REFLECTIONS
PART FOUR
THORNS AND ROSES
RATED PG 
    The hydroponics bay was, just as she hoped  it would be, deserted. They wandered the rows of plants, hand in hand, enjoying being just quietly together.  The peace roses were in bloom, he picked one and handed it to her. 

"Thank you." She touched his face.  "Such a beautiful flower, bittersweet memories." 

"Remember the first one?"  He guided her to the bench. 

"Yes---also bittersweet."  She sat resting her head on his shoulder. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

    Alien possession--such a strange thing. He'd lost her so many times that day and she watched.  She watched him cry--heart wrenching tears-cries of despair.  It was so real and yet not--her father, but not her father--it was all so very sad, so confusing, so painful, she didn't want to think about it so she tried to bury herself in her work. 

     She was in the ready room, trying  to submerge herself in the words on the pad in front of her.  The door chimed and she answered automatically. 

"Come in." 

      He entered, hands behind his back.  She glanced sideways at him and then back to the pad.. 

"I could have sworn the Doctor told you to take it easy for a few days." 

"Taking it easy usually makes me feel worse." 

"You shouldn't push yourself, you've been through a lot."  He held the rose out and she looked up and smiled at him. 

"Ahh"  She took the rose, smiling first at it then back at him. "To tell you the truth, I'd rather stay busy than dwell on what happened." 

"I can understand that----I can't help thinking about it ---that alien, his matrix----he was like a spider, who has to lure a fly into his web." 

"Do you think it's possible..."  She got up and came around the desk, coffee in one hand, rose in the other.  "That each of the near death experiences we've heard about --are the result of an alien inhabitation?"  She crossed to the coffee table and he followed. 

"That's a little hard to believe." 

"I hope so ---I prefer to think his species was unique to the delta quadrant and I've see the last of it"  She poured herself another coffee. 

"I'm sure that's the case----after going head to head with Kathryn Janeway, he must have realized he met his match."  He smiled up at her from the lower level, she turned and held his gaze. 

"Come on, Chakotay"  She set the coffee back on the table.  "I cheated death---that's worth a celebration, don't you think? A bottle of champagne--moonlight sail on Lake George--how's that sound?" 

"Like something worth living for." She put her arm on his shoulder and turned to the door. 

     He stepped back to allow her to leave first and she shook her head, bowing and allowing him to lead. 
She watched him go for just a moment, then with a huge smile she bounded after him. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

"You carried them the day we were married."  He tucked her hair behind her ear, sliding his fingers along her jaw. 

"And you brought me a dozen of them when Katie was born."  She reached up sliding her fingers through his hair, drawing his lips down to hers.  "Better than the grasshopper?" 

"Much."  He chuckled, then looked down at the flower in her hand.  "And the Doctor threw you, me, Katie and the roses out of his sickbay." 

"No sense of humor, that man. I just don't know what got into him."  She tilted her head and smiled. 

"I'm not sure---something about being a useless cluster of photon and force fields, who's program was 
well over due for an overhaul.  Ahhh----someone saying they could delete him and replace him with a first aid kit for more effective medical treatment.  Turning sick bay into a meat locker---cause it and it's doctor were cold enough---something about...." 

"I get it --- I get it."  She laughed so hard tears came to her eyes.  "Come on I wasn't that bad --- I didn't kill either one of you ---god---You got over it!" 

"Yes, but I love you and I had a beautiful daughter to change my mind---all he got was a few more insults and a good dose of abuse from you which..." 

"Which he should be used to." 

"You're right -- you wouldn't think a hologram would be so sensitive. 
 
     She stopped laughing and looked at the flower, twirled it in her fingers, smelled it and looked up at him. 

"And we put one with Katie...."  She leaned against him and he wrapped her in his arms.  "I guess I'll never really get over it." 

"No--neither of us will."  I'm just grateful for the time we had her." 

"Do you ever wonder --what she would be like --today?" 

"Sure ---all the time." 

     They sat wrapped together on the bench.  After a long silence he chuckled and she straightened up to look at him. 

