Tying The Threads
Chapter Four: Ephiphany
Harry sat on his bed fingering his new pip. 'Lieutenant Kim,' he liked the sound of that. Or did he? It was something that had been running through his head ever since he got home nearly four months ago; something he was having a hard time finding an answer to. Just what did he want from his life and Starfleet?
Maybe he did. Maybe he would spend the rest of his life climbing through the ranks until he reached Admiral. Then again, maybe he would prefer to settle down and think about a different career. Maybe meet someone, start a family even.
The promotion he got when the debriefings were finally over didn't really surprise him, but there were so many unanswered questions right now, he needed time to sort it all out.
He heard his Mom call him down for breakfast so he set the pip back down and headed out. He couldn't help but smile at the sight before him; his parents both sitting at the table waiting for him to arrive. He had missed them so much over the past seven years, and for a while there, he thought he might never see them again.
"What are you going to do with yourself today, son?" asked his dad.
"Well, I have to admit I'm feeling a bit cooped up. I thought I would go out for a while, see the sights," he answered.
"You didn't say, how did your visit with Libby go?" asked his Mom.
"I have to admit it didn't hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. Chad is a good man for her, I like him," said Harry. "And their daughter is just adorable, I should have known any child from Libby would look like an angel. I'm okay, Mom, I really am."
He hated lying to his parents, but they had worried so much about him for so long, they didn't need to worry any more. 'It wasn't entirely a lie, seeing Libby again was like giving him a sense of closure, but he had to admit it was strange and a little painful, even after all this time.' He remembered the awkwardness he felt, walking into Libby's home. The last time he had seen her she had told him she would always love him and to hurry home to her. Now here she was, another man's baby in her arms, and Chad's arm possessively around her waist. The statement of the gesture wasn't lost on Harry; Chad was staking his claim. Harry tried to reassure him subtly. He had moved past Libby, just as she obviously had.
"You don't seem okay, son. If Libby isn't bothering you, then what is?" his Mom asked with concern.
"Don't worry, Mom, I just have a few things to work out, a few decisions to make," Harry said as he finished up his breakfast. He quickly excused himself and headed out to start his day.
After wandering for nearly an hour, he found himself on the grounds of Starfleet. As he gazed at the building rising high above the bay, it suddenly came to him; he didn't want this, not anymore. His decision to enter Starfleet had been a strange epiphany, one that left his parents and friends completely puzzled. But Harry had been determined that he would make the grade.
Of course fate took a hand. After struggling through the academy he made it, and found himself an ensign on a fated starship wandering through the Delta Quadrant. There was no way he could change the past seven years; he had made friends that would last a lifetime. He had also had experiences that even some admirals would never have, but he couldn't help wondering what that left for him. What could the Alpha Quadrant teach him that the Delta Quadrant hadn't? Not much.
His thoughts wandered to the friends he had made. He never would have guessed that Tom Paris would have ended up happily married with a child. At the beginning of the journey, Tom had been so lost, such a misfit in the crew. But Harry had stayed by Tom's side then, and he wanted the friendship even more now.
He wondered what the Captain was going to do, would she stay in Fleet? Yes, probably, but doing what? And what about the Commander? Or any of the crew for that matter. 'They had been so dependent on each other for so long now, that it was difficult to imagine how they could do anything without one another.'
"Am I interrupting anything?" came a voice, jostling him out of his reverie.
He looked up to see Tal Celes standing in front of him. "No, not at all. Why don't you have a seat?"
"Thanks, Ensign. How have you been?" she asked, sitting down next to him.
"Please, it's just Harry, and I've been good. How about you?" Harry asked.
"Oh not bad I guess, my parents just left yesterday, heading back to Bajor. I still can't believe they stayed all this time, six weeks on Earth just blew my mind."
" Were they here when we got back?" asked Harry.
"No, actually they weren't. They couldn't get here for almost two months, but that's okay, I had a wonderful visit with them. Now I'm just left wondering what I will do. I feel lost," said Celes.
Harry smiled at the young woman sitting next to him, and he wondered if she realized just how at ease she put people. "I know what you mean, I feel a little out of place too. I would have assumed you would have wanted to go to Bajor yourself."
"Oh, I will go, but I figure that I have a few things to work out here first." Celes smiled self-depreciatingly. "My life has always been such a mess. I want to make sense of it before I go running off."
"I think you assumed it was a mess," said Harry. "You did better than you thought, Celes."
"Oh no, I didn't," she stated. "Come on, everyone always had to check my work. I was always doing something wrong, making a mess of things." She looked down at her hands, tightly twisted together on her lap. "In fact, when they hear of my service on Voyager, I think they will do their best to usher me right out the door."
"I don't believe that will happen, and I think, deep down, you know that." Harry attempted to cheer her up. "Now me, I think I'm the hopeless case. I wonder what is left for me out there? I don't think there is much."
"I think there is a lot more for you than you're thinking right now. Think of all that you have to offer a ship here in the Alpha Quadrant, any ship would be lucky to get you. You may have started off young and inexperienced, but now you know more than a lot of others do." Celes was leaning forward in her eagerness to convince him. "You have experienced things that no one else but our crew has, seen things that no one else has."
With a start, Harry realized that he was chatting easily with Celes. He felt none of the awkwardness he normally had around attractive women. He wondered why they had never really gotten to know each other that well on Voyager.
