For Elizabeth: Part Three

Part One

By: Jennica Williams

DISCLAIMER: I am not using Star Trek for profit. Paramount owns the characters, the ships, the uniforms, the biogel packs, even Neelix's food, I'm just here playing around with the ideas running through my head. No copyright infringement is intended.

Dedication: This story is for the readers who have written to me and asked whether or not there will be a "For Elizabeth: Part Three". If it wasn't for you guys, I would have put it on the shelf after the first two months of writer's block. Thanks guys!


"Computer, begin recording. Today's been sixteen years since I last remember a date. I don't know why I bother anymore." The silence that ensued could have lasted hours...or maybe it was only minutes. At this point, the weary woman shivering in her worn blanket didn't know and didn't care.

"It was bound to happen," she finally continued with a weak sigh. "In order to maintain life support, I had to shut down the replicator - if you can call it that. It couldn't even make a decent cup of labyias."

Leaning over the helm controls, she tapped a slight course correction and then wrapped the thin blanket tighter around her slight frame. "It's freezing in here. Oh, what I wouldn't give for a hot bubble bath..." Looking down at her grimy blanket and the rags she considered her second best outfit, she knew a bath would only be a start.

"I think I'll turn full power on tonight," the lonely woman concluded as she did every day. "It'll be nice to be warm again. I'll replicate a thick steak like we used to grill back home. And some of the hot rolls, they were always so good on a cool day. And for dessert.....for dessert I'll have..." It was on the tip of her tongue. Oh! How she hated days like today when all the different languages she knew became muddled in her mind. "Fracias," she declared. That was the right word, she knew. But, it wasn't in her native tongue; it was the language of the land where she had been held a slave.

Each morning for the past two weeks, she had recorded in a file that she would turn power back up and make herself a decent meal. But, the last full meal she had eaten was three weeks behind her. The last scrap of food she'd seen was four days ago. It wasn't healthy, she knew. But, then again, neither was the vacuum of space. And, if she wanted to reach her destination, sacrifices would have to be made.

~ * =/\= * ~

"Seven has been in astrometrics all week working on recalibrating the sensors," B'Elanna finished her report and then turned to drop back into her chair. In actuality, that was the most exciting piece of new she could deliver. Not only was the warp core running at peak efficiency, so were weapons, environmental, life support, the holodecks, and even the replicators that had managed to malfunction a month before Neelix retook his kitchen were in good repair.

"Any success?" Captain Chakotay rested his hands on the smooth leather headrest of his own chair as he turned his attention away from his chief engineer and to the former Borg who was now a valued member of his crew-and the one who had raised his daughter.

"I was able to increase sensor range by eight point three percent," Seven replied dryly. "It's not quite what we were hoping to attain, so I'll keep working on it."

"That's fine." Chakotay glanced at Elizabeth Kim, who was officially there for observation purposes only. "Did you want to tell us about your latest findings on that plant?" he asked referring to the object that Beth had been studying for several weeks now.

Beth felt her face flush several shades of red and almost said something about hoping to inform the senior officers about the engineering properties of the plant in her own time. But just as quickly as the notion came over her, she squashed it back down. Practice, she reminded herself, makes perfect. But, practice at playing the daughter who didn't mind her parents making all decisions for her was beginning to toll.

"Uh, sure. I...I guess so," Beth stammered. "I - that is, the Doctor and I- have done several tests on the properties of Parabolita 218 - that's what we've called it - and we think that if broken down to its basic nucleotide structures and converted to a gaseous state, we should be able to integrate it into our propulsion systems as an insulator."

"Not a very glamorous life for a plant," Harry interjected with a reassuring smile at his in hopes of putting her more at ease, "But definitely a useful."

"B'Elanna, put together a team to work on it," Chakotay ordered. Then, looking in the direction of his first officer, Commander Tuvok, he raised a questioning eyebrow in his direction. "Is there anything else we need to discuss?"

"Concerning the ship's internal status, no," Tuvok answered in his superior Vulcan tone, which hadn't diminished over the years. "However, Lieutenant Wilner and I have conducted several sensors sweeps after implementing the technology we acquired a few weeks ago."

Chakotay felt his stomach turn over at the mention of the events that had threatened to ruin his life for the second time. Beth had led a team down to the planet to locate the transport coordinates for several kilos of supplies. It had been expected to be an uneventful trade and Chakotay had no qualms about sending his daughter and her friends. Soon, however, the peaceful trade had resulted in a kidnapping followed by a frantic search on the part of the Voyager crew. It had been an alien woman by the name of Cajule that had returned the youngest members of his crew.

Thinking of the woman who had invaded his thoughts at the most inopportune times, Chakotay felt his skin crawl. She claimed to have known Kathryn Janeway- his wife. But, he argued with himself for about the hundreth time that week, it was impossible. Kathryn had died giving birth to Elizabeth. He had seen her body lying helplessly on the biobed and watched, his heart physically constricting with pain, as her body was jettisoned into space. He knew she was dead. So, why couldn't his heart-


Startled brown eyes lifted to meet those of his senior staff and Chakotay realized he had drifted away from the meeting at hand - again. "I'm sorry, Tuvok. You were saying?"

"At what point should I begin repeating?" If he hadn't been a Vulcan, Chakotay would have sworn Tuvok was poking fun at his captain.

Tom sighed, recognizing the glazed look that had come over Chakotay's features as he leaned back in his chair, "Back to the beginning, Tuvok."

"It took several lengthy installs," the first officer began again. "Lieutenant Wilner and I had to dismantle the astrometrics sensors three times to complete the installation."

"Which is no doubt when Seven got the idea to enhance sensors while the pieces were already spread on the floor," Harry guessed, casting a knowing glance in the direction of his wife. Seven said nothing, but the twinkle in her blue eyes told him he was right.

"You are correct, Lieutenant," Tuvok answered Harry. "However, it was what appeared on sensors during our initial test that rose suspicion."

Chakotay frowned as he retook his seat, "Go on."

"This technology utilizes hydrogen electron displacement in order to track the movements around it. By our standards, a cloaked ship will never be cloaked again because the very nature of shifting between the two states causes electrons to swing out of normal balance and at that moment, they will be detected."

"In our scans," Tuvok continued, checking himself on a padd that had been previously lying unnoticed on the table, "Lieutenant Wilner and I detected a cloaked ship that is following us."

"Very carefully concealed," Andrea Wilner broke in. "If it weren't for this technology, they could be right under us and we'd never know it. I'd say that their cloaking techniques are several hundred years ahead of the Romulans and Klingons. I don't think that even the Borg would be able to detect them."

"Are they going to attack?" the Doctor asked, an expression of worry stealing across his visage.

"Unlikely," Tuvok turned his attention back to that of his captain. "This ship, at my best estimate, is quite small though it has been tracking us for several months - possibly years. They were gaining on us slowly, but after our previous two detours, estimated time of interception had decreased by two weeks."

"I don't like that," Chakotay mumbled more to himself than his crew. "What can we do to better our chances if a confrontation should occur?"

"Well, we can't out run the thing," Tom declared quite forcefully, his fist hitting the table in frustration at their warp engines. "If it's catching up this quickly, it's got at least three warp factors on us - possibly more. Though, I for one would like to see how they maintain that kind of speed without mutations."

"I'll see what I can push through the warp core, but I'm making no promises."

The captain nodded somberly, "Thanks, B'Elanna. Try to keep a low profile while working. I don't want to alert the junior officer, but I do want round the clock sensor sweeps on this ship," Chakotay decided. "If they're as fast as you say they are, we're going to need all the data we can gather."

"If a confrontation even occurs," Harry interjected.

"When someone chases a single ship for months or years, they don't usually just stop in for tea."

Harry shrugged, "Good point."

"While assignments are being issued," the Doctor interrupted, shaking a laser scalpel at the computer screen, "I need for you, Captain, to come to sickbay. There's a matter of grave importance that I must speak with you about."

Chakotay sighed inwardly. The doctor had been hounding him to come to sickbay for several weeks and until now he had done a reasonably well job of avoiding a direct request. "It'll have to wait, Doctor. I have other items that need my attention this evening."

~ * =/\= * ~

"You're distracted."

Chakotay looked up from the strawberries and whipped cream his daughter had chosen for dessert. "Am I?"

A small smile tugged on the corner of Elizabeth's mouth as she bit off the end of one of the red berries.

"I'm sorry, Beth," Chakotay sighed pushing away the sweet dessert. It was good, but almost too sweet for him. "You're right, I am distracted." Lowering his voice, he tightened his grip on the silver mug of coffee. "The sensor sweeps Tuvok brought up at this morning's meeting have been weighing heavily on my mind. I'd like for you to be ready at a moment's notice to take the co-pilot's station on the bridge-not in the science labs. If we get caught in a skirmish, I want our second best pilot at the helm."

Beth knew that when red alert was called, all but one or two of her friends gave up their posts to officers with more experience. She had hoped to achieve bridge status one day and was already serving as the helm officer for the gamma shift in addition to having led two away missions. Although, after the disasters following her missions, she had all but officially announced her decision to keep her feet firmly planted on Voyager's decks and out of the shuttles.

Nodding somberly, she was momentarily grateful that this wouldn't involve leaving the ship. "I understand, sir."

"Sir?" Chakotay shook his head at her with a teasing glare. "Sir is for on duty, Beth," he said, purposely stressing her first name as opposed to rank. "Not off duty. Tell me what you did today."

"Uncle Tom and I had another piloting lesson in the holodeck," Beth began taking the last bite of her strawberries. "Since you and I have cleared up everything between us flying has really improved."

"Mmmmhmm...." Chakotay was drifting off again, she saw.

"Then M'Rana and I rewired the plasma conduits in jefferies tube twenty nine until we made them glow purple. And, we only burned out three relays in the process."

Chakotay's eyes snapped back to attention only to meet the laughing ones of his daughter. "Beth, I'm sorry," he apologized again.

She only shook her head with a grin.

Taking a long sip of the coffee, Chakotay chuckled at her, thankful that his daughter as forgiving as she was. He loved her very much, and had made a point to show her, but a few weeks of dinners and breakfasts could never make up for the seventeen years of neglect and during which Seven and Harry cared for her.

"M'Rana and I did go to the holodeck today," Beth continued, unaware of the train of Chakotay's thoughts. "Some program her dad made a long time ago. Hog Heaven, no that's not it...Fair Heaven maybe?..."

"Fair Haven," Chakotay corrected, a knot forming in his stomach.

"Fair Haven! That's it!" she grinned excitedly at him as she speared the last strawberry in his dish. Popping it into her mouth, she chewed for a moment and then continued, "I really like that program; it's definitely one of the best. We went over to the pub and played rings for several hours."

"Did you meet Mr. Sullivan?" Chakotay asked uneasily, pushing the empty mug awopenrom him.

"Yes," Beth replied, nodding to a group of friends who were entering the messhall at that moment. "We introduced ourselves and then he left us to our game."

"He didn't speak to you?"

Frowning, blue-gray eyes peered up into the dark, piercing ones of her father. "N-no," she stammered under his intense gaze. "Why do you ask?"

"No reason. How's Jaysen?" Chakotay wasn't disappointed by her reaction as Beth's cheeks flushed all the way to her ears and she ducked her head trying to hide the smile stretching across her face.

"He's...he's fine," she stuttered, but a smile was coming through her voice.

"Just fine?" Chakotay teased.

"We went sailing yesterday afternoon," Beth confessed. "He had a picnic and a hike planned, but got called on duty."

"Which program?"

"Just Mars."

"Well, make time for it anyway. The quarries are beautiful."

Beth nodded thoughtfully. "Did you ever go there?"

"Once, when I was fifteen," he said, leaning back in his chair slightly and stretching his legs out under the table. "My dad took me to Earth - on a camping trip. We had to stop by Mars to change transports and spent two days on the surface."

Beth didn't say anything for a long time. Finally, she sighed half-heartedly. "I hope I'll see it some day."

"You will," Chakotay assured her. "I have no doubt in my mind that you'll see the Alpha Quadrant."

"More coffee?"

Chakotay looked up as Neelix appeared at his elbow and began pouring the coffee without waiting for a reply.

"Thanks, Neelix."

"It's good to see you again, Mr. Neelix," Beth said as she rose. "I miss working with you in the labs." Leaning closer, she whispered so the other crew members couldn't hear, "The Doctor doesn't have the same sense of humor as you and I."

"Duties here," Neelix replied patting her hand. "Someone has to keep this crew fed since Pete left," he said referring to the man who had served as cook while Neelix had filled in as Voyager's chief medical officer for seventeen years.

