a/n: yeah, so i think this this is canon compliant up through the end. some things might be off because research is for suckers. anyway. enjoy
He hadn't seen her for years and he had a hell of time tracking her down. Her mother had died and so had his father. He thought about her all time. He had dreams about the ship, about their time in the Delta Quadrant. Everyone had a rough transition but she, he thought, she had the worst of all. He bided his time, though; he didn't rush out headstrong to find her like he might have done in his youth. Tom Paris had finally grown tired of getting into trouble and while he didn't often agree with the rules, he usually played by them anyway now. So when Owen had died, he figured she'd come to the funeral and he wouldn't have to bother with the finding her part because she would come to him. But she didn't come.
The funeral was big news, it always was when a fleet admiral died and the obituary made no secret of the fact that he had been a Cardassian's P.O.W. All the articles that came out of his death gave a slight mention to Tom as his only son and that Tom had been the pilot of the lost ship Voyager but they didn't mention Kathryn or her somewhat conspicuous absence. They had been friends, after all. Kathryn and Owen.
Tom didn't miss his father a bit but he did move from his dinky apartment in the south of France into the house he inherited in Marin, California. About an hour north of San Francisco where Starfleet headquarters and his father's former office was located. Tom had opted out of rejoining Starfleet upon his return. He took his retroactive pay and bonus (for not crashing the ship into the dock?) and rented the smallest, crappiest apartment he could find and spent his days doing manual labor and drinking the nights away. He was surprised that most people stayed with the Fleet. He really was, but he couldn't do it. B'Elanna hadn't ever really forgiven him and he only got to see Miral a few times a year. He loved his daughter but he wasn't sure he was the best man to be a father anyway. He wrote to her every month though; long letters about his life and about how much he loved her and he always sent gifts on the appropriate holidays. She knew who he was and that was a start. B'Elanna had even agreed to let her come to stay for a few weeks in the summer now that he had a respectable house with room for her in California. The house was big and mostly windows. He could see the bay on clear days. He inherited a lot of money, too, which was a relief because when Kathryn didn't come, he knew he had to find her and that made having a job hard to do.
He went to Indiana first, to her mother's house. He had expected her to be there and was pretty disappointed when she wasn't. In fact, the house that he had visited as a child was inhabited by a family he didn't know and the mother who answered the door told her that Phoebe Janeway had sold them the house almost five years earlier. He thanked them and transported home. He decided to do his homework. He read up on every article that mentioned her name since her retiring from Starfleet. She had stayed after Voyager, of course. They had made her an admiral before she even set foot on Earth and so she owed them at least an acceptance. It was hard for her, he thought. Ship captains usually fight giving up their ships. Jean-Luc Picard was a prime example of this – he clung to the Enterprise until he could hardly walk before he took the desk job. She only lasted a year before she retired and the sunk into the oblivion she longed for. Now, looking over articles, he was beginning to see a pattern. Most, of course, were about Voyager or her leaving the Fleet so soon, but he saw she had written an article. It was about compact halos in a science journal and he read it even though he didn't really understand it. It mentioned data collected from a private research institute who had a branch on Mars. But before he went bounding off to Mars, he went to the academy where both Tuvok and Chakotay taught. Tuvok would generally see him though for Chakotay to speak to him, he'd have to catch him in a very public place where the older man couldn't make scene.
Tuvok agreed to see him almost immediately. They met in his office and Tuvok didn't keep him waiting.
"I want to find her." he said, deciding that beating around the bush with a Vulcan was probably unnecessary.
"Her, Mr. Paris?" He asked folding his hands with his index fingers extended.
"Kathryn Janeway." he said, shy suddenly. "She didn't attend my father's funeral."
"I am aware." Tuvok said and he was because he had been there.
"I'm worried about her. No one has heard from her, she doesn't… I think she's on Mars." Tuvok raised his eyebrow in a very familiar way. Tom took a PADD out of his pocket and handed it to Tuvok. He looked at it. It had the first article he found and then several others on the same subject.
"Only one of these articles is written by former Admiral Janeway," Tuvok said.
"Yeah, but I had the computer analyze them and the writing is the same, it sounds the same and has the same grammatical nuisances. I think she's ghost writing so she doesn't gain too much notoriety." Tom said.
"Perhaps, Mr. Paris, she does not want to be found." he said. Tom had thought of this but he was a selfish man and he wanted to find her despite that.
"If you know something, I'd be grateful to hear what it is. Either way, I'm going to Mars to find her." Tom said, defiant.
"She will not be there." he said.
"Do you really think that she would fight so hard to come back to Earth only to live on another planet?" Tuvok asked in a way that would have been sarcastic were he human.
"The research facility…"
"She is on Earth and I will ask her about you, Mr. Paris. If she wants to speak with you, she will contact you. That is all I can offer." Tuvok said, finally showing his full hand. He'd known about her all along. Tom was frustrated with this, frustrated about Tuvok walking him in circles, but he knew it was the best way. He nodded his acceptance.
If she didn't contact him, well, it would be the end and he would go back to his quiet life of solitude. Miral would come for the summer, and he would focus on that. He went home feeling a little sad. He mixed himself a drink for the Marin house had no replicator but he'd been so rationed on Voyager that he didn't really miss it. Real alcohol tasted better anyway. In the living room was an old TV but he didn't turn it on. He sat on the long, leather sofa and watched the fog roll in over the bay and finally fell asleep.
He slept well into the morning. He heard the door chime, dimly, but it mixed in with his dreams. He heard it again, and then a third time before he sat up stiffly. He was rumpled in yesterday's clothes and his face was unshaven. He was sure he smelled of stale alcohol but he didn't care. He went to the door and let it open without first checking who was on his stoop on the monitor in the wall.