"Oh, I know that. I guess I feel a little burned out, maybe I should ask for a longer leave to think things over," he said. "Actually that might not be a bad idea for you either," he added.
Celes went to answer but instead started to laugh. "Would you listen to us! Since when have the two of us ever needed to give each other pep talks?"
"Maybe that's been our problem, Celes." Again those feelings of just how comfortable he was with her came out. How could he have lived on Voyager for seven years and never really noticed her quiet beauty and beautiful eyes? "Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?" He held his breath, waiting for her reply. Suddenly, her answer was the most important thing in the world.
Celes looked a little shocked at the invitation yet eagerly agreed. "That would be great."
Harry let out his breath and gave her a wide grin. "Thank you," he said simply.
Harry took her to a blues café that he used to frequent during his academy days. He was quite surprised to find that she too went there once in a while. "I'm surprised I didn't see you here," he said to Celes.
"Oh well, I don't think I was really the noticeable type," was her reply.
"Oh, I think I would have definitely noticed you," said Harry.
He noticed Celes blush at his comment and tried his best to hide the fact that he was blushing too. He hadn't meant to make the comment, it had just slipped out, but it was so very true. The more he was around her, the more comfortable he felt. They took a seat in the corner and waited for the waiter to come and take their order.
Their order was another thing to laugh about, both ordering a cheeseburger and fries. "I lived on them at the academy," said Celes. "It was a quick and filling dinner while I was cramming for the tests. Besides the fact that this place has the best burgers in town of course."
"Same here, I just loved their burgers. I couldn't stop craving them on Voyager. This place and my Mom's cooking, it was all I could think about every time Neelix served up one of his specials," laughed Harry.
"How is it? Being back with your parents again?" asked Celes.
"Oh it's wonderful, like I never was away," said Harry. "The two of them don't want to let me out of their sight, I've heard no end of questions about what I am going to do now. I think they're afraid of me disappearing again."
"I can understand that, I didn't think my parents would leave Earth without me. I had to promise that I would go to Bajor shortly and visit, just to get them to leave," laughed Celes.
"So are you going to go?" asked Harry.
"To Bajor? Yes, I will go for a short visit. But I think I have to figure out a few things first, I don't think I'm going in the right direction right now."
"You should do something more people oriented. Do you know how easy you are to talk to? I think there are a lot of people who would attest to that," said Harry.
"Do you really think so? I guess I never thought about that?" said Celes.
"Well, think about it. Its another direction for you to think about," said Harry with a smile.
They finished their dinner, the conversation never seeming to end. Harry then escorted Celes to the transport center, shyly holding her hand all the way. Once they reached the center he turned to face her. "So Celes, can I see you again?" he asked slightly hesitant.
She smiled up at him. "I would like that, Harry."
There was an awkward moment as Celes waited her turn, then, just before she was to transport, Harry stopped her. He slowly leaned into her placing his lips onto hers, kissing her gently then parting. "I had a great time Celes, thanks."
Kathryn sat on the porch of her Mom's house, her dog Molly sitting next to her. It was a lazy October afternoon of the first day of her thirty-day leave, and she was trying to enjoy every minute of it. She was staring off into nowhere, lost in thought, when Molly alerted her to someone's presence. She looked up to see Chakotay walking up the sidewalk leading right to her. She was quite surprised to see him here, she assumed he would spend all his leave with Seven.
He was smiling as he approached "Addictive' Kathryn thought as she returned the smile. Getting to her feet she walked out to meet him and was quite surprised to be pulled into his arms.
She returned the hug, but then quickly stepped back. "It's good to see you, Chakotay, how have you been?"
"Not bad, Kathryn, and how about you?" he asked, trying not to show any nervousness. After all, he was hoping for a lot more than just a visit amongst colleagues.
Kathryn gestured for him to sit down on the porch. "Would you like something to drink?" she asked before sitting down.
"No, not right at the moment, thanks," he said. "So Kathryn..."
"Sorry, I've been fine. Glad for all the inquiries to be over, it was quite tiring," she said picking up her drink. "It's warm out here, you sure I can't get you something?"
"I'll have what you're having," he said with a chuckle.
She smiled at him then entered the house sighing to herself. She could do this, she had to. Despite the fact she wasn't happy about who he chose to be with, she didn't want to lose his friendship. Once the lemonade was replicated she joined him on the porch, pausing only for a moment to watch him play with her dog; of course only Chakotay would be able to charm Molly within minutes of meeting her.
Handing him the drink, she once again sat on the porch leaving a small amount of distance between the two of them. "I heard you took that teaching position."
"Yes, but as a civilian, I still have no plans to return to Starfleet. I think I'm quite happy with my decision, I've always wanted to teach," he explained.
"You have a lot to offer to students, you will do a great job. Have you had a chance to visit with anyone?" Kathryn asked.
"Yes, as a matter of fact I have. My sister came here and spent the first week of my leave with me, and I've seen my cousin several times in between," Chakotay said. "It's been great seeing the two of them. I even had a visit with Sveta, it was great seeing her again."
"She was the woman who recruited you into the Maquis, wasn't she?" asked Kathryn.
"Yes, and now she's helped me come to some resolution about our friends who died. I needed that."
"Then I'm glad you saw her, very glad," said Kathryn.
Kathryn noticed how strained the conversation was going. She wanted desperately to stop it and go back to the laughing and talking of the earlier times on Voyager, yet she knew she would have to bring up a subject she wasn't sure she was prepared for.
