell. She didn't have to wait very long. B'Elanna opened the door and stood back to allow her ex-captain entrance, silently appraising the softer, looser hairstyle and the denim pants and white shirt that had been Kathryn's choice of dress for this meeting - a stark contrast to her own grey T-shirt and black leather pants suit. "Hi."
"I have to tell you, sweetheart, this is more nerve-wracking than any of the surprises I faced in the Delta Quadrant!"
"I know what you mean." B'Elanna smiled shyly and used her right arm to indicate the direction of the living room. Kathryn sat awkwardly on the couch, watching the trim engineer hover around her.
"...I get you anything? Have you eaten?"
"I'm fine, just a coffee. And you'd better make it strong and black! I have no idea what you have in mind here, and I'm doing a damned good job," she added, smiling, "of covering being scared to death!"
"You!? And I thought nothing fazed you," replied B'Elanna with dark eyes twinkling as she walked to the replicator and obtained two coffees. Handing one down to the woman who was taunting her senses, she sat on the floor beside Kathryn's right leg, with her left elbow up on the cushion. "I have nothing in mind," she told the surface of the coffee, "apart from finding out where we stand." Slowly a pair of dark eyes were raised.
"So you're saying," Kathryn inhaled deeply, "it's time to put our cards on the table, huh? You want to know how I feel?" B'Elanna returned her attention to the surface of her coffee and waited in silence. "I suppose it crept up on me quietly, really," Kathryn began. "One day I thought of you as my friend," a smile slowly formed on her lips, "my trusted and beloved friend..."
Hearing that smile in the voice, B'Elanna looked up, locking onto the eyes she'd missed seeing.
"...and the next...? You don't know how many nights I spent in my quarters with the 'what the hell are you thinking? She's married, for God's sake' line, but it didn't help. Nothing helped. The feeling wouldn't leave me. I love you, B'Elanna, and whether you ever love me, or never love me, that won't change."
"Yeah, I'd guessed that much," came the shy reply. "Anyone else know? You tell Chakotay? Tuvok?"
"No one. It seemed too private. Even to tell you about!"
B'Elanna knew it was her turn and she studied the coffee again for a minute. "I didn't realise. No, I knew. Oh, damn it, I don't know what I knew. I knew there was something, but I didn't let myself think about it. I blanked it out, ignored it."
The crooked grin firmly in place, Kathryn quipped, "Am I that easy to ignore?" in a voice that touched the lieutenant deeply. Putting her half-empty cup on the floor, B'Elanna got up and knelt beside Kathryn on the couch, with her left arm around the back, looking down on the now upturned face. Gently, the engineer reached out her right hand and moved a strand of hair from Kathryn's temple as the two of them locked eyes. Kathryn put her left hand over B'Elanna's hand and pushed it against her face, leaning into it and sighing, still looking up at her love.
B'Elanna's expression, as she gazed down lovingly, was almost 'what am I going to do with you?' She moved her thumb into position over Kathryn's lips and stroked them twice before it was drawn into the moist warmth, Kathryn sucking it before letting it go again, never for a moment taking her eyes off the lieutenant. Needles shot through them both as B'Elanna gasped and leaned her head down momentarily, to rest her temple on the older woman's forehead.
Gradually B'Elanna moved her left hand from the top of the couch to find Kathryn's other cheek and she tilted the redhead's face up to her, searching the blue/grey eyes for the map to the next stage of her life.
"You going to kiss me, or just blow up my nose?" joked Kathryn.
"Oh, I'm planning to kiss you "
"Sometime soon? Before I get too old to enjoy it?"
"I'm just looking at the trouble I'm getting into here, if you don't mind." B'Elanna was grinning widely, surprised at how relaxed she was and how very right this felt.
"Too much trouble?" The humour was laced with concern.
"No, I don't think so. In fact," B'Elanna said, kissing Kathryn's nose before looking into her eyes again, "it'd be more trouble not to kiss you, right now."
"Well, I'm pleased to hea..."
Neither of them was prepared for the electricity that shot through them as their lips met and merged. One mouth, one dream, one being, no longer two. It was fair to say they were both a little dazed by the experience of their first kiss as they pulled apart, returning to resting their foreheads together.
