"I'm late," she says, rushing past him. She's shrugging into her jacket and running her fingers through her hair at the same time.
"You have a five minute walk," Tom says. He's still in his bathrobe, drinking coffee out of Janeway's favorite mug. "You won't be late."
She ignores him, save for a quick glower, and disappears into the bathroom. When she comes out, she's wearing dark red lipstick.
"I've got to go," she says.
"Kathryn, are you forgetting something?" Tom says. She stops and faces him, her eyes searching. He picks up her new rank bars from the the nightstand and tosses them to her. She catches them easily.
"I'm sorry," she says, pausing to fasten her rank to her collar. "It's just my first day and I'm a little nervous."
"It's going to be fine," Tom assures her. "They're going to love you."
"I don't want their love," she says. "I want their respect." Tom grins.
"You'll get both, I'd wager." He gets out of bed and stands in front of her - he tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Soon, it will be long enough to put up. "See you tonight."
She leans in to kiss the corner of his mouth before rushing down the stairs and out the door. When Tom see's his reflection in the bathroom mirror later, there is the faint impression of her lips in red.
Harry arrives about an hour after Janeway leaves. His new tour on the USS Hood doesn't start for another two weeks.
"Lieutenant Kim," Tom says, when he opens the door.
"Mr. Janeway," Kim says in return.
"Ha ha ha, you're so funny," Tom says. "When are you going to forgive me for that? It's been forever."
"It's been four days," Harry says, stepping into the house. Tom shuts the door behind them.
"If you've seen one marriage ceremony, you've seen them all," Tom says. "Besides, you're here to help me, I thought."
"I'm here to escape my mother," Harry says.
"Seven years of pining for her and now look at you," Tom accuses.
"I love her, I love my family and I love eating their food and sleeping in my bed but... she insists on tucking me in, Tom! And in the morning, I wake up and she's sitting by my bed watching me sleep! It's creepy. She came into the bathroom the other day while I was in the tub and asked me to play her something on my clarinet!" Tom is laughing. "Sure, it sounds funny but mostly it's traumatizing. I'm 30 years old!"
"Yet you still take baths in the tub..."
"That's it, I'm leaving," Harry says.
"Wait, wait, I'm sorry," Tom says. "Stay."
"What is this project anyway?" Harry asks.
"A memory box," Tom says, handing him a PADD. Harry scrolls through the specs. "I still haven't gotten her a wedding present and I thought I could make something that would hold her Captains' pips, her Voyager Comm badge, a picture of the senior staff..."
"That's a really good idea," Harry says.
"Always the tone of surprise."
"What do you need me for?" Harry asks.
"Well, if I were programming it on a holodeck, I'd be fine, but in reality, building things is really more your forte," Tom says.
"You should replicate Voyager's Dedication plaque and include it," Harry says.
"See! Now we're thinking," Tom says, leading Harry out the back door.
Janeway looks up from the briefings to see her new assistant standing in her office doorway.
"What is it, Lily?" Janeway asks. She feels exhausted already - her first order of business is to catch up on the last seven years of Starfleet Command and she's beginning to realize it might take another seven years to do it.
"There's someone here to see you," Lily says. "She claims to be your mother."
Janeway smiles. "Let's give her the benefit of the doubt then. Send her in, please."
"I used to bring your father lunch," Gretchen says, holding up a brown paper bag. Janeway smiles and hugs her mother.
"Thank you," she says, taking the bag and setting it aside. Her mother takes her hand and thumbs what used to be her wedding ring and the gold band that Tom had given Janeway to wear above it. "You didn't have to come all this way."
"I wanted to hear how your first day is going. Do you have time to eat?"
Janeway glances at the chronometer on her monitor and internally winces. Nothing with her mother is ever quick - her mother is used to living in a small town where supper is an hour and a half followed by a spell on the front porch if the weather is obliging. Janeway has budgeted fifteen minutes for lunch.
"Sure," she relents. After all it is her first day - no one expects her to move mountains quiet yet. They stay in the office instead of moving to the mess or going outside. Janeway can't seem to walk ten meters without seeing an old acquaintance or someone wanting to introduce themselves to her. She even sees members of her crew. Lieutenant Ryan's father teaches at the Academy and Janeway has seen her already this morning.
"How is Tom?" Gretchen asks.
"Still in bed, probably," Janeway says. "He has the sleeping pattern of a teenager."
"That's what happens when you rob the cradle," Gretchen says. Janeway gapes at her mother, shocked into silence. "I'm kidding," her mother relents.
"He's not... I didn't..."
"I think he's a good match for you," Gretchen says. "Mark is wonderful, but you needed someone with energy to match your own and you weren't going to find that in an older man."
