Summary: Professional life interferes with personal life, friendships get in the way. Will their relationship be strong enough to endure it? (December, 2363)
A/N: This part was getting too long so I decided to split it in two different chapters.
It was snowing in Bloomington, Indiana, as it had been for the last week. The entire area was covered in a thick white layer, making it difficult to walk the streets. Loaded with bags, Kathryn tried to open the front door of her mother's house without dropping anything. After a few tries she succeeded, only to be welcomed by a big mass of fur jumping and barking at her, nearly sending her bags to the floor.
"Hi Lexie." She greeted the dog. "Down, girl! Let me leave this things somewhere and then I'll play with you, ok?" She asked, not expecting an answer.
With a quick kick, she closed the front door.
"Anybody home?" She yelled.
"In the study!" A voice yelled back.
Kathryn walked to the study, Lexie following her close, and opened the door with her body.
"Hi, Ma." Kathryn said, dropping the bags onto the couch. "I bought everything you asked and it almost cost me my life! There's snow everywhere! I slipped in front of the bakery! Thank God Mark was near and caught me before I fell on my ass." She ranted while she took off her coat, gloves, scarf and bonnet and left them next to the bags. "And you know what's worse? I had to bear Mark's silly jokes and his damn smirking for the rest of the trip." She continued, not noticing that her mother was sitting at the desk in front the computer with an open com-line. "Are you listening to me?"
"Yes, I'm listening Kathryn." Gretchen said, irritated. "But I was in the middle of a conversation."
"Oh! Sorry." She said, embarrassed.
"Actually, it's for you. I was only entertaining him until you got here. All yours. I'll be upstairs."
Gretchen got up, kissed her daughter's cheek and left the room. Kathryn, curious, walked to the desk and sat down on the chair.
"Big Guy! Long time no see." Kathryn teased.
"Less than twenty-four hours. Missed me?" Will asked, grinning.
"Of course. Is everything alright? We talked yesterday and I thought you wouldn't call back until Sunday."
"I know, but we had a change of plans. Don't worry!" He said before she could interrupt him. "I'll still be able to make it for Christmas Eve."
"You are not coming back on the twenty-third?"
"No. I'll arrive just in time to go home to change and transport to Indiana. I'm sorry." Will apologized.
"It's not your fault." She sighed. "I was looking forward to spend a night together before all the family chaos began. I haven't seen you in months."
"We'll have two full weeks to ourselves before we have to report back to Headquarters."
"You got the news?"
"Yes, I did." He said, hesitantly.
"Congratulations, Big Guy. You've earned it." Kathryn said, smiling.
"Are you ok?" Will asked, concerned.
"I am. Why wouldn't I be?"
"Because we applied for the same assignment and I got it."
"I knew it was a long shoot but I had to try. I'm glad you got it, Will, really." She said, smiling, trying to soothe his guilt, but it only made him feel worse. "Hey! Don't worry, ok? We'll talk when you get home."
"Ok. Tell me about your day." Will asked, changing the subject of their conversation to a lighter one.
"I had breakfast with Ma at the new café near the University and then met with Mark to do some shopping. I was lucky and found all the gifts I wanted to buy. We stopped to have some lunch and continued with the trip. I also bought some things Ma had asked me to get."
"And you slipped?"
"Yes!" She said, outraged. "We were walking down the street and ... Plof! Luckily, Mark was standing near me and caught me before I embarrassed myself but, in return, I had to hear him make fun of me for the rest of the afternoon."
"You've been spending a lot of time with Mark, lately." Will remarked, his voice between jealousy and accusation.
"Yes, it's wonderful to see him again. It's been a while." Kathryn explained.
"Yeah." He replied, trying to appear unaffected.
"Will, he's only my friend! I've known him since I was twelve!" She exclaimed, irritated.
"I know, I know. It's just that ..." He began but hesitated and stopped speaking.
"Lately, all you talk is Mark this, Mark that. For a moment, I thought that maybe-"
"You know what?" Kathryn interrupted, angry at him. "I know you're stressed out and under a lot of pressure right now so I'll forget whatever the hell you are implying."