"Phew," breathed Kathryn, "I don't know what I expected, but that..."
"...answered a few questions."
"It did?" It seemed time to talk. Kathryn altered her position, moving away from her love and pushing her back into the arm of the couch. With her feet along its length and her knees slightly bent, she faced B'Elanna. Wrapping her arms loosely over her knees, she studied the beautiful face before her. "What questions?"
"Well, not least, how I feel about you?"
"You find out?"
B'Elanna had never seen Kathryn look this way before. There was a sensuality about the woman, a feral hunting quality to her face, her manner; a smile that was suggestive and yet totally open. She liked it. She wasn't used to it yet, but she liked it. She mirrored the older woman's position on the couch and began stroking the ankle that Kathryn pushed towards her. "Yeah, I found out one thing," continued B'Elanna. Kathryn raised an eyebrow. "I found out that the feelings I've been having since that party at the Base aren't just in my head, they're in my body too."
"And what about your heart, my love?"
"Oh, I think that's about a whisker behind the other two!"
They each studied the face opposite them, ending up staring in silence into each other's souls, neither wanting to speak until Kathryn began, in a throaty voice, "Tom's going to be terribly hurt. Do you think it's wise that either of us take this any further when there's Miral..."
"Look Kath, I won't lie to you: Tom and I are not the idyllic couple we seem on the outside. He's not been my dream of happy-ever-after for a long time now." She stared into Kathryn's eyes, drawing confidence from them. "I was going to leave him once, then I got pregnant with Miral and I guess I thought better of it. I think that's why I blotted out how I was beginning to feel about you, because I'd made my decision."
"That's why I didn't make my signals towards you that obvious; I suppose I knew instinctively that you and Tom would stay together."
"And would have done, I'm sure, if we hadn't got home. I guess it's safe to say you rescued me!" B'Elanna smiled.
"Me! How so?"
"Well, not so much you as Admiral Janeway. I guess the old girl had too much time on her hands, to think about her lost chances, and one day she decided to try and make it right."
"She only mentioned Seven, and other members of the crew she'd lost on the voyage - never said a word about..." Kathryn trailed off, thinking. "She kept it to herself."
"I suppose even then she was protecting me. I mean, I might have wanted Tom, wanted the happy-family bit. I think she was as unsure as you were."
"And you, are you unsure?"
"Honestly? I have a lot more here, in a room that doesn't even belong to us, than I have with Tom. I think if Miral were here now, I'd have it all!" B'Elanna looked surprised at the self-revelation, beginning a wide grin, "No Kath, I don't think I AM unsure any more. You?"
"Oh, honey, I've known what I wanted for some time now. I just didn't think I'd ever reach this stage with you." She stared deeper into her love's soul and asked seriously, "Is it too soon, to know if you want to be with me?"
The answer came without hesitation, "I want to be with you."
"Then there's one deciding factor in all this, as I see it. Whether Tom will give you custody of Miral, because if he won't..."
"He will, I know he will. She cramps his style. Hell, I do, if it comes to it; Tom's a bachelor in his heart, he shouldn't be married." B'Elanna looked down at the ankle she was stroking and then back at Kathryn, "I'll talk to him, OK?"
"Let's hope you're right. I have a bad feeling about this."
"That's because, my love," countered B'Elanna knowingly, "you've lived with the idea of punishment for your 'wrong deeds' for seven years you can't allow yourself to think anything nice could happen to you now!"
"Maybe." The silence that followed was stirring something as they felt the sexuality rise between them. "What time's your friend coming home?" asked Kathryn, her smoky voice accompanied by an expression set on stun.
"In an hour and a half," answered the lieutenant, tilting her head up and eyeing Kathryn down her nose, weighing up her body's reaction to the obvious invitation.
"Then how about it lieutenant, want to show me what we've both been missing?"
B'Elanna did want to. In fact at that moment she could think of nothing she wanted more.