"Tom is fine," Janeway says. "I'll tell him you asked after him."
"You're welcome for dinner any time," Gretchen says. She pauses and Janeway realizes her mother is waiting for a return invitation.
"The house is still in boxes," Janeway says. "We don't even have a dining room table - our mattress is on the floor because we can't agree on a bed frame. When things are more put together, maybe a housewarming party?"
"I guess it doesn't matter how accomplished you are - newlyweds still live in squalor," her mother jokes.
When Gretchen leaves, it's with the understanding that Janeway and Tom will come around for dinner within the week.
"You were gone for seven years," Gretchen says. "Try to imagine how I must feel."
Guilt was always one of her mother's specialties.
When she gets home, Tom and Harry are sitting in the kitchen at the wooden table there, drinking beer from dark brown bottles with long necks. She can tell they've been there a while, because when Harry sees her, he stands up too quickly and wobbles a bit.
"Admiral," he greets, and then starts laughing, which sets Tom off. She shakes her head.
"You guys have fun today?" she asks, shrugging out of her uniform jacket and laying it across the back of a chair.
"Days not over," Tom says, handing her his half empty bottle. She pauses for only a moment before grabbing the bottle and taking a drink. She sits at the end of the table, between them.
"You excited about working with Captain DeSoto?" she asks Harry. "The Hood is a good assignment."
"Everyone says it's his last tour," Harry says. Janeway knows for a fact that it is, but won't say as much.
"It'll be a nice change of pace for you, working with an experienced Captain," she says, with a wink.
"No shop talk on my vacation!" Tom says.
"Your indefinite vacation," Harry accuses with a grin. "Get a job!"
"NEVER!" Tom shouts cheerfully. "I'm a kept man now!"
"Like hell," Janeway says. "Actually, something came across my desk this morning." She reaches around into the pocket of her jacket and pulls out a slim, transparent PADD. She slides it across the table to her husband.
"Come on, Kathryn, it was your first day and you're already nagging me about getting work?" he whines.
"I'm not nagging you!" she says. Harry sits with a stupid grin, watching their marital bickering happily. "Look at the damn PADD, you'll thank me later."
He activates with with a grumble and scans through it. The longer he reads, the more silent he becomes. Finally he looks up at her.
"I need to submit my name right now," he says, standing. She snags his wrist.
"I already did," she promises. "With an accompanying note from your commanding officer for the required promotion."
"You're my commanding officer - you can't promote me if we're married."
"Not her, genius," Harry says. "Chakotay."
"Chakotay?" Tom asks, surprised. It is a kind thing for someone who isn't quite a friend to do. Janeway nods.
Finally, Harry can't stand it and grabs the PADD to look at the job description.
"Introduction to Holoprogramming, Starfleet Academy," he reads out loud. "Neat."
"Plus the 200 and 300 level classes, as well as the opportunity for tenure track," Janeway says. "And, if you were wise, you'd offer to teach a shuttle design class as well."
"It's not my job yet," Tom says, taking his beer back from her. He polishes it off.
"Yet," she says, with a wink. She turns to Harry. "And you, dearest, are spending the night."
"No, Captain, I mean... Admiral, I can..."
"You're drunk," she says. "You'll stay."
"Just say, yes Ma'am," Tom says. "I'll get you a pillow, buddy."
"Yes Ma'am," Harry says. Harry follows Tom down the hall. There is a guest room but it stands empty, so Harry will sleep on the couch. At some point, they're really going to have to agree on some furniture.
By the time Tom comes into their bedroom, Janeway is already in bed. She isn't asleep, but she's curled around the spot where Tom will sleep. It had taken her some time to get used to sharing a bed again. Tom is adaptable, always has been. He can sleep through alien fire, ion storms, or any sort of spacial distortion. Another person is no sweat. But Janeway had adapted slowly - first being unable to sleep with the sound of someone else breathing or worse - snoring. Then, Tom would wake up to an elbow in his ribs and a sleepily murmured apology; she'd forgotten he was there and she'd rolled over hard.
Now, though, she looks comfortable. He can see she's reading and that it's for work, not pleasure.
"I've already lost you," Tom says, seemingly sad.
"Hmm?" she asks.
"We had a rule on the ship," he says, pulling the PADD from her hand slowly. "No work in bed."
"Tom, do you know how much I have to catch up on?" she asks, reaching for the PADD.
"So, our rules don't apply here?"
"It's a different job," she says.
"Then we need different rules," he says. "Fair enough. But this rule stays. No work in our bed."
"You mean in our mattress on the floor?"
He crosses his arms.
"I was saving this for you," Tom says. "But you seem like you need it now."
"A present," he says.
"You have a present for me?" Janeway asks.
