Family Ties

"Kathryn, I'm so sorry, I never meant to-"

"It's okay. But maybe it's best that we go back to just being friends," Kathryn stammered, tears filling her beautiful blue eyes, pain, hurt and betrayal written across her face as she turns and disappears from his quarters and back to her own.

He sank to his knees in the middle of his quarters, the enormity of his crime suddenly crashing down around him. He had hurt the woman he loved the most, and had probably just lost everything that had ever meant anything to him.

A meaningless fling, based on nothing. How could it cause so much damage? He sat there on the floor of his quarters, staring unseeingly at the carpet, his tears falling freely as his heart broke for what he had done to something he had worked so hard to convince Kathryn of.

"Oh, Kathryn. You will never understand how sorry I am. Will you ever forgive me?" he whispered to his all but silent and empty quarters.

The Captain looked incrediably pale as she walked onto the Bridge, slightly later than usual. But no one complained, or said anything. She is the Captain, after all.

She crosses the Bridge and disappears into her Ready Room, where the usual pile of reports awaits her, not even glancing at Chakotay as she passes.

The usual banter starts up again on the Bridge; Harry Kim and Tom Paris crack jokes; Chakotay and Seven talk quietly: she leans over the station she stands behind as he leans back in his Command chair.

Tuvok watches the interaction between the rest of the Bridge crew for a while before he steps from his station and chimes for admission into the Captain's Ready Room. When she doesn't answer after a third chime, he enters his security code into the control panel in the wall and the door slid open for him.

He entered and found his Captain sat on the sofa, staring out at the great expanse of space on the other side of her Ready Room Portal. She holds a cold, untouched mug of coffee in her hands, and her face is etched with pain and sadness as tears flow unnoticed down her cheeks.

"Captain. Are you alright?" she blinks, and turns towards him, finally noticing him, stood on the threshold of her Ready Room. She nods slowly, and goes back to staring unseeingly out of the portal. "Has something happened, Captain?" she doesn't answer immediately.

"I'm pregnant," she murmurs at last. "With twins."

"Have you informed the Commander of this?"

"No. I can't force him into a commitment he might not be willing to shoulder."

"You are afraid of how he might react."

"Yes."

Captain Kathryn Janeway sat alone in the corner of the Mess Hall, watching the stars as they flew past the portal, slowly eating her way through Neelix's latest cooking experiment. She didn't taste the food, her mind whirling uncontrollably.

She had seen Chakotay walk into the Mess Hall with Seven and sit down with plates of Neelix's experiment a few tables away from her. She ignores them as best she can, but occasionally, she hears part of their conversation.

Soon, it becomes to much for her to bear, and she rises and disappears from the Mess Hall. At the Holodeck, she activates her Lake George program and steps through the doors, the arch fading from existence behind her. She pulled her boat, the Mary Jane, from the dock and jumped into it as it glided away from the shore on the swell of the tide.

She guides the boat out into the middle of the lake, where she drops the anchor and sits back on her heels against the mast, closing her eyes and letting the wind seep through her hair and the gentle sounds and movements of the water lapping against the hull of her boat soothe her. She sighs, and the gentle wind and waves soon lull her to sleep, where Chakotay and Seven find her a few hours later.

"Kathryn, wake up."

She jumps as he places a hand on her arm, blinking up at them and blearily rubbing her eyes. She takes Chakotay's hand and stumbles against him as he pulls her to her feet. He steadies her on her feet and she manages a weak smile as she pulls away from him, staring uncertainly at the deck under Seven's scrutiny.

"Captain, you seem . . . uncomfortable," states Seven. Kathryn looked up sharply, biting the inside of her lip to stop her from making a sarcastic comment that she knew would not phase the former Borg drone.

"Seven, it's okay. Let me handle this," he holds up a hand to quieten her. He turns to Kathryn and takes her hand and gently squeezed it. Tears started to brim in her eyes. He pulls her close and tries to comfort her for a few moments before she pulls away.