B'Elanna held a hand out to the woman who had just watched her get up from the couch. She smiled as she drew Kathryn up and stood before her captain, tentatively reaching out to and then undoing the top button of the shirt she had been wanting to remove for the past half an hour. "If you don't mind," she said shyly, "we should stay down here. I don't want to muss up the bed."
Kathryn smiled a lazy smile and watched B'Elanna's face intently as the younger woman freed the second button, which revealed the top of a white, lacy bra. By the fourth button Kathryn was helping and soon the shirt fell away, as B'Elanna's hands went to the pale-skinned neck and began to taunt it with gentle fingertips. "Where do you like to be touched, I wonder?"
Kathryn smiled. It was obvious her lieutenant would rather find that out for herself as B'Elanna's deft fingertips played over the sides of her neck, from the hairline down to the tops of her shoulders, very lightly scratching over the skin as she went. All at once, Kathryn shivered and her breath quickened.
"I think that might be Zone 1," breathed B'Elanna, continuing her featherlike exploration, locating a few more zones and watching the reaction with ever-growing interest. "Oh, this is easy. Any more?"
Kathryn stepped forward and took B'Elanna's face in her hands, looking into her eyes in silence before she turned her attention to the full lips, making contact with them and causing her partner's whole body to tingle from the skilful kiss she was administering.
In fact the engineer was so overwhelmed that she quite forgot to reciprocate for a while, allowing Kathryn's lead until, sexual tension rising fast, the half-Klingon suddenly sparked into life as Kathryn groaned; verbally approving B'Elanna's equally skilful and enthusiastic return.
Still locked together, the engineer moved her hands to Kathryn's back and wrestled lightly with the bra's fastening. She felt the straps drop down to lie trapped at Kathryn's elbows and reached a hand up into the base of the red hair, pulling her prey towards her further, angling her head for better access.
Kathryn, temporarily letting go of her love's face, removed her own bra fully and threw it on the couch, before returning her hands to their previous position until, somewhere in the kiss, she decided her partner could possibly be a little overdressed for the occasion.
Gently pushing the leather jacket backwards until it dropped to the floor, with a little help from its owner, Kathryn then pulled back and pursued the T-shirt, pulling it up and over the young woman's head. She then removed the bra, whilst nibbling into B'Elanna's neck softly with her mouth and tongue. They kissed again, more urgently this time, as their passion and the promise of what was to come took a hold of their imaginations.
When at last they broke apart, the engineer held her right hand up to Kathryn's cheek and stood gazing steadily into the expressive eyes. In silence, she then reached down and unfastened the button on Kathryn's jeans, pulling on the zipper with agonising slowness and kneeling in front of her love, as Kathryn placed a hand either side of B'Elanna's head and fondled her hair.
The engineer's blood raced - she leaned forward and ran her tongue over the bare skin of Kathryn's lower torso, drawing back a little to blow gently on the moist patches, causing Kathryn to shiver deeply, as sexual energy coursed through her at Warp 9. Leaning her head back, Kathryn was surprised at the strength of the sensations her body was currently enjoying, as B'Elanna pushed her jeans and undergarment down her legs.
Kathryn looked down at B'Elanna, pulling the younger woman up as she stepped out of her jeans. She then slid a hand around to the back of B'Elanna's head, pulling her into a gentle and slight kiss before staring silently into deep brown eyes for how long? She didn't know. "My turn," she said huskily.
A lazy smile crept over Kathryn's features once again as she unfastened the lieutenant's leather pants, although she was to discover that this was the easy part. She pushed the skin-tight clothing down to the tops of the woman's legs and then angled B'Elanna gently, pushing her back down onto the couch where it then took a while to remove the tight fitting pants fully, aided by a giggling B'Elanna.
With only B'Elanna's remaining underwear between them, Kathryn positioned herself between B'Elanna's legs. She ran her hands up from the now-bent knees up to the groin, sliding her thumbs beneath the panties and tangling gently with the dark hair beneath; both women's faces becoming serious with the anticipation of what was to follow. "Have you ever been with a woman before, my darling?"
"A girl. Not a woman," answered B'Elanna, trying to keep her voice matter-of-fact with the glorious distraction. "You know what kids are like at school, cuddling up under the covers?" Kathryn smiled, watching her lieutenant becoming more aroused as she continued the massage with the sides of her thumbs. "Although I don't think we knew what we were doing," continued B'Elanna.
