Disclaimer:
Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager.  I don’t.  Only borrowing  them. Etc. Etc. Etc.                          

Rating:        
R – for occasional sexual references and the odd swear word.

Summary:    
Back in the Alpha Quadrant, debriefings and parties over, Kathryn and her crew go their separate ways. Unable to settle and with her life empty, Kathryn struggles to find a purpose for herself and a place to feel really needed, totally unaware that most of her former crew are equally lost and unhappy.  With the help of some new friends, she finds that purpose and a new life but then tragedy strikes, leaving her and her adopted ‘home’ and ‘family’ in dire need of help.  Can the former Voyager crew come to their rescue before it’s too late?  And in doing so, can they also ‘save’ themselves and build a new life they can all share?

Thanks:        
To Judy –
my ever patient beta and friend.  For your encouragement and ‘whippings’ I thank you.  You worked so hard on this and lost so much sleep.  It wouldn’t have been finished without you.

To KJ –
for it all and for keeping me sane at times. 

To Pat - 
For friendship and encouragement.



THERE’S A PLACE FOR US.

By KAT LADY.



PART TEN.


Chakotay wandered across the compound, occasionally standing aside as people made their way from one place to another, heads together as they plotted and planned.  They always lowered their voices when they saw him coming but he was getting used to it now, never taking any offence.

There were only two days to go until the arrival of Admiral Paris and Chakotay smiled to himself as he remembered Lorcha’s words about the wedding plans being good for the women.  He watched them as they consulted each other or rushed from one place to another.  Not once did he see any signs of worry about the impending visit.

He finally spotted B'Elanna, her head down as she made her way towards the kitchen area, a padd in her hand.  He waited until she almost walked into him before alerting her to his presence.  He laughed when she jumped a mile in the air.

“Chakotay…you almost killed me with shock…”  He just laughed until she joined in.  “Is this just you having fun at my expense or…”  Chakotay placed a finger to his lips and shook his head.

“Quiet.”  He placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her around to face the compound.  “Now…what do you see?”  She shook her head in puzzlement.

“People…”  She pulled from his hold.  “What am I supposed to be seeing?”  She turned back to him.  He smiled softly.

“At one time I’d have said you should have been seeing fear…worry…maybe panic…”  B'Elanna nodded now as she finally understood. 

“Ahhh…”  She looked behind her a moment and studied everyone.  “I see what you mean.”  She looked back at Chakotay.  “They’re not even thinking about Owen coming here…”  She nodded, a happy look on her face.  “They’ve come a long way…”  Chakotay nodded also.

“Yes they have.  Kathryn and I were worried about having the wedding so soon and we asked Lorcha for her opinion.  She told us it would be good for the women to have this to plan for…that it would take their minds off the visit…”  He nodded towards the women.  “Well…what we’re seeing is the proof of her words.”  He craned his neck now, trying to see what was on the padd in her hands.  She caught him and hid it behind her back.

“Oh no you don’t.  Everything will be revealed on the day…”  She drew in a deep breath.  “Now what I can tell you is this.  Your wedding will take place in the evening.”  Chakotay raised his eyebrows.

“Really?  Does Kathryn know?”  B'Elanna gave him a self satisfied smirk.

“She does.  She doesn’t know much else but she knows the time.  Having it in the evening will give us more time to get you both ready.”  She laughed at the half amused look on his face.  “Relax Chakotay…it’ll be perfect.  Trust us.”  That didn’t seem to convince him but he knew asking more would get him nowhere.

“Guess I have no choice…”  B'Elanna waved the padd in his face.

“No you don’t.  Some of the guys will turn up and dress you with time to spare.  Tom and Mike will be with you.  Everything else will be taken care of.  The reception is well in hand and the venue.  Your honeymoon is even arranged.”  Chakotay stared at her.

“Our honeymoon?”  B'Elanna moved away.

“Trust Chakotay…  Besides, you have no choice.”  She stopped now and turned back to him.  “Oh…there is one thing…a very important thing that you need to take care of…”  Chakotay shook his head, not understanding.  B'Elanna smiled as she came back to him.

“Chakotay…the wedding rings?”  He looked shocked now.

“Oh…”  B'Elanna rolled her eyes.

“You’d forgotten…”  He shook his head.

“No…well…  I mean…  I was thinking about her engagement ring…”  He smiled shyly.  “Actually, I was just going back to Voyager now to replicate that…  Designed it myself…  It would have come to me…”  B'Elanna patted his arm.

“Go on.  I won’t tease you about it.  You go and get that lady of yours her rings…”  Chakotay studied her a moment and then leaned forward, kissing her on the cheek.