"You want to tell me something," she says softly with a conviction. He looks down at his feet for a second or two before he returned his gaze to meet her eyes steadily.

"Seven and I, we have a . . . a child . . . growing, in one of the maturation chambers in Cargo Bay Two." He sways back and forth on his heels slightly, trying to hold back the instictive need he felt to pull Kathryn into his arms as he notices the flash of pain, hurt and betrayal in her eyes before she hides those feelings from sight. Then he notices how Kathryn's hands had moved to her abdomen, as if protecting something inside her.

"Congratulations," she manages. There's a long, drawn out silence, before Chakotay ventures to break it, trying to study Kathryn's face as she stares up at the stars above his head.

"What about you, Kathryn? Is there you would like to tell us also?" Her gaze drops to his face, focusing sharply. Her face softens and she hesitates, biting her lip. She drops her gaze to star at her hands, still resting protectively on her stomach.

"I-I-I'm pregnant," she stammers softly. She gazes up at him, before answering his unasked question. "It's twins." She bursts into tears and turns away, leaning heavily against the starboard side of the boat, her head dropped forward as her tears falling into the holographic sea below. Seven starts to advance towards Kathryn, but Chakotay bars her path.

"Why didn't you say something sooner?" and for a while, she doesn't say anything, her knuckles turning white as she clings to the wooden hull.

"I've seen how happy you and Seven always are together, and I . . . I couldn't take that from you, especially after you'd already made a commitment," she sobbed. She turned, wiping away her tears with her sleeve, still trembling, supporting herself on the side. "I hope we can still be friends," she whispers before she calls for the arch and disappears from the Holodeck.

"The Captain seemed distressed, did she not?" Chakotay nodded. He reached down and took her hand in his.

"Come on. I think it's time to turn in."

As Seven walks into Cargo Bay Two, having said good night to Chakotay just seconds before outside the door, she finds the Captain stood a few feet away from the maturation chamber in which the small child is growing.

"Captain? May I be of assistance to you in some way?" Seven asks, a feeling of which she recognizes as concern washing over her. "You seemed distressed when you left the Holodeck, we were concerned."

"I'm fine Seven, I'm fine." She places her hand on the glass, a small smile curling up her lips at the corners as the child seems to shift towards her in the liquid that surrounds it. She sighs, and lets her hand fall back to her side. She turns and gives Seven a small smile as she heads for the door, turning just out of reach of the door's sensors.

"Be good to them, Seven," she says, as a way of goodbye, and steps into the corridor, disappearing from view as she heads to her quarters. Seven cocks her head at her Captain's back as she watches her disappear. She stares at the doors as they close, and turns to stand in front of the maturation chamber where the Captain had been standing only moments before. She lays her hand on the glass of the chamber and watches as the child behind it drifts closer to her hand from behind the glass. She wonders why this act had pleased the Captain so.

Watching the child move around inside the chamber before her eyes and beneath the touch of her hand, she remembers what it was like to be a child; a time before the Borg, when she was Human, part of a family. She remembers the look of pride that she had seen in her parents eyes when she done well at something, and wondered, not only what would it be like to experience those feeling for herself, but if they were the feelings that the Captain experienced when the crew did well.

She wondered what it would be like to be a mother; always putting someone else before them, always looking out for someone, to take care of them and make sure they do well in life; always helping someone to be the best that they can.

The Captain made the annoncement a few minutes ago. Chakotay watches the child – his child – inside the maturation chamber in Cargo Bay Two. She looks is a young girl of about six, and she has shoulder-length blonde hair just like Seven, with a few streaks of dark brownish-black, just like him. There are a few Borg implants embedded in her skin, but Chakotay doesn't find them ugly, instead seeing them as enhancing the beauty of his little girl.

Seven is in Astrometrics, and the Captain is on the Bridge, covering for him he knows. The Captain is kind to him, and he is glad to have her as his friend, if not a best friend. Seven is something more, but at the same time, a friend as well.