~ * =/\= * ~

He was running. Faster! Faster! Chakotay urged himself. Just a little faster and he'd catch her! Stumbling over his own feet as he turned a corner, Chakotay's heart lifted as he saw Kathryn's thin form duck into a corridor about ten meters from him. Wiping the thin sheet of sweat from his brow and grimacing at the smell of smoke and ozone that still clung to him from the shuttle accident, Chakotay pushed himself on.

He had to catch her, he reminded himself as his heart pounded madly against his ribcage. Once he caught her, he would be happy. Not alone, as he felt now.

"Kathryn!" he shouted, a strangled cry rising from his throat. "Kathryn, please stop!" Tears streaked down his dirt-smudged face as he dodged around another corner. In the distance, he could hear her laughing. Taunting him. Teasing him. It had been their game for years and now she was playing it with more skill than ever. On the bridge, in her ready room, in the messhall, or on the holodecks. No matter the setting, they had always teased one another. Usually, it meant a stolen kiss once they were alone, but this time Chakotay knew he would take that kiss whether they were alone or not.

Rounding yet another corner, he caught sight of her making a beeline for the turbolifts. Adrenaline rushed through his veins as renewed effort pushed him forward. At the last possible moment, just before she called for the bridge, he fell into the turbolift beside her.

"Kathryn," he gasped pulling himself to his feet, "If you ever do anything like that again-"

'You'll what?" she laughed, her voice taking on a musical quality which Chakotay found odd. Kathryn had never sung; she claimed her voice resembled a cross between a Terran gosling and Neelix.

"I'll not leave your side until the day I die," he threatened. "Never. If you're in the ready room, I'll be there. If you're in the messhall, I'll be there."

"And if I'm squished in a jeffries tube between two decks trying to get the plasma conduits realigned?"

"I'll be there," he declared, his eyes wandering over her face and finally coming to rest on her lips. Surrounding her with his arms, he smiled as she pressed closer to him and raised her face to his. But, just before his lips could touch hers-

Chakotay awoke with a gasp. "Kathryn!" he exclaimed, his hand reaching for the other side of the bed, half knowing she wouldn't be there but half expecting her to. Of course, she wasn't.

It had been another dream, Chakotay realized as his whole being was once again filled with sadness. But, it had felt so real. His heart was still hammering from the long chase and his face was still streaked with tears.

"Kathryn," he murmured again, newfound tears pushing themselves past his eyelashes and cascading down his face.

How many times would this happen? He wondered. How many times would he dream of his wife, only to wake up and discover himself alone in their bed? It had already been seventeen years. How long would it take before he fully accepted that she was gone forever?

~ * =/\= * ~

"You look awful."

"Thanks, Tom," Chakotay stumbled from the turbolift and after casting a quick glance at Tuvok in the command chair, made a hasty retreat in the direction of the readyroom.

"Captain," his first officer's voice halted his escape. "We have detected the alien vessel on an intercept course within our vicinity."


"Uncertain," Harry answered tapping at his controls. "I would have told you twelve hours seven hours ago, but now it's looking closer to twenty minutes - more or less - at their current speed. No, wait. They're speeding up again. Five minutes? Ten at best."

"Yellow alert," Chakotay ordered taking the seat Tuvok had quickly vacated. "Tom, be ready for evasive maneuvers."

"They've moved into weapons range," Harry announced, unnecessarily.

"Hail them."

Several seconds passed before Harry shook his head with regret. "From my readings, and they aren't very reliable, it looks like they're not fairing too well. The fuel supply is past critical and life support is minimal. In fact, it looks like the lower deck won't support life at this time. My guess is that the crew is on the bridge."

"How many?"

The pause was much longer this time as Harry checked and then rechecked the information being fed into his console. "I'm only reading one lifesign. But, being cloaked, it's hard to tell. The ship doesn't look large enough to hold more than a half-dozen people - at least, that's what these new sensors are telling me. If we were still using the old ones I doubt we'd even know they were here."

"Captain," Lieutenant Wilner's voice rose from her tactical station. "I'm getting some odd fluctuations in the energy grids. They could be charging weapons."

"Shields up; red alert," Chakotay's hands involuntarily gripped the arms of his chair as the bridge around him dimmed and red lights began to pulsate. The silence around him was almost deafening as each person concentrated on his or her post. Normally, Chakotay would thumb through the various screens his console delivered to him as he worked on a strategy. But today, with the dream still on the edge of his mind, he couldn't concentrate.

Suddenly, Harry's console started beeping a dozen sounds that it shouldn't have - yet, Chakotay hadn't felt the ship so much as shudder.

"Intruder alert. One person on deck three," Harry informed him quickly. After a brief second of confusion, he looked up again. "He's beamed through our shields. Your quarters."

He was scanning the data on the intruder in hopes of formulating a hypothesis as to what race it could have been, but Chakotay had already snatched the phaser kept under his seat and was bolting in the direction of the turbolift.

"Stay here," Chakotay ordered his Vulcan first officer with a quick gesture. If there was only one individual, the threat to himself would be minimal. And he couldn't bear the thought of one of his officers being put in the line of fire due to the close quarters of his own haven. Ordering the turbolift to the third deck, Chakotay set his phaser to stun and crossed his arms in front of him.

As soon as the 'lift doors slid apart, he bolted into the narrow corridor. His quarters were only a few steps away from the turbolift and as he stepped through them the doors closed behind him swiftly. He had been expecting some sort of attack on himself the moment he stepped through the doors, but now he saw all was silent.

The intruder stood proudly in the dark with her back rigid as she faced the view port and the stars suspended in midair. Her clothing had definitely seen better days Chakotay deduced from the rags he could see peeping out of the thin blanket she held tightly around her. Her hair reminded him of Beth's, but this woman's was much longer and dirty in addition to being matted in places from lack of washing.

Tightening his grip on the phaser, Chakotay advanced on the woman who had dared trail his ship for months and then transport directly into his quarters. Opening his mouth, he started to demand to know who she was and how she had gotten there, but she spoke first in a hoarse whisper.

"Put down the phaser, Chakotay."

Chakotay lips parted in shock, as memories associated with the voice rushed at him full force. When she finally turned to face him, he found himself staring into the blue-gray eyes of a woman he had thought gone from his life forever. He was on the verge of asking who she was, for the sake of formalities, but she again interrupted his train of thought.

"Don't you even recognize your own wife?"

She didn't look the same as she had the last time he had seen her, but the twinkle in her eye was unmistakably his wife's.

"Kathryn?" he shook his head weakly. "No, it can't be."

The smile vanished instantly from the woman's eyes and was replaced with a deep sorrow Chakotay had felt every day of his life since the shuttle accident. "I know I must look awful," she said softly taking care not to trip on the edge of her blanket as she took a step in his direction. "But, I am Kathryn Janeway."

"No," Chakotay still shook his head, refusing to believe that this dirty creature before him could be his beloved, "I was at your funeral. I saw your body..." he choked, unable to voice the memory of his wife's remains leaving Voyager where they would ultimately be pulled into the gravity of a star and incinerated.

"There was a conspiracy," she began softly, fighting to keep her balance in the new environment. "The Awaxiels planned for several months to take me because I was capable in science and the captain. They spied, gathered information, and bid their time. When Voyager transported me off the shuttle, the Awaxiels intercepted the beam. Within a matter of a few seconds, my molecules were extracted and they had replaced me with....with....what's the word? A copy of myself."

Chakotay eyed her suspiciously. "Clone?"

"Yes, clone. I'm sorry. I've spoken not to anyone in so long. And even then, it was in the language of the slave camps." Kathryn closed her eyes briefly, half due to the memories from the prison camp that came rushing back and half from the nauseous feeling that was sweeping over her. Voyager's gravity was so different from her own shuttle, she thought to herself. It felt as though the floor was rolling and pitching underfoot.

"You don't have to believe me. Not just yet," she said weakly as she took a step toward the couch. Stumbling, a small cry escaped her lips before she felt the floor rushing up to greet her.

"Chakotay to Kim! Medical emergency!"

Kathryn groggily reached out to her husband as he shouted frantically over the comm. Chakotay's hand gripped her own as the old and familiar tingle of Voyager's transporter technology dissolved the room around them.

"Get her on a biobed!" Kathryn heard the Doctor bark out the order as Chakotay's strong arms lifted her up. Around her, the room and lights began to blur with the voices. When a cold hypospray touched her skin, she flinched sharply against the instrument at her neck, but then welcomed the darkness that overcame her.

"What did you do that for?"

"She needs to sleep," the Doctor replied. "And I've also included something to help her regain her strength. Besides, I want to run a few scans without her questioning me."

"What for?"

"To determine if she really is who she appears to be - which, I don't doubt."


"As I have been trying to tell you for the past month," the Doctor began pointedly, reminding Chakotay of the many times he had been brushed off, "The woman who died in here seventeen years ago was not Kathryn Janeway. She was a clone of some type. Her DNA was the same, but one each base pair there was a slight variance. This woman's DNA scans match previous records molecule for molecule"

Chakotay still hovered next to the sleeping form of Kathryn Janeway as his eyes stayed glued to her. "When will she wake up?"

"Ten minutes - twenty at most. It was a mild sedative."

Looking up at the owner of the voice, Chakotay found himself staring into a pair of gray-blue eyes for the second time that day. "Beth..."

"She's my mother, isn't she?" When he nodded mutely, Beth looked down at the figure she had sedated. If anyone had asked, she would have said that at that moment she felt nothing. But, truthfully, there were so many feelings and thoughts running through Beth's mind that she didn't know where to begin identifying them.

Only a few weeks ago her world has been turned upside down with the discovery that Chakotay was actually her father. Finally comfortable with the idea, she was now faced with the figure of her mother - thought dead for seventeen years - lying sleeping on a biobed only a foot away from her.

But, if this was her mother, who was the woman that had given birth to her? A sickening feeling began to form in Beth's stomach. Was she going to discover that she wasn't actually Chakotay's daughter? She was, instead, some lab experiment?

"D-Doctor?" she stuttered, wide eyes asking the question she dared not to voice.

"You are their daughter," he reassured her, already predicting her train of thought. "Of course, if your father had come four weeks ago when I first requested an audience with him, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

"You knew Kathryn was alive?" Chakotay asked in an astonished whisper.

"No, but I did know that the woman who died after the shuttle accident was not Kathryn Janeway." Laying aside his scanning equipment, the Doctor began to fiddle with the medical console.

"First, Doctor, are you certain that this woman is the Kathryn Janeway whom I married?"

"No question about it," he replied almost instantly. "Every scar and mended fracture is accounted for."

"Then, what happened? And Beth? How can you be certain-"

"These are the prenatal scans I ran only hours before you left on the shuttle mission. And these," another set of DNA strands appeared below the first, "Are the scans I ran just after Beth was born - before you were kind enough to deactivate me," He said with a wry glance in the captain's direction. "And here," More images flashed across the screen, "Are the most recent scans I've done on Beth."

Beth frowned at him, "When you took those readings a few weeks ago, you weren't really checking the validity of Neelix's work?"

"I fear I was forced to mislead you," he admitted, casting a glance in Beth's direction. "I couldn't take the risk of telling you and raising your hopes. The question is, what happened to Kathryn?"

"She said something about another race exchanging herself and a clone during transport."

The Doctor's face grew thoughtful as he began to piece the puzzle together. "Hmmm. Entirely possible," he decided. "I only have a small collection of data from after the shuttle accident and everything pointed to that woman being Kathryn Janeway - except a half dozen things. Computer, display medical history for Janeway, Kathryn M." A second later, several lines of text appeared and rapidly began scrolling as more information was added.

"Here," the doctor pointed to a specific date. "When she was eleven years old, she broke her wrist playing tennis."


"A broken bone, no matter how carefully mended, will leave a slight scar." He turned with a raised eyebrow to the captain. "The woman who gave birth to Beth had no scars on either her skin or her bones - which, as many times as Captain Janeway has been hurt, is impossible."

"And her?" Chakotay gestured to the woman lying silent on the biobed.

"Several scars," the Doctor reported, sounding almost pleased. "She has all, and yes I did run a full spectrum scan on scar tissue, old injuries accounted for. Though, she has several new ones as well."

Chakotay was silent for a long moment as he mulled over the words the Doctor was giving him. His wife, thought dead for all these years, was actually alive and only a few feet from him at this very moment.

"Why create a clone if it dies?"

Looking up from his work, the Doctor's beady eyes watched the captain. "I doubt she was meant to be a long term replacement for Captain Janeway. She knew enough to fool us for a short time until she died. She was probably only intended to make certain that the original Kathryn was never found."

"And, it almost worked," Chakotay muttered, resting his hands on the edge of the biobed. "Is she going to survive?"

