She was standing in front of the view port, the knot in her stomach so tight she had trouble remaining upright. The words echoed in her head and yet she couldn't hear them. A wave a nausea washed over her, her body threatening to spill Neelix's questionable lunch on the ready room carpet. She knew he was behind her, watching, she tried to restore the command facade. He stepped closer and she gripped the silt of the viewport, for support.
"Kathryn?" He put his hand on her shoulder. "Kathryn, will you marry me?" He repeated his question.
"Of course." She put a smile on her face and turned to him. "Of course I will.-I was -just a little surprised. I didn't expect this. Congratulations." She rested her hand briefly on his arm, the moved past him toward her desk. "So, when do you plan on doing this?"
"As soon as possible."
"OH?" She looked up surprised again.
"Yes, we.." He didn't meet her eyes.
"Well, whenever you want. You just let me know." She sat down picking up a padd, dismissing him without words.
"Chakotay." She looked up and forced a smile. "You don't have to explain."
He nodded in response, before turning and leaving her alone in the ready room. She dropped her head to her desk. This had to be the final irony in this horrid journey her life had become. Chakotay was going to be married. Chakotay her solid first officer, her best friend, her soul mate---her one true love and now he was going to marry-- someone else. What a cruel twist her life had taken. Why was she destined to be alone, losing Justin, Mark and now---god she couldn't even think it. How had this happened? Sure she pushed him away -many, many times, but he always came back-until now.
She tried to find the crucial moment when she had lost him. They had argued -hell they always argued -it wasn't a particularly nasty one, but it was personal. That was about five or six weeks ago, but things were almost back to normal, until this.
Things had been pretty quiet and the Captain spent most of the shift in her ready room. When the door chimed she checked the chronometer and smiled.
"Come in, Commander."
"Captain." He stood before her desk
"What can I do for you?"
"I can think of many things, but I'll settle for dinner."
"Your quarters or mine?"
"The holodeck-1900; I'll pick you up."
"Well, what's the occasion?"
"None, just want to take my best friend out to dinner, alright?"
"Sure 1900. Now get out, so I can finish."
"Yes, Sir." He turned and exited before she could reprimand him for calling her Sir.
They had gone to the holodeck, a lovely little restaurant, quiet and secluded; the kind of place he loved to go. Dinner was wonderful as usual, the conversation light and fun, They danced and laughed, nothing unusual. Even his remark wasn't out of character. She didn't even remember exactly what he had said-something about a future---their future. She sidestepped it at first, smiling and avoiding as she usually did-maybe it was too much wine, she didn't know. But he wouldn't let it go this time.
"Kathryn," He was holding her upper arms, looking intently into her eyes. "How long can we go on like this? You know I want..."
"What we want is irrelevant here, Chakotay. We have been through this before-I..."
"You always have an excuse, the ship the crew, protocol---it's bullshit, Kathryn and we both know it." He never yelled but his voice was a slight bit louder than usual, tonight.
"This conversation is out of line, Commander." She fell back on her trusty command mode.
"Don't! Don't pull rank on me, Kathryn."
"I'm simply reminding you ..."
"What? That you are the god damned captain. Believe me you have never let me forget that for one second since I came aboard. I'm sick to death of the captain." He let go of her with a force that made her step back to keep her balance. "Computer end program--Good night—Captain." He left her standing alone in the empty holodeck.
Kathryn stood alone rubbing her arms where he had held her. It was unlike him to act this way, but she understood his frustration with her. Well, he would be better in the morning, she hoped. It wasn't as if they had never done this before. She knew what he wanted and if she were to be honest, she knew she wanted the same things. It just wasn't possible-not here-not now, not while she was the captain. She started home, considered stopping at Sandrine's for a drink, but seeing him there, she thought better of it and went directly to her quarters instead.