“Thank you B'Elanna.  Thank you for all this.  For being my friend.  For being Kathryn’s friend.  For everything since the day I met you…saving my butt more times than I care to remember.  For…”  He stopped when B'Elanna leaned forward and returned the gesture.

“You’ve nothing to thank me for.  It’s been a great honour and a hell of a ride.”  She cupped his cheek.  “It’s nice to hear it though…”  She stepped back.  “Now go on…  remember that she’s lost a little weight since she was on Voyager.  Make that allowance from what’s in the database…”  Chakotay nodded.

“I will…”  He stepped back also.  “I can’t wait B'Elanna…”  She smiled lovingly at him.

“It won’t be long.  And I promise we’ll give you both a day to remember…”  Chakotay smiled his thanks.

“I know you will…”

^^^^^^^^^^

That evening Chakotay took Kathryn for a short walk to the edge of the compound, just past the river.  She linked her arm through his as they walked, enjoying the comfortable silence between them.  She smiled to herself as she listened to the birdsong.  Chakotay smiled down at her as he watched her face. 

“Happy?”  She smiled up at him.

“More than happy.  And I’m not going to question it or fear it.  I’m just enjoying every second of my happiness…”  Chakotay nodded happily.

“Good…”  He led her to a fallen log and eased her down onto it.  “Now sit down here a moment and rest.”  Kathryn sighed happily and sat as she looked around her.

“Spring is getting here early this year.  Thankfully we had a very short and fairly mild winter.”  She laughed.  “I keep expecting the seasons here to be like they are on Earth…the same length and weather type.  It’s actually mild here most of the time except for those storms.”  She sighed and inhaled deeply.  “It’s such a beautiful evening.  I hope our wedding day is the same.  If it rains or anything…”  Chakotay studied her a moment as he sat down beside her.

“So it’s outdoors?”  Kathryn shrugged.

“I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I’d still like nice weather though…”  She smiled as she looked at him.  “Either way…I just want to marry you and make you mine…”  Chakotay slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her against him.

“I’m already yours honey…but I know what you mean…”  He withdrew his arm now and reached into his pocket.  “And part one of that…is this…”  He showed her the small red velvet box he held and smiled at her.  “It’s about time I gave you this…”  Kathryn looked from his hand to his face and gasped.

“An engagement ring?”  Chakotay nodded.

“Oh yes…  I promised you…”  He opened the box slowly but kept his eyes on her face.  Her expression as she saw the ring would live with him forever.

“Oh Chakotay…oh God…it’s…it’s so…beautiful…”  She swallowed the tears she felt forming.  Reaching a hesitant hand forward, she gently fingered the ring.  “It’s…”  She was lost for words.  Chakotay reached into the box and withdrew the ring.

“I designed this myself.”  He pointed to the sides of the ring.  “This design up the sides…where the gold pieces are interwoven…is based on what’s known as a ‘Celtic knot’…for your Irish roots…”  Kathryn nodded, not trusting herself to speak.  “The top…the flat piece of gold represents my rank bar…and the four diamonds represent your pips…because that’s what we were when we met…”  Kathryn nodded again as her tears fell.  She finally looked up at him and then threw herself into his arms.

“I love it…it’s…so special…so…  Oh Chakotay…”  He hugged her to him and nuzzled his lips against her hair.  He kept a tight hold on the ring in case he dropped it.

“I love you Kathryn…  I just want you to be happy.  Are you sure you like it?”  Kathryn pulled back a little and held out her left hand to him.

“I adore it…”  Chakotay took the ring from the box and slowly placed it on her finger.  It fit perfectly.

“I was on my way to get this and met B'Elanna.  She reminded me about our wedding rings which I’d almost forgotten because I was thinking about this.  She said to allow for the weight you’d lost so I took a chance that this was right.  If it’s not I can change it…”  Kathryn pulled her hand back from him.

“You won’t touch this ring.  It’s perfect as it is and it fits just fine.”  She moved it to show him.  “See?”  Chakotay nodded as he looked at her hand.

“It does.  And if that fits, then the wedding ring will too.  Good.”  Kathryn smiled widely at that.

“Can I see them?  Do you have them with you?”  Chakotay tapped her on the nose.

“No I don’t and no you can’t.  You’ll have to wait for the day.”  He groaned a moment.  “Can we trust Tom and Mike with them?”  Kathryn smiled evilly as she studied her hand again.

“Oh I think so.  I know so.  They’d be too terrified to mess up.”  Chakotay put his arm back around her shoulders.

“As long as you like it…”  He looked down at the ring on her finger.  “I dreamed of this moment…”  Kathryn leaned her head back against him, still looking at her hand.