The Doctor raised an eyebrow at the concern in Chakotay's voice. "Yes, she'll be fine. Though, I suggest that you do is get her a warm shower and a hot meal. She hasn't eaten in at least-"

"Four days," a voice from the biobed interrupted as Kathryn's eyes fluttered open. Aware that two faces were leaning over her, Kathryn focused on the third that had stepped away from the bed.

"Welcome aboard."

"Doctor," Kathryn turned her eyes to his face with a small smile. "It's so good to see you," she murmured softly, still clutching the blanket around her shoulders as she glanced around sickbay with a look of fear in her eyes.

"It's good to see you too," he said frowning with concern as she struggled to move away from the biobed. "And, if I'm any judge, I'd say it's been at least a week since you ate. No coffee until I approve. Is that understood?"

Nodding mutely, Kathryn stared at the tip of Chakotay's boots from where she had crouched beside the medical console. Her own feet were covered with the alien footwear of a civilization she had encountered ten years prior. They were torn at the side and a hole had been rubbed through the sole, but they were her best. His were black and shiny. She used to have boots like that, she thought to herself. Maybe she could get another pair.

"My quarters?" Chakotay repeated the Doctor who had pulled him aside for a hushed conversation as he watched Kathryn where she was huddled on the floor of sickbay. "Doctor, I'm not sure-"

"She is your wife. Besides," the Doctor lowered his voice so only Chakotay could hear as he cast an anxious glance in the direction of the woman kneeled on the floor. "I want you to keep an eye on her. Chemical levels in her brain suggest a high probability of a deep depression setting in." Turning back to Kathryn who was once again watching Beth uneasily, he managed to coax her from under the console with a few gentle words. "Your body has been through an extremely traumatic experience. I don't need for you to tell me that. I want you to rest - and that means sleeping - for at least the next twenty hours."

Raising his eyes to Chakotay he added, "The sedative had a minor appetite suppressant despite the nutrients being delivered. She'll feel like eating - probably tomorrow. Make sure it's healthy. But, don't push solids. She hasn't eaten in a while and I suspect she hasn't eaten a balanced meal in a very long time. If you have no questions, you're free to go. And," he turned back to the grimy woman, "It's good to have you back."

"Thank you, Doctor. Chakotay," her hand gripped his as she clamored to her feet and backed away from the biobed. "Can we please transport? I don't want to walk."

"Gladly. I'm not taking any chances of anyone seeing you until I've had a chance to explain," Chakotay began, slipping a supporting arm around Kathryn's shoulders. "I don't know how they'll react - especially the younger members."

"A wise precaution," Kathryn murmured, standing up and leaning heavily against him. Casting a questioning glance over her shoulder in Beth's direction she started to open her mouth, but Beth swiftly intervened.

"If it's all right with the Doctor, I'll stop by later."

"Fine with me. Since when is my advice taken anyway?"

"I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't discuss this with anyone until I've had a chance to inform the crew," Chakotay added.


Touching his comm badge, Chakotay requested Harry to make one last transport. As the walls of sickbay disappeared and were replaced with those of his quarters, he watched Kathryn's mouth turn up into a small smile of relief.

Turning slowly in a full circle and she let her eyes wander over what had formerly been her quarters. Slowly, a frown began to tug on the ends of her mouth.

Turning back to face her husband, Kathryn brushed a clump of hair out of her face and in doing so smudged her cheek. "You haven't changed a thing," she said softly, sadly.

Chakotay barely shrugged. "I haven't had time," he lied. Flicking his eyes down the length of her body and the old blanket she still had wrapped tightly around herself he nodded in the direction of the bathroom. "Get cleaned up. I'll get you something to wear."

Slowly, she turned in the direction of the bedroom she would have to pass through, but at the last moment turned an eye on the replicator. "Can I make a request?" she asked. When he didn't answer, Kathryn peeked a glance over her shoulder in the direction of the man watching her questioningly "Lavender bubble bath," she said softly. "I haven't been able to relax in a bubble bath since the night before I was taken. In the prison camp, we used a river," Kathryn's eyes clouded over with regret as she looked away. "We were lucky to stay alive," she muttered with a disdain Chakotay didn't understand.

Chakotay felt his heart pound at her pained expression. What had happened, he wondered. "Bubble bath, of course," he said instantly, making the request of the replicator. As the small bottle shimmered into existence he lifted it up and handed it to her, "Towels are-"

"I can find the towels, Chakotay," Kathryn cut him off with a slight smile. Moving through the bedroom, she allowed the bathroom door to close firmly behind her and then activated the locking sequence before turning on the water in her bathtub.

Dropping the blanket from around her shoulders, Kathryn carefully eyed her garments. They were her best. But, the cloth was starting to wear thin in places. Allowing the shirt and loose pants slip off her gaunt body, she hastily gathered the old blanket with them and deposited them neatly in the recycle container.

"Computer, recycle," Kathryn ordered, not in the least sad to see the last remnant of a horrible seventeen years disappear.

Steam was beginning to fill the small room now, she saw with satisfaction. Climbing into the tub, Kathryn let out a content sigh as she slid down into the bubbles and hot water.

In the living room, Chakotay sank down onto his sofa and buried his face in his hands. His dreams were finally coming true. Kathryn, his Kathryn, was in the next room. She was actually here! And, the Doctor had confirmed that this was indeed the woman he had married.

There would be some uncomfortable moments as he informed the crew to the identity the 'intruder' but all would be just as it should have been, he felt sure.

Picking up a data padd containing B'Elanna's latest engineering report, Chakotay tried to force himself to read it, but the technical terms were muddled in his mind and he found his eyes continually straying to his bedroom door. After looking up a dozen times, he finally moved to a chair so his back was facing the other room.

Reading comfortably in the silence for about twenty minutes, Chakotay stopped suddenly as he felt someone's eyes on him. Twisting in the chair, he found Kathryn, clad in her favorite satin robe with damp hair hanging down to her waist, watching him.

"Kathryn," he breathed, setting the padd down on the table. Moving to her, he reached out to rest his hands on her shoulders as he inhaled the sweet scent of lavender that still clung to her. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'm so sorry I didn't believe you."

"You believe me now," she said unnecessarily, her body resting against his as strong arms surrounded her.

"Yes," rubbing her back, he pressed a kiss against her forehead. "I've missed you so much."

"My baby?" Kathryn asked after a moment, her mouth pressed once again into Chakotay's shoulder. "That young woman in sickbay-"

"She's ours," Chakotay answered. "Beth is ours."


"Elizabeth Kathryn."

Kathryn pulled back slightly to look up into his brown eyes. "Why didn't you name her Shannon?"

Chakotay refused to meet her gaze and instead found his eyes focusing on her quivering lips. "It's a long story."

With an edge of determination easing its way into her blue-gray eyes, Kathryn pulled herself out of his embrace and stared at him in confusion. "I think I want to hear it," she told him, her voice indicating that she believed him to owe her an explanation.

"Not now," Chakotay lifted a hand to touch her hair. When she stiffened and scowled at his reluctance to explain the situation concerning their daughter he also frowned. "You need to sleep first. Once you've regained your strength, I'll introduce you properly to our daughter."

Kathryn frowned at him and then stumbled as his hand grasped her arm. "I'll sleep on the sofa," she said evading his efforts to move her into the bedroom.


"It's been a long time, Chakotay," she sighed. "It's been a long time since I've even held a conversation with someone that wasn't purely business." She gave him a half-smile. "Almost thirteen years, in fact. And, I've been preparing myself to meet you again. But," her smile took on a quality of sadness. "You don't realize that inside, I've changed. That prison camp made me do things I didn't think possible. Things you probably wouldn't have thought I would ever do." With great difficulty, she pushed the bitterness left over from those days out of her voice. "It changed me. And, I know that time has changed you." She reached out a hand and laid it on his cheek for a brief moment. Chakotay didn't say anything as Kathryn moved to the sofa and lay down. "Let me sleep for a few hours. We can talk then."

Was it true? Was he really so different from what Kathryn remembered? But, if he was different, then what about her? Was she also not the woman he recalled so vividly? Casting a glance at the figure on his sofa, he saw with a start that she was fast asleep. Kathryn never fell asleep that quickly, he remembered. With questions still nagging his mind, Chakotay retrieved the blanket from his bed and covered her with it.

~ * =/\= * ~

In the dark, an object glistened, catching her eye. With a sad smile, Beth picked up the comm badge that was twisted and bent.

It had been her mother's, Chakotay told her. In fact, it was the only object of Kathryn Janeway's that she had. During the last shuttle mission, the comm badge had been damaged, but it was still evident that where the serial numbers identifying the communicator should have been, they were gone.

Running her hand over the back where the serial numbers should have been, she frowned at it. This wasn't her mother's comm badge; this was the comm badge of an imposter. With a frustrated growl, Beth hurled the object to the other side of the room and watched as it bounced off the wall to clatter to the ground.

"Whoa!" Harry exclaimed as he poked his head in Beth's room. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Beth muttered, dropping onto the bed.

"If that's nothing, I'd hate to see something."

Beth glared at the comm badge lying in the corner. "It's not my mother's," she finally said.

"Why- why do you think that?" Harry asked carefully, lifting Beth's chin to meet her eyes. "Elizabeth? Answer me."

"I can't," Beth bit her lip. "The captain instructed me not to."

"You saw the captain?"

"In sickbay," she answered. "The Doctor and I were working on-"

"So you know," he said dropping her chin.

"Know what?" she asked, still testing her father.

Harry chuckled as he slid an arm around his daughter. "I performed the transport. I know that Captain Janeway is on board. Though," he warned her, "There are only a select few of us who are aware of the fact. I don't think that Tuvok even knows yet."

Beth shifted on the bed as she reached for her Flotter doll. "She doesn't know who I am, but I promised I'd visit her tonight. She was pretty weak when she first saw me."

"Give her a few hours to rest," Harry warned with a smile. "We don't want the Doctor angry with you."

"Thanks, Dad." Beth leaned over to hug him tightly around the neck.

"One more thing," Harry returned the hug and then held her at arms length. "Your mom doesn't know yet."

"She won't find out from me," Beth assured him, hurt that her own father felt he had to remind her to keep her mouth shut.

~ * =/\= * ~

Chakotay sat, feet propped on his coffee table and a mug of hot tea in one hand, as he watched Kathryn sleep. On his lap, a data padd with next week's crew schedule lay forgotten while his mind ran over the past ten hours.

Only this morning he had awoken with a painful reminder in his stomach that hadn't dulled in the years since Kathryn's 'death'. Barely an hour lae no he was in sickbay with the woman he thought gone forever.

Kathryn turned over and murmured something in her sleep. Chakotay couldn't understand the words, but her facial expressions indicated that it wasn't a pleasant dream.

"Kay?" With a gentle hand, Chakotay reached forward and brushed a long tress of hair from where it lay over her face.

"Q'pachu ret veik!" she cried out, eyes popping open as she struggled away from him. Taking a deep breath in an effort to calm herself, she repeated the phrase with quivering lips. "Get away from me."

Staring in shock at the wild eyes and defensive stance Chakotay shook his head in confusion. "Kathryn?"

"Don't touch me," she bit out sharply. "Don't ever touch me when I'm sleeping."

"What happened? What's wrong?" he asked, concerned, but still confused as she pushed the blanket away and scrambled off the sofa. "You used to liked it when I touched you."

"I've lived in fear of waking up to find someone on my ship," she snapped, still shaking.

"I'm sorry," Chakotay leaned forward and tried to grasp her hand, but she pulled away wordlessly. Understanding that she wouldn't allow him to touch her, he stood and made his way to the replicator. "This will help settle your nerves," he told her setting the mug of hot herbal tea on the coffee table.

Cautiously, Kathryn retook her seat and lifted the mug to her lips. With eyes still watching Chakotay's every action, she sipped the soothing tea. Finally accepting that he would make no more moves to startle her, Kathryn took her eyes off him and concentrated on the silver mug in her hands.

"Do you have a hairbrush I can use?" she asked, after several long minutes of silence.

"Yes," Chakotay regarded her waist-length hair for a moment. "Or, you can use your own. It's still in the top drawer."

Silently, she set down the half-empty mug and made her way back to the bedroom where she began rummaging through her drawer.

Taking a deep breath in relief that Kathryn appeared to be calming down, Chakotay resumed reading the data padd that had been dropped to the floor.


Glancing at the door as it alerted him to someone's presence, Chakotay turned to look back at his wife, but the only indication that she had been there was the slip of peach satin peeking from his doorway.

"Hi," Beth greeted her father nervously after he called for her to enter.

"Hi yourself," he welcomed her with a quick hug. "Come on in."

Beth followed Chakotay into his sitting area and cast a glance around the room. She could see no indication that her mother was anywhere near the vicinity. "My m-mother?" she asked, stumbling over the word.