Entering her quarters she started a bath, pinned up her hair, replicated another glass of wine and settled down to a relaxing soak. She tried to clear her mind, but the slight ache in her upper arms kept reminding her how angry he had been. Well, she would be black and blue, more the fault of her sensitive skin than any thing else, he hadn't meant to hurt her-just make her see things his way. God she wanted to -but she couldn't let herself. It got harder to do every day, the longer they were out here the more persuasive his arguments sounded. Damn, she was getting a headache; she needed to clear her mind and relax-it would be better in the morning. He would be himself again, they would go on as always. She settled back and closed her eyes.
The next day Chakotay had been quiet, avoided time alone with her, but she almost expected that. A few days passed and things were closer to normal, she began to relax again. She was in the ready room, it was end of shift and the chime alerted her to his presence.
"Come." She smiled, as he entered a little sheepishly. "Commander."
"Captain." He smiled
"What can I do for you, Commander?"
"Well, I was going to ask you to join me for dinner..."
"But, I seem to be short of rations. So unless you want to feed me, it will have to be the mess hall."
"I see." She punched the console on her desk "According to this, I can manage that and still have coffee. I'll be finished her in about an hour, shall we say 1800 hours in my quarters?"
"I will be forever in your debt." Chakotay gave a mock bow and a dimpled smile and left her to finish her work.
Kathryn finished up quickly, her mood much improved. This was the first time they would have dinner since the 'disagreement', things would go back to normal now, she was sure. Luckily she had rations to spare this month, not that that would have mattered-to restore the status quo, she would have cheated on her rations. B'Elanna would just have to forgive her.
Her door chimed; he was early and she took that as a good sign. Kathryn called out for the door to admit him while she finished dressing. It only took her few minutes to join him in her living area.
"Hi." He looked startled when she spoke, then smiled at her. "You look a million kilometers away. Are you OK?"
"Yes, fine; just thinking."
"Anything special?" She made her way to the replicator. "Wine?"
"No-nothing-er-I think I'll have tea."
"OK." She gave him a strange look, but ordered his tea. "So-tea? What's that about?"
"Oh, I had more than enough wine the other night." He laughed to cover his embarrassment."
"At Sandrine's." She teased him. "Is that why I have to feed you? Is that where all your rations went?"
"Yeah." He shook his head. "And it wasn't synthehol either-not good."
"Oh, you didn't ?!"
"I'm afraid I did, but I would rather not talk about it." He was a little abrupt, but then smiled. "If it's all the same to you."
"Oh, a bad morning after?" She laughed at him.
"Yeah---You could say that." He didn't meet her eyes. "So this M class Harry found today, think we might get some shore leave?"
"Looks good." She let him change the subject, move past the nights argument; he had done it for her enough times.
Kathryn picked her head up from the desk. Was this real? Had she been dreaming?
"Computer, besides myself who has been in the ready room in the last hour?"
"COMANDER CHAKOTAY IS THE ONLY OTHER PERSON TO BE IN THE READY ROOM IN THE PAST HOUR."
She sat quietly, unable to understand any of this. Chakotay was getting married and she didn't know to whom or when or why. None of this made sense. She left the ready room.
"Commander, the bridge is yours." It was all she said and she never even looked in his direction, just stepped into the lift and was gone.
Chakotay watched her go; he wondered what she was thinking. He was supposed to be her friend, what must she think of this sudden change. What the hell was he thinking? He was getting married to Ensign A'brilli-Angela--he would have to learn to call her that. Kathryn had smiled, told him he didn't need to explain, god, how could he? He wasn't sure he understood himself. Kathryn, I love you—just say no—spirits say no—don’t let me do this.
The Captain had left the bridge early yesterday and today she didn't show up there at all. It had happened on rare occasions before, but everyone was uncomfortable with her absence. Usually her absence was explained by the need to utilize her many skills in other parts of the ship-normally at times of stress, when they had sustained severe damage or experienced major system failures, this time there was no official reason. The unofficial reason circulated the ship at warp speed. Commander Chakotay and Ensign A'brilli were getting married and they were doing it in three days. Voyager was in shock.