She had a small reprieve when Chakotay spoke up. "So, what about you? What are your plans for the future? Who have you seen?"
"Well, I've been helping Starfleet with all the technology and information gathered during our time in the Delta Quadrant. After my leave is over I will then continue with that at headquarters. I've also been offered a job at Utopia Planitia, one that I'm very excited about. It's only a half hour commute by shuttle, so I won't even have to stay there."
Chakotay seemed surprised. "You don't want to return to space? I would have thought for sure you would have headed out on the first starship that came along."
"I guess, after some soul searching, I decided it was time for a change. I don't want to leave Starfleet, yet I want to settle down at least a little. This job offers me everything I need; keeping me busy, yet letting me finally have something of a home life. That is long over due, but better late than never," she added.
"How about Mark? Did you see him?" he asked.
She sighed. "Yes, I did. I have to admit it was a little different seeing him, but he's happy, and that makes me happy. He has a beautiful wife and a son, he's very cute, looks just like Mark."
"Are you okay with all of that?" he asked.
"Yes, I am. I really got over Mark long ago, I'll admit seeing him brought up some old feelings, but it still wasn't the same." She took a deep breath, better get this over with. "So, how is Seven? I'm surprised she didn't come with you."
He looked at her a little puzzled. "You knew about that?"
Oops. "Well, yes I did," she said matter- of -factly.
Chakotay closed his eyes briefly then opened them. Looking directly at her he asked, "the Admiral?"
"Yes, sorry. So, how is she?" asked Kathryn, still cringing over letting her bit of knowledge from the admiral slip out.
"Last I heard she was doing fine, but I don't actually know. Seven and I split up." He said the words slowly, wondering what she would make of his words. He was silent for a moment, then his curiosity won out over his discretion. "So, what else did the Admiral tell you?"
"Chakotay, you know I can't say that. The Temporal Prime Directive does not allow it," she explained.
"Kathryn, the Temporal Prime Directive does not apply since it's a future that did not and will not happen." He was trying hard not to start an argument. "Why can't you just tell me? You wouldn't in your ready room, but we're not Captain and Commander now."
"Please, I don't want to discuss what happened." She paused, then continued on a different subject, "what happened with you and Seven?"
"There was a whole new world for her to adapt to, Kathryn, and in reality we wanted different things. Maybe it could have worked on Voyager, maybe not. But here, now, it won't. Besides, knowing what I now know, I don't think I want it to work out." He smiled slightly; maybe he should just tell her what he heard.
That smile; it was always her undoing, Kathryn thought. "And just what do you know, Chakotay?"
"I heard you, in the ready room," Chakotay admitted. "You thought I had left. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I heard what you said. Kathryn, you said that you loved me."
The smile she was wearing quickly faded, a look of shock crossing her face. "I'm sorry, you weren't meant to hear that."
"And why not, Kathryn? I've waited seven years to hear you say that. " He let a slight edge of anger show in his voice. "At least let me know if you still feel the same way."
Kathryn got up from the porch and started pacing in the yard. "How I feel shouldn't matter. I wanted you and Seven to find happiness, together. I didn't intend to be a catalyst in a breakup." She struggled to stop her voice shaking. She couldn't let him see how hard this conversation was for her.
"Kathryn, this may sound bad to you, and I'm sorry for that. But please, believe me when I say that you weren't the catalyst. Oh, you were definitely an influence," he gave a humorless laugh, " but Seven and I just weren't meant to be." He raised dark eyes to her face. His happiness hung in the balance; her next words would make or break him. "Please, just tell me if you still feel the same way." He knew he was begging, but he couldn't t help it.
Her answer came out as almost a whisper. "Yes."
He closed his eyes for a moment, as a sweet and piercing relief washed over him. He stood and turned to face her. "That's all that matters. Can we work out the rest as we go?"
Kathryn nodded her answer. "I do love you Chakotay."
"I love you too, Kathryn," he answered. He took her face in his hands, steadying it, before he brought his lips to hers, kissing her gently, feeling her respond to him.
Kathryn moaned slightly. His lips were soft, his taste was intoxicating; this was better than her imagination had led her to believe. He still loved her, there was no doubt about that now A sense of relief flooded her.
"Leave it to my daughter to kiss a stranger in my front yard," came a voice from behind them.
Kathryn stepped back and looked over to her Mom. She gathered some sort of composure before she spoke. "He's not a stranger, Mom, this is my Fir...my former First Officer, Chakotay." She had to admit she was glad for the interruption, this was happening a bit fast, it wasn't what she had expected when she woke up this morning.
Chakotay reached out his hand to shake Gretchen's. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Janeway."
"Well, Mister Chakotay, it's good to finally meet you. Will you stay for dinner?" asked Gretchen.
He pondered that use of Mister again, just as Kathryn had said it on the bridge when she ordered him to take the helm, but then blew it off, now was not the time. He looked to Kathryn and seeing her nod, he finally answered, "I would love to, thanks. Do you need any help?"
"No, of course I don't. Why don't you kids just enjoy your time together and I will call you when it's ready," she said, moving towards the house.
The two of them headed for the back of Kathryn's house, a place she had been wanting to share with Chakotay, but never thought she would have a chance to. The large willow tree got larger as they approached "This was my favorite spot growing up, a place I could get away and think," she explained.
"It looks wonderful, so peaceful," Chakotay said in awe. "Former First officer, Kathryn? What ever happened to friend?"