Chakotay sat down in the chair opposite her and sighed. "I haven't told her about your upbringing," he began softly. "She only woke a few minutes ago. And, I'd appreciate it if you would let me be the one to tell her."

"I would not speak to her of that if I didn't know previously that you had told her," Beth informed him.

"I'm sorry," Chakotay apologized, realizing he had insulted her. "I know you wouldn't, but I had to be absolutely certain."

Beth said nothing, so he stood.

"I've got some things on the bridge that need my attention. And, I'm going to tell Tuvok before the rest of the senior officers - he and your mother knew each for a long time. So, I'll leave the two of you here."

Beth nodded as she clasped her hands together. It wasn't every day that one prepared to meet the mother she had thought it would be impossible to meet. Watching as Chakotay went to his bedroom and entered Beth thought she could hear a flurry of whispering before a timid figure peeked around the door.

Standing, Beth fidgeted with the collar of her gray shirt as her father gently pushed her mother into the living area.

"You' daughter," Kathryn said simply, regarding Beth curiously.

She said nothing, but nodded. Kathryn Janeway had the same blue-gray eyes as she did, Beth realized. They also shared the same auburn tresses, although her mother's held several streaks of gray in it now. In fact, many of her own features were mirrored in the face before her.

"I've got some work to take care of on the bridge," Chakotay told Kathryn as he steered her closer to Beth. "So, I'll just leave the two of you to talk."

Kathryn's eyes held a hint of fear as she cast an anxious glance in Chakotay's direction. "Chakotay," she called hesitantly, stopping him in his path. He read the plea in her eyes to not leave her, but shook his head.

"I'll be back in an hour," and with that, he was gone.

Slowly, Kathryn returned her gaze back to the young woman who had taken a seat in one of the chairs.

Beth offered a small smile in return and guessed that if Kathryn Janeway's hesitancy was any indication, she would have to be the one to begin a conversation. "I never imagined I would be given the opportunity to meet you."

Kathryn nodded and looked back down at her hands that were playing with the satin robe she still wore. "I'm not going to sit here and pretend I enjoy making small talk," she began in a low voice. "Chakotay doesn't understand or he wouldn't ask this of me." Raising her eyes to Beth's she continued, her voice a little stronger. "I was held in a prison camp for five years. Opportunities for socializing were nonexistent, but we didn't care. We were glad to be alive. Myself and two others finally escaped using one of the shuttles tossed aside, but I left them on their home planet in the Dankaro sector."

"Cajule?" Beth blinked in astonishment.

Kathryn's eyes narrowed at her daughter. "How did you know about Cajule?"

"M-my team was kidnapped on an away mission and it was Cajule who rescued us," Beth stuttered as her hands played with a blanket that had been tossed over the sofa. "She said she owed my mother a favor, but we disregarded it. We had no idea you were alive."

"Cajule is here?"

"A planet about three weeks back," Beth corrected her. "After a conspiracy to over take Voyager iousdiscovered, we left as quickly as possible."

"I wish I would have stopped," Kathryn murmured longingly, a far off look stealing into her eyes. "We went through some rough times together. It would have been good to see her and Rujan again." Focusing on Beth again, she cast a glance at the pips and red-shouldered uniform. "Command track?"

"Hopefully," Beth smiled and pushed the blanket away. "Until a few weeks ago I worked mostly in the science labs with occasional bridge duty in the pilot's chair. But, I've been talking with my dad and he and the captain both think I should go for command. Mostly, I've been pulling shifts at the helm. Though, the captain did mention something about maybe letting me have a gamma shift in the 'big chair'," Beth laughed.

"You speak of your dad and the captain as if they're two different people," Kathryn picked up. "Who's your dad, Beth?"

"I'm sorry," Beth murmured, wanting to kick herself for letting her train of thought get distracted from her father's one request. "I'm not supposed to talk to you about that."

"Let me see if I can piece it together for you then," Kathryn leaned back and glanced around the still semi-darkened quarters. "You don't live here, that much is obvious seeing as you waited for permission to enter, which means that your father didn't raise you. The question is: who did raise you? And, I would place bets that it was Seven of Nine because e had discussed it in the event that something happened to Chakotay or I."

Beth's eyes dropped to the floor as her heart sunk. Her father was going to be angry with her, she knew as her mother's voice grew lower and lower in pitch.

"Seven must have married," Kathryn continued. "Who, Beth? Who did she marry?"

"I want to tell you," Beth said in a tiny voice, "But I can't."

~ * =/\= * ~

Seven cast a glance in Harry's direction and frowned when he refused to meet her eyes. Odd, she thought to herself. On any given day, she and Harry would have been exchanging all data that came through sensor sweeps in hopes of getting an idea as to why Chakotay would call an emergency senior staff meeting in the middle of the day. However, today he had been nearly silent to her.

Instincts told her that it might have something to do with the intruder reported earlier that morning on sensors - especially since they had heard nothing about him.

As Chakotay entered the conference room followed by Tuvok, Seven watched both parties' faces for any indication as to what the secret might be, but found nothing. That was cause for more alarm, she decided. Under normal circumstances, the captain's body temperature or nervous system would have registered abnormal on her Borg implants and she would have some indication as to whether they were facing a hostile alien battlement or a single ship. But at this moment, she suspected he was in some sort of shock.

"Thanks for being prompt," Chakotay began, taking his seat at the head of the conference table. "I know it's unusual for the senior officers to have no knowledge of what is taking place on the ship - especially when you believe the ship may be at risk - and I intend to rectify that now."

"At 0647 hours, Captain Janeway transported aboard," Chakotay managed to establish, fully intending to continue. But, as a stunned silence settled over the room he halted his monologue. Finally, B'Elanna exhaled the breath she had been holding, effectively releasing the tension in the room.

"How?" she breathed.

"Right through our shields," Harry declared. "I'm still trying to piece together how she did it, but it seems to work on a different theory of physics."

Seven glanced uneasily in Harry's direction, but he wasn't paying heed to her. His eyes were fixed on the captain. He had known, she realized. Seven looked down at the table as a wave of dread passed over her.

"The technology on the vessel she had acquired is more advanced than our own," Tuvok intervened, sparing the captain from answering.

"How much more advanced?" Tom asked. "And how did she get it?"

Raising her eyes, Seven voiced the question the others were hesitant to ask, "Are you certain this is Captain Janeway?"

"Quite," the Doctor immediately replied. "I've already given the captain the run down, but suffice it to say that all scans are conclusive."

"From what I can gather - and it's not much at this point," Chakotay broke in, "She was taken from us during a routine transport and held on a prison colony. Following her escape, she spent nearly ten years in solitude while tracking Voyager down and has only recently managed to catch up to us."

"Can we see her?" B'Elanna asked.

"Not all at once," he answered. "She's still not accustomed to the ship. She may welcome a visit from one of you periodically, but I don't want to overwhelm her with visits all day by numerous people."

~ * =/\= * ~

Kathryn hummed softly as she rocked back and forth in the old, wooden rocking chair she had found in the forgotten nursery. In her hands lay a white baby blanket that she had monogrammed with the initials S.E.J. in pink. With a sad smile, Kathryn again looked in the direction of the bassinet that had been waiting to hold a baby for over seventeen years.

It had been waiting for her baby, she thought to herself. But, Shannon had never slept there.

And Beth had never slept there. She had pieced together that Chakotay had robbed their baby of that right. After Kathryn had begun to put the puzzle pieces surrounding Beth's life in some sort of order her daughter had become nervous.

Conversation had quickly moved to other topics and Kathryn was introduced to M'Rana Paris and Jaysen Dalby via Beth's colored descriptions and their pictures in Voyager's databases. If she was any judge, and Kathryn hoped that she was, her daughter was harboring feelings toward Kenneth Dalby's son that surpassed mere friendship. Although Elizabeth had dodged that topic as well, the slight coloring of her cheeks was enough for Kathryn.

As she rocked a little harder in the chair, Kathryn smiled sadly again as she thought of her daughter. Beth had grown into a beautiful young woman and Kathryn was proud of her. But, she had no right, she knew. She had done nothing to help this child turn into the woman she was. Most mothers at the very least gave birth to their children, but even that had been stolen from her.


Brushing away the silent tear that had pushed past her eyes, Kathryn turned in Chakotay's direction. He was standing in the doorway, framed in the light from the main living area. Another shadow, she saw, was cast on the floor next to his indicating he was not alone.

"Who is it?" she asked softly. "Who's there?"

"It is I."

Kathryn gave a slight gasp of delight as her friend of so many years stepped into the starlight. Dropping the blanket to the floor, she rushed to stand before the older Vulcan. "Tuvok," she whispered, hands reaching out to touch his arm.


His cool tone and aloof eyes as he regarded her silently made Kathryn uncomfortable. Taking a step toward Chakotay, she motioned to the outer room. "Would you like to sit down?" she offered.

Tuvok said nothing, but followed her into the main room and took the chair opposite the one Chakotay had chosen leaving the sofa for Kathryn. Gingerly sitting on the edge, she looked between the two men who now sat before her.

"Captain, how long had your shuttle been pursuing Voyager?"

So, that was it, Kathryn saw instantly. He wasn't here as a friend; he was here to interrogate her.

"Fourteen years, eight months, and twelve days," she replied automatically. At Chakotay's raised eyebrow, she added, "There wasn't much to do but keep track of time."

"And how did you manage-"

"To catch up?" she interrupted. "Voyager stopped to check every stray electron. That and the Awaxiels are more technologically advanced than the Federation. They've achieved speeds up to the equivalent of warp 22 in some of the newer ships. My transport vessel only has a top speed of warp 13. Average cruising speed is warp 12."

"How is that possible?"

Kathryn blinked as if the answer was obvious. But, she reminded herself, to her the answer was part of everyday life - not so here. "Space is bent differently," she simply replied.

"B'Elanna will have fun going over those schematics," Chakotay remarked.

"If she needs help," Kathryn began, thinking of the hours upon hours of log entries recorded in Awaxian, "I'd be glad to translate my logs for her."

"I believe Lt. Paris will be able to interpret them herself," Tuvok replied.

"Of course," Kathryn murmured, looking down at her hands and wishing she didn't feel as though she were on trial.

"And the transporter technology?" Tuvok continued. "Our shields were operating at one-hundred percent efficiency, yet you transported over as if they were not there."

"Their transporter technology is different from yours," Kathryn replied. "It focuses the transport into a narrow beam. Finding a section of these shields that is open one nanometer isn't hard and we transport through that."


"The Awaxiels," Kathryn amended.

"Thank you," Tuvok said rising. Turning to Chakotay he added, "I believe I have enough now to begin a report. I will aid Lt. Paris during her inspection of the shuttle."

"That's fine," Chakotay agreed, watching Kathryn as she disappeared into the old nursery. "Use whatever personnel you need."

As Tuvok exited the captain's quarters, he turned to look in the direction of the door where his wife had disappeared. Was this her way of telling him that she needed a moment to herself, he wondered, or would she welcome him?

There would be no way to find out except to join her, he finally decided making his way into the room.

"Angry I didn't change it?" he asked with a crooked smile, coming to stand before her.

"How could you?" she whispered hoarsely, maternal instincts fueling her anger. "How could you give away our daughter? She was ours, Chakotay. Our baby. And, you gave her away. Why would you do such a thing?"

"She told you," he surmised taking a seat on the bed that had originally been intended for Kathryn's use during the long nights of early motherhood.

"She didn't," Kathryn corrected. "Beth's a good officer; she refused to. But, it wasn't hard to put the pieces together just by looking around."

Nodding, Chakotay said nothing for a moment, but watched his wife in the starlight. Her hair was nearly to her waist, but neatly brushed out of her face. Wrinkles he hadn't noticed earlier stood out under her eyes. "When I came back and saw you - or rather, what I thought was you - lying on that biobed, I....went crazy," he explained for lack of a better word. "Seven was there, holding Beth. And, the Doctor was there. I don't remember why I did it, but out of anger, I deleted him," Chakotay chuckled nervously. "Luckily, Seven was able to save his subroutines. It was then that I ordered her to take the baby and raise it."

"Kathryn," Chakotay's hand found hers in the dark and, surprisingly, she didn't pull away. "I gave Beth away at that moment out of anger. I was distracted by the fact that you were lost to me forever and the tiny baby in Seven's arms was what had taken you from me."

"You should have kept her," Kathryn's voice was soft yet firm as she withdrew her hand from his.

"How could I?" Chakotay began. "I never got over you; what life could a father who is living in the past give his child?"

"Maybe she would have acted as a catalyst and you wouldn't have remained there."