She sat in her quarters, no lights, no sounds, she need to force herself to go out there-she was the captain for god sakes; she needed to act like one. Her first officer was getting married and she needed to accept it and move on. He had contacted her earlier, she agreed to the ceremony in three days and small party on the holodeck. She would do this because she had no choice. What had she expected. She offered him nothing, well friendship, but that was not all he wanted and so now he was marrying ---Ensign Angela A'brilli-she didn't even really know her. God she didn't know he knew her. This wasn't doing her any good. She washed her face, combed her hair and left her quarters.
It was dinnertime and the mess hall was crowded. She took a tray and headed for the counter. She didn't feel like eating but she needed to be seen and this was the best place. Captain's mask firmly in place she accepted whatever Neelix had piled on her plate, smiled and laughed at whatever he said; he thought it was funny. She searched the room for an empty spot, B'Elanna call to her. It was a dangerous place to sit, but there didn't seem to be any other.
"Captain, come sit here." B'Elanna called.
"Thank you." She smiled as Tom made room for her to sit.
"Interesting nebula on long range sensors." Harry tried to ease the tension. "Have you seen it, Captain?"
"No Harry. I..." She blushed at her lack of an excuse. "I was busy."
"Check it out when you get a chance. I think you would find it interesting."
"I'll do that, thanks Harry." She played with her food, putting some in her mouth as an excuse not to talk.
"Hey, were gonna play some pool after dinner, I could use a partner." Harry smiled. "How about it, Captain? I'd like to win for a change."
"I don't.." She looked up at him. "OK, sure."
"Good." He slapped Tom on the back. "Time for me to win back some of my rations."
They had played four games of pool and Harry was in his glory, with the Captain as a partner, he won every one. Of course she was working hard at appearing normal under the close scrutiny of everyone in the room, but he thought she was having a little fun. She was ready to leave but they talked her into one more game, then Chakotay came in. She noticed him right away and everyone else noticed how uncomfortable she became. He stayed at the bar for a while, but they all knew he would have to come over before long.
“Hey, Chak, How ya doing?” B’Elanna spoke before he was too close as a warning.
“Fine B’Ella, who’s winning?”
“Chakotay—do you have to ask?” The Captain picked up her drink to keep busy.
“Should have known, you never lose.” He pulled out a chair and sat next to her.
“I wouldn’t say that.” She smiled at him, but a little too sadly.
“That’s it we win again.” Harry exclaimed. “One more, Captain?”
“No, five is enough; leave them some dignity, Harry and a few rations.” She laughed. “Maybe, Chakotay will be your partner. I really have to be going.” She turned and glanced around the room then at Chakotay. “Unless you had other plans.”
“No, just filling up some time.” He nodded to Harry. “Sure I’ll play a game.”
“Well it’s been fun but I’m going to turn in.” The Captain stood.
“Good night, Captain, thanks. I’ll eat well for a long time.” Harry laughed. “I owe you.”
“I’ll remember that when I need coffee rations, goodnight.” She left and the four of them just watched her go.
The game broke up after just one more. B’Elanna tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t have it. He left shortly after that and she was more confused than ever.
“B’E, what’s going on? Did he say?”
“Oh yeah-- he’s marrying Angela in three days.” She threw her hands up in the air. “I don’t know.”
“What about Hen’taal, I thought they were something.”
“They were; I don’t know”
“Had a big fight a while ago.” Harry joined them with fresh drinks.
“Big deal they fight like we do—all the damn time.” B’Elanna shook her head. “Harry, how is he with this?”
“Hasn’t said a word, not about her or the wedding or anything.”
“Something is very wrong. The Captain is miserable, Hen’taal is mute, I haven’t even seen Angela except in sick bay, and the chief doesn’t look good either. This is not normal. Aren’t people supposed to be happy about getting married?” Tom threw his hand up. “B’E you gotta do something. Talk to him anything.”
“You’re his friend, he might listen. Hell, he’d put me out an air lock.”
“Tom’s right, Maquis. Something is wrong and you might be the only one he’ll talk to.” Harry patted her back.
“OK, I’ll try.”