He was stunned, a little. She looked so different. She had lost all that stress weight and was the same lithe, trim woman she had been when she'd come for him in prison. Her hair was gray at the temples but it wasn't that salt and pepper gray that most women got because she was a red head so the hair was white as snow and mixed in elegantly with the auburn that was left. She wasn't in uniform, of course, but he'd so rarely seen that either. She was in brown pants and what looked to be a white, linen shirt with a warm overcoat and a scarf wrapped around her neck.
"Captain, Admiral, I mean…" he said, stumbling over himself.
"Call me Kathryn," she said, more gently this time. "I didn't mean to wake you." He suddenly found his manners and stepped aside so she could enter the house. She came in, first eyeing him ad then looking around the house. He was pretty sure she'd been there before but probably not for a number of years. He'd kept it the same – only the Starfleet consoles were missing as no officer lived there anymore. He'd purchased their generic counterparts but they didn't have that sterile, dignified gleam of the fleet. The house itself he kept clean and sparse. He used maybe four rooms of the house but left his sister's rooms, most of the bathrooms, and all of the guestrooms untouched. He'd moved into the master room and abandoned his childhood room early on but mostly he slept on the couch.
Finally, she turned to him and gave him a brief, if somewhat forced, smile. She unwound the scarf from her neck and shrugged off the jacket for he kept the house warm. He took them both and draped him over the back of a chair.
"What is it that you need, Mr. Paris?" she asked. She was so forthright; he thought he'd have some time to justify searching her out like he did.
"Would you like a drink, ma'am?" he asked, dodging the question.
"I'll make it myself," she said, breezing past him into the kitchen. So she had been here before. "Then we can go out and get brunch." He nodded – he wasn't very good at disobeying her orders anyway. It was strange to know she was making herself at home downstairs while he was in the shower. He shaved quickly and wore jeans and a thick, wool sweater. The bay area was more accepting of his preference for retro looks which was one of the reasons he decided to keep the house. His sisters had both married and moved away and though he'd offered the house, they'd turned it down.
He found her sitting in the breakfast nook with a mug of coffee. The sun was breaking through the fog and clouds and she was watching the light against the water. Outside it was still cold – November – but he appreciated seasons now after being on the ship for so long.
"It's beautiful here," she said, wistfully. He sat down across from her.
"Yes, ma'am." he said, agreeing.
"This is never going to work if you can't call me Kathryn or Kate or something other than ma'am." she said.
"Okay," he said. "Kate."
"And I will call you Tom," she said. "And then we can get started."
"Started?" he asked.
"On our friendship," she said. "Isn't that what you wanted?"
It was as if Janeway had been waiting for someone to find her – waiting for someone to remember her not as their captain, their commanding officer, but as a woman. She had written those articles and was often working on several more. She'd been living in a hotel for the past year. She, too, was well compensated for her time on the ship – perhaps not as wealthy as Tom with his inheritance, but still comfortable enough to live in a hotel. After the first month of their friendship, though, she brought her two suitcases of belongings over and moved into the bigger guest room. Its window faced the back yard, not the water, but she said she preferred it that way. Plus it had an attached bathroom with a big, claw foot tub and he knew that she liked baths. She'd not really asked to move in and Tom hadn't specifically invited her but after that first brunch of catching up, she had come over ever day until one day she brought her things with her and didn't leave again.
Since neither really had to work – Kate only on her writing – they both stayed in. She was still so recognizable that she didn't much like to go out in public anyhow. She declined the several invitations to various events she got every month. Instead, she helped clean the house and make the meals and in the back, she worked in the garden. He sat up in his room in the window seat and watched her cooing to the flowers or clipping the tomatoes from the vine. He'd kept the garden alive by watering but with her help, it flourished. She wore a big straw hat so the sun didn't burn her pale skin but the freckles came out strong anyway. She'd always worn so much make-up on the ship. She was a lot different than he'd thought. She also had let her hair grow out again and he was glad because that bob had never quite suited her as well as a long mane of red hair, even streaked with grey. She didn't wear it up as much anymore and he found the strands all over his clothes. Now it was breezy and she was in the garden with it whipping around her face.
She came in the back door with a basket full of vegetables. He went down to meet her in the kitchen.
"I was thinking of making a stew. How does that sound?" She asked, setting the basket in the sink so soil didn't mess up the counter top.
"Good. I think there is some beef in the freezer." he said. "I'll get it out to thaw." She nodded and hung up her hat on a peg by the door. She started washing and chopping the vegetables while he got the meat and then put on a pot of coffee because the one from that morning had gone cold. Finally, with the stew on the stove to cook for several hours and each with a cup of warm coffee, they settled down at the kitchen table – Kate to work on her article and Tom to read some of the newer piloting journals. They spent many mornings in companionable silence.
The buzzer to the front door interrupted them.
"Are you expecting someone?" Kate asked, suddenly looking a little fearful. She was so people shy these days.
"No," he said. "I'll go get it," He rose and moved into the living room. He usually just opened the door without checking, like he'd done for Kate, but now he activated the monitor, fearful it was some reporter looking for Janeway. People were always trying to dredge up Voyager profile pieces, trying to recapture the magic of their homecoming. Instead of a stranger, he saw someone even more surprising. He opened the door.
"Hello," he said.
"Hi Tom," Chakotay replied. "Sorry to come unannounced like this."
"You're always welcome here," Tom said. He wondered if the older man knew Janeway was there. He wished he could go warn her but all he could do was invite Chakotay in. "Is there something I can do for you, Captain?"