She sat down at the tree, and watched Chakotay take the spot next to her. "I'm sorry, I guess I wasn't really thinking. It's not everyday you're kissed like that by your friend, it threw me a little off balance."
"Kathryn Janeway off balance, I can't believe it," he laughed.
"So what do you plan on doing with the rest of your leave Chakotay?" She was trying her best to change the subject.
" I don't really know. I wanted to see you, so I left my schedule open, just in case..." He didn't finish, he knew she was a bit hesitant and didn't want to scare her off. She was trying to change the topic that didn't go unnoticed
Kathryn turned to look at him, and opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Her mind was in turmoil, caught between how a Captain should respond, and how Kathryn wanted to respond. She had spent seven years letting Kathryn take a back seat to the Captain, and she wanted desperately to let Kathryn move forward. It just wasn't as easy as it sounded.
She suddenly noticed that Chakotay had stood up; he was stepping away from the tree. In a slight panic she cried, "Chakotay, please don't go."
"I'm not going anywhere," he said with reassurance, "my foot fell asleep."
She let out a little laugh, then stood to join him. "Does it feel better yet?"
He moved close to her, very close. "Much better. Now please tell me, I need to know do you love me as a friend? Or is it more?"
Kathryn bit her lip knowing this was it, the secret needed to come out. "I love you, my friend, I always have. I never wanted that to change and was trying to come to terms with it when I found out about you and Seven. But Chakotay, it's always been so much more, I fell in love with you long ago."
He took her face in his hands and brought his lips to hers once again. Gently nuzzling her lips apart, his tongue just barely snaked in to taste. He felt her respond, her tongue meeting his and he groaned. "Kathryn, could you possibly know just how much I love you?"
She leaned her head against his chest, enjoying being close to him. "Oh yes, it's overwhelming, but oh so wonderful."
"I've waited too long for this. I don't want to leave," he said, wrapping his arms around her.
"You aren't going to, Mom is making us dinner, turn her down now and her wrath could be worse than mine," she said.
"That's not what I mean," he replied. "What about your leave? What do you plan on doing?"
"Well, I really want to go to Lake George, the holodeck just doesn't do it justice," she began. Here was the next big step. "I would love to show it to you."
"Is that an invitation, Kathryn?" he asked with a smile.
She paused only for a moment. "Yes it is. Would you like to come with me?"
"I would love to. When do you want to go? I only have two more weeks of leave left," Chakotay asked.
"Well, give me tomorrow with my Mom. We girls are long overdue for a mother daughter day, and then we can go the day after that. How does that sound?" Kathryn asked.
"Sounds perfect, I actually have to get together with my cousin again tomorrow. Just for a couple of hours," he added.
They made small talk for the next hour, finding that by the time her Mom called them for dinner, she was practically laying in his lap. It was amazing to her that she could have kept her distance for seven years, and then have been willing to give him up to seek happiness with another. It had only taken this short time for them to feel completely at home with each other. This was truly home.
Waiting two days seemed to take forever for Kathryn. Chakotay was due to arrive within the next few minutes and then they would head out to the lake. He arrived just in time, dimples in full force. "Are you ready to go?"
"I am, let me just grab my bag," she said.
They walked to the transport station, hand in hand. Once there, they were transported within a half a mile from the cabin. Just a short walk later and they were standing in front of the old cabin. " How old is this?" asked Chakotay curiously.
"It's about two hundred years old, but it's been fixed up many times since then. We did our best to keep everything original, but of course it has a few conveniences," said Kathryn with a laugh.
"Let me guess, a replicator and a bathtub?" he chuckled back.
"They had bathtubs two hundred years ago. Of course not as nice as the one I convinced Mom to put in here, but they had them." She opened the door and led him in. "And of course a replicator, I hate to cook. But you should remember that."
He glanced around, noticing the ancient furniture. "I remember. Don't worry, I will cook. So is there really a sail boat here like in your holodeck program?"
"Yes, there's a boathouse out by the docks. We'll go sailing later, I love to sail by moonlight. Why don't we get settled in first?"
They went about their business unpacking their small bags. Both had a laugh when the awkward moment of sleeping arrangements came up, Chakotay simply went to the spare room telling her if the arrangements changed he could easily move his stuff. Both were unsure of just how fast they wanted this to move, and decided to let it happen naturally.
It was during lunch when Chakotay attempted to bring up the subject that Kathryn had so carefully avoided. "So, are you ready to tell me about the visit with Admiral Janeway?"
"I already told you we shouldn't talk about that..." she began.
"No Kathryn, not again. I need to know, please tell me," he said with yearning.
Kathryn sighed, she did not want to bring this up. The Admiral had said that Chakotay was devastated by Seven's death. Kathryn had taken that as meaning that Seven meant a lot to Chakotay, a deep love that was felt down to the soul. So what did that mean for her and Chakotay? Well, better to get this over with now, rather than later. "She came back for you, Chakotay. You and Seven really. Yes, she did want to prevent several other deaths, but you were the main reason."
Chakotay looked incredulous. "Me? You can't be serious?"
"Chakotay, you know I love you so it should be no surprise to you that the Admiral loved you too. Unfortunately for her, we did not get home for quite some time, leaving you with Seven." She paused for a moment to watch his reaction. Seeing his slight surprise she continued with the bigger surprise. "You and Seven married, then there was a shuttle accident. I'm not sure how long after your marriage the accident happened, but Seven did not survive, she died in your arms. The Admiral said that you were devastated, and were never the same after her death," she said taking a deep breath now that she had said it.