"Look, Kitty-Kat, I'm sorry, ok? I wasn't implying anything. I just-"
"Forget it." She interrupted again. "I have to go."
"Ok." Will said, sadly. "I love you. Don't be mad at me, please."
"I love you too. You'll call me?"
"I will. Bye, Kitty-Kat."
"Bye, Big Guy."
Kathryn ended the call, released the breath she didn't realize she was holding and leant back on the chair, suddenly feeling exhausted. How could Will ever think that she had something going on with Mark? Didn't he trust her? Yes, those past few days, she had been spending more time with him since he was in the city too, but to think she was having an affair with him? They were friends, had been for the last sixteen years, but she didn't love him. She didn't even like him! He was only a good friend. They had shared a lot of time and experiences in the past but nothing more.
Kathryn put her elbows on the desk, hid her face in her hands and took a deep breath: she was definitely upset.
The apartment was silent when Will arrived and got in. He dumped his bag next to the door and made his way to the bedroom. He opened the door, distracted, and jumped back, startled, when he saw someone laying on his bed, reading a PADD.
"Kitty-Kat! I thought you were in Indiana." He exclaimed, happily overjoyed.
"I wanted to be here." She said while getting up and slowly approaching him. "You need a proper welcome home." Kathryn whispered in a sultry voice, running her hand down his chest.
"Really?" He asked, excited.
Will, not wanting to wait another second, grabbed her wrist and pulled her to him and captured her lips in an slow yet breathtaking kiss. Kathryn put her arms around his neck and stood as closer to him as she could, enjoying the feeling of their bodies touching after eight months of being apart without seeing each other.
"I missed you." Will said, breaking the kiss for a few seconds.
"I missed you too." Kathryn replied before kissing him again.
Slowly, Kathryn removed her arms from around his neck and caressed his shoulders, making her way down until she reacher the zipper of his uniform jacket. With a quick movement, she unzipped the garment and removed it from his body before untucking the shirt from his trousers. Will stood there, amazed, letting Kathryn do whatever she wanted. They had to stop kissing for a moment, while she helped him get rid of his undershirt, an opportunity that Will used to ask the question that had been on his mind since the moment he had got home.
"Aren't they waiting for us?"
"I told Ma we'd be late."
Knowing they had time, Will calmed himself and proceed to give his girlfriend all the attention she deserved.
Even though the young couple was late, they hadn't arrived as late as Gretchen thought they would. Everything was ready begin so, after they said hello to all the family present, they dug in. The large table, filled with too much food and wine, easily accommodated the twenty-two persons that were present. Laughter and conversation flowed while the different dishes were passed from one person to the other, everybody wanting to try everything that Gretchen had cooked for them. At mid dinner, tired of being left out of the fun that the grown ups seemed to enjoy, Little Jack, Kathryn's four-years-old cousin, stood up from his chair and made his way to sit on Kathryn's lap. His parents tried to make him return to his seat but, after she assured them that she didn't mind, they let him stay there.
When everybody finished eating, they quickly cleared the table and helped Gretchen clean everything. They sat down again to continue with the family reunion. Different desserts and liqueurs were on the table for them to enjoy while they talked. The only two absent were Kathryn and Will. After looking at the wall clock, Phoebe noticed that it had been more than fifteen minutes since they excused themselves. Before she could get up, Gretchen leaned to her and whispered to her ear to go get her sister before someone said something. She quickly complied.
She was lucky and found her at the first place she went, the kitchen. Kathryn was standing next to the window, a full champagne glass on her hand, looking at the snow falling outside. Going to stand next to her, Phoebe put her arm around her sister's waist and rested her head on Kathryn's shoulder.
"Ma asked me to find you and your too-good-looking boyfriend." Phoebe teased.
"He's in the study talking with his family." Kathryn answered.
"Are you two staying here tonight?"
"Yes. We'll go to Alaska after breakfast."
"Try to be quiet tonight, I need my precious sleep." Phoebe said, laughing.