"You gave me one  after I crashed the shuttle on the Mesote moon." 

"Yea and B'Elanna almost made you eat it---another shuttle down.  You scared me that time---I'd thought I'd lost you." 

"Na-can't get rid of me." 

"My fiftieth birthday---the holodeck was covered in peace roses--holographic--but peace roses just the same." 

"And when we had that terrible fight over that crazy suicide mission of yours.". 

"It wasn't a suicide mission --- I knew it would work." 

"You did not -- be honest --you had no idea if  you were coming back." 

"Sure I did --- I well---thought ---hoped I would." 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

     The Captain's away team had been gathering food and supplies on an uninhabited M Class, when the attack occurred.  The Grieg were an extremely hostile race they had run into before, for all their sophisticated technology it was rumored  they were savagely cannibalistic. It was said they took only live, healthy prisoners and in a religious ritual boiled them alive, then devoured their flesh  and turned their bones into crude weapons of torture.  Although Voyager had battled them on several occasions this was never proven. 

     The Captain called for an emergency beam out, but once aboard she discovered two of the team missing.  Their life signs were traced to a Griegie ship and Voyager followed it's warp trail to a small moon.  All attempts at rescue had so far failed, they couldn't use transporters due to heavy  atmospheric interference and attempts at landing had been thwarted by the Grieg.  A plan was devised for Voyager to create a diversion using the ship and two shuttles, in an intricate pattern to confuse and occupy the Grieg guard and their security nets, while the flyer slipped in and hopefully once inside the atmosphere they could beam the crewman aboard. 

     There were many defense systems to penetrate before the shuttle could reach the crewmen.  It was a dangerous and almost foolish plan one many of the senior staff agreed was extremely dangerous---but the only option left.  The Captain elected to take the flyer in and no amount of argument or threat would change her mind.  Tuvok  eventually gave in to her wishes and so Chakotay was out voted. 

"Kathryn don't do this."  Chakotay was so angry he struggled to keep his voice level. 

"Chakotay---we just can't leave them...." 

"I'm not suggesting we can ---but you don't have to be the one to go in there."  He took a firm, but gentle hold of her shoulders.  "It's too dangerous." 

"So who? Who should I order to do what is too dangerous for me?!"  She twisted to free herself.  They had had this argument many times--she would not order someone to do something she wouldn't do herself.  "You know I can't do that." 

"You're the Captain -- you shouldn't be doing this." 

"Because I'm the Captain or because I'm you wife?" 

"Both."  He stepped in closer to her.  "Let me go ..." 

"I'm sorry---no."'  She turned to walk away .  "I have to get ready." 

"Why not?"  He reached out and turned her back to him." 

"Ahhh--godds--Chakotay-why do we always have to do this?  I'm a better pilot---OK?" 

"No not- OK--- we do this because you are the most stubborn woman in the damned universe---you never step back ---consider any outcome but what you want--- this is crazy.    Send Tom ----he's the best pilot we have." 

"Which is exactly why we can't risk him." 

"We can't risk you---Captain ---this crew can't afford to lose you." 

"You're perfectly capable of commanding this ship -- if that becomes necessary --which it won't" 

"Kathryn--please -I can't afford to lose you." 

"I'm sure you'd manage..." 

"What the hell does that mean?" 

"That you'd survive -- you've been without me before and managed quite..." 

"Now I know you've lost your mind --what the hell are you talking about?" 

"I'm not as crazy as you think--look I don't have time for this---I have to go." 

"Just consider other options."  He was following her across the room. 

"Damn it Chakotay -- I have ---we all have--we are out of time--this is the best plan we've got---Just once I like leave here knowing I have your support on something." 

"You always have my support, Kathryn---but this is crazy..." 

"That doesn't sound like support to me--Commander." 

"Well CAPTAIN-- I'm sorry if you don't appreciated the fact that it is my job to insure your safety." 

"It's your job COMMANDER to follow orders---I have made my decision on this and I am due in the shuttle bay."  She left the briefing room and crossed the bridge. 