"I may," he says. "But you have to meet me half way."
"You'd rather I get out of bed and go sit downstairs alone to read then be in here with you in bed?" she asks.
"When we're in bed, I want to know that you're there with me one hundred percent," he says.
"You didn't even have that on Voyager," she says with a chuckle, like it is all a joke of some sort.
"This isn't Voyager," he says, seriously. She sets her work down.
"I know," she assures him. "You have me Tom, I swear you do, but this is my first week and you're going to have to cut me a little slack."
He rubs his face, the stubble that has gathered there during the day.
"Do you want your present?"
"It's in the shed," he says and she throws back the covers and steps right into her house shoes. She follows him down the narrow staircase, they creep past Harry who is asleep, and out into the dark yard. Tom has bare feet and the grass is dewy and cool between his toes. She takes his hand as the find the path to the small wooden shed, as if there is danger lurking in the shadows. He opens the door and presses the button to activate the light.
"It's..." Her voice falters.
"You said you wanted something to put on that wall," he says. She puts her hand over her mouth and walks up to inspect it. There are her pips, her comm badge, her staff. They stand in silence for a long while. "You don't like it?"
"No," she says. "No, I like it very much. I just... I didn't know you had this in you, Tom."
"Had it in me?" he asks.
"To make something so... sentimental for me." She touches the frame. It's not stained yet and her fingers come away with sawdust.
"Well," he says. "I do like to keep you on your toes."
"Thank you," she says. "Can we hang it right now?"
"Tonight? We'll wake up Harry." But Tom is happy to oblige her and she stands in her robe, yawning, while he fastens it to the wall above the mantle. Harry stirs but doesn't wake up and they giggle as they climb the stairs whispering. Kathryn leaves her work alone and Tom turns off the light.
He gets the job. Whether or not it is on his own merit or because he had his father, Chakotay and his wife, the Admiral, pulling for him doesn't much matter in the end. The job is his and when the new term begins, he's teaching five classes. Kathryn is so proud, she wants to take his picture of the first day of class.
"I'm not your son," he says, taking the holocamera away from her. "Stop being weird."
"I know, I know," Janeway says. "But pictures on the first day of school are a family tradition."
"For a student," he says. He leans in and kisses her. She kisses him back and then wipes the lipstick from his mouth.
They walk to the transport station together. It's a short walk, but they're actually on time, so they don't hurry.
"I've been thinking about what I want for my birthday," he said. She'd asked him the other day and he hadn't had an answer. He is a man who has everything he wants. Well, almost everything.
"What is it?" she asks. They're holding hands and he gives hers a squeeze.
"Vice-Admiral Kathryn Elizabeth Paris," he says. "Has a nice ring, doesn't it?"
Janeway stops, lets go of his hand, and stares at him.
"Or... not," he says.
"You want me to change my name?" she asks.
"I just thought... we're married now, so... I know it's kind of an old tradition but..." He shakes his head. "Never mind, obviously you don't want to."
"I've never ever considered it," she says. "I've been a Janeway for so long."
"Don't sweat it, babe," he says. "I'll think of something else."
"Paris isn't a bad name," she says quickly.
"It's a damn fine name," he says. They are approaching the station. They both transport to San Francisco, but she goes to headquarters and he to campus.
"I'll see you later," she says. "Knock 'em dead."
"Bye," he says and kisses her lightly. She transports away first.
"I'll do it," she says.
She's decorating a cake - very, very badly, but looks like she's concentrating so hard that he can't criticize the wobbly border or lopsided letters.
"Do what?" he asks. They're having a very modest party for his birthday and it starts in a few hours. She wanted to surprise him but blew that pretty quick, so they are decorating together. Not more than ten people, his close friends. B'Elanna is even coming and bringing her new boyfriend. Tom knows nothing about him, Harry says he's an engineer and nice enough, if a little on the cocky side.
"Kind of like you," Harry had said.
"I'll take your name," Kathryn says now. "Happy birthday."
"Babe, you obviously don't want to," he says. "Don't do it."
"I do want to!" she says, setting down the piping tube. She pushes her hair out of her face and leaves a streak of orange icing on her forehead. "I wouldn't do it if I didn't."
"Do I do things I don't want to do? Ever?" she asks.
"No," he concedes.
"Then shut up and take your gift," she says. "And anyway, I already put in the name request. By Monday, the plaque outside my office will have been changed and my records will reflect that I am Admiral Paris. Well, the other one." She grins.
"That's... awesome," he says. "You're really my wife. We're a family."
"You know it," she says. "What do you think of my cake?"
He looks at it, at her, and back at the cake.
"What do you think of my cake?" she asks again, more pointedly.