He presses his hand against the metal of the chamber to his little girl's right hand side. The little girl seems to turn towards him, and he jump as she reaches out a hand towards him, pressing it up against the metal, as if trying to touch his hand.

He murmurs quietly to her, and smiles as she seems to move closer to him to hear his voice.

Seven touched her palm to the computer console and tapped at the controls that popped up beside her metal-encased hand. The chamber hissed and the door opened, allowing the girl to step out into Cargo Bay Two. She tilted her head to one side and looked up at Seven and Chakotay, who stood behind the blonde drone. She smiled and scurried over to Chakotay, wrapping her arms around his waist.

"Da-ddy," she said slowly, trying out her voice.

"Yes, sweetie," he said softly, kneeling down in front of her to take her in his arms. She lets go of him and smiles happily.

"Do I have a name?" she asks.

Chakotay glances up at Seven, and she nods.

"Fern," he says, "your name is Fern."

"Fern. Pretty Fern."

"Yes, pretty Fern."

"Um, Kathryn . . ." Kathryn looked up from her dinner of Neelix's leola root stew. She found that she had developed quite a liking for it over the last few weeks.

Seven, Chakotay and Fern stood in front of her, looking uncertain and slightly uncomfortable. She smiled, trying to ease their tension.

"What can I do for you?" she asked, setting down her cutlery.

"Chakotay and I are going spend some time on the Holodeck, and we were wondering if you would keep an eye on Fern for us. It would just be for tonight," Seven said quickly, almost panickedly, before Chakotay had a chance to say anything. Kathryn shrugged.

"Why not? She's a little angel, it would be nice to spend some time with her," she smiled warmly down at Fern, who gave her a shy smile back, and slide into the chair opposite her.

"Thank you, Captain, it is very kind of you to do this for us," said Seven happily.

"That it is, Kathryn," Chakotay hugged her and kissed her lightly on the cheek before he took Seven's hand and disappeared into the crowds with her, heading for the Mess Hall doors.

Fern watched her silently as she finished her stew, as if studying her. Kathryn shifted slightly under her intense scrutinying gaze, trying not to be affected by the sense of unease that was arising inside her. As she finished and laid down her cutlery for the second time that meal, Fern spoke up.

"Daddy likes you." Kathyn smiled half-heartedly.

"Well, you can tell your daddy that I like him too. He's the best friend a girl could have." Fern grinned, scrambled from her chair and scuttled to hug Kathryn, wrapping her arms around Kathryn's stomach, which was starting to show the steadily growing bulge. Kathryn stroked Fern's hair.

"Well, should we back to my quarters and find some way to spend the evening? Or would you rather stay here tonight?"

"Go to your quarters!" cried Fern. "I want to see what they look like!" she giggled, and took Kathryn's hand, walking bouncily through the crowds at Kathryn's side, smiling and waving cheerily at crewmen as they passed.

The hallways and corridors were scarse of crewmen as the pair headed for the turbolift though, and they were approaching the doors to Kathryn's quarters in minutes after leaving the Mess Hall. The doors slid open as the sensors detected Kathryn's biosignature.

Fern followed Kathryn slowly inside, looking around at the old-fashioned pen and paper books on the shelves, the flowers in the vase on the desk by the computer, the stars as they flew past the portal, the replicator in the corner, the small things and trinkets lying on the table and the holopictures on the desk and cabinet by Kathryn's bed.

Fern picked up the holopicture that sat on Kathryn's beside cabinet and wandered back into the well-lit living room. She settled on the couch by Kathryn's side and held out the holopicture.

"You and daddy," she said. Kathryn smiled and took the picture, holding it in her lap. It was a picture of her and Chakotay, taken almost a year ago on their last shore leave, when times had been better for her, for them. His arms were around her waist, and they were laughing and smiling hysterically.

"You look happy," she says. "And very pretty." Kathryn was surprised by this comment.

"Thank you, Fern," she replied softly.