"Kat--Captain"  Remembering they were on the bridge and not wanting to anger her further, he chose to use her title.  She turned and glared at him just before entering the lift. 

"Commander, you have the bridge." 

    That was it, one angry look and the doors closed.  No good- bye, no good luck-- nothing but the swish of the lift door.  He stared at the closed door, trying to understand why she felt she always had to do this. After fifteen years, she was the only member of the crew who blamed her for the decision that stranded them here---and every other unpleasant thing that happened to them along the way. 

"Paris to the bridge" 

"Go ahead, Tom" 

"Commander, shuttles are ready to launch." 

"Go ahead--we're ready here."  Chakotay noted that although Kathryn was in the shuttle bay, she had let Tom call for clearance. 

"Commander, first two shuttles are away."  Mr. Kim reported from ops. 

"Lieutenant, lay in flight pattern beta 485." 

"Shuttles are in position." 

"Open a channel, Mr. Kim" 

"Chakotay to Paris." 

We're ready, Commander." 

"OK--Let's go--do it Tom."  Chakotay turned to Harry   "Keep that channel open and one to the flyers as long as possible." 

"Aye sir" 

"Harry, put them on screen." 

"Aye" 

"Bridge to Delta flyer." 

"Janeway here." 

"You are cleared for launch."  *Come back to me Kathryn.* 

"Aye- Janeway out" 

"She's clear Commander." 

"Engage-- Lieutenant Carlton." 

    Chakotay watched the two shuttles fly their designated pattern, while Voyager hung back and waited for her cue.  The flyer had slipped out under their cover and was headed to the far side of the moon to ---hopefully slip past the net while they engaged the  Grieg.   Every thing went according to plan and Chakotay's nerves eased slightly ---until they lost contact with the flyer.   He knew it was inevitable, between the security net and the atmospheric conditions--but it still made him uneasy. 

     Tom's shuttle had taken heavy damage and Voyager was forced to go in early to retrieve the shuttle and rescue the crew.  The Grieg responded to Voyager's appearance in just the way they had hoped for, they threw every thing they had at her.  There was a point where Voyager had sustained so much damage  and the supply of Grieg ships seemed endless--that Chakotay almost doubted their ability to withstand any more. 

     The second shuttle had been brought in, two crewman badly injured, shields were down to 65% and primary systems were starting to fail--all possible power was routed to shields and  the warp engines were down.  Kathryn had been out of communication for sixty- seven minutes, as Tuvok so accurately reported--which was seventeen minutes longer than their longest estimate. 

     Chakotay looked around at the smoking consoles and sparking wires and thought for a second that she would kill him when she got back---if she got back.  Then his attention was refocused by the rocking of the bridge. 

"Shields are down to 22%" Tuvok reported in the same calm voice that told him Kathryn was gone too long. 

"Inertial dampers are off line--life support is failing...."  Harry stopped and looked up.  "Commander the Grieg are retreating." 

"All of them, Harry?"  Chakotay couldn't believe they would do this----they had  Voyager on the ropes--maybe they didn't know it----or maybe... "Harry where's the flyer?  Can you get a fix?" 

"Commander ---I've got the flyer-- it is leaving the atmosphere.."  He looked up from the control again.  "It's directly in the path of four Grieg war ships." 

"Lieutenant lay in a course--coordinates 462 mark 7--full impulse --get us between them.  Harry reroute all power to the shields--everything you've got--life support and all.  Tuvok ready photon torpedoes. "Bridge to engineering ---when can I have warp?" 

"I'm on it Chakotay-just three more minutes." 

"Make it two, B'Ella"  He turned to the engineering station.  "Seven ready a deflector pulse--we have to extend the shields around the flyer." 

"They will not hold more than a few minutes, Commander." 

"Then we have to work fast." 

"Commander the first ship is firing on the flyer--she's evading them." 

"Chakotay to flyer."  The air crackled "Harry can you clear it up?  Tuvok can you get a lock on that ship" 

"Not yet sir." 