"Don't worry, Little Monster, we'll try to let you sleep." Kathryn said grinning, joining her sister.
"Are you alright, sis?" Phoebe asked, more serious than usual. "You seem a bit down tonight."
"I'm ok. It's just that..." Kathryn began but hesitated before stopping.
"I miss him too. Everybody does." Phoebe said, understanding her sister.
"I think Christmas was the only holiday that Dad never missed, he was always home."
"Yeah, it was."
They stood there, half hugging, for a few minutes, content to be together in the same room again. Neither would acknowledge it, but they missed each other.
"You know what, dorkface?" Phoebe said, breaking the silence.
"What?" Kathryn asked, surprised.
"We need an afternoon out, only the two of us. Shopping and dinner followed by a few drinks in one of those fashion places that everybody goes out these days."
"You wanna get me drunk?" Kathryn laughed.
"Why not? You need it and I'm sure as hell I need it too. It's been a while since we've done anything together."
"Next Saturday?" Kathryn proposed.
"It's a date!" Phoebe agreed.
"Hey!" A voice called behind them making both sisters turn around, startled. "Gretchen is getting pissed off. She told me she sent Little Janeway to look for Big Janeway and they both got lost." Will said, entering the room.
"And you don't want to piss your mother-in-law, right Big Bro?" Phoebe said, teasing him.
"No, I don't. She has that mean glare capable of melting everything that crosses its way!"
"We call it the Janeway's death glare." Kathryn explained, grinning. "But don't let her hear it or you'll be in the receiving end of it too."
"Noted." Will said, stepping between them and encircling their waists with his arms.
"Let's go, before Grandma joins Ma and we end hiding under the table." Phoebe joked.
The next morning, after having a wonderful Christmas breakfast in Indiana, Kathryn and Will transported to Alaska to spend the day with Will's family. They had a great time but returned home exhausted. They went to bed early and woke up late, spending half the morning in bed. The day went by and during that time together they both detected that something was going on between them. They weren't as ease as they always were. There was an inexplicable tension in the room that made them uncomfortable. At first, they tried to ignore it, blaming the long time living apart, but when they began snapping at each other they understood that something more was going on: the ghost of their last conversation over the comm was still present. On one hand, Will was jealous of her friendship with Mark Johnson; on the other hand, Kathryn was angry at herself for not getting the job. Those two things, combined, made their moods dangerously volatile.
Saturday afternoon, after lunch, Kathryn was revising some work at their study at home while Will took a nap on the couch. She had to hurry up; she agreed to meet Phoebe at the mall in two hours and she had to finish her work first and then get ready. After forty-five more minutes, she finished everything and sent it to her Captain. She switched off the computer and got up. When she stepped into the living room her subsided annoyance surfaced again: Will hadn't picked up the table even though he promised he would, all the remains of their lunch were still there while he slept peacefully on the couch. Irritated, Kathryn began to pick up the dishes and left them on the kitchen's counter, next to the sink, without minding if she woke him up with the noise or not.
Will, hearing the noise made by his girlfriend, woke up and sat slowly on the couch, rubbing his eyes while he yawned.
"Kitty-Kat?" He asked out loud.
"I thought we agreed that you would clean up everything while I finished those reports." She reminded him, coldly, walking out of the kitchen and into the living-room.
"Yeah. I fell asleep watching FedNews. I'll do it now." He apologized.
"There's no need, it's done." Kathryn said. "I don't know why you always leave everything lying around."
"Are you serious?" He asked, incredulous.
"I am! I'm always picking up after you!" She replied, rising her voice.
"Aren't you exaggerating a little bit?" Will asked.
"Forget it. I have to get ready." She said, leaving the room.
Will quickly got up and followed her to their bedroom.
"Where are you going?"
"Out." She answered, dryly.
"With Mark?" He asked, arrogantly.
Kathryn stopped what she was doing and turned around to look at him, a furious death glare present on her sight.
"Excuse me?" She said, outraged, but Will didn't answer.
They stared at each other, in silence, for a whole minute before Will, embarrassed, lowered his sight and sat down on the bed.