Chakotay sat down in the nearest chair. "I don't know what to say. All of this for me?"
"And Seven. She wanted to prevent her death and give you two a chance at happiness," said Kathryn.
"This is hard, I will admit that I was able to see a different side to Seven, and it was nice. But it wasn't you, losing you would devastate me. Maybe in that time line I caused her death, or maybe..." he looked her in the eye, "maybe I realized that by moving on with Seven, marrying her then losing her, that I would no longer be able to have you. I know you believe what the admiral said, and I'm sure to her it was all true. But it's possible she left something out, or maybe she simply did not know everything." Chakotay reached for her and pulled her into his lap, "I love you, Kathryn, no matter what happened in that other time line. And I have a feeling I loved you then too."
Kathryn sank into Chakotay, happy to finally be enjoying the feeling of being so close to him. "I love you too, Chakotay. Now, not that I'm not enjoying this, but if we are going to enjoy a moonlight sail, we have a boat to go check over and get ready, so get up Mister," she said, poking him lightly in the chest.
"You are sitting on my lap, and that's another thing, what was with that 'Mister' on the bridge?" he asked.
"What are you talking about?" she asked.
"When we arrived in the Alpha Quadrant and you directed me to take the helm. You called me Mister Chakotay," he stated.
"Oh that, it wasn't anything major really. I guess I wanted to ... give you a hint that the command structure wouldn't be a problem any more. Silly I know, considering I already knew about you and Seven, it was just my way of telling you that it would no longer come between us," said Kathryn.
He kissed her lightly on the lips. "Don't worry, I did get the hint. Okay, let's go get that boat ready."
The boat was in better shape than they thought, only a little bit of cleaning was actually needed. By dusk they were already to set sail. Kathryn noticed Chakotay had packed a basket, but didn't inquire as to what was in it; she rather liked surprises from time to time.
He watched as Kathryn carefully navigated the boat out to the middle of the lake, both enjoying the breeze and occasional mist that came up from the lake, it was chilly in the October air, but not overly so.
No conversation was needed at this point, so a calm silence was noticed all around. It was dark by now, only the moonlight lighting their path.
"Why don't you drop the anchor for a while and come sit with me?" asked Chakotay.
Kathryn obeyed, throwing the heavy anchor over the side, she moved over to him." She had chosen a soft yellow sundress to wear that came down to her knees The look on Chakotay's face when she had stepped out of her room had been priceless. It had been a long time since he had seen her in anything like that.
She had moved to sit across from him but instead he took her hand and guided her right to his lap. "You have a thing for this don't you?" she asked with a laugh.
"I want to be close to you, I've waited too long to be staring at you from across the way. But, if you prefer..." he began.
"No, I am perfectly happy where I am now. Besides, it is a bit chilly out, I can use the warmth," she said, as she snuggled into him.
Chakotay reached for the basket and brought it close. "If I remember right, you do like strawberries?"
"Oh Chakotay, how perfect," Kathryn commented as he brought a strawberry to her lips. She took a bite, nice and slow, savoring the taste. She ate the rest then asked, "what did you bring to drink?"
He pulled a bottle of champagne out along with two glasses. "How's this?"
"Wonderful," she said, smiling but with a slightly giddy feeling inside knowing what this night would bring. She was nervous as she watched him bring his lips to hers. This was it, and she knew there was nothing she would do to stop him.
The kiss sent shivers down her spine, she was barely aware of him lowering her to the deck of the boat, never leaving her lips. She eagerly returned his passion, allowing it to take over, knowing she would see stars that weren't in the sky before the night was over.
The two of them made love under the stars, finally creating a connection that they both knew would last forever. They lay under the stars afterwards, cuddling and kissing. Kathryn found that she simply didn't want to let him go, finally settling down next to him, a hand resting on his chest, "I love you, Chakotay."
He kissed her nose. " I love you too."
Kathryn chuckled, "I just had a funny thought."
"Well, we spent all this time avoiding this, a relationship, and all because of Voyager. Now, she's up there, in orbit ... watching us, if you will," Kathryn stated.
"Maybe we should have asked her to cover up her eyes," he laughed.
"Do you find it strange that they want to make her into a museum?" she asked.
"A little maybe, but then again this attention we've got has been a little overwhelming at times," he began. "They are treating us like heroes and to me we just took a little while to get home."
"I guess in their eyes it's a miracle that we got home at all. After all, it was supposed to take seventy years not seven. We've survived a lot, the Borg, the Hirogen, the Kazon. We had a great team, Chakotay," she said.
"That is an understatement, we had a wonderful team with a wonderful Captain," he said, placing a kiss on her nose.
She returned the kiss. "And the best first officer a captain could ask for."
Soon the chill became more than they wanted to suffer so they decided to head back to the cabin. Both decided to spend another day at the lake before heading back to civilization.
They still had some friends they each wanted to visit, only now they would do it together. Chakotay had two weeks left of his leave and they wanted to make the most of it.
Two months, and several dates later, Harry stood next to the shuttle preparing to say good bye to Celes.
"I'll only be gone for a month Harry," she explained.
"I know, you'll have a great time," he stated.
"I will, and I'll contact you as soon as I get back, okay?"
"Okay, see you soon." He watched her board the shuttle and stayed until it lifted off.