"Flyer to Voyager." 

"We're here Captain---I'm gonna try to extend shields--match our course and speed." 

"Aye, Commander." 

       He saw it on the screen, the blinding flash the warmed his face and chilled his bones--the flyer had taken a direct hit. 

"Tuvok get a lock on that ship---fire at will.  Harry can you raise the flyer." 

"No response." 

"Life signs?"  He half listened to their worsening condition as damage reports flooded it--held his breath wathing for Harry's reply." 

"Faint Commander---but three." 

"Can you get a lock?" 

"Transporters are down." 

"Put us between them."  He searched his mind frantically for a plan.  "Bridge to Paris" 

"Paris here." 

"Tom where are you ---can you get another shuttle out?" 

"Sure--what's the plan?" 

"The flyer's been hit --transporters are down.." 

"Aye Commander --I'm on it --I'll bring them in." 

    Tom had the shuttle out in record time, fixed a tractor on the flyer and used the shuttle transporter to send the Captain and crew to sick bay, just as soon as Voyager extended her shields.  He was able to bring the shuttle in and B'Elanna brought the warp core on line.  Tuvok had disabled three of the Grieg ships and the fourth was retreating. Chakotay order them to set a course for the alpha quadrant and Handed the bridge off to Tuvok. 

"Chakotay to sickbay"  He hailed as soon as he was in the lift. 

"Doctor here, Commander----what can I do for you?" 

"Doctor, the crew of the flyer..." 

Fine Commander, ----I released them -oh--thirty minutes ago--didn't the Captain go to the bridge?" 

"No--how.." 

"That's odd---I told her not to--but she never listened to ME before.". 

"Thank You Doctor---Chakotay out." This was odd--she couldn't still be angry--could she? "Deck three.--belay that deck  eleven     " 

     Fifteen minutes later Chakotay entered their quarters. The lighting was low and he could see Kathryn 
on the couch, feet up, head back. 

"Kathryn"  He spoke her name softly, as he crossed the room--wondered if she were sleeping .  "Kathryn?" 

"Hello."  She didn't raise her head or open her eyes. 

"Are you OK?"  He sat on the edge of the table. 

"Yes----Chakotay..." She sat up and looked at him. 

"Kathryn..." They both started to speak together, then stopped.  "You first." 

"Here."  She smiled and held out a peace rose.  "I'm sorry."  He laughed.  "What's so funny?" 

"This."  He handed her a matching flower.  "I stopped and picked it on  the way."  Now she laughed too. 

"We are a pair."  She reached out and touched his face. 

"I keep telling you that--but you never listen."  He moved over to the couch and took her in his arms. 

"I don't suppose you would believe me if I said I'll listen in the future." 

"Kat --you're never gonna stop being you and I'm never gonna stop worrying about you--that's what we do ---besides, this way we get to make up." 

"So that's why you always fight with me--just to make up?" She leaned back and smiled at him. 

"No--but hell, it's a good idea."  He hugged her.  "Are you sure you're OK?" 

"I'm fine--suppose I have to prove it to you.." 

"Excellent idea."  He kissed her then sat up laughing.  "See I can be supportive--when you have a good idea."  She just shook her head. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

"You haven't stopped fighing with me yet." 

"You haven't stopped going on crazy missions...." 

"I'm the.." 

"I know--I know and this is where I say that's all the more reason you shouldn't do it and then you tell me the part about not ordering anyone to do what you won't do and I say something else and then you do and so on and so on---then you do it anyway and we both get mad and then we get to make up.  So----I say--let's skip the fighting and go right to the making up." 

"Sounds like a pretty sound plan to me." 

       She placed her hands on either side of his face, bringing their lips together.  His arms encirled her, his hands running down her back as he drew her close.  She ran the fingers of one hand through his hair, her lips parting his, their tounges savoring the taste of each other. 

      The sounds of giggles broke them apart. She drew back at the noise and he rested his forehead on hers. 

"Sounds like school's out."  He gave her his best dimpled smile. 