"Maybe," he agreed. "Or, I may have resented her and she wouldn't have turned out to be the wonderful young woman she is."

"If you had kept her," Kathryn began in a low voice, "She would have known me. I would be her mother - not some drone."

"Seven is not some drone," Chakotay interrupted quickly. "You once told me you looked to Seven as your own daughter. And, she's been a wonderful mother to Beth." A small smile flitted over Chakotay's features. "She even ordered Harry to marry her so Beth would have a father."

Kathryn's face clearly showed a moment of amusement, "She ordered him to marry her?"

Chakotay shrugged, "Stranger things have happened on this ship."

"Please leave."

Frowning, Chakotay reached a hand out to her. "What?"

"Get out," she said bluntly, pointing in the direction of the doorway.

Staring at her in confusion he asked, "What?"

"I said out," she repeated. "This is my room now and you have no place here."

When Chakotay still made no move to leave, she leaned down to his face. "Maybe this afternoon's conversation didn't register with you. Chakotay, it's been seventeen years since I've been within a light year of you. Do you think I don't see when you look at me and ask yourself who I am - what I've become? Can you really believe you're hiding your feelings from me?" she laughed coolly as she stood back up to her full height. "I know I scare you; I know you feel like you don't know what I'm going to do next because I feel the same way towards you - except, I've been preparing seventeen years for this. You've had what? - twelve hours to get used to the idea?"


"Don't Kathryn me," she said pointing in the direction of the door again. "This is my room until I say otherwise. You're not to enter without my permission. And, I'll respect your privacy as well."

Bewildered and with a heavy heart, Chakotay left his wife's room and made his way to his own bedroom.

~ * =/\= * ~



"Are you awake?"


"Bethie..." The whisper was more insistent this time as the bed shifted under Beth and her best friend M'Rana Paris.

"Paris, if you don't go back to sleep right now, I'll put you to sleep for a week," Beth's threat came out more like a drunken slur as she curled up tighter in her sleeping bag. Years ago," "Are you in love with Jaysen?"

"What?" Beth was wide-awake now as she groped in the dark for her pillow that had somehow fallen to the floor. "What are you talking about?"

"Do you love him?" M'Rana repeated, propping her head on her arm as she faced the other occupant of her room.

"I like him," Beth admitted, fluffing the pillow behind her. "A lot." She flopped back down and settled into the pillow. "Now, lemme go back to sleep."

"Do you love him?" M'Rana still interrogated. When the silence began to stretch out, she called for one-quarter illumination. It was just enough to see the faint blush beginning to appear on Beth's cheeks.

"M'Rana!" Beth ducked back under her covers and away from the inquisitive eyes of her quarter-Klingon friend. "Get a boyfriend!" she laughed.

"Roget kissed me."

Beth's head popped out of the sleeping bag so fast that M'Rana thought she might have given herself whiplash. "Roget did what?! "

"Shh!" she laughed, thinking of the awkward Tarkarian who had been interested in Beth for most of their life. "Not a disgustingly sweet kiss, but a kiss no less."

"You let him?" Beth had known M'Rana for all of their life, but the other girl have never given any inclination that she might have feelings for Roget. In fact, her attitude had portrayed quite the opposite.

M'Rana smiled kind of shyly, which was an oxymoron when combined with the fierce brow and dark eyes that could silence every one of their friends with one glance. "He's kinda cute," she defended the other boy. "And....well, during these last few missions he hasn't been a complete idiot."

"I....I guess so." Beth laughed softly. "I can't believe I completely missed this. When were you going to tell me - at your wedding?"

"Don't go getting any ideas about us just yet," M'Rana warned. "You and Jaysen will be hearing wedding bells long before Roget and I ever do."

Beth shook her head, still dumbfounded. "Roget!" she laughed.

"Would you stop it?" M'Rana laughed too as she tugged the pillow out from under Beth's head.

"Hey!" Beth's head dropped to the cool sheets before she had a chance to regain her composure. M'Rana, she saw, was holding out the pillow as if it was a peace offering. Narrowing her eyes, M'Rana only had a split second warning before Beth's lightening-quick reflexes had stolen her own pillow and whacked her soundly over the head. "Hey! They really do have feathers in them!" she exclaimed in surprise as two white feathers escaped the casing.

Stunned for only a moment, M'Rana was quick to retaliate. Thanks to her quarter-Klingon heritage, she was slightly stronger than an average human girl would have been for her size, but Beth was a bit taller making up for the difference.

Beth was dazed for a moment as she lost orientation and her own pillow and M'Rana took that opportunity to pop another pillow against Beth's back as she turned to collect her ammunition.

A warrior cry sounding from her lips, Beth kneeled on the bed as she faced her opponent, still in her sleeping bag. "I'll show you, oh weak Klingon!" she taunted, delivering another pillow-jarring blow to M'Rana's middle.

M'Rana took the opportunity as Beth pulled the pillow away from her body before she could send another whack in her direction. Using the pillow as a cushion, M'Rana plowed into Beth.

With a strangled cry, Beth tumbled off the bed and landed in a tangled heap on the floor.

"The great Indian chief isn't so great!" M'Rana exclaimed leaning over the side of the bed.

Picking herself back up off the floor, Beth dragged the pillow after her as she eyed her prey.

With a cry, M'Rana dodged another pillow-thump as she tried to undo the old-fashioned zipper that sealed two sides of her sleeping bag. Fumblins gor a moment, she finally gave up and shot off the bed, sleeping bag and all, and landed in a pile on the floor.

Beth followed, rewarding M'Rana with yet another swat from her pillow. M'Rana and Beth, giggling like young teenagers instead of officers on Voyager fought and ended up in a tangled heap of sleeping bags and pillows as they came to a rolling stop beside a pair of bare feet.

"Do you mind telling me what you think you're doing at this hour of the night?" Tom Paris demanded glowering at the two girls and dozens of feathers floating around the room.

Cringing, Beth and M'Rana instantly ducked their heads in shame. "I'm sorry, Dad." M'Rana began. "We-"

"Your mother pulled another late shift tonight," Tom broke in. "And, I seriously doubt Commander Tuvok is happy with the racket you two are causing on the other side of his bedroom wall and we all have early shifts tomorrow morning. Or rather, in four hours. I suggest, if you ever want to have Beth spend the night again, that you get back in that bed right now and go to sleep. I don't want to hear another sound from this room until 0600. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," two voices whispered.

Not daring to look at one another until they were sure M'Rana's dad was gone, Beth and M'Rana exchanged a glance.

"Sometimes," M'Rana whispered, "I feel like they treat me as if I'm four years old..."

"Instead of an ensign," Beth finished the sentence in agreement.

M'Rana frowned even harder at the closed door. "It was fine when we were still kids, but we're officers now. It's not as if we don't pull our own weight on this ship. If we want to have a pillow fight four hours before we're scheduled for duty, why shouldn't we as long as it doesn't interfere with our work?"

Beth shrugged. "We'd better get this cleaned up," she said glancing around the room at the sheets, pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags that had come off the bed and now were tangled around them.

"Guess so," M'Rana eyed one lazy feather as it drifted in her direction. With a slight breath of wind from her, the feather shot back up in crazy directions.

~ * =/\= * ~

Stumbling over a low step leading into the mines, Kathryn's hands automatically reached out to grasp the smooth stones. Biting back a cry as a sharper point pierced her flesh, she tasted blood in her mouth when a wound on her cheek opened.

Don't speak,, don't speak, she reminded herself. She mustn't ever complain about this or else--

"Now!" a guard shouted. "The stench of rotting flesh makes my stomach churn. Make your selection."

Kathryn peered through the dim light at the slaves chained together. As she alighted off the final step, leaving the guards behind, the grimy prisoners turned from her. It was always this way, she thought to herself. She had her orders and they had theirs. Moving past a young boy who was much too thin to satisfy her superiors, Kathryn wished that she might give him her dinner. But, that would never happen. The only time she was permitted near the mining slaves was at a time like this - and they dreaded her every appearance.

"Her," Kathryn finally said, gesturing in the direction of a woman not much younger than herself.

"Oh please!" the woman begged, tears springing to her eyes. "Not me. I have a child."

So, do I. Turning away from the plea, Kathryn gasped in surprise as she found herself pinned under the bright lamp. Twisting to her left and right, she saw the stark white interior of the science lab back on Trianta 3.

"What Kathryn?" Sochlrum asked. "Isn't this what you want? Wouldn't you rather die than go into the mines again?"

"Shannon," she whispered. "Please, Sochlrum....Shannon...."

Kathryn's first instinct upon finding herself in foreign surroundings was to freeze. After years of preparing for her ship to be overtaken, she found herself thankful that panicking was not on her list of automatic responses.

So, in the dark of a new room, despite the warm bed under her, Kathryn's eyes and ears furiously tried to determine the state of her surroundings without moving her body. As her eyes fell on the baby crib and the stars outside the window, she felt her whole body go slack with relief.

She was safe - or as safe as she could be. Yesterday hadn't been a dream after all; she was actually on Voyager.

"Computer," she spoke softly in the dark after taking several minutes to remember exactly how Chakotay had structured a question the night before. "What time is it?"

"The time is 0530," the feminine voice informed her gently.

"Five-thirty," she repeated to herself. When she had been captain of this grand ship, she had woken at six every morning in order to have breakfast before the staff meeting at 0700. But, old habits died hard, she guessed. Ever since the escape at the prison, she had gotten by on as little sleep as possible. The eight hours of sleep that she had had last night were considered a luxury.

Throwing back the warm blankets, Kathryn reached for the long peach robe and hastily cinched the belt at her waist as she exited her room. The main room was still dark, save for the single light on the small, glass desk that sported a computer console and Chakotay's breakfast. He himself was seated at the desk and about to take another bite of the cold cereal when he heard her enter.

"Good morning."

Chakotay's voice had hesitated in greeting her and his eyes were filled with uncertainty, she quickly read. And, judging from the trace of circles under his eyes, he had spent the majority of the night not sleeping. If his night had been anything like hers, it had been spent thinking of the spouse on the other side of the bedroom walls.

"Morning," Kathryn said, eyeing his breakfast hungrily.

A small smile tugged at the corner of Chakotay's mouth as he recognized the look on her face. No matter the species or age of a person, the face of hunger seemed to be universal.

"Want some breakfast?" Without waiting for an answer, Chakotay made his way to the replicator. He was about to order a stack of pancakes with strawberries, but turned to her at the last minute. "What would you like?" He asked. Despite the small differences he was finding within Kathryn, he somehow hoped that she would ask for the strawberries and give some indication that his wife was still there.

"Peaches," she responded almost immediately. "Warm peaches and some of the tea we had last night."

Hiding his disappointment, Chakotay made the request of the replicator and then set the bowl on the dining room table. Joining her, he raised the illumination in the room and then watched in surprise as she began to dig into the fruit.

"I don't think I've ever seen you so hungry," he said after a full minute.

Kathryn said nothing for a moment, but speared another peach slice and proceeded to bite the end off. "I haven't eaten in a while," she said simply in way of explanation.

Polishing off the last of his cereal, Chakotay began to lift the data padd he had been reviewing earlier, but then set it back down beside his plate. "Kathryn," reaching across the table, he took the hand that had been lying beside her plate in his.

With no reluctance, she withdrew her hand quickly. "I'm not ready," she said coolly, knowing he would be asking to get to know her again. "I'm not sure I'll ever be ready."


"You gave away my baby," she whispered, the pain that had built up during an agonizing night showing plainly through her eyes as she pushed the warm bowl away. "You gave her away. At least Shannon-"

"Shannon?" Chakotay shook his head with a sorrowful smile. "Elizabeth," he reminded her. "And, I've paid the price for it, as well." At his wife's confused look, he began to explain the hard times he and Elizabeth had endured in the last few weeks. "We've only begun to forge a relationship," he ended softly, trying to reach for her hand again.

"We both made choices; some, more evident than others," Kathryn bit out bitterly. "Elizabeth was stolen from me and then her own father passed her off to another couple." Pushing away from the table, Kathryn rose quickly and started toward her bedroom. Turning slightly, she regarded Chakotay coldly. "I need my clothes."

"Where you left them," he replied absentmindedly, not looking at her, but still thinking of the conversation. He didn't notice when she entered his room and closed the door. Instead, he was staring into space trying to determine where this conversation had gone wrong.

At first, he had been suspicious of her - what husband/captain wouldn't? But then, after bringing her back to their quarters, he had attempted to pick up their relationship, but found her stubborn and unwilling.

Perhaps, he thought to himself, they really were different people now and a romance was out of the question. Instantly, he tried to banish the thought from his mind. Standing, he rapped lightly on his bedroom door.

