Kathryn stood staring out the large window, oblivious to the scurrying of the young boys behind her. On this side of the house although a breathtaking view, the ocean was large and angry as it crashed against the rocks. Kathryn much preferred the calmer bluegreen waters of the lagoon on the backside of the house. The hammock that hung over the shallow water had become her refuge these past three weeks. She loved her mom and her sister, and her nephews were wonderful, but three weeks of them was too much. They were leaving today and Kathryn welcomed the promised solitude of the remaining weeks of her leave.
“Kathryn Janeway, are you listening to me?”
“Oh, I’m sorry Mom. What did you say?” Kathryn flinched when she turned to find her mother glaring at her hands on hips.
“We’re going to leave now.” Gretchen shook her head.
“OK. Have a safe trip.” Kathryn forced a smile and kissed her mother as Phoebe’s two boys dashed through the room.
“Katie, are you going be all right here all alone?”
Gretchen’s concern went much deeper than leaving her eldest daughter alone at the beach house. There had been a deep sadness in Kathryn since her return. Gretchen thought she knew why, but try as she might, she could not get Kathryn to admit anything.
“Mom, I’ll be fine.” Kathryn laughed and hugged her mother. “Really. I’m a grown woman, a Starship Captain for pete’s sake….”
“An Admiral, dear.” Gretchen gently corrected her daughter hoping to avoid an argument.
“Not yet, Mom. I haven’t accepted that promotion.”
“You will, won’t you, dear?” Gretchen’s concerned deepened. Katie had wanted this as far back as Gretchen could remember. It was almost frightening to hear her dismiss it so casually.
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.” Kathryn smiled at the worried look on her mom’s face. “Don’t look so worried, Mom. In spite of what you may have heard from my first officer, I really can take care of myself.”
“Speaking of your first officer…”
“Mom, not again. Please.”
“Mom, he has his own life.”
“But he’s your best friend—just talk to him.”
“Maybe when both of us are less busy.”
“Katie, you have done nothing but lie in that hammock for three weeks and I would venture to say you will do it for the next three weeks also!”
“OK, so I’m not all that busy.” Kathryn was trying not to get into this discussion for the hundredth time. “Chakotay has his own life. He is happy. Please leave it at that.”
“Katie…” Gretchen’s heart broke at the tears that formed in Kathryn’s eyes; she let the subject drop –for now. “You will take care of yourself?”
“Of course I will.” Kathryn put her arm around her mother and walked her out onto the porch where Phoebe and the boys waited. “I’ll be fine. Now, out of here all of you!”
“Oh dear. I left my purse inside.” Gretchen shook her head at the patronizing looks she received from her daughters. “Don’t smirk young ladies, you will get old some day too!’
“You’re not old, Ma.” Phoebe laughed. “Besides age has nothing to do with it, you never could remember your purse.”
Both girls laughed as they watched their mother go in search of her purse.
“You going to be OK out here, Kath?”
“Not you too!” Kathryn groaned.
“I know its none of my business but, Kath, I don’t want to see you throw your life away foolishly.”
“Phoebe, Please don’t start this.”
“You love him Kath, you told me so yourself. Go and get him back.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Make it that simple. Kath, I’ve never know you not to go after what you want.”
“Maybe I don’t want him enough.”
“Yeah, and maybe I can fly that damned Starship of yours!”
“Probably better than he can.” Kathryn laughed.
“Kath, that wasn’t nice!”
“Sorry, It’s a standing joke with the crew—or it was—I forget you weren’t there.”
“See you think about him all the time…”
“Ladies, whatever this spat is about, that will be enough.” The old-fashioned screen door banged closed behind Gretchen. “Boys, come and kiss your Aunt Katie goodbye.”
The exchange of good bye kisses lasted almost forever, but finally they were off. Kathryn sighed as she watched the hover car disappear behind the trees.
It rained for the next three days and nights keeping Kathryn tightly confined to the house, so when she woke on the fourth day to bright sunshine she couldn’t wait to get outside. Kathryn dug through her dresser and pulled out her favorite bathing suit, the one she hadn’t dared to wear in front of her mother. In fact she hadn’t dared to wear it in public since the day Chakotay nearly smothered her with his beach blanket.
There had been a beach party on the holodeck and she had attended suitable dressed with a knee length cover up over her suit. Several fancy umbrella drinks later, Kathryn decided to take a swim. She had no problem getting into the water because she couldn’t see the gapping faces of her crew behind her, but getting out was a different matter. Chakotay had been outraged by her suit, calling it three scraps and a string and insisting she cover up immediately.