"Do you know what you're doing now, sweetheart?"
"I know I'm following my heart for once." B'Elanna gasped as one of Kathryn's thumbs slipped into the already wet area. "The rest? It'll work itself out."
Kathryn's gaze became feral once again as she growled, "Do you know how long I've wanted you?" She curled her fingers around the item of clothing which was now becoming an annoyance and drew the panties down the legs and off at the feet, pulling the younger woman's lower torso a little more towards her.
B'Elanna watched in complete fascination as her lover parted her lower lips and pushed an erect nipple firmly into the wetness. On contact, the younger woman seemed to go into frenzied action, pushing and grinding into Kathryn as she felt her arousal grow rapidly at both the action and the idea of it. "I hadn't thought of that one!" she gasped with a smile. Kathryn snaked a pair of hands around B'Elanna's buttocks, regulating B'Elanna's movements with her own, her whole body tingling from the attention her nipple was receiving.
When the maximum interest had been drawn from this current position, Kathryn pulled away and climbed up on the couch, putting a leg either side of B'Elanna's right leg, grinding her right knee into the wetness. She then straightened her upper body against B'Elanna's and angled her still-wet breast towards the inviting lips. "OK?" she checked, needing to know her lover was all right with this. Her answer was a firm pair of hands on her shoulder blades, pulling her into a very willing mouth indeed.
As B'Elanna groaned, Kathryn pushed herself repeatedly against the tongue, lips and surprisingly gentle teeth of her engineer, almost jumping when she felt B'Elanna's right hand move around to the front of her body and begin to travel south. She shivered as the long fingers slipped into the pool of interest awaiting them. "Oh darling," she gasped, as she pushed her body tightly against B'Elanna's and set up a repeating motion against the fingers lying across her sensitive nerve bundle.
With all the attention at two such areas of her body, it wasn't long. Kathryn cried out, her body taut against her lieutenant, quivering occasionally from the aftershocks. She relaxed slowly and then slid down into B'Elanna's waiting arms, allowing herself to be held like a baby, rocked and stroked, as she almost cried at the sense of 'coming home' it brought to her. They stayed like that for a long time until B'Elanna broke the silence. "Hey," she whispered softly, looking down at the totally submissive expression on her lover's face.
"That wasn't fair. I wanted to give you the joy of arriving first," Kathryn smiled apologetically. "After all, you are the initiate!"
"Oh, don't doubt it - I feel very initiated today!"
B'Elanna touched her fingertips gently to the swell of Kathryn's breast and found her way slowly, after encircling the area several times, to the tip. It was certainly gaining a certain Starship captain's interest as Kathryn offered a crooked half-smile to her tormentor. "You're getting my attention, kiddo. In fact," she warned, "any minute now you stand to get a whole lot more of it!"
Kathryn took hold of the hand and sucked provocatively on the fingers, looking into deep brown eyes as she did so. Pulling free, and with an equally provocative expression, she then slid her body back down to the floor between the open legs and grinned back up at her lover before expertly feasting on what lay there. B'Elanna's hands moved to her own breasts, kneading and pinching them, groaning at both the expert attention between her legs, and the amazing realisation of who it was who was delivering such attention.
"Oh, Kathy, yes," called out the happy engineer as she looked down at her lover, realising that Kathryn was moving her lower body against her own administrations, which excited B'Elanna beyond measure. Kathryn angled her head slightly, drawing the small hard area between her teeth whilst entering the lieutenant with her other hand, causing jagged gasps. "Oh God... I'd no idea," breathed B'Elanna in an unsteady voice.
After a while, Kathryn could sense B'Elanna's need. "You ready?" she managed between her mouth's actions and, receiving a gasped affirmative, she curled one of each hand's fingers slightly at both locations causing both women to cry out together, mixing words of love with names of divinities and sounds of pure animalistic pleasure.