They sat in silence for a short while, staring at the picture in Kathryn's hands.

"Will you read me a story?" Fern asked after a while, looking up at Kathryn with wide eyes.

"Yes, okay. Do you have one in mind that you would especially like me to read?" Her eyes lit up and she jumped up and ran to the replicator. As the book materialised in the replicator, she picked it up and clambered back onto the couch at Kathryn's side, curling up close as Kathryn set the picture down on the low coffee table and opened the book.

Soon, Fern was sleeping peacefully against Kathryn, Kathryn's arm around her. The book lay on the couch by Kathryn's side as Kathryn shifted slightly, her head lolling against the back of the couch as she slept wearily, restlessly.

She stirred when the chime rang, but did not wake. Again and again the chime rang, but again and again she only stirred. Soon, the doors slid open as a Command code was entered and soft footsteps entered and stopped just outside of range of the door sensors. A gentle hand landed on Kathryn's shoulder and she jerked awake.

"Shh, Kathryn, it's only us, calm down," whispered Chakotay as she rubbed her eyes and stared blearily at them, still trying to clear the sleep from her head.

"You are exhausted," states Seven.

"Mmm hmm," mumbles Kathryn quietly, slowly lifting Fern into her arms as she stood up from the couch. Seven took Fern from Kathryn and after a simple good night, she disappeared into the corridor, heading for the turbolift and her Cargo Bay. Chakotay lingered behind.

"Thank you for doing this for us, Kathryn."

"Honestly Chakotay, it's nothing. That's what friends are for, isn't it? I'm here for you, just remember that. Now, I'm sure it would be a good idea if we both got some sleep, don't you?" she smiled and softly kissed Chakotay good night before he smiled softly back at her and kissed her hand before he too left her quarters. She smiled tiredly and stepped into her bedroom, slipping from her uniform into her pyjamas before climbing tiredly into bed and curling into a ball.

"Captain, we are approaching the Class-M planet. It is unihabited, but much of the elements we are currently running low on have been picked up by the sensors on the planet's surface," stated Ensign Harry Kim from the Ops station.

"Good. When we're in range, transport down an Away Team to collect those elements and then I'm sure some well needed rest on that planet for the crew can be arranged," she turned to raise a questioning eyebrow at Chakotay, who nodded in agreement. She smiled happily, and studied the picture of the planet they were approaching on the viewscreen.

It looked much like Earth did from space, and suddenly a pang of homesickness washed over her. Her hands tightened slightly on the arms of her Command chair. Chakotay covered her hand with his, and some of the tension left her body. She smiled faintly at him, only meeting his gaze for a few seconds before quickly looking away.

The planet was almost identical to a prehistoric Earth. Seven had studied this period in Earth history with particular detail after the Away Team had returned to Voyager and Ensign Samantha Wildman had commented about the resemblance it had to the Earth she had seen in pictures of 'olden times' in books as a child.

There were acres of forests, seperated with miles of fields. Along the coastlines there were caves, beaches and shapes carved from the coastal rock by the waves. There were animals that hid in the darkness of the shadowy forests, a few that seemed to resemble the woodland animals of Earth, with a few more sinister, ferociuos animals further in. More animals like those found on Earth were out in the fields grazing, while an animal similar to a bird flew through the skies.

Seven wondered through one of the fields that was occupied by the animals, studying them with curiosity. She had studied the animals on Earth from the files in Voyager's database, but these were unlike anything she had seen. They were like the animals Terrans called horses, but the had a humanoid physicallity about them. It was haunting.

Many of the crew had beamed down to this planet with her, but she walked alone through the animals, uninterested in the pleasure, relaxation and exploration that the rest of the crew was interested in. What interested her was the wildlife.

There was a large tree in the corner of a field a few miles away, a tall, ancient willow tree. The sun was bright in the sky, and Seven's ocular implant allowed her to see the humanoid shadow that was curled up amongst its large, knarled roots. She raised an eyebrow, curious, and made a bee line straight for the shadow below the tree.

