"Twist of Fate", part III
by pari106

Code: J/P
Rating: PG? (Just to be safe.)

A/N: Sorry if this chapter disappoints any of you who were hoping for more out of it…and who have been
waiting so long for me to finish this…but my muse sort of left me there at the end. Anyways, I did my
best. Hope you like it!

Nothing had ever frightened Tom Paris so much as delivering Kathryn's children, his children. He'd never
delivered a baby before, much less alone and in the back of a shuttle. Much less triplets. But the babies
were coming, and he had no other choice than to do his best. It was enough.

Unlike some women, who suffered through labor for tens of hours, even days, Kathryn Janeway was lucky.
In just five hours the first baby had crowned; two and a half hours later all three were lying on the cot next
to their mother. There were two boys and a girl – and each of them so tiny it left Tom dazed just looking at
them. They had created these tiny, beautiful little beings? He'd never felt so awed, so humble in all his

They were small enough so that, once cleaned and bundled in blankets, Tom was able to pick the three of
them up at once to introduce to their mother. Kathryn, who'd fallen asleep, exhausted, as soon as the
children were born, stirred.

When she saw the tiny, wrinkled bundles squirming in their father's arms, she didn't know what to say.

"Oh…oh, Tom. Look at them! Oh my God…"

Tom was grinning so hard it hurt, and he laughed to see Kathryn Janeway – who'd faced the Vidians with
nerves of steel – overwhelmed by these three little infants. His expression softened, however, when he saw
the tears welling in Kathryn's soft, gray eyes. Watching as she began to nurse one of their sons, Tom was
overcome with such emotion he felt his own tears lodge in his throat, making it difficult to swallow, much
less speak.

Later, he'd realize what he said next, would remember that he hadn't meant to say what he did before he
could discover how Kathryn would react. At that moment, however, he was overcome with such emotion
that he couldn't hold the words back any longer.

"Kathryn, I love you. I love you so much."

For a moment, it seemed that neither of them heard anything but the beating of their own hearts and the
hungry cries of their children. If Kathryn hadn't been crying before, she was now.

"Oh, Tom…"

And then Voyager's search party found them.

Kathryn stood outside his quarters and shifted nervously from one foot to the other.

This was one of the hardest things she'd ever had to do. 'Almost harder than giving birth', she imagined,
then smiled. Or maybe not. But it would definitely be hard.

Her smile was short lived, however. To be perfectly honest, she felt like crying again. 'Damn post-partum
hormones,' she thought, but knew she was lying. It wasn't hormones that had her upset. The man behind
that door had some very strong feelings for her. And she cared about him a great deal, considered him one
of her most valued friends, and, gods, she didn't want to hurt him. But now she would have to let him
know that those feelings he had for her could not be returned the way he wanted them to be.

Kathryn finally worked up the nerve to push the buzzer next to his door, almost bolted when he answered
"Who is it?". But she didn't – she stood her ground.

"It's me, Chakotay. Kathryn."


"We need to talk."

Tom stood in Sickbay gazing down at Voyager's three newest, youngest passengers – his daughter and

It had been two weeks since he and Kathryn had brought their children home, and still they remained in
their makeshift bassinets in the doctor's office. The first week had been for observation; this last week
they'd rested here simply because they had nowhere else to go. Soon they would need to be moved to a
real home – or the closest thing they'd find to it on a starship. Baby furniture had been made and now they
needed three baby rooms outfitted. First, however, they needed to decide where those rooms would go – in
Kathryn's quarters or in his? Or perhaps – and this seemed the least likely, but easily the most preferable
alternative to Tom – in *their* quarters. Once they arranged them, of course.

Tom took one last glance at his darlings and quietly stole out of the office, not wanting to wake them.

They hadn't yet named the children, although they'd debated a few choices for a while. Kathryn had
proposed naming one of the boys 'Owen', and Tom had given her a glare that had reduced her to giggles.
Now he wasn't so sure, though. Kathryn talked so highly of her former captain, was certain there was more
love there between him and Tom than the younger Paris realized. Funny, but somewhere during their days
together, Tom had begun to believe her. However, that didn't mean he wanted to name his offspring after
the man. Personally, Tom was rooting for 'Harold'. They could negotiate on the other two.