Kathryn stirred against B'Elanna's knee. It was the first movement either of them had made for some time as Kathryn looked up into a pair of eyes already trained on her. The older woman grinned. "We should get dressed. I'd hate for your friend to walk in on us like this!"
"Yeah, especially as you know her."
"Nicoletti. My trusted colleague," announced B'Elanna with a smile, knowing the information would faze her normally cool captain.
Kathryn didn't want to be caught naked by anyone, much less by a member of her old crew. "Oh God," she groaned as she got up in a hurry, retrieving her clothes and throwing the others towards her lover. "C'mon, hurry!"
"We have twenty minutes."
"Sweetheart, she might just be early. Dress, please? For me? And besides, I want to talk to you."
"Sounds ominous." The two of them dressed fully and tidied their hair so as not to embarrass the woman who would soon join them. "OK, shoot," challenged B'Elanna bravely when the two of them had finally sat back down on the couch. Inwardly the hybrid was terrified.
"Lanna, relax, this isn't the Inquisition!"
B'Elanna laughed nervously. "It's usually my experience that whenever someone says, 'I want to talk', it's always bad news. Well?" she looked worried, "is it?"
"That depends, my love."
"Oh God, I knew it. On what?"
"On whether you think it's a good thing or a bad thing to marry me once you and Tom..."
"You're asking me to marry you?"
Kathryn smiled at the stupid expression on her lieutenant's face. "It seems I am." As B'Elanna continued to stare, Kathryn continued. "Well, now I'M getting nervous say something damn you, even if it's no."
But B'Elanna didn't say anything, couldn't say anything... she wasn't about to trust her vocal chords with anything verbal in her current state. Moving closer to Kathryn on the couch, she swept the redhead into her arms, threatening to crush her with the force of her approval.
"Do I take this as a 'yes'?"
B'Elanna sniffed back the tears. "After today I'm certain how I feel about you, so why wait? Yes, my Captain, I'll marry you."
The bell made them both jump. Susan Nicoletti stood outside her own home, patiently awaiting admittance.
"Polite and thoughtful," commented Kathryn with humour, sweeping her eyes around the room, checking its tidiness.
"Nah, she just didn't want to get caught out." B'Elanna jumped to her feet to let her colleague in and Kathryn heard muted conversation for a short while before it developed into excited squeaks as the two women walked arm in arm into the living room. Obviously B'Elanna had told her of the proposal.
"You know what you're taking on, Captain?"
"Please, call me Kathryn. And yes, I think so."
"In that case I don't know whether to congratulate you or commiserate with you!"
For that last comment Susan received a sharp jab in the ribs as B'Elanna playfully attacked her colleague and then rejoined Kathryn on the couch, taking her lover's hand, watching as Susan dropped to the floor on her knees in front of them. "So tell me," Susan asked, looking from one to the other, "where will you live? Will you have Miral?" Clouds passed over two sets of eyes as she saw the effect her words had on both women - neither one spoke. "I guess I ask too many questions?"
Kathryn looked temporarily embarrassed about discussing her personal life in front of Lieutenant Nicoletti, but decided quickly that the woman was trustworthy, and that they would need good friends. "We haven't yet asked ourselves those questions, Susan, and frankly the question about Miral worries the hell out of me."
B'Elanna gripped her lover's hand. "It'll be alright," she soothed. "He'll give us Miral, you'll see."
"Well, if he doesn't, we're through." B'Elanna stopped soothing Kathryn's hand in shock. "I mean it, Lanna. I refuse to be the cause of separating a child from her mother." The Engineer closed her eyes tightly.
Susan looked at Kathryn, her captain's face set, then she looked at the devastation in her friend and was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of being an eavesdropper, caught in a potentially damaging situation between these two. It was too much for her. "Anyone want a drink?" she asked, getting up quickly and leaving the room without their replies.
B'Elanna stared at Kathryn. "Don't do this to me," she warned.
"Look, I refuse to put you in the position of having to make a choice: your lover or your child. So, if you can't immediately get Miral, we will fight together for her. But if you lose her..."
"I lose you too."
"No darling, you lose one of us. You go back, look after her."