"I love it!" he says. She smiles and wipes her hands on the apron she wears.
"That's why I married you. Such a convincing liar."
"Why did you marry me?" he asks. She looks up at him, worried at the serious turn.
"I love you," she says. Kathryn is not, by any means, a simple woman but to her, this is a simple answer.
"How could you be certain that was enough?" he asks.
Her hands move to her hips. He swallows.
"Is it not enough for you?" she demands.
"You're a scientist," Tom says.
"I'm a person too," she says. "Love is irrational to a scientist, but to a human, it's natural. Even I know that."
"I just worry you got the short end of the stick is all," he says, twirling his ring around his finger.
"And I'm certain you got the short end," she says. "So it works out fine."
The doorbell sounds and then the door opens and Harry came in. He had, as Tom's best friend, an all access pass to the house. Kathryn doesn't even mind, she loves Harry like a son. Harry has the weekend off and has come to Earth for the party - they'd planned it for when he had leave. Kathryn kisses his cheek, ruffles his new buzz cut. Captain DeSoto has serious ideas about what is regulation.
"Heard the news, Admiral Paris," he says with a wink.
"That was quick." Tom looks appalled that Harry knew before him.
"The whole universe is like being on a small ship," Kathryn says as if this should soothe him somehow. He shrugs off her words and goes into the other room, presumably to sulk.
"I thought he would freak out on thirty, but he was fine. So what's the deal with this birthday?" Harry asks.
"I don't know, I think it's the promotion and the new job and being married," Kathryn says.
"Those are all good things," Harry says, confused.
"Yeah," she says. "Good, giant changes."
"So I'm guessing you haven't told him that you're pregnant yet," Harry says. She shushes him furiously - Tom is just in the other room.
"If he finds out I told you before him, he'll never forgive me," she hisses. She hadn't meant to tell him, but she had just found out and he'd called for Tom and she'd just blurted it in her excitement.
"Sorry," he says.
"Go away from me, go cheer him up," she orders. She's only a little pregnant - only a couple weeks. She's been on a strict regimen of vitamins and getting hormone injections weekly. She wasn't trying to get pregnant, she was just trying to make sure she could, if they wanted.
Best laid plans and everything. She sets a glass cover over the cake.
She's going to tell him tonight, after the party, when they are alone. She will wish him a happy birthday and tell him, let the truth be his gift. He will be happy, she thinks. She's happy, though cautiously so. She knows a hundred years ago a woman her age was considered well out of her child-bearing years, that luck is on her side.
She stands in the doorway and watches Tom and Harry drink beer and strike up a halfhearted game of cards. She feels happiness well up inside her.
"Come help me cheat, baby," Tom says. She walks over and sits on his knees.
"Those are awful cards," she says. He smacks her lightly. "I mean... watch out, Harry."
"I fold," Tom says. Janeway tries to stand but he holds her down.
"I have stuff to do," she says. "People are coming soon!"
"You have a minute to sit here with your boys," Tom says. She gives into his requests more often now, knowing how much he sacrificed when they were lost.
"Yeah," she says. "Deal me in, Harry."
"I will on the condition that you sit in your own chair," he says. "Ma'am."
"Ma'am?" she says. "Are we back to that?"
"Well, I wanted to be polite when I accused you of cheating," he grins. "Or attempting to cheat."
"Yeah, yeah," she says, sliding into her own seat. Tom offers her his bottle of beer but she waves it away, not quite meeting his eyes. Tom thinks nothing of it because his trust in her is pretty implicit these days. Harry grins at her, a happy smile, one she rarely saw on Voyager. "Harry," she says now, leaning in. "Honey, are you glad we got home?"
"What?" he asks. "Of course. Yeah!" She touches his face, his round face and pats it.
"What if we hadn't," she says.
"Kath..." Tom says warningly.
"I wasn't unhappy on your ship, Captain," he says, slipping up but maybe intentionally. "I missed Earth, but I wasn't unhappy."
"All this talk of happiness," Tom says. "Just live it! Come on, Harry, deal. We can get one more hand in before they get here."
"Sure," Harry says, shuffling. Tom squeezes Janeway's thigh under the table and she smiles at him, big with teeth.
"I love you," Tom says, spontaneously.
"I love you, too," Kathryn says.
"Okay, I'm officially no longer spending my leave with newlyweds," Harry says, tossing the cards down. "I'll be in the yard when the party starts."
They watch him leave and she climbs back on to his lap, pulling his face to hers.
When Neelix arrives, he has to buzz the door three times before someone lets him in and when Tom comes to the door, Neelix can see the lipstick on his face. The Talaxain grins and Tom grins back.
"Come on in," Tom says. "Let's get this party started."