Tom smiled and left Sickbay, passing the Doctor on his way out. The holographic physician tried valiantly
to grace him with an irritated frown – he hated having his Sickbay intruded upon day after day by crewmen
wanting to see his tiny new patients. Or so he claimed. His mouth wouldn't quite curve downward,
however - he was just as much a sucker for infants as any of them and it showed. Imagine that? Tom
tossed something over his shoulder about examining the doctor's program and grinned at the EMH's
indignant squawk.

Then, however, Tom stopped, at a standstill. Where was he going now? He told himself he should just
return to his quarters – he still had a few days off. But more and more often he found his feet itching to
carry him to Kathryn's quarters, to settle this issue altogether. Eventually it would have to be done, he
knew. But anxiety kept him from pressing the matter. In just a few days his life had changed completely –
he had changed in a lot of ways. He was a father now – that was a big change all in itself. And he was in

Tom frowned, making his decision and heading for the turbolift.

'It was that 'I love you' that did it,' he thought to himself. 'You scared her off. She feels guilty now that
she doesn't feel the same and she's afraid to tell you.'

Then Tom dismissed the thought. Scared? Kathryn Janeway wouldn't be scared to be honest about her
feelings. But then Tom remembered the look in her eyes, the tears, when she first saw their children.
Maybe she was afraid he would make a scene over his unrequited feelings and the children would suffer for
it later on.

That thought made Tom frown harder. Surely she couldn't have misjudged him that badly? He would
never do anything to hurt his offspring, no matter what else might be going on in his life. Then again, until
just about three weeks ago, there had been nothing between himself and Kathryn other than the formal
relationship of a pilot to his captain. Perhaps she really didn't know him that well - perhaps he'd given their
days on the planet together an exaggerated significance. Maybe Kathryn hadn't felt the same connection
building that Tom had.

Whatever was going on, Tom could no longer take the suspense. And, besides, he wasn't the only one
waiting. Their children needed to get out of Sickbay; they needed names. Something had to be done.

And so Tom stepped off the lift on Kathryn's deck and headed for her quarters.

They had so much to discuss. He called the computer and checked the time and then nodded. Good. They
had another hour and a half before the babies would need to be fed again – that should give them time to
talk about a few things. Not just about the children and about themselves, but also about the ship.
Although everyone already knew about the children, the Captain had yet to make a formal announcement
on the matter. What would they tell everyone? What would they tell Chakotay?

Tom's fears about the large commander hadn't subsided. Was that why Kathryn hadn't come to speak to
him? Were she and Chakotay making their own arrangements before Tom could object to them? The
thought tormented him now more than ever. Now that he'd seen Kathryn with his children, now that they'd
shared the spectacular experience of delivery…he didn't know how he would handle it if he saw her with
Chakotay now.

After several rings at Kathryn's door, Tom began to slowly suspect that something was wrong. Since
coming back on board, Kathryn hadn't been allowed to leave Sickbay for a week. Even now she was
recovering and rarely left her own quarters. And there could hardly be anything happening on the bridge
serious enough to warrant her weakened presence – he'd have been alerted if there was.

A disturbing sensation began building in Tom's stomach and he felt a sudden nervousness as his worst
fears once again consumed him. No amount of trying to convince himself that he was just paranoid would
help. Slowly, he raised his hand to his commbadge and tapped it.

"Computer…what is the location of Kathryn Janeway?"

The Computer trilled in response, "Captain Janeway is in Commander Chakotay's quarters."

Tom paled.


Kathryn sighed. She had been right the first time – giving birth had been a breeze compared to this. All
she wanted now was to get out of here and talk to Tom – their discussion was long overdue. But doubts
and insecurities had caused her to put that discussion off as long as she could, and she'd wanted to let her
old friend down gently first. Chakotay's friendship was very valuable to her, and she feared that she'd now
lost it with the declaration she'd just made.

"Kathryn, if you're doing this just for the sake of the children…"

"I'm not," she stated, and something in her voice, in her firm resolve, convinced Chakotay like no amount
of talking could.

He'd been afraid of this – had feared it for a while, really. That day that Tom had achieved Warp 10 had
been the worst. He'd looked into Kathryn's eyes then, feeling concern when the pilot's shuttle seemed to
disappear with a garbled "Oh my God!" blaring out over the comm. But in Kathryn's face, the commander
had seen more than concern…and, Spirits, but it had shaken him. She probably hadn't even been aware of
her feelings then – had probably remained unaware until they'd landed on that alien planet. But Chakotay
had become very aware at that moment of just how much more than "captainly" Janeway felt about her
helmsman. And that same day, when Tom had come back and had been transported to Sickbay, the way
she had rushed to his side had hit Chakotay like a physical blow. He had barely even recognized his own
voice as he had uttered a quiet "Aye, Captain", had been certain that Kathryn hadn't even heard him. And
since then, his fears that she would reject him for Paris had multiplied and compounded. Now those fears
were confirmed.