"Sorry." He said, quietly.
"Who are you to tell me with who I can go?"
"No, no. I-" He began but Kathryn interrupted him.
"For your information, I was going out with Phoebe but, you know what? Thanks to you, I'm not in the mood anymore."
"No!" She yelled. "I'm tired of this. Mark is my FRIEND! Don't you trust me? Do you think so little of me? What the hell are you insinuating? That I am being unfaithful?"
"No!" He yelled back. "It's not that."
"Then, what it is? Enlighten me, please!"
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Will asked, angry.
"With me? What the hell is wrong with YOU! You're the one accusing me of having an affair!"
"I did not!" He shouted. "I'm jealous, ok?" He said, more calm. "We haven't seen each other in eight months! And I come back and find that you've been spending all your free time with another man."
"And? In your mind it translates that I'm sleeping with him?"
"No ... Yes ... I don't know."
"Is your ship women-free?"
"Didn't you spend time with other women on the Hood?"
"Yes, I did."
"Did you fuck some of them?"
"Kathryn!" He exclaimed, outraged.
"What? It's what you accusing me of!"
"Go to hell."
Furious, Kathryn grabbed her coat and left the apartment.
Kathryn walked down the path of her mother's house and stepped under the porch. She rang the doorbell and, while waiting for her sister to open, she shook the snow that had fallen on her hair and coat. She waited for a minute before ringing the bell again. Two minutes later the door was still closed. Exasperated, Kathryn began to knock loudly.
"PHOEBE! OPEN THE DAMN DOOR! I'M FREEZING!" She yelled.
Suddenly, the door opened and Kathryn hurried inside.
"Where's the fire?" Phoebe asked, laughing, but stopped when she saw her sister's teared face. "What's wrong? What happened?"
"Yeah, sure. Whatever you say. I'll be ready in five." Phoebe said while walking to the stairs.
"Can we stay in?" Kathryn asked, making Phoebe stop and turn around to look at her.
"I'm not in the mood to go out."
"Ok, now I know there's something wrong inside that little head of yours." She said, approaching her sister. "Take off your coat and sit down, dorkface. I'm gonna get something."
Phoebe left Kathryn alone in the room. She, following her sister's instructions, took off her coat and hung it in the closet next to the front door. Then, she sat down on the couch and closed her eyes, trying to relax. A few minutes later she heard her sister come back. She didn't open her eyes until she heard the sound of something made of glass being put on the table. When she saw what it was, she looked at her sister, astonished, while Phoebe only grinned.
"Tequila?" Kathryn asked, surprised and scared at the same time.
"Yeah. Let's get drunk!"
"It's five p.m.!" She exclaimed.
"And? Something is bothering you so let's solve it!"
"Getting drunk is gonna solve all my problems?"
"No, but it'll help!" Phoebe said. "Or maybe not." She continued after realizing what she said. "Who cares?"
After a few shots, both sisters were about to cross the line between sober and tipsy. They were sitting next to each other on the couch, feet on the table, a half-empty Tequila bottle between them, a shot glass on their hands and laughing out loud at a joke that Phoebe had made.
When their laughter subsided, Phoebe put her feet on the floor and stood up. She did it too fast and waved a bit, almost losing her equilibrium and falling down on top of her sister.
"You're drunk." Kathryn stated.
"I am not!" Phoebe said trying not to laugh but failing miserably, making her sister start laughing all over again. "I'm gonna get something to eat. Refill those glasses, please."
Phoebe returned a minute later with a plate full of brownies.
"Mom made them yesterday." She said, sitting down again.
Both sisters grabbed one piece and ate it, quickly taking another one. After that, they took their glasses and knocked back another shot.
"Now, are you going to tell me what's wrong with you?" Phoebe asked while refilling the glasses again.
"What do you wanna hear first? The part of me being an idiot or the part of Will thinking I'm having an affair?" Kathryn answered, indifferently.
"Will thinks you are having an affair?" Phoebe exclaimed, outraged.
"Did he fall and hit his head on something hard?"
