Disclaimer:  Paramount owns it all.
Third in Letters from Home contest
 
Rated  PG
 

"Mail call" had finally become a regular part of life on Voyager; it wasn't a frequent part, but it was fairly regular.  About every month, for the last two years, Starfleet had sent a transmission containing updates, news and directives.  They used the term directive instead of orders, explaining that at this distance a captain, even a staunch Starfleet captain, had to be free to act, not bound by the whims of admirals who had no first hand knowledge of her circumstances.   The Captain explained it simply as not wasting orders on those who may not listen and who were too far out of reach to discipline.

Along with the Federation news and official Starfleet business, the transmissions contained personal letters from friends and family of the distant crew.  Most of the transmission was downloaded directly into the main computer, but the Captain insisted that all personal mail be distributed on individual padds.

"I fail to see the relevance of this activity."  Seven interrupted her work to deliver the Commander his 'letter'.

"It's good to hear from the people we left behind."  He smiled when he saw the letter was from his sister.

"What purpose does it serve to continue communications with individuals you may never encounter again?"  Seven turned back to her work without waiting for an answer. "Or from people one has never encountered."  She placed the current padd on the console and tapped her comm badge.  "Naomi Wildman report to Astrometrics."

"I'll see you later, Seven."  Chakotay had no intention of getting into that particular discussion with Seven again; he scanned his letter as he turned to go.

"Commander, would you deliver this to the Captain?"  Seven held out a padd.

"Of course, I'm on my way up there anyway."  He was surprised that Seven had given him the padd.  She wasn't happy with the assignment, but she took her work seriously and usually carried her instructions, to deliver each letter personally, through to the letter.
 
"This.."  She hesitated before handing him the padd.  "It is unusual for the Captain to receive two such letters.  I do not wish to make her come to Astrometrics again."

"It's OK, Seven.  You can trust me."  Chakotay smiled as he took the padd and headed for the bridge.

It was almost lunchtime, so Chakotay detoured through the mess hall picking up two of anything that looked edible.  He piled on an extra desert on his way by, if nothing else Kathryn would eat that.

Balancing the tray and the padds, he rang the readyroom chime with his elbow and was glad she let him in quickly.

“What is all that?”

“Lunch and our letters.”  He waited for her to clear a place on the table for the tray.

“Looks like food for an army and I already have my letter from mom.”  She made herself comfortable on the couch.

“Well, you have another one.”  He handed her the padd.

“How are the letters going?”  She picked at one of the colorful items on the tray and tasted it before making a face and putting it aside.

“There a quite a few of them this time.”  He sat beside her on the couch and looked over the offerings.  “Seven is displeased with the process.”

“I know.”  Kathryn laughed. “I’m surprised she gave you this.  She hates this job but she carries it out to the letter—usually.”

“I know, but Naomi got another letter, must be from her father from the way Seven reacted and that about put her over the edge.”

"Oh?"

"She finds it irrelevant to communicate with people we may never encounter"

“Oh – she would."  Kathryn laughed.  "Remember the first one Naomi got?"

“Yes, Naomi was a little nervous."