He headed back home, knowing his Mom would probably have dinner ready. His thoughts traveled back to two days ago, when he had invited Celes over to dinner with his parents. They knew he had been seeing a lot of her and wanted to meet the young woman their son had become so serious with.
He told them she was Bajoran, a statement he didn't think much of, until he heard his Mom's reply. "She's Bajoran?" said his Mom sounding a bit hesitant.
"Don't worry, Mom, she's so sweet, I think you'll really like her," said Harry with an earnest expression.
"Harry, I'm sure she is sweet, but I never imagined you with a Bajoran, son, I always thought you would marry a nice Asian girl," said his Mom.
"Marriage? Mom, we are just dating right now," Harry began. "But even if it does get serious, I don't see the problem with it. It may have not been what you and dad pictured for me, but..." Harry felt a little guilty saying that. He already cared about Celes more than he was letting on. But he didn't want his parents making his wedding plans just yet.
"Son, there are so many differences. They could create problems, I don't want that for you," she said, placing her hand on his knee.
"Mom, differences can be good. And as for the problems, let's get past the dating first, then we'll deal with any problems that arise like adults. Please, meet her and see for yourself," said Harry, pleading with her.
"I suppose, son, if it makes you happy," she said, with a tone that said she would give in just this once.
He was right, Celes hit it off wonderfully with his parents. He knew without a doubt that they liked her within moments of meeting her. And Celes received a hug from both his Mom and Dad when she left.
The more he thought about her, the stronger his feelings got for her. She always seemed as if she was unsure about herself, so unconfident. Didn't she realize that she in fact was proving to be the calm center he had been so looking for? He felt that her perceived problems in life were due to simply going in the wrong direction. If she truly thought about it, he was sure she would find exactly what she was looking for. And if he had anything to say about it, he would be right by her side when she discovered it.
Harry made his way home from the shuttle. His Mom stopped him when he walked in. "Harry, there's a message for you. It's from Starfleet, but it came in priority, just for you," she said sounding a bit concerned.
"Ok Mom, I'll go see," he said, making his way over to the terminal.
He punched in his code and saw the face of an Admiral. "Lieutenant Kim, I know you are on leave, but your presence is needed immediately. A potential problem with your records has been discovered, and you are needed to straighten this out. If you could meet us at 1300 hours, we would appreciate it."
"That's in an hour," he mumbled to himself. "Mom, I need to go, I won't be joining you for lunch, " he yelled on the way to his room to slip into his uniform.
Harry couldn't believe it, this had to be the most ridiculous thing he had heard. "I don't understand this. I'm not dead, isn't that quite obvious?"
"Listen Lieutenant, we just need an explanation here. The doctor began a death certificate that states you perished falling out a breach in the hull. It was never completed. Now we clearly know that there is no way to survive that, so tell me, how did you?" asked the Admiral.
Harry's mouth gaped open, he had almost forgotten about that. The Vidians had taken over his Voyager and he was ordered to take baby Wildman and cross over to the other Voyager. At first he had felt out of place on the alternate ship, like he didn't belong. Yet the entire crew treated him like he did belong, like he was no different. Soon he began to forget that entire ordeal, falling into place like he had always been there.
He knew the Admirals were waiting so he told them the entire story, the best he could. They acknowledged knowing about the events that took place, due to the Captain's logs, but weren't sure what to do about Harry's predicament. They promptly dismissed him, telling him they would get back to him with a decision.
Harry walked out of the office stunned, he knew he needed some help. This may blow over with no problem at all, yet then again it might not. He had to go and see Captain Janeway; he knew that if she knew about his problem then she would help him.
He went home and looked up her address, she was still staying at her mother's so he sent a message, not expecting her to actually be there to get it. He was surprised when she answered the call, "Mr. Kim, it's nice to hear from you."
"Same here, Captain. Listen, I know you're on leave, but I have a problem," said Harry.
"What is it, Harry?" she asked hearing the urgency in his voice.
"Well, could we meet?" he pleaded.
"Sure, why don't you transport here?" she answered sympathetically.
"Thank you, Captain," he said before signing off.
His Mom stopped him. "Is everything alright, son?" she asked with concern.
He looked at his Mom; what would she think about all of this? In reality she wasn't his Mom, yet she was. After all the ship did split from the original ship, and it all stemmed back to one person. Did that make sense? No not really, but none of that time really did. Telling her would only confuse her, and that was not necessary, "I'm fine Mom, just a little problem that I'm sure Captain Janeway can help me with, ok."
He headed out the door and right to the nearest transport center. He ended up close to the Captain's house and continued the short journey to the big white house up on the small hill.
Ringing the doorbell, he stood back waiting for her to answer. "Harry, it's good to see you," came a deep voice as the door opened. "Come on in."
He didn't move at first, Commander Chakotay was the last person he expected to see here. "Thank you, Sir," he said, stepping into the house.
"Please, Harry, it's just Chakotay now. Kathryn, Harry's here," Chakotay yelled into the house.
Chakotay led him into the living room and offered him a seat. "Can I get you anything to drink?" asked Chakotay.
"No thank you," he answered, trying his best to keep from grinning from ear to ear at the sight in front of him. Captain Janeway had come strolling into the living room, wearing a dress, a coffee cup in hand. She walked up to Chakotay, kissed him, then joined Harry on the couch.
"So Harry, tell me what the problem is," she said.