"Yep and I'll bet that would be Marcella Gilmore doing that giggling."  The giggling continues and male voices joined in as the Command couple, with their foreheads still together, continued guessing at the identity of their audience. 

"And if you're right--and we know you always are..."  At that the giggles turned into full blown laughter. "Then the others would be her brother Michael and Joey Carey---'cause I think the three of them were fused together by some strange spacial  anomaly." 

      Marcella and Michael Gilmore  were the twelve year old twins of Marla Gilmore, who had come to them almost twenty years ago from the Equnoix, and Ayala, a former maquis who served on Chakotay's ship.  Joey was the fourteen year old son of Sam and Joe Carey.   They gigled at the scene  before them, not because it was unusual to find these two kissing in the hydroponics bay, but just becaues they were twelve and fourteen. 

"Hello,  can we help you with something or are you just here to watch?"  Kathryn drew back and turned to the kids, who giggled again. 

"No ma'am---we're fine---just came to get some fresh vegatables for Uncle Nelix."  Joey volunteered. 

"I see, so you won't mind if I go on kissing my wife ---right?"  Chakotay raised an eyebrow at them, causing Marcella to blush and giggle all the more and the boys to shake their heads, no. 

The boys picked up the baskets of vegtables and they turned to leave. They were half way down the isle when Joey turned back. 

"As you were, Sir."  Then the three children ran out the door. 

"Well, caught again---is that any way for the Captain to behave--what kind of example are you setting for these children?"  He tried to look stern, as he chastised her. 

"Me, who's idea was it to go right to the making up?" 

"Oh no --sounds like another fight---time to kiss and make up."  As soon as their lips touched they heard the sound of someone clearing their throat. "Now who?" 

      They looked up to see Tom and B'Elanna's oldest, eighteen year old Owen and Jessicia Kim, Harry and Jenny's sixteen year old daughter. 

"It's awful crowded on this ship---a guy can't even get a little time alone with his girl in the hydroponics bay!"  Chakotay shook his head and looked at Owen.  "You know what I mean?" 

"Oh, yes sir--I know exactly what you mean." 

"I think it's time we get going."  Kathryn laughed 

"Why--we we'ren't finished."  Chakotay teased. 

"Chakotay---"  She stood up and jerked her head at the two kids.  "I think our mothers are calling us." 

"Huh?"  He played dumb and shrugged.  "OK"  He shook his head at Owen. "Careful Owen ---this could be you in a few years." 

"Yes sir--like forty."  Owen smirked, just like his father. 

"You should be so lucky, boy"  Jessie winked at Kathryn. 

"See you kids later."  Kathryn took Chakotay's hand and walked out. 

"Harry might kill us you know?"  Chakotay leaned in and whispered.  "I don't think I'd like it if it were my daughter alone with Tom's son." 

"You are bad."  She swatted at him and got strange look from a passing crewman.  They looked at each other and laughed  "Must be new around here." 

     They stopped in the mess hall for a cup of coffee, taking their usual table in the corner.  Nelix served them coffee and tried to get them to sample his new cake, but they declined. 

"Heard you two were the hydroponics bay."  He remarked as he poured their second cup of coffee. 

"News travels fast."  Kathryn answered. 

"News?! well I wouldn't call finding Voyagers oldest teenagers, in a lip lock, in the hydroponics bay exactly news---but heartwarming just the same."  He winked and walked away. 

"I'm gonna miss this ship---I'm not sure we could keep this going if we actually had any privacy."  He flashed her the dimples. 

"We will soon find out."  She gave him a sad smile.  "I'm gonna miss it too." 

"Bridge to Janeway." 

"Janeway here." 

"Captain, we are receiving a transmission, for you.  It's from Admiral Riker." 

"Put it through to my ready room-- tell the Admiral "I'm on my way" 

"Aye, Captain-- bridge out" 

"Wonder what that's all about? Thought we had everything set" 
 
"Me too--come on -let's find out."  She stood and waited for him to join her. 