“Nervous?! Hell, the child was terrified."

~~~^^^~~~

It was only the second transmission Voyager received from Starfleet that had contained personal letters.  Most of the crew received at least something from friends or family and each was downloaded to a padd.  With transmissions being so uncertain, the Captain felt that each individual should have the opportunity to read their mail privately and to retain it if they desired.

Seven notified each crewmember of an awaiting transmission and personally handed them out to the correct recipient.  The Captain collected her letter and  was leaving astrometrics when she encountered her youngest crewman lurking in the corridor.

"Naomi, is something wrong?”  The Captain found Namoi leaning against the bulkhead.

“Not really.”  She kept her head down  “Just this.”  She raised the padd in her hand.

“What's this?”  The Captain looked at the padd.  “Your very own mail?”  She took a closer look at the heading.  “A letter from your father? Why that’s wonderful!”

“You think so?”  Naomi looked up sadly.

“Oh, I do.  Aren't you going to read it?”

“Maybe later.” Naomi shifted, dragging one foot along the carpet.

“Did you tell your mom?”

“No.”  Naomi looked up again.  “I was thinking, maybe I shouldn’t.”

“Why ever not?”

“What if its not good? What if he doesn't like me?”
 
“I'm sure that’s not true.”  Kathryn smiled.  "Why would he bother to write to you if he didn't have good things to say?"

"Sometimes people say stuff that hurts in letters."

"I don't think you father would do that to you."

"But that man did it to you."

"Mark?" Kathryn was taken aback;  she didn't even know the child knew about Mark."

"I guess.  I don't remember his name but I heard that..." Naomi suddenly seemed to remember something. "I'm sorry I shouldn't have said that."

"It's OK. I was just surprised that you knew about Mark."  Kathryn tried to reassure the child.  "It was a long time ago.  How is it you do know?"

"I don't remember the time exactly, but the last time we got some letters some people said they hoped they didn't get a 'Dear John' letter like you did."  Naomi shrugged.  "I didn't know what that was so I asked mom."

"And you think your father might write something like that to you?"

“What if he didn’t want a girl and he never wants to see me?  That would make mom cry.”  There were tears in her big blue eyes when they turned back to search the Captain's face.

“I see.  So you're worried about your mom.  Well, maybe you better read it first, just to be sure.”

“Yea.”  Naomi shuffled her feet

“I have a letter from my sister.  Why don’t you come with me and we can read them together.”  Kathryn saw Naomi smile. “that way if I get bad news I won't be alone.”

“Do you think your sister has something bad to tell you?"  Naomi walked beside the Captain toward the lift.

"No, I don't think so, but I suppose its possible.”

They stepped into the lift and the Captain ordered it to deck three. Kathryn watched the child out of the corner of her eye.  Naomi looked so frightened she wanted to scoop her up and hug her.  Instead, they walked silently to the Captain’s quarters.

“Can I get you something to drink?”  Kathryn asked as she ordered herself a coffee.

“Tea, please, milk and sugar.”

Kathryn put the drinks on the low table along with a plate of cookies and settled herself on the couch next to Naomi.

“Thank you.”

“You're welcome.”  Kathryn scrolled down her own letter, occasionally glancing in Naomi’s direction. The little girl stirred her tea, the padd still resting on the table.  “My sister has an exhibit soon.”

“What’s that?”  Naomi munched on a cookie.

“Phoebe is an artist.  She is showing her art work in a big show.”  Kathryn reached for a cookie.  “So, are you going to read yours?”

“I guess..”  Naomi picked up the padd but didn’t look at it. “Captain, did you cry?  When you got that letter?"

"I supposed I did.  I understood that he had to make a life for himself there, just as I have to make my own here, but it was still sad."

"I think this might make me cry, too. Can you read it for me?” She held out the padd, biting her lip.

“I think your father wanted you to read it.”  Kathryn spoke gently giving in when she saw the tears leak from Naomi’s eyes.  “Tell you what.  Come sit here next to me and we can read it together.”

The little girl scooted back on the couch.  Kathryn put her arm around Naomi and nodded to her to start the padd.

“I can’t.”  Naomi covered her eyes and held the padd out.  “Please?”

The Captain took the padd and scanned its contents.  Then she began to read it out loud.

My Dearest Naomi.

I supposed I should start this letter by introducing myself.  My name is Greskrendtregk and I am Ktarian.  I know your mother has shown you images, so you have seen the features that you and I have in common.  Although Ktaria VII is not aligned with the Federation, I have chosen a career with Starfleet.  I live on Deep Space 9, which is where I met and married your beautiful mother.  That, Naomi, was the proudest day of my life, until the day I was able to say ‘I have a daughter’.  It is a fulfillment of my dreams to say to you that I am your father.

There is so much I want to say; so much I wish to share with you, but for now, theses messages must be short and so that must wait.  Please know that I love you and live for the day I may hold you in my arms. Be safe my lovely daughter and know that I carry you close to my heart wherever I go.

Your loving father

When Kathryn looked up, Naomi was staring at her will tears freely running down her face.

“Really?”  She said quietly.  “Did he really say that?”

“Yes, want to see.”  Kathryn handed her back the padd and watched as Naomi read the words for herself.

Naomi finished reading and jumped into Kathryn’s arms.

“Thank you, thank you.”  She hugged the Captain not even hearing the door chime or Kathryn call to open it.  “I was scared, so scared—oh, thank you.”  Naomi jumped about unable to sit still.

“And what is this?”  Chakotay laughed at the sight of Kathryn being smothered by the exuberant child.

“Naomi got a letter from…”

“My father!  He loves me!”  Naomi switched from the Captain to Chakotay and was jumping up and down as she hugged his waist.

“Of course he does.”  Kathryn laughed.  “Didn’t I tell you?”

“Yes, yes.”  Naomi was hugging Kathryn again. “Thank you.”

“You see, Chakotay, Naomi was afraid something in the letter might hurt her mother, so we read it together first.”

“Actually, the Captain read it to me! Thank…”  Naomi jumped to her feet.  “My mother, oh boy!”  Naomi ran for the door stopping just short and turning back.  “Thanks, Captain!”  She dashed out the door.