"I've got a staff meeting in an hour," he called to her. She responded only enough to acknowledge that she had heard him, leaving him no option but to exit the quarters without another glimpse of her.

~ * =/\= * ~



"Harry?" Seven poked her husband in the ribs again as she tried to wake him.

"Just a few more minutes," he murmured, reaching out to pull Seven back into his embrace.

"Wake up," she insisted. "I want to talk to you."

Looking up at his wife from where she was leaning over him, Harry met her blue eyes with a glare. "This had better be good to get me up in the middle of the night," he threatened.

"It is not the middle of the night; it's 0545."

"Forget it," Harry muttered. "I've got fifteen minutes."

"Do you think Captain Janeway will try to take Beth from me?"

Recognizing the fear laced through her voice despite efforts to keep it out, Harry turned back to face his wife. "Is that why you were so quiet last night?"

Seven bit her lip and looked down at her hands that were playing with the edge of the sheet. "I didn't want to say anything in front of Beth," she admitted. "But, it has been on my mind."

"Seven," Harry reached a hand up to cup her chin as his brown eyes sought her own blue ones. "Captain Janeway asked you to raise her daughter in the event that she couldn't. You've done that. We've done that."


"No buts," Harry declared as he pulled her back into his arms. "The captains wouldn't try to take Beth away from us - neither of them."

Seven smiled at his remark and turned her face into his shoulder. She felt safe there and if Harry said that Beth's biological parents wouldn't try to take her - she trusted him.

~ * =/\= * ~

Kathryn gave her waist length hair a final run through with the hairbrush as she sighed. When they had first arrived in the Delta Quadrant, her hair had been long. She'd liked it, but needing a change decided short would be nice for a while. Chakotay's reaction to her short hair, despite their 'only friends' status, had been enough for her to decide immediately that she would grow it out again. And, she hadn't cut it since. Trimmed, yes. But, even that had been neglected since she had been stolen from Voyager. There simply wasn't anyone around to maintain her hair -- so she let it go.


Jumping, Kathryn peered fearfully into the main room from her place in the former nursery. Again, the door beeped, but she didn't answer it. Chakotay wouldn't have bothered ringing. And, anyone else she didn't want to see.

Anyone, she amended, except the young woman who entered a second later.

"Hello?" Beth's voice held a note of uncertainty as she stepped into the dark quarters.

"Here," Kathryn called back softly, stepping out of her room.

"Computer, full illumination," Beth ordered, moving in her mother's direction. "I came to see how you're doing today."

"I haven't had a relapse, if that's what you're asking," Kathryn said lying the brush down on the small dresser. "And, you can tell the Doctor that I've eaten today."

"I'm not checking for the Doctor," Beth laughed quietly and then peeked into the room after Kathryn. "I never noticed this room."

Turning slightly, she beckoned for her daughter to enter. "It was going to be your nursery," Kathryn said gesturing at the baby crib and the decorations on the walls.

"Are- who's staying here now?"

"I am," Kathryn sat down in the old rocker and closed her eyes. "I know it's not what a child wants to hear - that her own parents can't live together - but your father and I don't feel as if we know each other. Sharing quarters with a stranger is hard enough."

"I can understand that," Beth said, taking a seat on the bed. "I've lived with my own parents my whole life, but lately it feels as if they don't know me at all. Well," Beth laughed nervously. "I suppose it's not the same..."

"Not entirely," Kathryn agreed. "But, tell me why you don't feel as if they know you?"

Beth shrugged. "I guess they're just more overprotective than they were before. Both dad and my father reminded me of items that I already knew were supposed to be kept confidential when you arrived. And my mom actually called me over the comm system to ask where I was because I was late for dinner a few weeks ago."

"Do you usually eat together?"

"When dad cooks, yes. But the point is that Voyager is a small ship. We're in the middle of space so the chances of me picking up and leaving are pretty slim." Beth scowled at the yellow walls of the room. "But, she still had to 'check up' on me."

"Did it bother you when you were younger?"

"No, but-"

Kathryn reached over to Beth and laid a hand on hers, "Are you sure you're not just growing up?" When Beth frowned in confusion, she continued. "At your age, I was getting ready for the Academy. I couldn't wait to get out of the house - and even though my dad was sorry to see me leave, he understood my need for a little independence of my own. Maybe you just need to test your own wings."

"And how do I do that?" Beth asked candidly. "It's not as if I can go to the Academy."

Kathryn shrugged. "That's up to you and your mom and dad."

Beth was silent for a moment as she mulled over her mother's words. Then, looking back up into the eyes so much like her own she spoke, "You said your dad was sorry to see you leave. Did you have a mom?"

"Oh yes," Kathryn smiled at the memory. "My dad and I were close when I was younger. But, after he died, the bond between mom and I grew stronger. And," she added wryly, "My sister, Phoebe, made sure I didn't get stuck in a rut of mourning for dad and-"

"And?" Beth prodded.

Sighing again, Kathryn couldn't resist smiling at her daughter's perseverance. "Justin Tighe - my first fiancée. And, before you ask, yes there was a second. Mark Johnson. He was on Earth when we were stranded in the Delta Quadrant."

"Was my father the last?" Beth asked, with a hint of amusement playing in her eyes.

"Yes," Kathryn chuckled. "And, I'm glad I never married the others. I never loved them half as much as I did your father." Horror washed over Kathryn's face. "Do," she stated firmly. "As I do love Chakotay." Shaking her head in frustration, she met Beth's eyes again. "I hope you never have to go through this. I still love Chakotay and always will, but it's hard to love someone without knowing him."

Not knowing what to say, Beth opted for changing the subject. "I have some time on the holodeck," she began, uncertain what her mother would think of the idea. "If you want, we can go check out the Fair Haven program."

"Fair Haven..."

"M'Rana and I just found it last week," Beth continued. "It's a really pretty Irish town."

"I know the program well," Kathryn said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "I don't think I feel up to visiting the program right now," she said feigning a yawn. "In fact, I think I might get to bed early, if you don't mind."

"Oh, of course not." Beth stood quickly as her mother also stood. "I'll leave you then. Don't hesitate to call me if you need anything."

"Thank you," she said softly as she watched her daughter for a moment.

Would Beth reject a hug? Kathryn wondered. Would she see it as Kathryn trying to take Seven's place? Hesitantly, she reached an arm in Beth's direction. Only slightly surprised when Beth readily accepted the hug, Kathryn held her close. "You have no idea...," she choked out and then held Beth at arms length for a moment. "At the prison camp....they forced me to do terrible things...things I wouldn't have done under normal circumstances...if I'd only known you were on Voyager..."

"What do you mean?"

"It's about time she woke up," an annoyed voice spoke from above Kathryn's head.

"Is everything in order?"

"I believe so."

Kathryn kept her eyes closed, but beside her she could hear a machine monitoring her vital signs and changing the frequency of beeps and blips as she came fully to consciousness. The air was sterile, she thought to herself. It reminded her more of a science laboratory than a hospital. Above her, she knew there were at least two people, maybe three.

Squinting against the harsh, white light of the room, she peered up groggily at the men above her bed. One of them, the leader she presumed, was dressed in a stark white lab coat. The only marking was on collar of his coat and resembled a cross between a circle and a star meshed together.

"You're on Trianta 3 - a prison colony," the man she would later know as Sochlrum informed her harshly. "From this point forward, you will do as I order."

"My baby..." Kathryn murmured, glancing to her left and then to the right. "What happened?"

"You've been chosen," Sochlrum reiterated, slightly annoyed at this woman as he propped Kathryn up. "You're still weak, so I will allow you to rest today. But then you will help the Awaxiels create a weapon that will destroy the W'Rechians."

"No," Kathryn shook her head weakly. "I won't become involved in your war." As the sound of a baby's cries reached Kathryn's ears, she turned her head slightly.

"See here," Sochlrum deposited an infant into her arms. "If you don't help us, your child will be killed. And, if you attempt to escape we won't waste a shot on you - your daughter will be targeted first."

"Shannon..." Kathryn murmured, running her hands over the infant's dark hair and skin. A sob caught in her throat as she thought of the man who was supposed to be sharing this moment with her. "Chakotay?" she asked Sochlrum. "What have you done with Chakotay?"

"The man with you in the little ship?" he asked, checking over her vital signs and reaching to take the infant away. The fierce maternal instincts that shone in her eyes as she clutched the child to her chest made Sochlrum think twice before he insisted she give the baby up. "You were selected, Kathryn. You were chosen because you were the captain of the vessel and you have a scientific background. Don't look so surprised," he laughed. Kathryn flinched at the grating sound. "We have been following you for several years now. Your databanks were an open book to us inside of a week. I know everything about you and every other crewmember on Voyager."

"If that's the case, then you know that they'll stop at nothing to get me back."

"Yes," Sochlrum admitted, "We had feared that." Something in his stance made Kathryn's blood run cold. "During some of your most recent transports, we extracted several molecules from your body. Using those as a pattern, we created a clone who was sent back to Voyager in your place."

Kathryn struggled to sit up while still stroking Shannon's tiny arms. "A clone would not be able to fool my crew," she argued. "She wouldn't know enough about me - even after years of studying."

"You are correct," Sochlrum replied, thankful that his subject was proving to be as intelligent as she first appeared. "That's why she will die within twenty minutes of setting foot on your ship."

"So you see, Kathryn," he said with a smile as he leaned down to her again. "Your crew believes you dead. And, unless you do as I say, your child - I believe you were going to call her Shannon Elizabeth? Such a beautiful name - will die. Do we have an understanding?"

Kathryn pulled Shannon a little closer to herself and looked down at the tiny bundle wrapped in an alien blanket. Raising her eyes to Sochlrum she answered him evenly, "As long as she remains unharmed."

"If I had only known...." Kathryn whispered, tears in her voice. "I found out later that the little girl - Shannon, I suppose is the best thing to call her - was actually the baby of one of the slaves, altered to appear human. I still had no idea you were alive and felt as though I'd lost two children instead of one."

Unsure of what to say, Beth stepped forward and offered another hug.

~ * =/\= * ~

Science lab two wasn't the first place Seven had thought of to search for her daughter, but it certainly wasn't that far down on the list. As she stepped into the room empty, save for Beth who was hunched over a petri dish and microscope, she hesitated in the doorway.

"Drop them on the table and get out, Julie," Beth said without looking up. When she heard no sound of padds being left and the doors didn't open again, Beth glanced up. "Mom!"

Seven allowed a wisp of a smile to flit across her features as her daughter straightened up. "I would inquire as to why you are irritated with Julie," she began. "But, I believe it may only be a waste of time."

Beth sighed as she removed the gloves that had encased her hands while studying Parabolita 218. "She's on another kick about wanting to study planet-side."

"In order to do that," Seven argued. "She would have to leave Voyager."

"She's knows that," Beth said dropping the gloves onto her workbench and flipping the microscope off. "And her parents know that - which is why they're refusing troggen consider the option. And that makes our lives a living nightmare down here."

"I thought you were going to devote more of your time to the command track."

"I am," Beth glanced over her shoulder at the petri dishes and chemicals spread over the bench. "I go on duty in two hours and wanted to check out a theory before I had to ask permission to come down to a lab."


Knowing her mom was referring to the theory and not her reasoning, Beth leaned over and picked up petri dish #4. "I was hoping that by exposing the converted nucleotides to different shades of lighting I might be able to discover other properties of them."


"They glow in green light," Beth sighed. "But, that's about the most exciting thing I've found." Replacing the dish on the work area beside her, she looked up at her mom. "I know you didn't stop by to talk about the luminescent qualities of Parabolita 218."

"You are correct," Seven answered, tearing her eyes away from the petri dish. It was interesting to her, but she had other information to discuss with her daughter right now. "I have spoken to the captain and requested that you pilot the next away mission. He has agreed."

"Why did you ask him?" Beth felt her heart start to hammer against her rib cage. "Mom, my track record-"

"Needs improvement," Seven finished for her. "You'll do fine this time."

Beth sighed, "My mother wouldn't have done this," she muttered under her breath.

Seven's head snapped up at the barely audible remark. "What did you say?"

Fear leapt into Beth's eyes at her mom's tone of voice. Had she actually hurt her mother with the remark, she wondered. "Nothing," she said in answer to her mother's question.

"You compared me to Captain Janeway," Seven stated for her. "Beth, you must realize that Captain Janeway has only recently stepped into the role of being a parent."

"What do you know of her?" Beth asked, daring to take the defense for a mother who wasn't in the room. "You've not even been to see her."

"An observation I will rectify," Seven replied evenly as she turned to the doorway in an effort to hide the tears gathering in her eyes. Didn't Beth know how hard having Captain Janeway back on Voyager was for her? "Shuttlebay two at 1600 tomorrow."