"Do you love him?"


"Do you love him, Kathryn? You need to tell me."

'But not as much as I need to hear that you don't,' he thought to himself. Alas, it was not to be. Kathryn
shifted uncomfortably in her seat for a moment, then answered. The obvious sympathy and regret that
marked her expression made Chakotay want to bleed for her, but he couldn't help her feel better now. He
could barely hold himself together.

"Yes, I love him."

Chakotay simply turned around and faced the viewport behind him, having no idea what was causing the
shaking in his body – his sorrow or his anger.

"Why?" he asked again, this time almost inaudibly. Kathryn knew exactly what he meant. He wasn't
talking about her loving Tom.

"I don't know," she said honestly. "Who ever really knows, Chakotay? I can't help how I…"

"Don't give me that shit, Kathryn! 'I can't help how I feel.' That's what you were going to say wasn't it?
Can't help how you…well, you certainly did a damned good job of it with me."

Kathryn didn't even look at him, and a disturbing thought settled in the commander's mind.

"I see," he said finally, tonelessly. "Perhaps that wasn't so much of a job for you at all."


"If you didn't care about me, Kathryn, why didn't you tell me that a long time ago?"

Kathryn sighed. She'd tried that, many times.

"I do care about you, Chakotay."

"You know what I mean! Why Tom and not me? You've told me this isn't about the kids, and I don't
think it's about duty any longer. Then what is it?"

"I told you – I don't know!" Kathryn was getting frustrated. She was tired, she was weak, this hurt like
hell, and – damn it – she wanted to see Tom! Still, she tried to gentle her voice.

"Chakotay, I never wanted to hurt you…"

He huffed, but she continued.

"I didn't. There was even a time when I thought…well, anyhow, I never led you on, Chakotay. At least, I
never meant to. But I want to be honest with you here - we're just too different, you and I."

Chakotay sighed, not saying anything more for a good few moments. Then he sat back down next to

"And you and Paris aren't?"

"A lot less than you'd think," she told him, and Chakotay found himself nodding. Actually, he had always
thought that there were some remarkable similarities there between Kathryn and Tom – their upbringing
being one. And they were both so irritatingly stubborn – although Kathryn certainly irritated him in a much
different way than Paris.

Chakotay was still just as hurt, still just as angry – he was certain he would be for a while. But he was also
suddenly very tired. He didn't want to argue anymore – he just wanted her to leave. Still, he had to ask,

"Whatever happened to opposites attract?"

Kathryn smiled, seeing Chakotay's words for what they were – a concession.

She put her hand over his where it lay in his lap. "I really don't know, Chakotay," she said sincerely. He
just sighed, but took her hand in his all the same.

"I told you I don't know why I couldn't give 'us' a chance. But it wasn't just me, Chakotay. I think that,
deep down, you know you wouldn't really have wanted that chance if I'd given it to you."

Chakotay looked up, surprised, and would have spoken, but Janeway raised a hand, silencing him.

"Just listen for a moment. I know you've said before that you loved me, but did you really love me because
of the woman I am when we step onto the bridge? Or in spite of her?" Chakotay looked confused, and
Janeway smiled. "Yes, there is a difference, Commander. But you don't know how to do it that way, do
you? You don't know how to love Kathryn and the Captain at the same time without treating one or the
other as a completely different entity – and that's why you never insisted we be together whenever I
insisted that we not."

Chakotay sat there a moment, trying to assimilate what she'd told him.

"And you think Tom is capable of doing what I can't?"

"In this matter? Yes. Yes, I do. I know he understands the relationship between a person and their
command title just as well as I do. He knew the difference between Owen Paris and Captain Paris – and he
knew how to behave accordingly around both of them without loving either man any less. I had the same
understanding with my own father. If anyone can handle a relationship with a starship captain it's Tom."