Kathryn laughed at herself in the mirror as she lavishly applied sunscreen to her pale skin. Her mother would surely agree with him; Kathryn could almost hear her mother telling her to dress decently in front of the boys. Well, the boys weren’t here any more and neither was Mom. Kathryn grabbed her straw hat, sunglasses, and a book, today was hammock day.
As Kathryn made her way down the grassy slope to the beach she could see a form, someone was lying in her hammock. Cautiously, she made her way to the waters edge; the form shifted and Kathryn smiled involuntarily as she recognized her friend.
“Ummm.” He opened one eye and smiled at her.
“What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for you.” He closed his eye again and settled more comfortably into the hammock. “I have it on good authority you spend quite a bit of time right here.”
“Been talking to my mother?”
“Yes, we had a lovely chat.”
“Did she hunt you down and send you out here?”
“No, she didn’t.” Chakotay moved aside to make room in the hammock. “I went to Indiana looking for her.”
“You went to Indiana? Why?” Kathryn sat on the edge of the hammock.
“To talk to your mother.” Chakotay gently tugged her down beside him. “Nice suit by the way.”
“Don’t go there, you weren’t supposed to be here and stop talking in riddles. Why did you go and see my mother?”
“I needed to talk to her, to find out where you were hiding and why you have been avoiding me since the debriefing.”
I haven’t been avoiding you.”
“Kathryn, I haven’t been able to get in touch with you since that last hearing and…” He put his arm around her and rested his head on hers. “I needed my best friend.”
“I guess haven’t been a very good friend lately. Why did you need a friend?”
“I didn’t need just a friend; I needed you.”
“I didn’t think you needed me. What happened?”
“What happened? Nothing—everything. I have always need you.”
“You seemed quite content with…”
“OK, so I screwed up – yet again. Yeah, I was off playing stupid games with yet another blonde. How was I to know we would get home? Don’t you know, blondes are ego boosting!?”
“Ohmygod, how crass. Ego boosting? Since when is your ego so fragile?”
“Kathryn, you are rough on my ego.” He took off her hat and kissed her hair. “Always pushing me away. That damn hologram of yours saw more action than me.”
"Michael didn’t see any action and don’t change the subject!”
“What subject is that?” He laughed “Why I went to Indiana, what I needed a friend for or blondes?”
“Yes? Which one?”
“All of them. Starting with how you got my mother to tell you where I was.”
“I said I went to Indian to see her and we had a nice talk, but she wouldn’t tell me where to find you.”
“Then your good authority?” Kathryn laughed. “Was Phoebe! I’ll kill her!”
“Are you that unhappy to see me?”
“I’m always happy to see you.”
“Then why were you hiding from me?”
“I wasn’t hiding…exactly.”
“Then what were you doing?”
“Spending time with my mother, relaxing…. Feeling sorry for myself.”
“Why? You have the whole world out there waiting for you. You have fame and glory, and if that doesn’t interest you, you always have the satisfaction that you did the job you set out to do and you did it well. You have, if you accept it, the promotion you always wanted and the eternal gratitude of your entire crew. You have, in spite of all those bad habits, your health. You have…”
“And she has you.” Kathryn blurted it out without really thinking, then she held her breath.
“Does that matter to you?”
“Of course it matters! What kind of a stupid question is that?!” Kathryn jammed her elbow into his side.
“Ouch! Trying to kill me?” Chakotay rolled on his side raising up to look at her.
“Sometimes I’d like to.” Kathryn glared at him, she was in this now and she wasn’t going to back away again.
“Don’t you want me to be happy?”
“Of course I want you to be happy…” She rolled her eyes. “just not with her.”
“Why not?” Chakotay grinned.
“Are you really this stupid?”
“No. I just want to hear you say it.”
“I want you to be happy –with me. I love you, Chakotay.”
Kathryn watched the dimples deepen. Chakotay nodded his head and with a chuckle he settled back down beside her.
“It’s about time.”
“What?!” Kathryn shoved him. “I tell you I love you and that’s all you have to say?”
“Yep. It’s about damn time.” He closed his eyes but couldn’t keep the grin off his face. “What did you expect me to do?”
“Well you could at least kiss me.” Kathryn sat up indignantly.
“You’ve always been in charge, you could kiss me.”
“Well, maybe its about damn time you took charge.”
“Oh, you want me to take charge do you?”
Chakotay sprang up, grabbing hold of Kathryn and covering her mouth with his. The force with which he moved shifted all their weight to one side of the hammock and sent them tumbling into the water below.
“Chakotay..” Kathryn sputtered as she brushed her wet hair out of her face. “I love the way you take charge--but could you get off me before I drown here?”
“I haven’t even begun to take charge, Kathryn.” Chakotay laughed as he sat up and pulled her into his lap. “When I do, I will settle for nothing less than complete surrender.”
“I look forward to it.”
Some flowers used to make the contest graphics from