"Oh God," B'Elanna managed in a barely audible voice. She took a deep breath and cleared her throat. "Awful thing is, I know you're right. I'd be saying the same thing to you if this situation were reversed." She leaned forward on the couch, resting her head in her hands, her elbows on her knees. "My happiest moment and my worst - all in the space of two minutes!" After a pause, she turned her head sideways and looked into the blue/grey eyes. "Is life always going to be like this around you?" she asked with a weak smile.
Kathryn enveloped the unhappy woman in her comforting arms. "We'll make damn sure we get her, my darling. Have to. Like you said, Tom might even be 'happy' to let her go." They clung to each other, unsure of the future but at least, in this moment, they were sure of the love they had for each other.
Peeping in before entering, Susan saw the two officers, one holding the other, and was heartened by the slight smiles on both faces. "Can I come in?" she asked tentatively.
"It's your place," B'Elanna sniffed, remaining in Kathryn's arms as Susan rejoined the two of them.
In fact, neither woman moved, as Kathryn looked up at Susan and informed, "We were just..."
"Yeah. I heard. It's a small place." She grinned and took up her previous position on the floor once more, handing a tissue to B'Elanna and gripping her hand to convey support. "If there's ever anything I can do to help..."
After a moment of grateful glances, Kathryn chirped up, "Well, you did mention a drink."
"Ten years ago today, the USS Voyager came home," Captain Chakotay informed the assembled group in his speech. "It came home because of the work of two people - Lieutenant Reginald Barclay," Chakotay smiled at the man fondly, "and Admiral Kathryn Janeway - a woman who gave her life for the crew of Voyager."
Chakotay looked at the woman who shared his rank, Captain Janeway, a woman who had never taken the Admiral's step, preferring to remain hands-on in charge of a Starship, and he continued. "Her sacrifice will never be forgotten as long as we draw breath. We salute the Admiral and Reg here today." He raised his glass, casting his eyes around at the others, inciting the toast: "Reg Barclay and Admiral Janeway."
"Reg Barclay and Admiral Janeway," chorused the room, each person raising his or her glass, looking at the only survivor of the two being honoured.
"This is our first full reunion. So, there'll be lots of catching up to do. Eat, drink, be merry my friends... and I wish you all a pleasant evening." Smiling, Chakotay left the podium to gentle applause and made his way to the friends that were so dear to him.
"Chakotay," welcomed Kathryn, "It's so good to see you again." Kathryn hugged the man close to her in a genuine display of love as B'Elanna smiled warmly at her side, patting the man's sleeve with her hand. "It seems like yesterday," Kathryn said, pulling back to look at him, "except that our hair is a little greyer my friend. It's been two years since we last met!"
"So why is it that you two still look the same?"
Kathryn took her drink back from her partner, took a sip and then looked up under her lashes. "I didn't think you'd be back in time... it seemed one hell of a mission."
"Peace didn't come easily," he said, looking from Kathryn to her wife and thinking briefly how very good they looked together, "but both sides seemed determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past, even though they didn't agree."
"So how was it resolved?" asked B'Elanna.
"By finally agreeing to disagree, by living alongside each other with those differences. And all before tea!" he smiled at his feeble attempt to hold his two year mission up against the seven year one they'd all been on. To their obviously happy faces he said, "You two seem happy, how's it going for you both?"
"Oh, good," replied B'Elanna. "We have a family ship awaiting us in two months time." He was pleased to see, as he studied his old Maquis friend, that she still held the same fire in her eyes, the fire that had made her so unpredictable and yet so damned good at her job. He noted her nod to her wife, urging Kathryn to finish the story. She did.
"We can take the children along with us. I for one couldn't think of leaving them on Earth, while their parents gallivant all over the Delta Quadrant once more!"
"I see your point. Even though slipstream has taken the 'stranded' fear out of the equation, I guess other things can separate families." His eyes dimmed a little as he recalled Seven.
"We heard the rumours," Kathryn said gently. "Want to tell us what really happened?"
"The rumours were correct, Kathryn. Seven was posted to the Trill homeworld to offer her expertise to a group of scientists, headed by a Doctor Lenara Kahn, a joined Trill. That was six months before my mission to Tekaran, two years ago." Kathryn nodded, remembering Chakotay telling them at the time. That was how she got to know about Kahn's team, and what they were trying to do.