"It's possible." Kathryn answered with a sad smile.
"Explain me everything."
"It all began two weeks ago when he called to explain that he'd get here a day late. I had just arrived from my shopping trip with Mark and I told him so, even explained how I almost fell down. That was the first time he hinted me about it, telling me I only talked about him and that I was spending a lot of time with him. I let the comment pass because I knew he was stressed out and missed me."
Phoebe picked both glasses and gave one to her sister.
"Drink." She ordered.
They both knocked back their shots and left the glasses on the table.
"The second hint was during Christmas Eve. You saw his face when the Johnson's arrived for coffee after dinner. I explained to him that it was like a tradition, that they always stopped by, but ... I don't know."
"Then, we have today. I've been angry these last few days, not only at him but with myself, and I suppose that this afternoon I reached my limit. I railed at him for not cleaning after lunch and one thing led to another and we ended arguing about this again only that this time he was very clear about what he thinks. He told me that he's jealous, that he came home and found me spending all my free time with another man."
"A man and a woman cannot be only friends?" Phoebe interrupted.
"In other words that's what I asked."
"I thought he was better than this."
"I'm confused, Phoebe." Kathryn said after sighing deeply. "It's true that he's only jealous or is there something more? It hurts that he thinks I could do something like this. I love him! I fell in love with him on that first date eight years ago and I've never stopped loving him, we broke up and I still loved him. And I'd like to think that it's been the same for him, he has helped me so much ... I don't understand why it even crossed his mind."
"You have to talk with him, calmly, explain what you've just told me and then you have to let him talk. I'm sure he was only being an idiot, that he got scared for some reason, and exploded instead of really thinking about it and realizing he was being an idiot. Then, when everything is alright again, you two can have hot sweaty make-up sex."
"You said idiot twice." Kathryn said, grinning.
"I know. What do you expect after half a bottle of tequila?" Phoebe said, laughing.
"Do we have a second one?"
"I left it on the freezer."
"I'll go get it."
Kathryn went to the kitchen and returned with the bottle and the rest of the brownies. They drank two more shots and ate half the brownies before they continued to talk.
"Can I ask you something?" Phoebe said after resting her head on Kathryn's shoulder.
"Always." Kathryn answered.
"You said you were angry at yourself. Why?"
"I'm the new First Officer of the USS Billings."
"That's great!" Phoebe exclaimed, raising her head. "Or it's not?" She said after seeing that her sister wasn't smiling.
"I wanted the Enterprise."
"And?" Phoebe asked, not fully understanding her sister.
"Will got it."
They stayed in silence for a few minutes, both thinking about what Kathryn had just said. Then, out of the blue, Phoebe smacked her sister's head.
"Ouch!" Kathryn complained, rubbing her head on the spot where Phoebe had hit her. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
"The question is, what's wrong with YOU? You are angry because you didn't get the post that you wanted? Ok, I understand. But you are angry because your boyfriend got it!"
"I'm not! I knew it was a long shot and Will has more experience being XO of an starship, but..."
"You weren't the best." Phoebe stated, finally understanding what her sister meant.
"What?" Kathryn asked, confused.
"You always have to be the best at everything, you've been like this since we were kids. It's one of your strong points but it also is one of your biggest weakness. You're grown enough to understand that you can't always get what you want. You didn't get the Enterprise? I'm sorry, but it's not the end of the world. Take your assignment and do it to the very best of your abilities, as you always do." Phoebe stood up and pointed at her sister. "Show that bigwigs at Headquarters that you are the best First Officer that Starfleet has ever seen!"
"Thanks, Little Monster. I needed that." Kathryn said while standing up and giving Phoebe a quick hug.
"Let's make a toast!" Phoebe happily shouted.
Kathryn filled the glasses and gave one to her sister.
"To the best XO in the universe!" Phoebe exclaimed, laughing.
"To the best sister in the universe!" Kathryn replied.
They knocked back the shots and hugged again.
"Do you know what we need?" Phoebe cheerfully asked.
"Music! Let's dance!"