Harry once again explained everything with Kathryn listening to every word, despite the fact that she knew the whole story.
"Listen Harry," she said, "I don't think this will be a problem. I think they are just carefully covering all bases. But I will put in a call to them and make sure it isn't a problem, okay?"
"Thank you, Captain. I suppose I may be overreacting, but with how uncertain I've been lately I guess I just took it the wrong way," he explained.
"What else is the problem?" asked Kathryn.
"Well, I just don't know what I want to do with myself any more. Now that I'm home, space travel just doesn't appeal to me, at least not right away."
"I can understand that, Harry, it was the same for me. It's the main reason I will be taking the job at Utopia Planitia," Kathryn explained. "You know, they are looking for a lot of help there, I'm sure they could really use someone like you."
"Really?" said Harry, the idea sounded almost too perfect.
"Of course, you are one hell of an Operations Officer."
"Thanks," he paused for a moment. "It really sounds great, do you think they could use my help up there?"
"Well, I'm sure we could use your help up there," she laughed.
Harry let out a laugh. "All this time I've been so unsure, and all I had to do was come see you. You are always watching out for me, thank you."
"You are very welcome, Harry," she replied.
"I hope it's this easy for Celes," he commented.
"Celes? As in Tal Celes?" said Kathryn.
"Oh, sorry. Yes, we've... umm... been seeing each other for the past couple of months," he shyly explained.
"She should look into one of the schools there, they are always looking for teachers and counselors. I always thought she would be good with kids," commented Kathryn.
Harry laughed again. "Do you always have all the answers?" he asked.
"No, not always, but it's nice when I do," she said.
"So, can I ask how long this has been going on?" he said gesturing towards Chakotay. He had often wondered if the two of them would ever get together, it was nice to see them both so happy.
"It's still fairly new, " said Kathryn.
"Well, either way it's wonderful," he replied.
"Thanks, I sure think so," said Kathryn.
They made small talk for the next hour before Harry finally decided to leave. He felt wonderful, and knew as soon as Starfleet took care of his problem that he would ask for a post on Utopia Planitia. It was actually a post he thought he would look forward to.
It had to be the longest month in history for Harry. He was kept busy making sure Starfleet knew that he was alive and well and letting them know of his decision with his posts.
Much to his surprise they loved the idea, and sent the formal request to Utopia Planitia, which they immediately approved. They had also sent Harry a message stating that indeed the school on the Mars Colony was still looking for a teacher in their elementary school.
He glanced at the chronometer once again, in another two hours Celes' shuttle should arrive. He felt like a teenager, giddy with excitement, over the anticipation of her return. He now knew, without a doubt that his feelings for her were growing strong. He wasn't yet sure where it would all lead, but he knew he wanted to continue this relationship. He just hoped that she felt the same way.
The shuttle landed without a flaw, and as soon as docking procedures were completed, the people started flowing out. Celes was one of the last out but as soon as she saw Harry, she began beaming.
She ran towards him then stopped just in front of him. He noticed her hesitation and decided to act on impulse, grabbing her and pulling her into his arms. "I missed you, Celes."
"Oh Harry, I missed you so much. I never thought that visit would end," she said pulling her head back and leaning forward to plant a gentle kiss on his lips. "You look happy.
"I am, I have so much to tell you," he said as he took her bag and slung it over his shoulder. He reached out for her hand and took it, leading her out of the crowd.
"So tell me," she said.
"It was actually an epiphany, for lack of a better word. I knew what I wanted after one simple visit with Captain Janeway. It could actually be good news for you too, if you're interested," he said.
"Oh? I had an epiphany too, I guess you could say. It was in a conversation with my Mom, who did her best to convince me to stay on Bajor. She said I should take a job at a school, that I would be good with kids," began Celes as they walked. "I suddenly realized that she was right, although I didn't want to do it on Bajor."
" You're kidding right?" said Harry.
"No, I'm not," she said sounding a bit hesitant.
"Oh, I'm sorry. It's just that when I was visiting the Captain, she said the same thing. In fact she found... Okay...wait... we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. Lets get you back to your apartment, and we can talk more there."
"Sounds great," said Celes.
They finally made it back to Celes's apartment where Harry cooked her dinner while explaining his new job and telling her about her potential one on Mars. She sounded thrilled about the idea and told him she would look into it first thing in the morning.
After dinner the two of them settled onto the couch where they cuddled up to one another, just happy to be back together. "Harry," began Celes, "I don't want to jump the gun here, but I need to say something."
"What's that?" said Harry softly.
"I think, ... no I know... I ... well, I love you," said Celes almost ready to pull away for fear of rejection.
Harry just squeezed her tighter. "Celes, I love you too. I know it's sudden, but I don't doubt these feelings one bit. You too have been an epiphany, a sudden realization of just where I should be, and who I should be with. You are the right one for me, I have no doubt about that."
Celes turned to face him. "Stay with me, Harry. Stay with me tonight," she said, looking into his eyes.
"A red alert couldn't pull me away, Celes," he said pulling her into a kiss. Finally Harry Kim felt, for the first time in a long time, that he was home.
Chakotay moved quietly, careful not to be heard by the woman bent over the newly dug up flower garden. They had been home for eleven months now, four of which he had spent nearly every moment at Kathryn's side. As soon as they moved into this small house near her mother's in Indiana, Kathryn had insisted on starting the garden.