B’Elanna left them sitting there went in search of Chakotay
“Computer, locate Commander Chakotay.”
“COMMANDER CHAKOTAY IS IN HIS QUARTERS.”
“Is anyone with him?”
“Deck three. Computer is he sleeping?”
B'Elanna rang the chime three times before the door opened. She went into the darkened quarters.
“Over here B’Ella.” He was sitting on the floor under the viewport. “Help yourself to something and join me. I knew you wouldn’t give up.”
“Can I get you something?”
“I’m not so sure of that.” She sat beside him. “What the hell is going on?”
“I’m getting married.” He smiled. “Aren’t you happy for me?”
“NO—but you will anyway.”
“You’re right. No-- I don’t get it—you are not happy, Angela is hiding or something, the Captain is..” She saw him wince at the mention of the Captain. “She’s down, to put it mildly and Hen’taal well he says nothing at all—to anyone about anything.”
“It’s not good but it’s necessary.”
“What the hell does that mean? Stop talking in riddles.”
“B’Ella it’s complicated, but it’s so simple—it shouldn’t be this way-- but it is.”
“Cut the shit and tell me why you would marry a woman you hardly even know—who has been in and out of a relationship for years—when you are in love with the Captain. None of this makes sense.”
“It does and it doesn’t. B’Ella if I explain, you have to promise me you won’t tell anyone, not even Tom.”
“OK, if that’s what you want, but I think it’s wrong already. Just so you know.”
“I know and it is, but part of me just can’t let it go.” He took a breath. “The short version.” He looked at her.” “Ens—Angela is pregnant.”
“So this becomes your problem how? Shouldn’t this be Hen’taal’s problem?”
“No, the doctor did a DNA—it’s mine.” He watched the shock register on her face.
“Whoa—OK, let’s do the long version.” She jumped up. “Wait I’m getting a drink—want something?”
When B'Elanna came back, he proceeded with the story. Angela and Hen’taal had been on and off for years, they fight and make up –a week here a month there, whatever. So they had a big blow up about two months ago and didn’t speak for weeks. Not long after that he and Kathryn argued at dinner and he ran off to Sandrine’s to lick his wounds. So it was an old story, feeling sorry for him self, he got drunk. Angela came in, had a few drinks then Hen’taal came in and Angela joined Chakotay at the bar. They had a few more drinks. The next morning he woke up next to Angela, the end.
“OK, so you got drunk. You both acted stupid and immature. Yeah it happens we all screw up, but Chak you can’t marry her. You can't build a life on a stupid mistake! Come on, this is the 24th century for spirits sake—no one is gonna hold a bat’leth to you and force you to marry her.”
“Angela is Tzenkethi, she is from a sect which has very strict rules regarding procreation. If I don’t marry her she will abort this baby.”
“That’s crazy—she won’t do that.”
“Yes, she will.”
“What about Hen’taal, does he know?”
“No and we can’t tell him.”
“You can’t do this—it’s crazy—Chak you…”
“B’Elanna, I tried to talk to her. I tried to reason with her, she is so calm and so matter of fact. Trust me; she will do this. I marry her or she will to destroy the child—that is her culture.” He took her hands. “I know it’s crazy—this shouldn’t happen—but it did and it is and I can’t let my child die for my mistakes.”
“What about the Captain? What did you tell her?”
“I told her I was getting married—that’s all.”
“And she just accepted it?”
“She doesn’t feel she has a choice—it’s eating her up—I can see it, but she would die before she’d admit it.”
“And if she did admit it—what then?”
“She might if she knew what you were doing.”
“You can’t tell her. B’Ella, I trusted you”
“I won’t, I swear it. But Chak if she admitted how she really feels –would you go through with it?”
“She wouldn’t do that—even if she knew.”
“God, Chak ---what am I gonna do with you?”
“Be my friend B’Ella. I could use one.”
B’Elanna wrapped her arms around him. This was crazy—some kind of Terran, backwoods eighteenth century, ridiculous nonsense—this did not happen to sophisticated modern 24th century space faring races—this was nuts.