"She worked closely with Doctor Kahn, at the Trill Ministry of Science, eventually succeeding in applying Borg technology to the creation of stable artificial wormholes. With their success, Seven was due to return in plenty of time to accompany me to Tekaran, but we all know that didn't happen."
Kathryn and B'Elanna stood watching the man's obvious pain. "Seven contacted me from Trill. She told me she'd fallen in love with her, with Lenara," he continued. "Told me she wanted a divorce, wanted to live with her. As she would have a stable home and I would be taking commands, she asked to take our son and remain on Trill."
He felt his ex-captain's hand on his arm and turned to look into a pair of sympathetic eyes. "Chakotay, I'm so sorry."
"That's life," he quipped, obviously hurt. "And we have to get on with it the best we can." He looked to them both, "And Miral and Tally? How're they doing?"
"See for yourself." B'Elanna pointed to a delightful child, with a ridged forehead and otherwise human features, sitting with a younger red-haired girl, also displaying forehead ridges. They were lost in childish conversation.
"It's been so long. You mind?"
"Be my guest." Kathryn slipped her arm around her wife's waist as they stood and watched their daughters playing with their uncle Chakotay, who was clearly a natural with children. It was a shame he seemed destined not to see his own child grow.
"Ah hem," coughed a voice trying to be heard above the din. "Can I have everyone's attention, please? PLEASE." A hush fell over the room as Janey Marcus stood up on the podium, looking over at her aunts. Although only fifteen, the young girl was surprising mature for her years and extremely intelligent, questioning absolutely everything and not stopping until she was satisfied with the answer. Her father, Gary, was certain that he had 'another Janeway' on his hands.
"I'm sure many of you realise there is another celebration to be mentioned this evening." Kathryn looked down at the floor, embarrassed, as B'Elanna tightened her grip around her waist.
Young Janey took her eyes from her favourite aunt for a moment and looked around at all the people she had come to know and care about in these past ten years. "It's a little early, I know, but nearly ten years ago, my Aunt Kat married her chief engineer. Tonight is as good a night as any to celebrate that, as you're all here together." The girl looked randomly around at the faces. "So raise your glasses, for Aunts Kat and Lanna. To you both," she said to her rapidly approaching aunts.
Kathryn reached up and pulled the girl easily from the podium, wrapping her arms lovingly around her to a chorus of "Hear, hear's." "You little rat," growled Kathryn happily as she let go of the girl who had come to mean so very much to her, a girl who was rapidly becoming a woman and who had already overtaken her famous aunt in height. "I'm going to miss you, darling," she lamented, thinking of the new mission. "You'll be all grown up when I see you again."
"There's always the videoscreen. You can keep an eye on my hormonal progress that way! And, by the time you return, I may well apply for a posting on your next ship. I've been accepted at Starfleet Academy," she said proudly.
B'Elanna commented quickly, "But you're under-age!"
"It seems my above average IQ and the fact that I have Janeway blood has stood me in good stead. They let me take an old test, just for the fun of it. Apparently they were a little surprised at my marks. They say the next test is just a formality. So, will you have me?"
"Darling, come over here." Suddenly serious, Kathryn excused herself from her wife, who knew all there was to know about it anyway, and led her niece over to the side of the room, away from the crowd.
Janey looked at her aunt defiantly. "It's your last mission, isn't it? You're retiring."
"They're right about you being bright." Kathryn smiled at herself at that age. "I'm resigning, not retiring. We're leaving Starfleet altogether after this trip."
"They had it all mapped out for me, darling. You pack up being a captain and we'll make you an admiral. You don't want to be an admiral, you're an embarrassment and you can't remain a captain and have no ship to be in charge of. Darling, I'm not an admiral, it's not in me. I'd die a death in those confines. So..." she drew in a breath, looking around to see if Chakotay was in earshot, "when we come off the USS Valour, we're going to join Doctor Lenara Khan on Trill, working at the Trill Ministry of Science. As Chakotay's just told us that Seven's left him for Lenara, I don't think we should let him in on it just yet."