As she approached, she found Chakotay and Fern sitting in the shade, talking and laughing. Fern's hair had been braided, and a flower was pushed behind her left ear. They were sat on a picnic mat with the remenants of a picnic lunch scattered across the mat and overflowing from the basket.

Harry Kim stood in the middle of the field, the old-fashioned brinoculars pressed to his eyes as he watched the birds soar over his head. All but one were small, black birds with two red streaks running down their backs. The last one was bigger, larger. Its wings were longer, and its body was more elegant. Its colourful back was brighter than those of the others as they fell into a formation around it.

He smiled as the birds screeched as one and fell off into the distant, soon becoming merely dots against the bright blue sky, the dark green canopy of treetops reaching up to engulf them before they reached the horizon.

Kathryn sat between the roots of a large oak tree, her legs curled beneath her as she leaned against the trunk, a book in her lap. Her commbadge lay on the grass by her right foot, cast aside as she'd curled up in the shade. The sun shone through the leaves as a shadow fell over her. She looked up from her book as Neelix sat down in front of her with a cheerful smile.

They fell into a soft, low, conversation, laughing at fond memories together. Occasionally, she shifted, smiling reassuringly at Neelix when he looked at her with concern.

"It's okay," she said. "But having two kids kicking you in the ribs twenty-four seven isn't exactly the most comfortable experience in the galaxy." This made a wide grin break out across their faces, and they started laughing heartily.

The Doctor soon joined them with a PADD in his holographic hand, his mobile emitter on his left arm. He held out the PADD to Kathryn for her to read, and a look of shock and horror crossed her face. Her eyes widened slightly, before she closed them and leaned back against the tree trunk, breathing deeply.

Tom Paris lay stretched out on the grass in the middle of the field, staring up at the white clouds in the bright blue sky with unfocused eyes. B'Elanna Torres lay next to him, staring up the sky too. Birds flew overhead. The sounds of the woodland animals could be heard from the forest at the edge of the filed, the shadows of the trees reaching out to touch their toes.

They were startled into a sitting position as Neelix and the Doctor stumbled from the forest, Neeli badly cut, grazed and bruised, the Doctor greatly shaken. They looked behind them, and looked back at each other, suddenly panicked.

"Yo, Doc! What's up?" called Tom. The Doctor and Neelix turned towards them, finally seeming to notice their presence in the field.

A shrill scream echoed through the air from the shadows in between the trees.

Panic, shock and horror rose in Tom and B'Elanna, and they scrambled to their feet and ran to join the Doctor and Neelix.

"She was right behind us," whispered Neelix.

A scream rose through the air.

The birds scattered from the trees.

Harry let his brinoculars fall from his hands as he turned towards the forests behind him.

Crew members turned.

They started to run towards the forest, peering into the shadows.

Something was wrong.

Really wrong.

A scream.

Birds screeching and flying for the skies.

Chakotay, Seven and Fern looked up.

Seven's implants picked up the faint rustling of something moving through the trees, growing louder and clearer as it approached.

"Humanoid," she whispered as another sound reached her ears; something was following the first, humanoid something. She got to her feet and headed towards the trees. She stopped a few metres from the edge of the forest and tilted her head to one side, concentrating on the sounds as they approached.

A humanoid shadow appeared, stumbled and fell, gasping, for breath and in pain, sobbing, crying out. The shadow tried to clamber to its feet, but almost immediately fell back down again as its legs buckled beneath its weight. Again and again the humanoid tried to walk, but kept falling until it fell into the light.

It was Kathryn, badly injured but it was Kathryn. She was covered in blood, panicked, frightened and hyperventilating.

Seven helped Kathryn to her feet and supported her greatly as she led her Captain back to the picnic mat. She smiled to herself as the rustling in the forest stopped, replaced by a loud, rumbling snarl before the creature slunk back into the forest.