"I wanted to come tell you in person. They are naming the new dormitory building after your father," he said. "I was hoping you would come represent the family at the ceremony."
"Oh," Tom said, a little surprised. "Wouldn't it be better to contact one of my sisters?" he asked.
"They were never in Starfleet." Chakotay pointed out. "You were a celebrated officer." Tom laughed at this knowing that most people were relieved when he bowed out of Starfleet.
"I'm past all that now," Tom said, quietly, not wanting the sound of their voices to draw Kate into the living room. Chakotay's expression changed, though, and Tom knew they already had. Chakotay looked like he just spotted a ghost.
"Kathryn?" he asked, walking past Tom like he wasn't there.
"Hello," she said, looking like she very much regretted letting her curiosity get the better of her. Chakotay moved to hug her, to crush her body to his like a desperate man but she stepped back, flinched, and it made him stop.
"I've been writing to you for…" Chakotay stopped and Tom knew that he'd been trying to get her to see him since that first day she bid farewell to Starfleet and faded into the crowd.
"That part of my life is… I didn't know how to tell you," she said.
"Part of your life?" he asked, sputtering. "Was Tom not a part of that life?"
"I'll just go," Tom said, walking past them into the kitchen where he could at least eavesdrop with his coffee, sitting down. He sat at the table staying still. Their voices floated in clearly.
"Chakotay, I appreciate your effort, but had I wanted to correspond with you, I would have." Kate said – that steel edge that had been so absent creeping into her voice once more. Tom hissed, and could only imagine the look that Chakotay had on his face.
"Of course, Ma'am," he said. "My mistake," Tom heard the door open and close. Kate walked back into the kitchen with a tired slump. She sat across from him.
"Kate, I never questioned your coming here." Tom said, quietly, setting his coffee mug down. "And truth be told, I don't want you to leave, but I have to ask now. Why me?"
"Why you what?" she asked.
"Why do you cut off everyone from… from before, but let me in?" He asked. He'd not asked this question before. He was afraid she would leave just as quickly as she came.
"Do you remember the first time we met, Tom?" she asked.
"In New Zealand?" he asked. "When you wanted me to fly Voyager?"
"No, I mean the first time I came here," she said. "To this house. I was a lieutenant and you were, I think, 16." she said. "You came home late, we were just finishing dinner. Your father chewed you out for being late and then, ignoring the fact that you were grounded, you looked at me and asked, 'who's the pretty girl?'"
"He doubled my sentence for being disrespectful to a Starfleet officer," Tom said, smiling. "I'd forgotten that,"
"When I think of you, Tom, that's what I see. When I think of Chakotay or B'Elanna or Seven, all I can see is Voyager." she explained.
"You knew Tuvok before too, that's why you spoke with him." Tom puzzled out.
"I know it seems odd, but, I just… I had to move on." she said. "Isn't that okay? Didn't I do what I set out to? Didn't I get everyone home?"
"Yes," he said, reaching out and putting his hand on top of hers. "You did." Her hand was shaking and she used her other one to wipe tears from her cheeks.
Before the first year was through, they had started making love. He hadn't been able to sleep and he heard her moving around down the hall, tossing and turning. He felt like maybe he should go check on her to see if she was okay – he was so sensitive to her moods now – but he resisted. She ended up knocking on his door. He opened it and found her disheveled on the other side of the door.
"Sometimes," she said, "At night I wake up and I listen for the hum of this ship."
"What do you hear now?" he asked.
"Now I listen for you," she said. He leaned down and kissed her.
Miral did come. There had been an article in one of the gossip news feeds about Tom and his former captain and then suddenly their notoriety was gone. A few of the Voyager crew members came out and said it was preposterous, which only made it worse when it was confirmed to be true. B'Elanna had sent Tom a message that was full of, mostly, Klingon expletives and so Tom had – with Kate's consent – invited his ex-wife and daughter over for dinner. B'Elanna begrudgingly came though she didn't bring Miral which didn't surprise Tom. Tom still wrote to his daughter of course, though she didn't write back. At least, Tom didn't receive any letters. B'Elanna came in her uniform claiming to have transported straight from work but Tom thought it was to remind he and Kate of what they had left behind. Kate had cooked, she was better at it and Tom had chosen the wine because he was better at it. Kate put on her nice clothes and Tom put on what was clean. They didn't speak much and Tom was worried about how Kate would feel with his ex-wife in the room. He prayed that B'Elanna wouldn't say something to drive her away.
At first it was awkward. They made small talk – Tom asked about her job but didn't much listen to the answer. Kate asked to see pictures of Miral but B'Elanna didn't have any on her. When the meal began it was the clinking of utensils against plates and little else. Finally, B'Elanna, who'd never been one for tact, set her fork down and smoothed her napkin against her lap.
"You two weren't sleeping together when we were married, right?" she asked, directing the question more to the ceiling than to Kate or Tom.
"No," Kate asked, leaning languidly back and sipping her red wine. Her cheeks were red and the color traveled all the way down her chest and into her cleavage. "Did you really think that we were?"
"No," B'Elanna said. "I don't think you slept with anyone."
"You'd be right, not that it is anyone's business." Kate replied, looking at Tom.
"B'Elanna, I would, that is to say, we would really like Miral to come for a few weeks this summer," Tom said, extending the olive branch before the conversation got anymore heated or inappropriate. "It's been so long since I've seen her."
"She reads your letters, she knows who you are." B'Elanna admitted. "She asks questions, I just don't… I want her to have a stable home."