When B'Elanna finally left she knew she couldn’t tell anyone, but she had to do something –so she stopped by the Captain’s quarters.
“Computer is Captain Janeway in her quarters?”
“Is she awake and alone?”
She took a deep breath and rang the chime. She had no idea what she was doing, what she would say, she just had to try something. The door opened. It was dark in there too.
“Captain?” She cautiously entered, allowing the door to close behind her
“B’Elanna? Come in, is something wrong?” The Captain’s voice came from the area of the viewport.
“I’m sorry it’s so late—but –I didn’t know what to do.” B’Elanna walked toward her.
“What is it B’Elanna? What’s wrong?” B’Elanna didn’t come here often and never in the middle of the night, something serious must be wrong.
“Captain, I made a promise, and I can’t say exactly what is wrong—but ….” She looked at the Captain-god she looked bad and now she was gonna make it worse. “I’m sorry –maybe I shouldn’t..”
“B’Elanna.” The Captain came over and took her hand leading her to the couch. “Something is obviously very wrong or you wouldn’t have come here at all. Tell me what you can.”
“It’s Chak..” She saw the Captain’s eyes dart away, then come back as she took a breath. “You have to do something.”
“Yes you can. Deny them permission to do this.”
“I can’t do that, not with out very good reason.”
“Oh ,kahless there is reason—many reasons—but all I can tell you is it’s wrong. Don’t let them do it.” She watched her. The Captain dropped her head, shook it then got up and walked away. “Please”
“I wish I could help.” She was back at the viewport with her back to B’Elanna. “I’m sorry, B’Elanna.”
“Sorry to bother you, Captain.” B’Elanna could hear the tears in her voice, she left quietly. “Good night.”
The next day passed quietly, it seemed no one wanted to talk, even Tom had little to joke about. The Captain and the Commander smiled a little too much at each other whenever they spoke and no one even saw Ensign A'brilli. The plans for the wedding were set, only two days to go; it seemed more like a funeral, especially to the bridge crew. The ‘couple’ was never seen together, by anyone, and Hen’taal worked quietly speaking to no one, never even meeting anyone’s eyes.
On the morning of the second day, Chakotay reported to the bridge for duty. Alpha shift was already in place, all but the Captain.
“Captain in her ready room?” He automatically started for the door.
“Oh?” He turned back to Tuvok. “I need to speak with her, where can I find her”
“The Captain is not on board”
“What?” He was stunned, he was first officer he should know this. “Where is she?”
“She has taken the delta flyer on a scouting mission, Commander. She expects to be gone a few days.” The unemotional Vulcan voice told him, as the rest of the crew glanced in their direction.
“She can’t be I’m… Why wasn’t I told of this?” He was as shaken as any of them had ever seen him.
“She felt it best not to give you added burdens at this time. Since you will----be off duty tomorrow I will perform her duties.”
“Hail her, Harry and put it through to the ready room.” He ordered as he spun toward her office.
“Sir, she doesn’t answer the hail.” Harry knew she wouldn’t but he didn’t say that.
“Where is it? In transport range?” He stormed to ops.
“Yes, Sir.” Harry considered lying, but the commander was looking over his shoulder and would know.
“Transport me to the flyer.”
“Sir?” Harry hesitated, looking at Tuvok then Chakotay.
“NOW ENSIGN!” Chakotay raised his voice just a little, Tuvok nodded in Harry’s direction and He shimmered away.
“Kathryn?” He materialized with her name on his lips
“Commander.” She was surprised as she turned to face him.
“What the hell are you doing?” He was angry, how could she run off with out telling him.
“Commander, you should not be here. As to what I’m doing, it really isn’t your place to question me.”
“Knock it off, Kathryn. What is this?”
“I am scouting the upcoming system, we may find valuable…”
“Bullshit! Why did you leave?”
“Commander, you are out of line.”
“So are you CAPTAIN.” He slammed his had on the console. “I’m supposed to get married tomorrow and you are supposed to officiate.”
