Disclaimer:  Story is a product of my imagination the rest belongs to Paramount.

Weathered Hands

Rated PG

They left the transport station and hiked up the steep mountain trail; it was hot when they started in the early morning and now that it was nearly noon it was even hotter.

“Damn.”  The young reporter sat down on a bolder and pulled off her boot.

“Problem?”  The guide came back to where his charge had stopped for the umpteenth time this morning.

“There is something in my boot.”  She grunted as she pulled it off and emptied the gravel from it. “Why would anyone live up here?”

“Its peaceful?”  The guide offered politely. 'to avoid the likes of you’ he thought'.  “We better get going or you won’t have any time for your interview before we have to start back down.”

“How much farther?”

“Not far.”  He started off without waiting for her to replace the boot.

Alexia pulled on her boot and ran to catch up.  The only thing worse then being on this god-forsaken mountain would be being here alone. This had better be worth all the trouble.  They traveled through dense forest and followed the river to the clearing where the map said the cabin would be located.  Finally they reached sunlight and open space, before them stood a small log cabin.

“That’s it?”  Alexia couldn’t believe anyone still lived in such primitive surroundings, certainly not this someone.

“What did you expect out here?”  He shook his head and started across the clearing toward the house.

“I expected something a little more--well- a little less- umm- primitive.”  She trotted along behind him.

Jason stepped up on the porch and knocked on the wooden door; it swung open.

“Hello?” He called into darkened house.  “Humph.”  He turned and left the porch.

“Do they always leave the door open?” Alex stuck her head inside a looked around.  It looked comfortable but very different from any place she ever imagined they would live.  There were sand paintings on the walls and over stuffed furniture not the sleek modern stuff she was accustomed to. The walls in the main room were rough hewed logs just like the outside of the building, there was a large stone fireplace that she suspected was more than a decoration.  A terminal tucked into the corner of the room gave her relief at least they communicated on a modern level.

“Hey are you here to spy on them or to interview her?”  Jason liked these old people, he had been here more than a few times and he had a great respect for the cabin residents and very little for the occasional upstart that came up here to get ‘the scoop’.  “Lets go.”  He went back on the porch and tugged her away from the door.

“Where?”

“Around back, they must be here somewhere.”

She was kneeling in the garden, a big hat pulled down to shade her face as she worked the moist soil with weathered but surprisingly nimble fingers. The tiny woman wore faded trousers and a large mans shirt to cover her still fair skin from the burning rays of the twin suns.

“Is that…?” Alexia squinted to see the figure clearer.

“Yep.”  Jason loved the look on her face, most people were shocked when they finally got here and discovered that the larger than life hero they sought turned out to be a little old woman playing in the dirt.  He always enjoyed it.

“Admiral?”  Alexia moved closer to the kneeling figure.  “Admiral Janeway?”

The woman stopped what she was doing and turned to face them shading her eyes to see past the sunlight.  She started to rise and Jason came forward and offered her a hand.

“Thank you, Jason.” She brushed her dirty hands on her shirt.  “I see you brought me a visitor.”

“Yes, the reporter we talked about.”

“Yes.”  She sighed then smiled and nodded at him.

“Admiral, I’m Alexia Jordon…”  She held out her hand and the woman clasped it.

“First of all, Ms Jordon.  It’s Kathryn.  I haven’t been Admiral Janeway in twenty years.”  The clear blue eyes and strong voice defied what was otherwise the picture of a rumpled old woman.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“And please..”  She place her hand on the younger woman’s arm. “don’t ever call me Ma’am.”

“Yes…”  Alexia hesitated

“Kathryn.”  She turned toward the house and rolled her eyes at Jason; he just smiled. “Let’s go inside where it’s cooler.”

It was cooler in the house, but with none of the crispness Alexia expected, then she noticed the breeze.  It seemed very odd at first but she quickly came to appreciate the natural purity of the fresh mountain air as well as the comfortable rustic setting.  She had come her to verify facts she had carefully gathered and committed to memory; she hadn’t yet realized there was much more to harvest here.

Jason took his drink and saying he would scout the river, he headed the out the back door and left the ladies to their work.

For two hours the women sat at the heavy wooden table and talked, or rather Alexia asked carefully crafted questions and Kathryn gave her pat answers.  Alexia was getting the same facts everyone else had long ago printed and Kathryn was finding it very difficult to hide her boredom.

“Kathryn? Are you talking to yourself?” The deep voice chuckled, before the man came into view.  “Oh I see we have company.”

“Yes, this is Ms Jordon…”  Kathryn stood up and kissed his cheek.  “Did you have a nice nap?”

“Yes. Thank you.”  He tuned back to their guest “Ahh, Ms Jordon, its nice to meet you.”

“Alex. Please call me Alex.”

“OK, Alex.” He helped himself to a glass of lemonade.  “Please don’t let my wife give you the wrong impression.  I only nap because she wears me out!”

“I see.”  Alex wasn’t quite sure how to take that until he winked at her and then she could feel herself blush.

“Now see what you did?  If you can’t behave you can go water the garden.” Kathryn admonished him with a crooked smile.

“Kathryn, if I do the yard work I’ll be too tired later, but if that’s what you want…”  He flashed them a dimpled grin.

Kathryn shook her head but the blue eyes sparkled.  “Sit down and rest; it’s bound to rain sometime.”

At first, Alex stared at them in wide eyed shock, but she soon joined in the laughter as the game continued.  As the conversation got livelier the formal questions were put aside and Alex was treated to a side of the famous couple most people never got to see.

After a while Jason rejoined them.  Chakotay made dinner, all the while quipping about Kathryn’s lack of culinary talent.  She retorted that he had to serve some purpose and he threatened to tell everyone just why she really kept him around. The conversation and the fun went on throughout dinner.

At one point Alex realized how late it had gotten and began to panic about the long journey to the base of the mountain in the dark.  Kathryn bit her lip, Chakotay gave her a deep dimpled grin and Jason busied himself clearing the table.  Alex realized they all knew something she didn’t but it took her a few more minutes to draw it out of them.  Finally Jason confessed that he always made reporters earn their stories by hiking up the mountain, but the trip back would be easily accomplished by the transporter in the other room.

Another round of laughter and coffee and they brought their visit to a close.

“I hope you got what you came after.”  Kathryn keyed the coordinates into the transporter.

“Yes, more than- I think. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  We don’t often talk with reporters these days and far less often do we enjoy them.”

“Thanks.  I really enjoyed this too.  I guess I’m just a little surprised by…”  she blushed  “Well, I didn’t expect you to …”

“Kathryn, see what you’ve done to the girl.”  Chakotay came up and put his arms around her.  “She came here expecting the very respectable Admiral Janeway, not some feisty old lady who misbehaves like some hormone crazed teenager.”

“Oh I won’t write any of this.” Alex had truly enjoyed her time here and didn’t want to offend them.

“Nonsense, its time people separated the woman from the myth.”

“Are you sure, Kathryn?  You’re a legend.”

“Tell them the truth, Alex.  Tell them well behaved women don’t make history.” With a crooked smile and a twinkle in those bright blue eyes she pressed the buttons that sent their visitors home.

The End.

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