"This is the most stable home I've ever had." Kate said, rising, taking the dishes to the sink to be loaded into the cleanser later. Tom knew how Kate was, she spoke with her body, and she had trouble standing still when times got tense.
"You two aren't even married." B'Elanna pointed out.
"That's a weak argument," Kate sparred back. B'Elanna flushed, a little ashamed. She had, after all, liked Kathryn Janeway once, a long time ago now.
"It's up to Miral," she said, finally. B'Elanna left an hour later, not staying for desert and so Kate and Tom sat in the living room with the peach cobbler in front of them, eating it straight from the glass dish in celebration of a goal accomplished. Then, they made love on the floor with all the lights off and the stars clear and bright outside.
Kathryn had expected Tom's daughter to look more like Tom than B'Elanna, so when Miral came for the summer, she was surprised to see a small version of B'Elanna staring back at her. It made sense, of course, because the Klingon genes would dominate the human genes for several generations. She remembered B'Elanna's disappointment upon finding out her daughter would have forehead ridges. Still, the girl was beautiful and tall for her age. She was already up to Kathryn's shoulder. Tom was out, getting a few last minute supplies for the summer guest and Miral was early and alone. Kathryn opened the door with a smile.
"Hello," she said, stepping aside to allow the girl to enter. She was in a green jumpsuit, the all-terrain, economic clothing that children on starships wore – she had a duffle bag over her shoulder. Her eyes were big and brown and she had curly hair down to her waist. Tom had said she'd just turned 11. She looked angry, not scared.
"Hi," she said.
"You must be Miral," The girl stepped over the threshold of the door and into the house. "I'm Kate."
"Where's my dad?" she asked, dropping her bag on the floor and putting her hands on her hips.
"He should be here any moment. How was your trip?" Kathryn asked.
"Fine." she said.
"I'm surprised your mom didn't come," Kathryn said.
"I can take care of myself." Miral said, looking around the house interestedly.
"Of course, my mistake." Kathryn said, stifling a smile. She was so much like her mother. "Are you hungry? I have lunch all made."
"What do you mean?" Miral asked, meeting Kathryn's eyes.
"Oh, there aren't any replicators in the house. Your dad and I cook all our meals." Kathryn said. "Why don't you come into the kitchen?"
"No replicators?" Miral groaned like it was going to be the longest summer of her life.
When Tom came back, he found Kathryn and Miral sitting at the wooden table in the kitchen having lunch. Kathryn was drinking coffee and Miral had a glass of what looked like the Grapefruit juice that Tom had squeezed earlier that morning and both were having sandwiches on the bread Kathryn had baked last night.
"Miral!" Tom said, coming into the kitchen and setting the bag of groceries on the counter. "Look at you kiddo!" Miral stood and looked at her father solemnly. She didn't rush into his arms and Kathryn secretly couldn't blame her. Sure, Tom wrote and sent gifts religiously, but he was still a stranger to her. Over the short course of their lunch together, Kathryn had learned that for Miral, anger and fear was the same emotion. She was scowling at Tom but he just laughed.
"I remember that expression." he said, pulling his daughter into his arms. She looked a little shocked but tentatively hugged him back. He kissed the top of her head. "Where is B'Elanna?"
"She couldn't get off the Punisher." Miral said. Tom thought the small, exploratory space ship was appropriate for B'Elanna and her uncontrollable temper.
"You came alone?" Tom asked.
"A cadet escorted me from the transport station." Miral explained. "It was fine."
"I see." he said.
"Mom sent a note." she continued. "I think it's her mostly yelling at you, though."
"Sounds about right." Tom said. "Got one of those sandwiches for me?" he asked, changing the subject, looking at Kathryn. She waved vaguely toward the counter and he saw a plate under a cloth napkin, waiting for him. He winked at her and she smiled behind her coffee cup. Miral was watching Kathryn with a curious expression.
"Something I can do for you, Miss Paris?" she asked.
"You aren't what I expected." Miral said, shrugging.
"Oh?" Kathryn asked, raising an eyebrow. "What did you expect?"
"Dad, you remember that old book you sent me? The one from the 21st century?" she asked.
"The Fairy Tales?" he asked. "Yeah, why?"
"The way mom described her," she glanced over slyly at Kathryn as if the older woman couldn't hear. "Was like the evil-step mother in The Little Cinder girl." Tom looked momentarily uncomfortable but Kathryn burst out in throaty laughter.
"I really am that terrible so watch out," she said. Miral looked disbelieving.
"We should get you set up, shouldn't we?" Tom asked. "We made up the guest room for you."
"Okay," Miral said, letting the subject be led away from Kathryn who looked unfazed at the knowledge B'Elanna had been badmouthing her. B'Elanna had been badmouthing her from the beginning, after all. They'd had their harmonious times, of course, but they were two alpha dogs butting heads and Kathryn was now living with her ex-husband and who could blame B'Elanna for talking trash?
"Your mom mentioned that you haven't spent very much time on Earth." Kathryn said, clearing the dishes and leaving them in the sink.
"I haven't spent much time on any planet." Miral said.
"Maybe we can take in the sights," Tom said. "San Francisco, New York, Paris, the Moon, Rome."
"You don't have to entertain me," Miral said.
"Trust me, after two days of watching us putter around this house, you'll want to get out." Kathryn said. "This summer is about you."
"Mom said that if I don't have any fun, she'll come get me." Miral said.
"It's all in the note, I'm sure." Tom said, dryly. "Where's your stuff? Your room is upstairs."