"Maybe, you should take it alone."  He still wasn't as trusting of Starfleet as her. 

"Come on---we've been doing this together for twenty five years--this is no time to stop." 

     They  took the short lift ride up one deck to the bridge and crossed into her ready room.  She sat behind the desk and she motioned him to join her, as she turned on the screen.  He pulled his chair up next to hers just as the still very handsome smiling face of Will Riker appeated on the screen. 

"Admiral Riker." 

"Captain Janeway, so nice to see you again---Commander."  Chakotay just nodded his response watching Rikers face for clues.  "Captain, I did request to speak with you..." 

"Sorry Admiral--but this is a joint effort--it has been for twenty five years and I intend to finish it that way." They looked very seriously at each other blue eyes locking together ---then Riker smiled. 

"I guess it's true than--the rumors I hear."  His smile spread. 

"And what rumors would that be, Admiral?"  Kathryn began to relax and smiled back. 

"The ones that say, you really like that husband of yours and I STILL do not have a prayer in hell with you." 

     They laughed and Kathryn reached over and took Chakotay's hand. 

"I'm afraid that's true, Admiral." 

"Well, you know me Kathryn---I had to see for myself--never been one to give up easily." 

"Since when are you interested in me--as I recall, Will Riker never suffered a lack of female company. 
Don't tell me you are still available?" 

"I've been saving myself for you" 

"Yeah."  Kathryn couldn't contain her laughter.  "You never had much time for --what was that you called me?" 

"Kathryn, we don't have to talk about that now." 

"Oh--yes --'the broad with the brains'  --I certainly wasn't your type back than." 

"Things have changed, I've gotten older maybe even matured somewhat--funny how tired of  well endowed, empty headed blonds a guy can get.  So any chance you might dump this guy-- or what?' 

"I don't think so, Will.  So tell me, was there an official reason for this call or did you just want to proposition me?" 

"Well primarily I wanted to proposition you--but since that didn't work I thought I'd pull rank on you--since  when you left you out ranked me and by the time you get to earth our ranks will be equal--this may be my only chance." 

"So you'd like me to say "Yes Sir'?  Maybe you'd like to give me some orders?" 

"I can think of a few--but your first officer looks rather large--I think I better pass." 

"Good idea, Admiral---I worked long and hard for her and I'm not giving up with out a fight."  Chakotay joined the conversation. 

"OK boys--enough."  Kathryn shook her head. 

"Actually--there may be another reason to talk--it's not worked out yet--but this involves you too, Commander." 

"What is it, Will--no problems I hope." 

"No Kathryn, not yet--just that some of us wondered how you and your crew would make the transition to what we call a normal life around here---it could be hard." 

"Yes--we've thought about it--discussed it with many of the crew.  To be honest, I'm not sure I'll fit in at Fleet anymore." 

"Understandable--that's why were trying to work out some alternatives--we don't want you to just retire and leave us so soon --we don't even have you back yet." 

"Such as?" 

"Well, nothing official yet--but the usual offers of another ship-teaching position-reasearch and one I think you might find interesting--I don't have details yet, but there is a new colony set for Micron Prime--it's gonna need leadership--someone who can blend community leadership and fleet ---sound like anyone you know?" 

"It's worth considering, Will--but I really don't know what I want just now." 

"I understand--just wanted to give you a little advance on it--plenty of positions for any interested members of your crew- no matter what you decide- and a great place for families too--weather is wonderful there--just give it some thought." 

"We'll do that, thank you." 

"My pleasure-- I won't keep you any longer--See both of you soon.  Riker out." Will smiled and the screen went dark. 

"Well that was interesting."  She mused. 

"The proposition or the assignment?"  Chakotay teased. 

"Both"  She laughed  "I had a terrable crush on Will at the academy." 

"Really?!"  I better pay close attention to this." 

"I doubt it."  She got up and took his hand.  "Let's go home and you can make me dinner" 

"That's how it is--Can Will cook?" 

"I wouldn't know."  She laughed as they crossed back to the lift and headed 'home'. 
 

TBC

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