Chakotay and Fern leapt to their feet, quickly stuffing the picnic into the basket and locating Chakotay's commbadge, calling for an emergency transport to Sickbay.

The Doctor, Neelix and Tom appeared beside them in Sickbay as the Transporter deposited the group in Sickbay. Kathryn swayed and sank to the floor, her face pale and ghostly behind the blood.

Tom and Seven helped her onto a biobed, supporting, almost carrying her. She struggled onto the biobed with their help, and almost immediately slipped onto her back and her eyes fell shut, her breathing rushing out in short, shallow, quick gasps. As Tom repaired Neelix's cuts, scrapes, bruises and gashes, the Doctor healed and scanned Kathryn as she lay unconscious, her hands resting protectively on her stomach.

Fern hugged Seven tightly as she watched the Doctor working on Kathryn, healing cuts, bruises, grazes and gashes with dermal regenerators and injecting hypos into her neck. Her breathing stabilised, and she started to stir after the Doctor pressed another hypo to her neck and stepped back slightly. She shifted and moaned softly, her brow furrowing before her eyelids flickered and closed again.

"She's fine," said the Doctor softly with a smile.

"Come on, Captain, you can do it, not much longer now. You're almost there! I can see her head, she's coming to join her brother," encouraged the Doctor.

"Shut up!" screamed Kathryn, screwing her eyes shut as she bore down, hissing sharply as her body controted against the pain, trying to twist away from the contractions as tried to gasp desperately for air. "You're not helping!"

"Calm down, Captain!"

"No!"

"Panicking isn't going to help anything!"

"I don't care!"

"They're so cute!"

"They're adorable!"

The voices of Naomi and Fern broke through into Kathryn's consciousness, pulling her from the depths of a deep sleep.

"Ssh, you'll wake the Captain!" scolded the Doctor.

"Too late, they already did," she mumbled, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and slipping blearily from the biobed. She smiled as she joined the young girls gathered around the incubators next to her biobed, where the twins, a little boy and girl, slept peacefully.

Gently, she lifted her daughter into her arms, and her smile grew slightly as the little girl curled up closer to her, gurgling in her sleep. Naomi reached out to stroke one of the little girl's hands, giggling when the little hand closed round her finger.

"Can I hold her?" she asked. Kathryn bit the inside of her lip and hesitated, but nodded slowly as Naomi seemed to plead with her with big wide eyes. Naomi squealed happily, and she and Fern clambered up onto the biobed, cooing quietly as Kathryn placed the sleeping child in Naomi's arms, before stepping away momentarily to pick up her sleeping son. She watched them nervously as they fussed over the little girl, fear, anxiety and worry bubbling inside her as a thousand possible senarios rushed through her head.

No, she scolded herself, there's nothing to worry about. They're grown girls, they're careful enough. It's going to be okay, she'll be alright . . .

But the panic didn't subside. She bit her lip and the coppery taste of blood filled her mouth. She looked down at her son, still sleeping in her arms, and tried to focus on something else.

A name . . . They need a name . . . whispered the little voice in her head. She smiled, and began to come up with names for the two young babies that were now hers.

"Have you chosen a name for each of them yet?"

"I have ones I like, but I'd like your opinion on them." Chakotay could hear the need for him to be a part of her children's lives in her voice, could see it in her eyes when he turned back from settling the little boy in his crib.

"What've you chosen?" he asked, trying to sound encouraging. He was smiling slightly, glad she still thought highly enough of him to ask him something so personal, but surprised she'd asked him.

"I was thinking, maybe, for my little girl, Nymphadora Faith, and for my little boy, maybe, Edward Hunter," she looked up at him, twisting her hands nervously in front of her. "What do you think?" her voice had dropped to a uncertain whisper. He stepped closer to her and reached out to squeeze her hand.

"They're perfect," he said, and hugged her briefly.

"Thank you," she whispered. "You're a great friend." He grinned, his dimples flashing into view and taking her breath away.

"That's what I'm here for – to cheer you up," she giggled.