Kathryn watched them walk out of the kitchen, and saw the way Tom put his hand on his daughter's back in the same place that he put his hand on her back when he led her in or out of room. She knew that having Tom's daughter come would disrupt their leisurely lifestyle but she'd been looking forward to it. Tom had said something about how it would be nice to have a family living in the big house again and that had made Kathryn think. Were she and Tom a family? Did Kathryn have a place with Tom and Miral? She knew that B'Elanna was always hot tempered but did everyone see Kathryn as perpetually the other woman?
She'd met with Mark when she'd first arrived back on Earth – skinny and afraid of large crowds and cameras. She'd met his wife and their new baby son and it had been okay. She was glad Mark was happy but he'd looked at her like she was a stranger. They'd printed all of her indiscretions on Voyager, all her bending of the prime directive and the media often made her out to be cold and inhuman.
"That isn't me," Kathryn had said, drinking her wine while he watched her warily for signs of the woman he'd once known and loved.
"Of course not," Mark had said, but he hadn't been convinced.
In bed, Kathryn read while Tom tossed and turned, looking for sleep.
"Are you worried?" Kathryn asked.
"About what?" he asked, looking up at her, the way she was propped up on her pillow, her thumb firmly on the scroll bar of her PADD.
"Life, I guess," she said.
"A little," he said. "I'm glad you're here."
"Me too," she said.
"Miral is… her mother." Tom said. "I don't really know what I expected but I'm afraid that she'll hate me just like…"
"You're not your father, Tom." Kate said, putting her hand flat against his chest. He knew that he would try to never treat his daughter the way his father had treated him.
"Yeah," he said. "Anyway, what should we do tomorrow?"
"I was thinking Rome." she said. "I think we should give her a summer to remember. We need to get out of this house anyway."
"You'll be all right, out there?" he asked.
"We're already in the gossip news," she said. "I've spent too much time hiding away."
She put her PADD on the nightstand and lay back. He turned off the lights and she slithered closer to him, tucking her knees into him so he could hold her and keep her warm. It had taken some time, getting used to sleeping with her. She squirmed, she stole the covers. When Tom had slept with women, he tended to leave before morning and with B'Elanna, there could have been a wall between them for all the moved in the night but with Kate, it was an active experience, sleep. He liked to sleep with his hand in her hair. She smelled like summer time, even in the dead of winter.
Miral had the same all-purpose jumpsuit in a variety of similar colors. Kate worried that she would be uncomfortable.
"It isn't that you would stand out," Tom told her even though she would. "Your clothes are meant for space, not planet side."
"Rome is an ancient city. There isn't much technology there, and I think you would be more comfortable in more traditional clothing." Miral eyed her white linen dress with apparent disgust.
"I'm not wearing a dress." she said, crossing her arms.
"Fine," Tom said, suppressing laughter. "But my sister's left some clothes here from when they were younger and I'm sure we can find something that fits." Kate watched them climb up the stairs and silently wished them luck.
Forty-five minutes later she was sitting on the back patio in the sunshine with a cup of coffee and her book. Finally Tom and Miral came back down. Miral had agreed on dark pants and a dark shirt that looked not far off from her usual attire but was at least in separate pieces.
"Good heavens, let's go." Kate said standing.
"Is this okay?" Miral asked.
"It's perfect," she said.
It was a little less than a mile walk to the nearest transporter station and they didn't hurry. It was a little before sunset and they took the walk slow. It would be the middle of the night in Rome but they'd still be able to get a late dinner at a café and check into a hotel so they'd be fresh for the morning. Tom didn't tend to spend a lot of his money and he was happy to splurge on this trip with his daughter and his… lover? It had been less than a year since Kate came to stay but he didn't foresee her leaving. In fact, if she ever tried to leave Tom knew he would do everything in his power to stop it. Watching her walk a few paces ahead of him with her daughter in her white dress and straw hat filled him with a sort of peace he thought he could never attain.
Kate was so different from the woman on Voyager. Sure she was still a great leader and had a powerhouse mind for science and strategy, but she was definitely softer. Tom had, at the time, the same crush on his captain that every male (and more than a few female) crewmembers had but it was based purely in fantasy. It wasn't until they were off the ship and back on Earth and Tom realized that he missed her in a not fantasy related way. He missed her despite it all – the getting stranded, the feeling of her pulling his pip off his collar, Kate telling him that he may kiss his bride, all of it.
"Hey ladies," he called catching up with them and putting his arm around their shoulders. Miral shrugged him off but he didn't let it get him down. They reached the transporter station and Tom pressed his thumb to the operator's PADD, crediting them the trip across the globe. Every time Tom paid for something like that, Kate realized how long she'd taken being a part of Starfleet for granted.
When she had left Starfleet, she'd left on the best terms she could have while still leaving. She'd officially retired though she did so on inactive duty. Most retired admirals were called back several times a year to panels, negotiations, and other official functions but she didn't want that. She just wanted what she had.
The transport was quick and painless and they emerged in the heart of Rome. Miral was quiet, mostly, looking around at the stone buildings and ornate architecture with large eyes. They found one of the few remaining cafes and ordered a light dinner. They'd kept Miral busy all day so she would be tired now and by the time they checked into their room at the Grand Plaza, she was ready for bed. The suite was large – two rooms with a door to separate them as well as a bathroom and a large closet. The smaller room had a narrow bed for Miral and the large room had a large, square bed for Tom and Kate. There was a tub as well as a water shower and a replicator which Miral eyed greedily, but was no doubt expensive to use.
They put Miral to bed right away with a glass of water and a promise to whisper. Tom was pretty tired too, though Kate was used to getting by on only a few hours of sleep. The concierge had recognized them both and promised that he'd do anything to make their stay a pleasant one and Kate had given him the cold shoulder. He fell asleep for a little while but woke up when he rolled over to find he was alone in the bed. He got up and found her on the patio that faced an internal courtyard.