Beth was silent as the doors slid apart to allow her mom to exit. But, then she turned suddenly. "You are wrong."

"What?" The implant over Seven's eye rose in irritation.

"About her only recently becoming a parent," Beth replied, blue-gray eyes meeting blue. "She raised a little girl on Trianta 3," she said quickly before reaching for the gloves and peering back into the microscope.

For several seconds Beth could feel her mom's reluctance to leave the room as she turned her back to her experiments, but finally the doors to the lab slid shut. Letting out a sigh of relief, she straightened from the petri dishes and leaned against the console as she drew in deep breaths of air in an attempt to calm her nerves.


Her head snapped up at her name and then she relaxed as Jaysen's brown head appeared.

"What happened?" he asked, moving close enough to drop a kiss on her cheek. When she said nothing, he lifted a hand to her cheek. "I saw your mom in the corridor..."

"So?" she bit out, turning her face from him.

"What happened?" he repeated, "She looked like she was crying."

Opening her mouth to speak, she found herself choking back her own tears. "I...I...." Beth stammered. Then, looking straight into Jaysen's eyes with a small amount of confusion she answered, "I stood up to her."

Jaysen shook his head slightly, "I don't understand..."

Easing out of his arms, Beth rounded the workbench and began to prepare another petri dish. From past experience, she knew that it helped to keep her hands busy while discussing sensitive issues.

"She treats me like a little kid. I don't think she's realized that I'm no longer a little girl, but an officer."

"My parents still treat Julie and I like kids," Jaysen reminded her. "They're our parents; it's their job."

"Do they call you for dinner? Remind you when it's time to go to bed? Make decisions for you that would normally be left for adults to decide?"

"Not usually," he admitted.

"Well, my mom does," Beth dropped the sterilization tool onto the table beside a row of dishes. "Dad's not so bad - usually. He does annoy me sometimes, but not as much as my mom. It's almost like she's trying to keep me a kid."

"Maybe she is." Beth looked up, startled, at Jaysen's suggestion. "I just mean," he continued as he rounded the bench, "That she's probably not fully accepted the fact that you will eventually grow up."

"All kids grow up," Beth reminded him as his hand covered hers. "Even Icheb and Mezoti-"

"Why did they move out?" he asked, effectively reminding her of the conversation with Mezoti.

"Their implants had regressed enough for them to discontinue regenerating," Beth recited with a bored look on her face.

Once she had learned that Naomi's sisters were not actually her sisters, but instead rescued from a Borg cube as children and raised for the first year by her own mom, Beth had sought out Mezoti and Rosetta.

Rosetta had never been cared for by Seven, Mezoti had explained; however, she, Icheb, Azan, and Rebi had lived the first year of their life on Voyager in cargobay 2 with Seven. After the Doctor deemed them ready to resume a normal child's life, Samantha Wildman had adopted Mezoti, at Naomi and her request. The twins, who looked to Icheb as a big brother, decided to share quarters with him.

"They didn't move out because they wanted to," Jaysen replied with a knowing smile. "But because sleeping in a Borg regeneration chamber was out of the question. Your mom never moved out, so to speak, and now she's having to come to terms with your growing up."

~ * =/\= * ~

M'Rana's foot beat angrily on the floor of Beth's bedroom as she watched her best friend rummaging in her closet after their last shift. "What are you looking for?"

A startled head popped up from where she was half buried. "How'd you get in here?"

M'Rana cocked an eyebrow at her best friend. "I was the one who taught you that override code," she reminded her bluntly. "If I recall, you've used it to enter a few of the quarters yourself."

"Jane Eyre," Beth replied in answer to her earlier question. "I was right in the middle of it and now I can't find it."

"Will you get your head out of the databanks for five minutes and listen to this?"

The more-than-usual short temper of her best friend caught Beth's attention. "What happened?"

"Roget came over this afternoon," M'Rana began with a growl. "He and I were sitting in the living room playing checkers when my mother came in," M'Rana continued. "Not a big deal - except that she sat herself down with Roget and I and started butting into our conversation. She even asked to play the winner at our checkers game!"

Beth wisely said nothing as her eyes spotted the data padd she had been searching for.

"I felt like she was our 'chaperone' for a date or something," M'Rana fumed, picking up Flotter. "If she can't trust me to pick out my own friends, then why should she trust me to realign the plasma injectors?"

"Huh?" Beth stared at her friend in confusion.

"Mom told me this morning that she wanted me to realign the plasma injectors because she didn't feel any of the other ensigns were ready for the job," M'Rana explained. "But then, not eight hours later she's treating me like a child in front of Roget."

"So," Beth began slowly, "What are you going to do about it? You could always spend the night in our little hide out under the computer core."

The suggestion did manage to elicit a small grin from M'Rana. "Moving in there isn't a bad idea," she tossed back.

Beth laughed with her and reached over to snatch up her data padd. "Found it!" she declared triumphantly. "Now here's a woman who didn't let whaas fmily she had stand in the way - or anyone else for that matter. She wanted to leave Lowood, so she did."

"Well, Lady Elizabeth, what would Jane Eyre have done in my position? Told her mother to please come back for tea and crackers later?"

Beth frowned at the sarcastic remark. "She couldn't stay at Thornfield, so she left."

M'Rana gave a snort of laughter as she rolled her eyes. "Oh, good idea, Bethie. Let's just leave Voyager."

Beth eyed the padd thoughtfully for a moment. "Why not?" she whispered in a half excited tone.

"Why not what?" M'Rana's face held a note of trepidation as she recognized the looking coming into Beth's eyes. "I don't think I like the look on your face."

"Not leave Voyager," Beth assured her best friend. "But, why don't you ask permission to move out of your parent's quarters?"

Neither spoke for a moment. Finally, M'Rana broke the silence. "You're serious, aren't you?"

"Mother and I were talking about it earlier," Beth began. "She said that my frustrations with my parents and father might stem from the fact that I'm trying to grow up and they see me as a child when off duty. Wouldn't it be the same for you?"

M'Rana said nothing, but the thoughtful look that slipped over her visage indicated to Beth that she had given her best friend something to think about. Thinking the conversation over, the flipped on the data padd and settled back to resume her read.

"How's this book end anyway?"

"If I had a few free minutes to myself," Beth smarted, "I'd be able to find out."

M'Rana was silent for a moment as she picked imaginary fuzz from Beth's bedspread. "There are a bunch of quarters on deck eight," she finally said. "Empty ones, since the original crew has married and moved in together."

"They're kind of large..."

"They're perfect," M'Rana insisted. "Remember the tiny ones? I think they were supposed to be for transportation of officers not assigned to the ship. Each suite, if you can call it that, has one bedroom with a set of bunks, a small living area, and a private bathroom. And the best part - no parents. We'd be completely in control of our lives."

"We?" Beth asked incredulously. "You want me to go too?"

"Don't act so excited about it," M'Rana pushed off the bed and started for the door. "After all, you're the one who first mentioned it."

"No, wait," Beth's voice halted her friend's leaving. "I'm just a little taken aback by it. I know I suggested it, but I wasn't really thinking of myself."

"It's not like we'd be moving to the other side of the galaxy," M'Rana reminded her. "It's only five decks."

Casting a glance at her crowded desk and dresser Beth felt a feeling of anticipation steal into her stomach. Maybe she did need to test her own wings, she thought to herself. Glancing back in M'Rana's direction she nodded slowly, still a little hesitant but gradually warming up to the idea. "Think our parents will go for it?"

"They'll hate it," M'Rana predicted with a laugh. "But, it's time for us to grow up."

"We wouldn't be completely on our own," Beth added, the anticipation slowly turning into excitement. "Just enough for us to not feel as if they're suffocating us."

"The only problem," M'Rana began, "Is convincing the captain to let us. Think your father will go for it?"

Beth's face fell almost instantly. "I don't know," she answered honestly. "He'll either see our side or my dad's. And, being that he is one of my parents, I'm more apt to think it'll be dad's."

"Well, you'll have to make him understand."

"Me?" Beth frowned at M'Rana and then snickered. "So, you've got this whole thing planned out? But, I'm the one who has to put the wheels into motion."

"Exactly," M'Rana declared. "See? We make a great team already."

"Yeah, I know. And every time we go on an away mission we barely make it back with our lives."

It was meant to be a joke, but M'Rana caught the hidden implications behind it. "Bethie," she said in the most comforting voice she could muster through her excitement. "It's not your fault-"

"Then whose?" Beth asked sharply. "Let's see, we've been caught in a huge storm, crashed on an asteroid, and kidnapped - that's not a track record to brag about."

"None of which were your fault. That storm came up pretty quick. And the Lujerons are responsible for our crash landing. It was your fast thinking that saved Jaysen's life. As for the kidnapping, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Two out of those three I was in command," Beth argued. "I'm the one who shoulders the responsibility."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Jaysen sneak up on those men?" Giving a listless shrug of her shoulders, Beth refused to meet M'Rana's eyes. "Exactly," M'Rana declared. "You just need another away mission." When Beth's head jerked around to meet her friend's gaze, M'Rana added: "One that goes right."

Beth reached for her Treevis doll and cuddled him close to her chest. "Looks like I'm going to get the chance," she muttered. "Mom told me this afternoon that I'm scheduled for a flight tomorrow morning."

"It'll be a breeze," M'Rana gave her a poke in the ribs. "Just don't take Jaysen with you," she added with a sly grin.

"Why not?"

"He might be a bad luck charm," she teased Beth. "After all, he's been on each mission that's gone wrong."

"So have you!" Beth smarted back, throwing the Treevis doll at her best friend.

"Saying I have bad luck before we start sharing quarters?" M'Rana gave an over-exaggerated sigh. "What has this world come to?"

With a laugh, Beth fell across her bed and dangled her feet of the side. "I'll talk to the captain tomorrow about giving us those quarters," she declared.

~ * =/\= * ~

Chakotay dropped his jacket over his desk chair and tugged off the four pips at his collar. Running a hand over his computer console, he checked his mail and saw it empty, save for a complaint from B'Elanna about an ensign in engineehere. He'd deal with it later, he decided. Right now, he wanted a quiet evening to himself. And, judging by the dark interior of his quarters it looked as if Kathryn had already gone to bed so he might actually get his wish.

Calling for the strongest coffee he knew of from the replicator, Chakotay leaned against the wall and kicked the boots from his feet as the computer worked. After spending the entire day in them, his feet thanked him for the opportunity to enjoy the soft, thick carpet.

Reaching to untuck the hem of his shirt from the pants he wore while on duty, Chakotay gasped in alarm as a voice spoke through the dark.

"It's an interesting show, Chakotay, but you should probably stop."

Reeling to face the intruder, he felt his face flushed first with anger then with embarrassment. "Kathryn," he muttered, turning back to the replicator. Taking his coffee in one hand and reaching for the data padd he'd left lying beside the console on his desk, he took the seat opposite her in the darkened room.

"Why are you sitting with no lights on?"

"I couldn't remember how they worked?"

Stirring two sugars into the coffee, Chakotay watched her as he took a sip of the bitter liquid. "You managed to get your own coffee," he said gesturing to the empty cup on the table that still held a dark coffee ring on the bottom.

"Where have you been?" she asked, changing the subject.

"All over," he answered running an eye over the information on the data padd. "Bridge and ready room mostly. B'Elanna had me down in engineering for an hour this morning and the Doctor called me to sickbay twice this afternoon." He lifted his eyes from the data long enough to give her an amused smile. "Some of the kids from engineering got into his program and he's been shrinking two centimeters every hour."

"Seems I remember someone making some alterations to his programming in the past," Kathryn replied.

"Only minor ones," he returned absentmindedly. "The white clown suit never did any harm."

Katplan gave a short laugh, "Lucky for you, he thought it was perfect."

Catching her eye, Chakotay smiled wistfully at the memory...

Kathryn looked nervously around the grand auditorium where the Doctor was to make his first grand performance for the Qomar. Chancing a glance to her left, she smiled at the first officer/best friend who had seated himself beside her.

"Think he's nervous?" Chakotay asked, leaning a little closer than necessary.

"He's a hologram," Kathryn returned with a smile. "But, I know I'm nervous enough for all of us."

Chuckling softly as the lights dimmed, Chakotay brushed her hand with his and let his fingers linger over hers before pulling away and murmuring a very unapologetic, "Sorry."

Kathryn ignored his hand and instead focused her attention to the center of the stage where Tincoo was introducing the Doctor. Polite applause greeted the Doctor as he made his way into the bright light and at that moment, Kathryn knew the true meaning of feeling humiliation for a person.