Chakotay shook his head. He couldn't believe Kathryn would try to simplify and dismiss his feelings for
her like this. Still, her words gave him something to think about – and it seemed as though he'd have
plenty of time to do some thinking over the next few weeks. While he sat in his quarters…alone…cursing
Paris' name in every language he could remember.

"So you and Tom have already settled everything?" he asked. So far, Chakotay had been able to keep the
image of the two of them together at bay, but just referring to Kathryn and Paris as a couple was hurtful.
Then he realized that Kathryn hadn't answered him. In fact, she appeared to be rather fascinated with a
patch of his carpet.


Finally she looked up.

"I…uh, haven't told him yet."

Chakotay frowned. Janeway tried to look casual, but he could sense the anxiety beneath her calm. She was

"You mean you haven't told him yet that you're accepting his offer."

She shook her head. "He made no offer. This was my decision, Chakotay."

"But then what…"

And then it hit him.

"You haven't told him *anything* yet. Including how you feel about him." His words were more of a
statement than a question, but Kathryn nodded anyhow. Chakotay sighed.

"Damn it, Kathryn, is there *any* man on this ship that you haven't left twisting in the wind for the last
two weeks?"

"Eight ball, corner pocket."

Tom motioned towards the corner he was referring to, took aim, and smoothly sent the ball to its intended
destination for the second time in the last thirty minutes.

He could practically hear Harry Kim's jaw drop. And then the kid kind of squeaked.

"Twice! You've won twice! In *half an hour*!"

Tom started to wrack up for the next set. He didn't even glance in Kim's direction.

"Relax, Har. We weren't playing for credits."

Harry fell into a nearby chair.

"I should hope not! If we were, I probably wouldn't see a replicator ration for the next month."

"The next two, actually…but who's counting?"

Tom attempted a grin, oblivious to the fact that his best friend wasn't buying it, and motioned for a
holographic waiter to refill his and Harry's drinks. He hadn't activated Sandrine tonight. Even though she
was a hologram, she was such a close replication of the real Sandrine that she never failed to notice when
his spirits needed boosting. And right now the last thing Tom needed was anyone trying to boost his
spirits. How can someone boost your spirit when you feel like your very soul's just been ripped out of

And as for Harry, the younger man had no idea what was going on in his best friend's head. Tom was
acting strange. Well, considering the events of the last few weeks, Harry didn't suppose that was a big
surprise, but this was a different kind of strange. When Paris had showed up to his door, inviting him to a
few games of pool, Harry had immediately known something was wrong. Tom looked like hell – he was
trying to pretend that nothing was wrong, but he'd rushed Harry with him to Sandrine's like the hounds of
hell were chasing them down the ship's corridors. And now he'd won two consecutive games…without
having wagered on either of them. Frightening.

Also, Tom was drinking. Not the usual sip here and there, but all-out drinking – ordering synthehol after
synthehol and downing full glasses like they were shots. If it weren't for the fact that those drinks were
holographic, Harry was sure the man would be flat off his ass drunk.

As it was, however, Tom wasn't nearly drunk enough for his own personal tastes. He downed his newly
re-filled glass and motioned for another, missing Harry's pointed look as he began chalking his cue for
another game.

It was obvious Tom wasn't going to open up, so, with a sigh, Harry resigned himself to the fact that he was
going to have to make his friend talk to him. Or to try, anyhow. Getting Paris to talk about his feelings
when he didn't want to had always been like trying to stop a warp core breach with a hypospanner. And
now, Harry knew, wouldn't be any different. Tom hadn't said much about the fact that he was a new father.
Sure, he doted on the kids…actually, Harry had probably never seen anyone so excited by their children in
his entire life. Who'd have thought – Tom Paris, the consummate father and family man? Harry wasn't
really surprised, but he was amused. Tom bragged about the children non-stop; was known to discuss, in
exact detail, every movement the babies made. He'd called Harry to Sickbay on a variety of occasions just
to watch one or all three of the infants do something spectacular. (And, since the children were still
newborns, 'spectacular' usually meant that they'd opened their eyes or cooed or something.)

It was almost sad, really - seeing a career bachelor of Tom's fine reputation reduced to so much goo by a
handful of infants. And it was also wonderful. Harry was thrilled for his friend, even if he was still
boggled by the situation that had led to all of this. And he couldn't help but let a little of Tom's enthusiasm
rub off on him, as well. He and Tom were really close. It wasn't a relationship that either man felt
comfortable verbalizing, but Tom was the closest thing Harry had ever had to a brother, and vice versa. So
looking at Tom's children was kind of like looking at his own nieces and nephews. He couldn't help but
feel a little gooey, himself.