"Hi there," he said, putting his arms around her. "Can't sleep?"
"Not yet," she said, leaning her head back against him. "Miral's out like a light, I checked."
"Yeah, she's a heavy sleeper like…" he paused and shook his head.
"Like B'Elanna, it's fine." she said. "The past is the past."
"If I had only known what I was missing," he whispered. "Back on that ship."
"Ha," she said, deep in her throat. "I would have never done this on Voyager,"
"Even if I had put all my time and energy into the seduction of Kathryn Janeway?" he said against her neck. She tilted her head a bit and he swept her hair to one side.
"Even then," she said. "It's better now isn't it?"
"It's perfect," he agreed. "I love you, Kathryn."
"I love you too," she said. She let him kiss her neck for awhile, his hands loose on her waist. "Tom?"
"Hmm?" he asked.
"It's just…" she turned around to face him. "Do you ever worry about what they say about us?"
"Is that why you can't sleep, babe? You're worried about gossip? You don't even read that stuff."
"I got a message from Mark the other day," she admitted.
"Your old fiancé?" he asked, frowning a little.
"Don't worry, Mister Paris, he's married with kids now." she assured him. "It was just… he wanted to get coffee, right? Which was fine and I went while you and Miral went to the shuttle museum so you could show her the Delta Flyer."
"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked.
"I didn't want to make a big deal out of it," she said. "I should have, I'm sorry." He looked at her, waiting for her to continue. "We met in San Francisco and he wanted to see me because he was worried. He read that I had checked myself into a mental institution or that you had committed me or something because I was crazy and he read that we were married and he read that we were having a baby out of wedlock even though I'm far too old for that…" she trailed off. "Why do people still care?"
"People are fascinated with interesting people," he said. "We had a good story and while you and I know it's old news…" he shrugged. "All I can say is don't let it worry you. And stop running off with handsome men who aren't me."
"Deal," she laughed. "I just want it to stop. We're normal."
"Well," he said, scratching his head. "If you really want people to see that we're normal, there is one thing we could do."
"What?" she asked.
"Go to the naming ceremony for the dormitory." he said. "A short appearance."
"I think I burned my last bridge with Chakotay, Tom." she said, dryly.
"If he wants me to go, you're to be on my arm. Those are the conditions."
"All right," she said. "Let's go to bed."
"Bed," he agreed.
In the morning, before the ladies were awake, he sent a message to Chakotay letting him know that he'd reconsidered and that he and Kathryn would be attending after all. It was only a few days away and as soon as he hit send, he realized he was nervous.
It was arranged for Miral to be picked up by her mother at the ceremony as well. It was cutting their daughter's trip short by a few weeks but the Punisher was being sent on a deep space mission instead of staying nearby as planned and so Miral had to be back on board. Tom was angry but Kate calmed him.
"It's a stepping stone to a real relationship, Tom. The worst thing you can do is anger B'Elanna now. It's her career, after all." she said. "We'll get her next summer and the summer after until she'll look forward all year to coming here."
"That's optimistic," he grumbled but he knew she was probably right. He helped his daughter pack the night before and Kate had gone to town and found Miral a nice outfit to wear to the ceremony. Chakotay had asked if Kate would come in her admiral's uniform and she'd scoffed at that idea.
"He has got SOME nerve, that man. All those years of telling me to let my hair down and now he wants me to be the picture perfect Starfleet office, I can't even believe…" but she trailed off, leaving the room and Tom just shook his head and wondered for the millionth time if this had been such a good idea after all.
It was strange to be at the academy again. His hair was too long to be regulation and he was in formal dress, but not uniform. Kate's hair was longer than when she'd first boarded Voyager and she sometimes talked about cutting it but he always talked her out of it. She kept it clipped back but not up in the severe way she had as captain. She wore another dress, black, like she was going to a funeral and maybe she was in a way, maybe she was paying her respects to Owen in the way that she hadn't by skipping his funeral.
"If your father could see me now," she laughed, but it sounded hallow and scared.
"Why?" he asked, holding Miral's hand tight so she didn't wander.
"You and me?" she shook her head. "Would have floored him."
"What was Grandpa Owen like?" asked Miral, taking Kate's hand in her other one.
"He was very Starfleet," Kate said. "I used to work for him, a long time ago."
"He was… demanding." Tom said.
"Like mom?" she asked.
"A little bit like your mom," Tom said. "It's not bad to be demanding, in the end." They were approaching a crowd of people and Kate crouched down to Miral's level and pointed straight ahead.
"There she is," Kate whispered, pointing to B'Elanna who looked impatient and out of place.
"Mom!" Miral shouted, and took off at a run.
B'Elanna opened her arms and greeted her daughter with a smile. Tom waved and B'Elanna waved back, thought a little half-heartedly. Tom had his arm draped over Kate's freckled shoulder and B'Elanna said something to their daughter and then walked toward him.
"Hi Tom, Admiral…" she trailed off, not quite ready to call her anything else, especially not the affectionate nickname Tom had bestowed upon her.
"Oh, no," Kate said, waving her hand. "Please not that."
"Yes, Ma'am?" she said, awkwardly.
"Mom, just call her Aunt Kate." Miral said.
"Kathryn is fine," Kate said, laughing. B'Elanna looked a little sheepish.
"Thank you for… I'm sorry we have to go so soon." B'Elanna said.
"I understand," Tom said, when Kate squeezed his elbow.