His memory drifted to a time, almost five years prior, to a scene much like this one. Only this time, instead of tomatoes, she was planting the early spring bulbs that would bring them their first flowers. When they left New Earth, Chakotay had thought that he would never get a chance to know what it was like to really love this woman It had taken many years, but finally he knew, and it was worth the wait. The scene before him was much like that from before. Kathryn had her coffee cup sitting next to her, she wore a pale blue dress, and her hands were caked in mud.
He snuck up behind her and grabbed her, eliciting a scream then a fit of laughter from her. "Chakotay that was not nice," she cried out.
"Sorry Kathryn, I couldn't resist," he chuckled at her.
"I bet you couldn't," she replied, "just like I can't."
He only had a second to ponder what she said before he found her extremely dirty hands traveling down his neck, smearing dirt along their path. "Kathryn, " he yelled. "You are SO going to get it."
She got up and ran, but only made it a few steps before Chakotay tackled her, bringing her to the ground. He reached into the mound of dirt next to him and began dribbling it over her. He then made sure he had her pinned to the ground, holding her hands high above her head. Moving his free hand to her ribcage, he began tickling her until he had her begging for mercy. "Do you give?" he asked with a mock sternness.
She finally gained a slight control and looked at him seriously. "Yes, I do."
"And if you think I'm falling for that one, you're sorely mistaken," he laughed as he covered her body with his length.
She pushed on him. "Get off me," she yelled between the laughs.
He rocked his hips into hers. "You don't really want me to get up now, do you?"
She groaned, rocking her hips back into his. "Umm, no, not really."
Both were startled by a voice behind them. "Are we interrupting anything?"
Chakotay quickly moved off of Kathryn and turned to greet his old friend. "B'Elanna, Tom, its good to see you," he said as he began brushing off the dirt off from his clothes. He helped Kathryn stand, noticing the blush that covered her cheeks, she was embarrassed. "Sorry, we were..." she began, obviously trying to regain a bit of her command composure as she dusted off her dress.
"We were just playing," Chakotay finished for her.
"I see that," said B'Elanna, shifting Miral on her hip. "Could Miral join you? She would have a ball playing in the dirt," said B'Elanna trying to keep a straight face. After all, it's not everyday you see your former commanding officers rolling around on the ground. She had known for sometime about their relationship, but being a witness to this was a little different. She could actually get used to seeing this. It was refreshing to know that they both could just get down and play. Sometimes that is what makes a relationship work.
Kathryn straightened her posture. "No, I mean we're sorry you had to see that."
Tom approached Chakotay, slapping him on the back. "We're not, it looked like a lot of fun."
Kathryn bit her lip to stop the laugh that tried to come forth, it didn't help much and soon she was laughing along with the others. "He deserved it," she commented.
"Oh excuse me, who was the one who smeared dirt all over me?" said Chakotay pulling Kathryn close to him.
"Me, after you nearly gave me a heartattack," she said. "Now, let's go inside and clean up, I'm dying to hold this little one here," she commented, gesturing toward Miral.
They all settled into the living room, Kathryn taking a hold of Miral as soon as she was cleaned up. Miral looked around the room for Mom at first, but soon seemed to settle with Kathryn just fine.
"So how have the two of you been doing?" asked Kathryn, bouncing Miral on her knee.
"Oh, we've been doing pretty good I guess," said Tom. "Just getting used to all of this still. Here it's been almost a year and it still doesn't seem real."
"I've heard you started your job on Utopia Planitia. How is that going?" asked B'Elanna.
"Come on, I think you can call me 'Kathryn' by now. And it's going wonderful. There are several of Voyager's former crew already there, including Harry. It's great to be working with them again," said Kathryn.
"Yes, Harry said you got him the job there," said Tom.
"I did no such thing, Harry's talent got him that job. I just pointed him in that direction. Celes is quite happy at the school there too. I think she finally found something that she is good at and feels comfortable doing," said Kathryn
"Celes does fit into the idea of being a teacher quite well. I think she's teaching in the elementary grades," said B'Elanna. "The two of them really make a wonderful couple."
"Yes, she is good with all the little ones," said Chakotay trying to get his two cents in.
"Speaking of little ones, how about you two? Any little ones planned?" asked Tom with a grin.
"I'm too old to have kids Tom," said Kathryn.
"You are not too old," B'Elanna threw in.
"Well, I guess never say never. But at this moment, no, there are no plans. We just want to get settled in the new house, and our new jobs. We have a whole new life to explore here, talk of kids may or may not come later," Kathryn said, doing her best to get her point across.
"Well, I can understand that. I'm so thrilled for the two of you. You seem very happy," said B'Elanna.
Kathryn leaned into Chakotay as Miral seemed to wind down, settling onto Kathryn chest. "We are, B'Elanna, never could I have imagined the peace I know now. For a while there, I thought I had lost any chance I could have with Chakotay. Seeing the admiral was like a slap of reality in my face, I did not want to grow old and lonely like she obviously did."
Chakotay kissed her head. "And you won't, Kathryn. Not as long as I'm around; you're stuck with me for a very long time."
"Tom and B'Elanna moved closer to each other. Who would have thought that the four of them would go from being lost in the Delta Quadrant, meeting as enemies but learning to be friends, to this; one pair married and the other probably not far off."
No, they would never regret the seven year detour out of their life, they were better for it, happier. It was an epiphany, a sudden realization for all, that it was the events in their life that had brought them to were they were today. And they knew that whatever their future held, they could all do it together.
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