And now he was starting to feel anxious, as well. In the two weeks since Voyager had found the Cochran
and its missing passengers, Tom hadn't once mentioned how the Captain felt about all of this, and Harry
had only ever seen her in passing. Tom hadn't said anything about what they were going to do about the
children. And by his current mood, it was obvious that, if they had come to an agreement over the kids, it
hadn't been a very pleasant one. At least not for Tom.

Concerned for his friend and his new, honorary family, Harry prepared to speak…but never got the chance.

Because then Sandrine's doors opened, and in walked Captain Janeway.

Kathryn liked the think that, over their days in the shuttle, she'd gotten to know Tom quite well. And she
knew now, just from looking at him, that he wasn't at his best. She sensed it the second she walked in the
door, and sighed. Chakotay had been right – she had made a mess of things. But was Tom really upset
because he loved her, and felt that that love was unrequited? Or was he worried that she was under the
mistaken impression that he was? He'd said he'd loved her, down there on the planet. But was that just his
emotional response over the birth of their children? Or could he really, possibly love her?

For a moment Kathryn felt immobilized by these and other fears and insecurities – about their age
difference, about the difference in their ranks. But then she shook her head, simultaneously shaking off all
those irrational emotions. She wasn't getting anywhere by thinking this way. And she was, by nature, a
strong and straightforward type of woman. All this second-guessing herself and sidestepping a
confrontation with Tom was starting to make her feel queasy.

"Hello, Harry," she greeted, and then, "Tom."

"Hello, Captain," Tom greeted back, brightly. Or, at least, he seemed bright.

"Captain," Harry reciprocated.

"Would you mind if Tom and I had a moment alone, Ensign," Kathryn asked, surprising the men just a
little. No small talk tonight – Kathryn had a mission now and she intended to see it through. Her mission
was to set right how wrong the last few weeks had become. She was going to tell Tom exactly how she felt
and let him take it from there.

"Uh…of course, Captain," Harry replied with apparent reluctance. For a moment he just looked at his
companions, but then he made his way for the exit, pausing only a moment as he passed Tom. "I…I'll be
in my quarters. If you need to talk." With a last glance at Janeway he was gone.

And Kathryn sighed. She'd spent every moment since they'd returned to the ship feeling like Little Red
Riding Hood – lost in the woods, knowing where she had to go but hesitating from getting there. So how
could one ensign suddenly make her feel like the big, bad wolf?

The silence that lingered in Harry's wake was palpable, but, thankfully, brief. Tom never could stand
extended periods of solitude. And he was hardly patient – especially after a few dozen shots of synthehol.

"Would you…uh, would you like to sit down, Captain?" He asked, motioning to a table. Kathryn nodded
and they sat.

"Thank you," she told the waiter when he brought her a drink, per Tom's orders. Then she turned back to
her companion. "I should think you'd be able to call me Kathryn now, don't you, Tom?"

It bothered her a bit, to have to remind him of that. And, truth be told, it had bothered Tom calling her
'Captain' as if nothing had happened between them. As if they hadn't recently conceived and delivered
three children. But he didn't know where he stood and he was so wary of mis-stepping.

"Okay…Kathryn," he said finally, attempting a smile and raising his glass. They toasted and threw back
their shots simultaneously. And suddenly Kathryn found the whole situation to be absolutely hilarious.

She began to laugh.

Of all the things he'd expected, all the ways he'd imagined their discussion to begin – with an "I'm sorry"
or "I care about you, but…" – Tom had never imagined it would begin with a long gale of laughter.
Kathryn was laughing so hard she was practically crying.

"Cap…Kathryn? Kathryn, are you alright?"

It took Janeway a moment to recover herself. When she had, it took a moment more to regain her speech.
But once she did, her mood sobered considerably. Oh, why couldn't she just do anything and get it over

"I…I'm fine," she finally told him, catching her breath, and then shaking her head. "Oh, Tom…we really
are a pair, aren't we?"

Tom didn't know what she meant by that so didn't say anything, but he smiled. That didn't sound like she
considered it a bad thing.

"I mean, here we are," she continued, "the parents of triplets…and I'm telling you to call me 'Kathryn'
instead of 'Captain'. Like two people like us should have to do that. It really is ridiculous." However, it
didn't seem funny anymore somehow.