"You'll stay for the ceremony, won't you? Miral shouldn't miss this. It's her blood, after all." Kate said.
"We'll stay," B'Elanna said. "We don't ship out until morning. You know, there are a lot of the Voyager crew here." Tom felt Kate stiffen and looked over at her. She looked a little pale.
"Tom, I don't…"
"They want to see you," B'Elanna said. "We're not angry anymore. Just… disappointed."
"Come on, Kate. It's time to get back on the horse." Tom said.
"Horse?" Miral asked.
"Harry is here, he took leave to come. He was really excited when I told him you two were coming." B'Elanna said.
"Who else?" Kate asked.
"Tuvok, Chakotay, the Delaney Twins, Sam and Naomi Wildman, Dalby, and Seven. That's all I've seen so far." she said.
"Seven," Kate whispered, looking stricken.
"She looks completely normal. That is, no more implants." B'Elanna said. "You'll see for yourself, anyway."
"I have to go check in with Chakotay," Tom said. "Miral do you want to go onstage with me or stay with Mom?"
"Stage?" she asked, her voice rising in anger, which meant she was nervous.
"No stage, then." Tom said. "Got it. We'll see you after then – right here, okay?"
"Bye," B'Elanna said, and led Miral off to find a seat in the gathering crowd.
"Come on," Tom said, putting Kate's hand through his elbow.
"Tom, I'm…" she closed her eyes for a moment. "A little scared."
"Seriously?" he asked. "Let's see, the Kazons, the Vidiians, not to mention the Borg and your scared of Seven of Nine?"
"No!" she said. "I'm scared of… Harry Kim." she laughed at her self. "I did that poor boy wrong, you know? I took away the best years of his career and kept him at ensign to boot. I just couldn't… promote everyone, you know?" she shook hear head.
"He adored you." Tom promised. "I'm sure he, along with the rest of the crew, appreciates all that you did."
"We'll see." she said, softly.
"You are…" Tom paused looking past her.
"What am I, Tom?" she asked, but turned to see Chakotay approaching them.
"I'm glad you decided to come, Mr. Paris, it means a lot to Starfleet." he said, nodding at Tom and then to Kate. "Kathryn,"
"Captain," she greeted, trying to bite back a smile. "Allow me to apologize for our last conversation. I was… rude."
"Apology accepted," he said, with his own small smile. "I hope you'll have time to attend the after party."
"We'll see," Tom said.
"Well, I need for you to come to the stage and Kathryn; you're more than welcome to join him. You were a dear friend of Admiral Paris as well."
"Up to you, Tom." she said.
"Yeah, I want you up there with me," he said. "Let's go." He took her hand and they were led onto the stage and took a seat behind and to the side of the podium. There was a moderate crowd of officers and cadets and other federation people who were important but not too important. There were, however, a lot of reporters. The whole ordeal would be filmed and there seemed to be one or two photographers who were assigned to take photographs of only Tom Paris and Kathryn Janeway. Kate bore the scrutiny well, holding her head up and crossing her ankles demurely while people spoke. Tom got to break the bottle of champagne against the side of the building and Kate's laugh was genuine.
At the after party, press was not invited to attend but that didn't keep them from swarming the entrance to the large conference room on the academy grounds. Tom knew that in the morning, the news feed headlines would all report it as a Voyager reunion. The new building and his father would be footnoted, at best.
Tom and Kate took a seat at a table. It wasn't a full meal service event but drinks were passed out and rather than mingle, they stayed stationary and let people come to them. Tom felt like royalty and Kate looked rather back in her element. Part of her, the captain buried deep inside, still wanted to be adored. Tom was happy to let her have this. There were a lot of people in the room, and the two of them were tucked back into a corner, but one by one, the former crew found their way over. The twins came, still the same rank though elevated, and chatted for a while.
"I see someone finally tamed the beast," Jenny said, putting her hand on top of Tom. "Only you could do it, Captain."
"Please, Miss Delaney, I'm no longer your captain, you can call me Kathryn." she corrected.
"Oh, you'll always be our captain," Megan said, somberly. "The best captain we've ever had."
Kate graced them both with a hug and bid them goodbye. Next were Sam Wildman and Naomi, who was at the brink of her teenage years and looking sufficiently awkward. She shook Kate's hand who smiled and hugged the girl.
"How are you, Naomi?" she asked. "Please sit down." Sam pulled out two chairs and they both sat.
"You're all grown up, kid." Tom said.
"I'm the same," she said.
"Already attending Starfleet Prep," Sam said proudly.
"Are you? Well if you ever need a letter of recommendation, please ask." she offered.
"Wow," Naomi said, smiling wildly.
"Where is your father?" Tom asked. "I remember him from the homecoming ceremony, good guy."
"At work," Sam said. "I wanted to tell you, Captain, that I'm pregnant again!"
"Sam, I'm not…"
"Congratulations!" Tom said, nudging Kate who just needed to accept her current title.
"They call you that out of respect, babe." Tom said, and she nodded.
When Harry Kim approached with his new wife, Kate's eyes brimmed with tears and she put her hands on his cheeks and hugged him.
"Mr. Kim, how I've missed you." she said, wiping her eyes. "Look at you, you're so…"
"Married?" Tom asked, clapping Harry on the back.
"Dashing," Kate said. "I'm Kathryn," she extended her hand to Harry's wife.
"Lauren," she said, "I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to meet you."
"Likewise," Kate said. "Harry, I've been away too long and we will catch up at a better time. Come to dinner, please, let us cook for you."
"Of course, Captain, we'd love to." Harry said. "Tom has been telling me all about your culinary skills."
"Developed after we got home, I assure you." she laughed.