“Tuvok is quite capable of performing the ceremony.” She was working hard to remain calm.
“You are supposed to be my best friend. Why Kathryn?—tell me. I want to hear it.” He placed his other hand on the other side of her, trapping her in her seat. “Tell me why.”
“Commander.” She took a breath and her voice softened. “Chakotay, you need to calm down and return to Voyager.”
“NO—I’m going nowhere until we talk about this.” He leaned in close to her.
“Alright…you want to talk about this.” She took a deep breath and sat as far back as she could. “You talk—you tell me why. Why is my best friend marrying a woman that to my knowledge he hardly even knows.”
“Ens…” He moved back from her. “Ang..”
“Ensign? You plan on calling you wife ensign? Her name is Angela.” She got up and pushed past him. “For gods sakes the least you could do is know her name.”
“I know her name, Kathryn.” He spoke softly now and took the co- pilot’s seat “I’m just not used to using it. I have to do this.”
“Chakotay, talk to me.” She sat down and took his hands. “Why do you think you have to do this?”
“Angela is pregnant.”
“What?—how?” Her shock was apparent. “What does this have to do with you?”
“It’s my baby.” He saw her flinch, and start to protest. “The doctor ran the DNA.”
“Kathryn, remember the night we had dinner and—well I wound up getting so drunk?” She nodded, unconsciously gripping her arms where he had that night. “Angela was there, at Sandrine’s she was drinking too and not speaking to Hen’taal and well ..we.it just..”
“One night –my god what are the odds—how could this happen…”
“Spirits, don’t –I’m aware of the process.” She was getting louder, she dropped his hands and place one hand on her head.
"It’s my responsibility.”
“I understand, but to marry someone you don’t even know—it medieval. Chakotay this isn’t ancient earth there are no shotgun weddings--not on my ship. There are other options.” She was getting angry again.
“Kathryn, her culture will not permit her to carry this child unless we marry----her alternative is to abort.”
“That’s crazy—this can’t even be happening—I won’t allow it!” She jumped up and began to pace.
“Kathryn, I have tried to talk to her, reason--offer options. She won’t listen.” He got up and took her arms gently, stopping her pacing. “Give me a good reason not to do this.” He stared down, soft brown eyes connected to moist blue ones and held them.
“No.” She stepped back but he didn’t release her. “Even if I could—I would never ask you to choose between me and your child.”
“Then you will allow this?” She nodded “Will you be there?”
“Chakotay, I won’t stop you from doing what you believe you have to do—what you think is right---but—don’t ask me to be there—please.” She pulled free and walked to the console. “Delta flyer to Voyager.”
“Voyager here, Captain” Harry’s voice was uncertain.
“Harry, lock on to the Commander and transport him to Voyager.” She looked back to watch him shimmer away.
She took her seat and set a new course.
“Angela, I don’t think this will ever work.”
“It has to –at least for a while.”
“We don’t love each other, we don’t even know each other. He turned her to face him. “Angela do you love him?” She didn’t answer. “The least we can do is be honest with each other.”
“Yes, but I could never ask him to take on your child.”
“Did you ask him how he felt?”
“NO, this baby is yours—we know that.”
“Yes and I will always be there, but for us to marry is wrong.”
“Are you backing out?” She raised her head defiantly
“No, I’m trying just offering alternatives.”
“There is only one—we marry or I can’t carry this child.”
“Then let me.” They turned startled by her voice, they hadn’t know she was on board and certainly didn’t expect her here.
“Kathryn?” They spoke together.
“I said, let me.” She came closer. “Angela, if you feel you can’t do this—let me carry the child.”
“Captain—I don’t understand.”
“It’s another option, Angela. I understand your cultural restrictions—I have no such restrictions, I am offering to carry this child-- for both of you.”
“Kathryn, are you sure-- you…”
“Yes.” She turned to Chakotay “I know how strongly you feel about your child, I want to do this.”
“You..” Angela examined both of them carefully, then addressed the Captain. “You would do this—for him? You love him enough to carry another woman’s child?”