"Then could I come with you on the Valour, for field experience?"
"You really are a Janeway, aren't you?" questioned Kathryn fondly, nodding her agreement as Miral and Tally, who had suddenly spotted them, ran up and joined them. Looking into the room, Kathryn saw Chakotay talking to Harry Kim and she winked at B'Elanna, inclining her head as she did so for her wife to join the family gathering.
"What's going on over here?" B'Elanna asked brightly, looking at Janey's face. "What are you hatching, young lady?"
"She wants to join us on the Valour," informed Kathryn, "for 'experience'. This young lady is headed for Starfleet Academy."
"Oh, your grandmother WILL be pleased," mocked B'Elanna knowingly.
"Captain?" said a voice from the outskirts of the group. Kathryn turned around.
"Icheb! How are you?" she hugged him warmly.
"I am well. Thank you for asking. I wish to tell you tonight that I've just been granted a post as Astrometrics Officer aboard the Valour."
"That's wonderful, Icheb."
But Icheb wasn't listening. He was studying the face of a young woman with red hair, a young woman he thought was the most beautiful young woman he'd ever seen. He knew he was probably too old for her in years, but then the technology his parents had used at the DNA level to make him into a human pathogen to infect the Borg had had a strange effect on the man. He seemed to age at a different rate to others and probably looked around 22 right now. The girl was young, but he could wait. "What's your name?" he asked, as she turned to him.
"Janey Marcus. I'm Captain Janeway's niece."
Smiling with his eyes, as he always did, he took her hand, which seemed as fresh as a rose petal to him, and held it a little too long.
Kathryn's eyebrow 'did a Seven' as she looked at her wife. "Do you have a minute?" she asked of B'Elanna.
"Follow me." The two found a side door, hand in hand, and made their way out into the corridor and across into another room, managing to leave their children behind. With a visual scan to check the room was empty, Kathryn looked back at her wife. "I can see an interesting time ahead, with Icheb and Janey on the Valour."
"You have that silly grin," accused B'Elanna. "You're going to embarrass me, aren't you?"
"There's no one else here, Bellushka," pouted a playful Kathryn as she swept her wife up and began dancing around the room with her. "There's no one to see if I embarrass you or not."
Suddenly Kathryn burst into song, which she had never done well, in fact it was terrible which made it funny:
"There may be trouble ahead,
but while there's moonlight
let's face the music and dance."
They laughed heavily, thinking of the look on Icheb's face as he'd looked at their Janey, as they continued to dance around with no music until they stopped, just holding each other.
"I love you, Mrs Wife."
"And I love you right back, my Captain."
"Well that's good because I have a surprise for you for our anniversary. If you want it, of course."
"Hey, if you've planned it, I want it." B'Elanna had never lost that dewy-eyed look she had every time she looked at her love. "What is it?"
"Well, before we head off to our new assignment on the Valour, I've booked us two weeks on a binary system M-class planet..."
"...in the Delta Quadrant. Aside from essential services, it's mostly uninhabited. The special thing about it is that, at dawn, they have what's known as erosene winds that blow across the surface, just as the two suns rise. They carry an incredible sense of euphoria, apparently, that simply has to be experienced."
"How did you get to hear about it?"
"From Harry, it's the place he visited, remember, when we went to Sikaris?"
"Yeah, he seemed to rave on about it for weeks. What was it called?"
"Alastria. I think it might be the ideal place for us to be 'alone' and celebrate our first ten years. Just you, and me - and Miral and Tally!"
Had anyone entered the room at that moment they would have been witness to two fully adult women squealing and racing around the room, one heavily intent on catching and mercilessly tickling the other. However, had the person who interrupted their hijinks known the two of them, they would just have smiled and sighed and accepted it as normal.
B'Elanna finally 'caught' her prey, helped greatly by the fact that her prey just stopped running and held out open arms to her. Feeling herself being enveloped in love and laughter, the hunter relaxed. "I love you, wife."
"So you should," murmured Kathryn cheekily. "I'm worth it!"
"I'll let you know. After another ten years!"
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