"Oh, Tom, I'm sorry I haven't come to you sooner. You could have come to me, you know, but
regardless…" Kathryn spoke, and Tom knew what she was preparing to say. 'We should talk.' As it so
often happened, however, she didn't get the chance to say it because her commbadge suddenly trilled.

Kathryn started at the sudden, unexpected sound, smiling a little sheepishly at her own reaction. "Janeway,
here," she said, tapping the badge.



"Yes. I just wanted to remind you that it's the babies' feeding time again." And Kathryn winced. She'd
forgotten all about the time and, for the moment, about the babies. "We don't want the wee little ones
going hungry, now do we?" the Doctor continued, sounding suspiciously as though he were making playful
faces at the children on the other end of the comm line. Kathryn didn't know whether she should be
amused at that visual, or irritated that her talk with Tom had to be, once again, postponed.

"I'll be right there, Doctor," she said, closing the comm line.

And then, "Tom…"

"It's okay, Kathryn." He smiled. "I'll go with you."

And Kathryn smiled back, nodding. They left Sandrine's together.

Over time, Tom had seen Janeway in many different lights. He'd seen her at her most formidable – staring
down Kazon or Vidians; taking on the Banean Prime Minister, for his sake, and charging into a slew of
Akritirian prisoners to be at his side. He'd seen the "death glare" in all its glory. And whenever it had
been directed at him he'd felt ten times smaller under its intensity. During their time together down on the
planet, Kathryn had told him just how much it took out of her to exude that sort of presence. And now, as
she sat there, nursing their children and looking down at them with soft eyes, he realized that this – caring,
loving – had the totally opposite effect on her. She seemed energized just by being with the children, by
caring for them. He would say she seemed brighter, somehow, as he'd always said that she seemed to
shine. And as, secretly, he had always liked to imagine that she shined just for him. A beacon in the storm,
calling him home.

She was calling him now. And he wanted so bad to go to her that it was physically painful. But beneath all
her shine, Tom could tell that there was also something dark weighing on Kathryn's mind. Their
discussion, no doubt. He needed to initiate it, but to do so gently.

"I've been thinking…" he began, and Kathryn immediately looked up.

"Maybe 'Owen' isn't such a bad idea after all."

Kathryn smiled. She wasn't expecting that.

"I thought you had your heart set on 'Harold'."

And Tom was mildly surprised – he hadn't actually told her that that was what he was thinking. But then,
he supposed he didn't have to.

"Well, how about 'Harold Owen'?"

Kathryn laughed. "Or we could name one 'Harold' and one 'Owen'."

"I thought you wanted to name our other son after your father."

"I can compromise."

Then Tom was at her side. "So can I," he told her.

They looked at each other and were suddenly caught in one another's eyes. The baby in Kathryn's arms
felt heavier somehow, now that she wanted nothing more than to take Tom in her arms. So she held the
child tighter in response. And she looked at Tom with even more longing. The time to talk was now.

"We have to resolve this, Tom," she told him. They were sitting side by side on a biobed in a private area
of the Sickbay – the place she'd chosen to feed the children until they could decide upon where they would
live. And from where he sat Tom nodded. He seemed to be steeling himself.

"I know. And Kathryn, I…"

All of Tom's dreams hung on what was said between them next, and he tried to think of some articulate
way of saying what he needed to; some grand speech to argue his case. But all he could think about was
her and their family. His emotions were too much at stake here for articulation.

"Kathryn, I know this…whatever this is happening between us, I know that it's sudden…no, just let me
speak. I meant what I said down there on the planet." Tom looked her in the eyes and gathered up all his

"I love you, Kathryn."

"Oh, Tom…"

"I do. I know about the differences in our age; the differences in rank. I know about your non-
fraternization policy…and I know you can be absolutely ruthless if you haven't had that first cup of coffee
in the morning." They both smiled.


But Tom wasn't finished. "And I know my reputation on this ship. I know it's still there, and no matter
what I do, I know a part of it will always be there, somewhere, if not on this ship, then back home. I've got
a lot of ghosts, Kathryn…and I've made a lot of mistakes in my past. But this isn't one of them. When I'm
with you…the past seems a lot further away. Those ghosts don't seem so scary."

Kathryn reached up to touch Tom's face, and he put his hand over hers. Then a sad sort of look came into
his eyes.