"I saw B'Elanna and Miral when we came in, she's getting big." Harry said.
"She's darling," Kate said. Tom just beamed, feeling like a father for the first time.
"When are you going to start your family, Harry?" Tom asked loudly, causing both Harry and Lauren to blush.
"I'll see you next week," Harry said, elbowing Tom, and kissing Kate's hand.
"Careful now," Lauren teased as they walked away. "I've heard stories about your Captain Janeway…"
"Excuse me," there was no mistaking the monotone voice behind then and Kate steeled herself a moment before turning around.
"Seven!" she exclaimed.
"I go by Annika now," she corrected. Chakotay joined her side and stood close.
"That was something that took some convincing," he said, with a small smile.
"It was a point of our marriage that I decided to concede." she acknowledged.
"Tom gave me a new name as well," Kate said, winking. "Annika, it is a pleasure to see you."
"I find that hard to believe." she said, still standing erect but in flat shoes that put her slightly closer to Kate's height, something Kate was now grateful for.
"Annika," Chakotay said.
"I tried to contact you numerous times since our return to Earth, and all messages went unanswered." Annika continued.
"That's true," Kate said. "I apologize for that. I needed time."
"Time for what?" she asked, her voice rising. "Time to not be there for me?"
"Time for herself," Tom said, stepping a little closer to Kate. "She was selfless on Voyager and you know it."
"Please," Kate said, raising her hand. "She's right. I was selfish but all I can do is try to make it up to you now." She looked at Seven who looked away.
"You were rude to my husband as well." she said, her voice back to a normal volume.
"We cleared that up already," Chakotay said. "No one is perfect, Annika. You remind me of that often."
"What do you say? Can we start again?" Kate asked, softly. Seven studied her for a moment.
"No." she said, and walked away. Chakotay touched Kate's shoulder.
"I'm sorry. Give her time, she'll come around." he promised. He followed his wife and left Kate standing shocked.
"I'm sorry," Tom said.
"I want to go home," Kate said. "Tom, take me home."
"All right. We have to say goodbye to Miral." he said. The rest of the party was blurred and Tom left his daughter with the same promises to write and send gifts. Most people were still at the party and once they got through the reporters, the transport station was empty and they were home quickly. Kate went straight into the bathroom and closed the door. He decided to give her a little while, but after twenty minutes, he let himself into the bathroom to see her crying in the bathtub.
"Kate…" he said, softly, unbuttoning his shirt. "She doesn't understand."
"Not true," she wailed. "She knew exactly what to say to me."
"People have been mad at you before? How is this different?" His pants and underwear hit the floor and she scooted in to make space for him in the tub. The water was so hot that he had to inch himself into it but he did so without complaint. She didn't say anything but did lay back against him so he could put his arms around her and put one leg on either side of her narrow hips.
"Is this about Chakotay?" Tom asked.
"We've never really talked about… I mean I know when I was with B'Elanna and there was that time we had to leave you on that planet."
"New Earth," she whispered.
"You used to love him?" Tom asked.
"In a way, maybe, but not the way I love you." she promised. "It isn't about Chakotay. It's about… it's about having someone and then losing them."
"She was mine for a little while." Kate said, her voice wavering. "And now she's not."
"I'm yours now." he said. "And I know it isn't the same, and I know that it doesn't fill the hole, but… I've never been happier before." This didn't stop her tears; if anything, it made her cry a little harder. Tom knew there was nothing else he could say. Tom knew that the best thing he could to was to hold her and let her cry. He kissed the crown of her head, and he ran his hands over her body as an act of comfort, not arousal. She still looked trim and fit and so small in her clothes, but naked, time was doing its march across her body. Where her stomach was once flat and toned, now it was soft and a little rounded. Her breasts sat lower on her body and there were places, like her cleavage and the soft skin on the inside of her thighs that showed ware – it was fragile and lined with wrinkles like tiny fractures. The freckles on her shoulders were just the start of a trail that followed down her chest on to her belly and he loved every spot, every line, every cell in her body.
On Kate's fifty-second birthday, Tom asked her to be his wife.
"You're serious?" she asked, looking up from the sofa. It was cold, raining cats and dogs and they knew if the storm lasted much longer, they'd have to end the storm with the atmospheric conditioning system. It was too late for rain, May, but San Francisco was a wet city and it's suburb of Marin was the same.
"I am." Tom said, sitting next to her. She was under a blanket reading something and had been there all day. She didn't want to go out. She'd wanted to spend her birthday doing nothing but reading for pleasure and drinking coffee and so far it had been just that.
"Married?" Kate repeated, setting her book down, spine in the air.
"I have a ring," he said, reaching into his pocket. "Actually it's in my other pants."
"Well go and get it, then." she said, picking up her book again. He laughed, shook his head. Some days she was so unflappable. He came back with the ring. No box, just a pair of gold bands in his hand. It was an archaic tradition, but something his parents had done and something that had stuck with him. She picked up the smaller band and looked at it, slid it on her finger and stuck out her hand.
"Well?" he asked, his heart beating like he'd run a marathon.
"Why not?" she asked. "I married you once before."
"Oooh, low blow," he said, ripping the book from her hands and tossing it to the floor. He climbed over her and kissed her, even though she was laughing and so their teeth knocked together.
"I was just waiting for you to ask." she admitted later, in bed.
"If you wanted to get married, why didn't you just say something?" he asked, screeching in disbelief.
"I'm an old fashioned girl, Tom." she said. "Some girls want to be asked."
He rolled his eyes but she won him over quickly, and fell asleep with her head on his chest, his hand buried in her hair.