~~~^^^~~~

“I remember that well.”  Chakotay laughed.  “I thought for a minute I was going to have to explain how the great Captain Janeway was done in by a child!”

“You weren’t the only one!”  Kathryn gave up on the food and popped a cookie into her mouth.  “So, are you going to read your letter?”

“I scanned it on the way up.  It's from my sister; all is well.  I’ll read it more carefully later.”  He watched her.  “And yours?”

“Oh, Mom is well, Phoebe is doing another big show.  I guess she is quite famous these days.”  She sipped her coffee.  “Mom wants grandchildren. Phoebe and Joe have been trying to have a baby but no luck yet.   So…” she laughed and rolled her eyes.  “Well, you know all about Mom.”

“Ahh.” He laughed.  “No pressure there.  So, you planning to oblige?”

“Not likely.”  She laughed but didn’t look at him.

“And the second one?  Who is that from, or shouldn’t I be asking?”

“Actually, I haven’t looked.”  She scrolled down the padd.  “Oh, it's from Mark.” She looked up startled.  “ I haven’t heard from him in a year or more. Wonder what he wants?”

“Read it and find out.”  He saw the indecision on her face.  “Would you like me to leave you alone?”

“No.  I don’t want you to go.”  She settled back.  “I’ll just look it over.”

Chakotay knew she was no longer in love with Mark; she hadn’t been in years. Chakotay remembered the day four years ago when she got that ‘Dear John’ letter.  Kathryn’s pride had been hurt but her heart was intact. She had cried in his arms that evening, but they were tears of sadness not pain. Still she would always love Mark on some level and she would always be concerned for him.  Chakotay watched her start the letter then returned to reading his own.

“Ohmygod.”  She mumbled flatly, looking up at him with a soft pain in her eyes.

“Is something wrong?”  He didn’t like the way she had suddenly paled.

“No, nothing’s wrong. He….”  She handed him the padd.  “Read it.”

“Sure?”

Kathryn nodded and he began the letter.  She watched and knew exactly when he got to the part that had upset her.

“He named his daughter after you?”  He saw a deep sadness in the eyes even though her mouth smiled at him.

“Yes.” It was barley a whisper.

“Are you OK?”  He put a hand on her arm.

“Just a little shocked--- and….”  She bit her lip.

“I’m sure he meant it to honor you.”

“I know, but …”  she took a deep breath.  “This is silly.  I shouldn’t be reacting like this.”

“Its not silly, Kathryn.  You were engaged to that man.  I’m sure on some level you just took it for granted that his children would also be yours.”

Kathryn opened her mouth to speak, but no words formed as the tears spilled over her cheeks.  Chakotay pulled her close to his chest.  It wasn’t often Kathryn cried and he knew the cause ran deeper than a child named in her honor.

“Mark and I never planned on having children.”  Kathryn mumbled into his chest.

“So he changed his mind?”  He and Kathryn had talked over the years about their mutual desire to have children; she had never mentioned that Mark hadn’t wanted any.

“No.  He always wanted them.”

“You always told me you wanted children and if he did too than why….?”

“I guess I was just never ready to have Mark’s children.”  She sat up and studied his face.

“But you always said…”

“Yes, someday...” She bit her lip again as she touched his cheek, smiling at him sadly.  "I do want children, Chakotay.  The timing was never right and Mark..."  she shook her head slightly and looked into Chakotay's eyes "  He isn't the man I want to share them with."

“I want those children, too.”  He wiped the tears that slid down her cheeks and brushed light kisses across her lips. “Whenever you're ready, Kathryn; I’ll be here.”

The End.

 
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