“Yes.” She never took her eyes off him.
“I don’t understand.” She dropped her head to her hands and broke down. Gentle arms drew her close. She was sobbing into his chest, warm and protected and familiar.
“I do ---Shh Ange, it’s OK.” He stroked her hair. “We can fix this.”
“We’ll work it out.” He stood up bringing her with him. “Come on let’s go somewhere and talk about this.” She gestured toward the others.
“Go on, we’ll talk in the morning.” Chakotay assured her and watched as Han’taal led her away.
“We should go somewhere and talk too.” Her hand rested on his arm; he was silently watching the others leave. “Chakotay?”
“Kathryn?” He turned a dozen questions on his face, hope in his eyes
Kathryn led him to the lift and they silently made the trip down to the crew quarters. She replicated tea and they settled on her couch, before either spoke.
“Did you tell him?” He sat, close but not touching her.
“Yes. I know I had no right to interfere, but I know how it feels to have the person you love ripped away from you. I thought he needed to know.” She had her hands in her lap and she stared at them as she spoke.
“You had every right—as Captain you have the right to protect your crew—even from themselves. And personally---it’s a right I gave you many years ago, even if you have never chosen to exercise it.” He watched her hands fidget in her lap “What made you come back?”
“I had to. When have you ever know me to give up without a fight?” She shifted still looking down. “You asked for a reason and I came to give you one.”
“Did you mean everything you said down there?” He turned her to face him. “Would you do it? If she takes you up on your offer—will you carry my baby?”
“Yes.” She looked up at him. “I love you, Chakotay.”
“Oh god, Kathryn.” He pulled her close, burying his face in her hair. “I’m so sorry—what a mess this is.”
“We’ll deal with it, Chakotay. We have handled difficult things before.”
“What happens now?”
“We’ll have a wedding tomorrow and hopefully it won’t be yours.” She raised her head and smiled.
“Will he marry her?”
“If she’ll have him, he will”
“And the baby?”
“The child will have four parents, four people who love it, four people willing to care for it. It can be worked out—no matter who carries it.”
“Kathryn, I’ll always love you.” He pulled her close.
When morning arrived there was
a wedding held in holosuite two of the Starship Voyager. The Captain
was on hand to perform the ceremony and the First Officer gave the bride
away. The happy couple exchanged vows and the crew collectively exhaled
for the first time in a week.
The situation was awkward at first, but over time it became less strained. Angela was hesitant, but when she looked around, she saw her new husband, who loved her and her baby unconditionally. She saw Chakotay, a good man who already loved this child and the Captain, who had surprised her the most, when she offered to carry this baby. By the strictest interpretation of their code she should only be allowed to carry this baby if she married Chakotay, but they were sects that were less strict. All four of them already loved this baby and if these three people could so openly cherish this unknown child, she could bend the rules just this little bit. She decided to carry her baby.
At first she was uncomfortable when the Captain or Chakotay inquired about the baby, but she came to understand their concern and gradually she began to share. After she heard the baby’s heartbeat she invited the others to join her in sickbay for her next visit so they could hear it too. When they first felt the baby kick, Han’taal hailed the command team with the news, inviting them to come right over and feel it for themselves. As the months passed they all became more comfortable and more excited about ‘their’ daughter. Her name would be Chantal Katerina, Angela had suggested it and everyone immediately took to it.
The months passed quickly, the command team were on bridge duty when the call came.
“EMH to Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay”
“We’re here doctor, what can we do for you?” The Captain responded.
“Captain, Commander—I have been informed that Chantal Katerina requests the presence of all four of her parents for her arrival. Please report to sickbay.”
“We are on our way Doctor.” She smiled at Chakotay and took his hand. “Here we go. Ready?” She stood and he stood with her.
“As I’m gonna be.” He smiled as they walked to the lift.
“Mr. Tuvok, you have the bridge.
The Commander and I will be in sickbay”
Chantal was not the only child
born on Voyager, but she was the most unique. All four of her parents
would testify to that.