"And I want you to know, that no matter what happens. No matter what you choose…I will always love
you, Kathryn. And the children. You're my life; they're my life. I told you when I asked to make the
transwarp flight, that for the first time in ten years I felt like I had a life to risk. Well, I was wrong.
Without you and the kids I didn't know what life really was. I do now.

"I know life isn't much good without loving someone. And loving someone isn't much good unless you
love them unconditionally. And I love you that way, Kathryn. Whether you choose to be with me…or…"

Tom couldn't even say it.

"Kathryn, I…" But then she stopped him.

"Tom…are you…trying to ask me something?"

Kathryn's heart began to beat faster. She felt like she waited an eternity for him to say, "Yes."

And before he could open his mouth to say more, Kathryn took her own turn to speak.

"Well, then, it's only fair that I tell you something before you do."

Tom felt his own heart begin to thump faster, as well. This was it – she was going to decide the fate of
their relationship. What that fate would be, Tom wasn't certain – but he was beginning to hope for a much
more optimistic future than he had been before. Whatever he expected, it wasn't what she said next.

"You know…the moment I saw you in New Zealand…I knew you'd be trouble."

Tom blinked. "What?"

"I took one look at you and thought, 'that man is going to make a total mess of all my finely-tuned
protocols and procedures.' An absolute mess. And I was right.

"I've never met anyone who bends the rules like you do, Mr. Paris. Molds them into your liking." Kathryn
smiled. "You can't even say 'Yes, ma'am' like anyone else!"

Tom shifted where he sat. Kathryn was smiling, but what exactly did she mean by…

"I…I don't know what to say, Captain, but I'm sorry…"

But she stopped him again. And her eyes held a very different emotion now than just laughter.

"Did I say you had anything to apologize for, Lieutenant?"

Kathryn moved to lay their baby down in his bed, then she went back to Tom's side, taking one of his

"Tom…I needed that. I *need* that in my life. I felt like I knew you before I even met you…I'd heard so
much about you from your father. But I had no idea. Then I met you, the way you were then, and I
thought I knew the kind of person you'd become. But I was wrong again. You keep surprising me, Tom.
And I need *that* in my life, too. I need *you* in my life, Tom, just as much as you say you need me."
Kathryn laughed. "Probably more…"

Tom couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Kathryn…"

"Wait…wait, I'm not finished. I need you because you *are* trouble, Mr. Paris. The best kind. The kind
that keeps me human. I told Chakotay you and I could be good together because you were an Admiral's
child, just like me. You know how to love me as Kathryn and as the Captain, at the same time, without
treating me like I'm two different people sharing the same body. But it's more than that.

"The truth is, sometimes I do feel like two people, trying to be one. But with you, I don't feel that way. I
don't feel like I need to play the larger than life captain all the time. And I don't feel like I have to make
excuses for just being me, without the title or the rank. I feel whole, Tom. And I appreciate that. I didn't
realize how much I appreciated it until we were down there on that planet, and then I had to realize it
because…because I…"

Kathryn looked Tom in the eyes.

"Because I love you, too, Tom."

'Oh, my God!'

For a moment, Tom just blinked. "You…you…"

Kathryn laughed. To think she'd worried about confessing her feelings to him. She felt more alive in that
moment than she could ever remember feeling in her life.

"What's wrong, Lieutenant? Have I left you speechless again?"

The next thing she knew, Tom was on his feet and pulling her to hers. She became enveloped in the most
passionate embrace she'd ever experienced and Tom whirled her around several times before the laughter
and the outcry faded into a long, longing kiss. The kiss left tears in her eyes, and Kathryn didn't bother to
blink them away.

"Weren't you going to ask me something?" she reminded, earning her one of Tom's infamous Paris grins.

"I was just getting to that, Captain," he responded, lowering onto one knee.

Tom had had a lot of questions in his mind, actually, that he'd wanted to ask her. Questions about them
and the children, living arrangements and ship's announcements. But now, realizing that there would be
time for all the answers, Tom concentrated on only one and asked:

"Captain Kathryn Janeway, will you marry me?"

And one month later she did…with all three blonde, blue-eyed babies Paris in attendance.

A/A/N: I've been thinking about renaming this. "Twist of Fate" has just so been done before...but I'm not real good with naming things...so give me your suggestions (but be nice! Please? Thanks! :)