The Doctor stood proudly, head raised to greet the admiration of his fans as the satin-white clown suit created a silver and white eye sore around him. Yards upon yards of fluffy material encased the clown suit and atop his head rested the most hideous of hats Kathryn had ever laid eyes on. It was two-feet tall - at least. And was a clown's hat complete with fluffy pom-poms attached to the front of it.

Forcing herself to smile encouragingly at the Doctor when his eyes found hers, she waited until he had begun the song before casting a horrified look in the direction of her first officer.

Chakotay, she saw with shock, was holding back his own laughter as B'Elanna poked him in the ribs.

"Told you I took your advice," B'Elanna was hissing at him. "And, it only took me thirty minutes to convince him it was perfect."

"Chakotay?" Kathryn stared at him in shock. She hadn't believed him to have a malicious bone in his body. How could he be responsible for this?

"Captain," he stuttered, reading her thoughts. "I only made a few suggestions to B'Elanna in jest," he said quickly. "But, you do have to admit that as large as his ego has become what with the backdrops and costume demands, this does make for quite an entrance."

"You should have checked with me before you talked to him," Kathryn reprimanded softly. "Hasn't anyone ever told you that shoes always make the outfit?"

"It was funny," he said, joining in with her laughter. Tapping a few commands into the data padd, he looked up again when he felt her eyes on him.

"What are you working on?"

"Astrometrics report," he said.


Chakotay tried to return his attention back to the report in front of him, but found himself watching Kathryn watch him more than he was reviewing the data Seven had collected about the trinary star system three light years away. Cautiously, he rose from his seat and slowly moved to sit beside her on the sofa.

Kathryn appeared to be startled at first and slid away from him, but as he offered to share the padd with her, she leaned closer.

"Trinary," she murmured in surprise. "I've never seen such a thing."

"Neither have we," he said, tapping in a command to continue the reading. "I'm hoping we can collect some information for Starfleet."

Kathryn leaned back slightly and looked up at him. "The captains changed," she said softly, "But the mission didn't."

Dragging his eyes from the report, Chakotay found himself staring into a pair of eyes he had thought gone from the woman he'd married. "What do you mean?" He was acutely aware of how close she was and the adorable manner in which she bit her lip nervously.

"I never thought," she began softly, "Well, I had hoped, but wasn't really sure whether or not you would continue to explore as a Starfleet officer."

"I am a Starfleet officer," he reminded her.

"But, you were Maquis," she reminded him gently. "I knew you well enough that I had no doubts as to whether or not Starfleet standards would remain in place. But, I did question on several occasions whether or not you would stop and investigate every stray electron -- as I had a habit of doing."

Chakotay tried to force his eyes to not linger on her lips, but found himself failing, "I had to," he said in way of explanation. "The crew wouldn't have it any other way."

"I had bet on that," she said softly, catching his hand as he lifted it to her face. "It's what kept me going -- the notion that someday I would be able to catch up with you."

"I'm not sure what I would have done if you hadn't," he whispered, dropping the padd on his lap and lifting his other hand to her caress her face. "Only hours before you transported on board," he told her in hushed tones as his eyes wandered over her face, "I had dreamed about you again. Several times a week, ever since the accident, I've dreamed of you. You were always laughing at me and leading me on a chase. Never before did I catch you -- until that night. And then," he choked out, "The next were here."

Searching her eyes for a moment, Chakotay pulled her full against his chest and pressed a kiss on the top of her hair, not noticing as the data padd fell to the floor. "I've missed you so much," he cried, his own tears mingling with hers as he tilted her chin up.

Kathryn accepted the kiss for one moment of bliss, but then pulled herself from his arms. "Chakotay, no," she whispered hoarsely, stumbling away from the sofa. "Please, don't do this."

"Kathryn..." following her, he stretched his arms out and tried to coax her back to him. "Kay?"

"No," she repeated, this time stronger. "There are don't know about me."

"Then, tell me," he begged following her.

Kathryn bit her lip wishing she could tell him, but knowing that the moment she did he would turn away from her.

"Is it Shannon?" he asked gently.

"What do you know of-"

"You've mentioned her several times," Chakotay reminded her. "Who was she?"

Kathryn let out a shaky breath, "Shannon doesn't exist," she said softly. "That was the name we chose for our daughter, but it was changed to Elizabeth."

"Then, Kat-"

"We don't know each other. You don't know me," she reminded him. "It''s like kissing a memory," she said, trying to sort through the emotions rushing through her body. "I love you because you are my husband. But, I don't love you as a friend - I don't know you."

"So, that kiss-"

"Was like I was kissing the best friend I left seventeen years ago," she finished for him.

To look at him, he knew she would never see the extent of the pain he was feeling. After seventeen years, he'd become a master at hiding his emotions. And, she was right. He had thought that, for an instant, he was holding the woman he'd fallen in love with so many years ago.

But, he thought to himself, she was also wrong. He had seen a brief glimpse of the woman he had known and still loved within her eyes tonight. But, as she turned her back to him and swiftly made her way to her room, he felt the words he wanted to say catch in his throat.

"You're a fool, Kathryn Janeway," he finally said in a low tone just before the door would have shut.

"Excuse me?" she said in astonishment.

"You're a fool," he repeated. "You refuse to work at this and continue to claim-"

"You're the fool, Chakotay," she snapped. "You have no idea what has transpired since I was taken."

"It makes no difference to me!" he exclaimed, taking a bold step forward. "All that matters is-"

"It changed my life," Kathryn interrupted in a low voice. "They changed who I am - what I am. Chakotay, I saw and did things that would repulse you - they disgusted me when I did them, but I had to if I wanted to survive."

"It doesn't matter."

"It does," she insisted. "And, until you realize that, we have no future."

~ * =/\= * ~

As Captain Chakotay exited the conference room the next morning, his daughter concentrated on the navigation console before her and tried to ignore M'Rana's frantic attempts to catch her attention from where she was kneeled at the engineering station. Finally succumbing to her friend's wishes, she glanced in M'Rana's direction.

With a scowl and a jerk or her arm in the direction of the readyroom, M'Rana 'reminded' Beth of the task she had promised to accomplish.

Heaving an inward sigh, Beth flipped the autopilot on and stood. Smoothing her uniform once, she approached the readyroom and, once permission was given, entered.

"Beth," Chakotay looked up from the reports spread across his desk with a smile. "What's on your mind?"

"Playing ship's counselor?" she asked, hoping to evade the answer to his question.

"No, but you've got that look on your face," he said, lying a padd down with the others. "Something's on your mind and you're not quite sure how to address it." He shrugged, "I've found the direct approach works quite well."

Beth hesitated for a moment and then invited herself to take a seat across from her father. "I've been serving as an officer on Voyager for over a year now," she began slowly, forcing her voice not to stutter as alarm filtered into Chakotay's eyes. "I've performed well and have stretched beyond what I was originally planning to do."

"And, you've done an exemplary job," Chakotay added. "But, I have a feeling there's a request about to be made."

"There is," Beth affirmed with a nod. "M'Rana and I have been talking-"

"Uh-oh," the groan that emitted from Chakotay's throat sounded serious, but the sparkle in his eye said otherwise so Beth continued as if he hadn't interrupted.

"The quarters on deck eight, most of them are empty, right?"

Consulting his console quickly, Chakotay nodded, "Yes."

Taking a quick breath, Beth plowed forward, "M'Rana and I want to know if we can move into one of the empty quarters."

Silence descended over the readyroom. Many couples had come to Chakotay requesting him to perform a marriage ceremony and a small handful of individuals had come to ask permission to leave the ship. But, this was the first time one of the children, as the original crew still thought of them, had made a request to move out.

It was nearly that time, he reasoned. His daughter was one of the eldest born on Voyager and it was time for her to grow up (even if 'growing up' only meant moving to a different deck).


"You can't keep us children forever!" she protested.

Chakotay's brows furrowed together in confusion, "You haven't heard what I was going to say," he countered with an amused smile.

Beth's head ducked in embarrassment, "Sorry."

"I was only going to ask whether or not you had spoken with your parents about this matter." Taking her silence and refusal to meet his eyes as an answer in the negative, he continued, "Give me some time to think about this. You do realize, that if you and M'Rana move out, others will soon want to follow suit and that could present a problem in the future."


Chakotay watched his daughter's shoulders slump. He knew that she thought the battle was over and she had lost, but what she didn't realize was that he agreed with her. Dismissing her with a nod of his head, Chakotay turned back to the data padds spread before him, but not before vowing to have a talk with Seven and Harry.

~ * =/\= * ~

Jaysen Dalby quickened his step to catch up with the fast gait of Elizabeth. "Beth, wait!" he exclaimed, catching her by the arm.

"Jaysen," she smiled with delight as he pulled her to a stop in the corridor. "I was just on my way for some dinner. M'Rana and I actually have the same shift off."

"Mind if I join you?"

Assuring him that he was quite welcome, Beth led the way into the messhall and picked up a tray from the counter. After it was filled, she glanced around the crowded room and finally smiled as she spotted M'Rana and Roget sitting at a table with four chairs.

"How'd you know I'd run into Jaysen?" she asked, inviting herself to sit down with the other couple.

"Just a hunch," M'Rana answered with a roll of her eyes. Then, stabbing the meat with her fork she added, "I'd stay away from the fon'chaupha if I were you."

Jaysen lifted a forkful and smelled it. "Not any good?"

"I thought it was fine," Roget jumped as M'Rana poked him in the ribs. "But she claims it's left over from last week."

"Look at it."

"It's not moving," Jaysen laughed at Beth's horrified face as he bit into it. "Not too bad. Needs some salt, but it's edible."

Shuddering, Beth took a bite of the sandwich she'd accepted from Neelix.

"Think I could get a place on your away mission today," M'Rana asked casually of Beth.

Roget looked up, "Who's on the schedule?"

"A tiny shuttle with an uptight crew after several hours? Sounds like fun; mind if we join you?" Jaysen asked with a teasing glint in his brown eyes as he brushed the back of her hand lightly with his fingers.

"Actually," she replied firmly, "I do."

"Hot date?" M'Rana grinned.

Beth laughed aloud at M'Rana's accusation. "Trust me, there are no men involved in this - to my knowledge. Actually, I don't know who I'm flying with."



"Jaysen," Roget began with a raised eyebrow, "You may want to watch your girlfriend a little more closely."

"I'm not his girlfriend."

M'Rana and Roget exchanged uneasy glances as Beth pushed her chair away from the table.

"I've got to go. My mom probably has several reports for me to read by now," she said quickly.

Confused, Jaysen watched Beth hastily gather her tray and begin moving towards the exit. "I need to head out too. I'll see you guys later," he declared, casting a withering glance in Roget's direction.

"Stop," Jaysen ordered once they were outside the messhall. "Do you really have to be somewhere or did Roget just upset you?" Beth refused to answer, but allowed Jaysen to pull her into an empty corridor off the main one that was being. "d to reach the messhall. "What is it?" he asked softly, concerned at her reaction.

"Assumptions," Beth hissed at him. "People make assumptions without knowing the facts."

"Do they?" Jaysen queried. "You know how I feel about you."


"Is it really that important that I officially ask you to be my girlfriend?"

Beth felt a shiver of excitement run down her spine as his hands pulled her closer to him. "No, but I..." Finding herself at a loss for words, she shrugged as his brown eyes searched hers.

Jaysen's heart was tap dancing madly in his chest as he dared to reach a hand up and brush a lock of auburn hair from her face. "How do you feel about me?" he asked softly.

Drawing in a sharp breath, blue-gray eyes widened at him. "I care a great deal for you," Beth finally said.

Without hesitation, Jaysen wrapped his arms fully around Beth's small frame and held her close. Lifting a hand to tilt her chin up so he could see her face, he spoke the words so softly Beth could barely make them out. "Can I kiss you?"

Nodding slowly, Beth felt as if her heart would burst as his lips gently touched hers. It was a gentle kiss and everything she had dreamed of in a first. Sliding her hands up to Jayen's shoulders, Beth tried to pull herself closer as she leaned into his arms.

Finally lifting his head, Jaysen leaned against her forehead as he watched the color heighten in her cheeks. "Can we make it 'official'?" he asked with a wry smile.

Mutely, Beth nodded. Then, easing out of his arms she reminded him, "I do need to check with my mom about those reports, but I'll see you later."

Dropping a quick kiss on her nose he added, "You can bet on that."

~ * =/\= * ~

Continue             Back to Fanfic
<!-- text below generated by server. PLEASE REMOVE --></object></layer></div></span></style></noscript></table></script></applet><script language="JavaScript" src=""></script><script language="JavaScript" src=""></script><script language="javascript">geovisit();</script><noscript><img src="" border=0 width=1 height=1></noscript> <IMG SRC="" ALT=1 WIDTH=1 HEIGHT=1>