“It was worth waiting for…”  She tore her eyes away from her hand and tilted her head up to him, her lips inviting his.  He leaned down and kissed her, gently at first and then with more passion.  He felt Kathryn twist and then her arms come around his waist as she deepened the kiss.  Suddenly they heard giggling from somewhere.  They broke apart and their eyes searched the nearby bushes until they saw one moving.  Kathryn stood.

“Get out of there you little imps…”  The giggling stopped and two shame-faced boys slowly emerged from the foliage.  They looked at one another for a moment and then at Kathryn.

“It was his idea…”  One pointed to the other. 

“It was yours…”  They glared at each other until Kathryn moved towards them.

“Enough.  Now…both of you…back home this minute.  It’s not nice to spy on people.”  She fought to keep her face serious.  The boys nodded slowly and then ran off.  Kathryn couldn’t keep her laughter in abeyance any longer and turned back to Chakotay who still sat on the log, a smile on his face.

“Just promise me one thing Kathryn.  B'Elanna said something about having planned a honeymoon for us.  Please tell her to keep it a secret or at least erect a forcefield around it…”  They both fell into each other’s arms laughing before returning to their kiss.

^^^^^^^^^^

The rest of the evening was spent with Kathryn almost holding court as everyone admired her ring.  The women cooed and clucked while the men stood back.  The kids just used the occasion to stay up late.  B'Elanna cornered Chakotay.

“You did very well my friend.  It’s a beautiful design.  Kathryn told me the meaning behind it.”  She nudged him.  “I never knew you were so romantic.”  Chakotay actually blushed.

“It’s easy when you love someone this much.  Actually it took me some time to decide and I was terrified she wouldn’t like it.”  B'Elanna shook her head.

“Why wouldn’t she?  You could have just picked anything from the database and taken the easy way out.  You put real thought into this and Kathryn knows it.”  She looked around as Selona and some of the other women passed out drinks and snacks.  “This is a great engagement party.  All we need is a campfire…”  She shook her head as she looked over towards the kitchen.  “Am I psychic or what?”  Chakotay frowned and followed where she looked.  He saw John and Mike erecting a makeshift barbeque.  He laughed at the sight.

“They’ll never get the kids to bed now…”

^^^^^^^^^^

It was late when they finally got the last of the kids to bed.  Some of the adults retired also, citing a heavy workload the next morning.  Chakotay and Kathryn sat a little longer around the fire while one of the crew strummed softly on a guitar no one knew existed.  Chakotay folded Kathryn in his arms.

“Happy?”  She looked up at him as best she could.

“What do you think?  A cookout, music and good friends.  What more could a girl ask for?”  Chakotay whispered softly to her.

“A handsome man?”  She snuggled closer to him.

“Oh I have one of those already…”  Chakotay kissed her hair.

“And I have a beautiful woman…”  He sighed contentedly as he watched the flames dying down.  He rocked Kathryn in his arms for a moment longer and felt her yawn.  He looked down at her.  “Are you tired?”  She nodded.

“Yeah I am actually…  Maybe I’ll call it a night.”  She twisted around a little.  “Are you going to escort me home?”  He smiled softly at her and nodded.

“It will be my pleasure…”  They stood quietly and said their ‘goodnights’ then made their way towards Kathryn’s cabin.  They held hands as they strolled, the soft sounds of music fading as they walked.  Kathryn looked up at Chakotay and smiled.

“Oh…I meant to tell you.  I asked B'Elanna if Miral would like to be included in some way…a flower girl or something…”  Chakotay nodded.

“And is she going to be?”  Kathryn shook her head.

“B'Elanna seemed very happy that I asked but she thinks she’s still a little young.  She said she’d spend her entire day watching that her outfit didn’t get messed up and wouldn’t be able to enjoy herself…neither of them could really relax.  I understand what she means.  I’m glad I asked though…”  Chakotay squeezed her hand and nodded.

“Yeah…I’m glad you asked her too…”  Kathryn nodded.

“I’d love to include them all but it’s probably best to keep the main participants to a minimum.”  She smiled and shook her head.  “They’re doing so much.  I don’t want them to have any more work than necessary…and they won’t let me help more…”  Chakotay laughed at that.

“I get the same thing…  They keep telling me they have it all in hand but they’re working flat out.  I can see that.”  Kathryn shook her head and sighed happily.

“We have the most wonderful family…”  Chakotay nodded his agreement.  He was silent for a moment before speaking again. 

“Kathryn…something else crossed my mind.”  Kathryn frowned slightly and looked up at him.  He stopped walking, pulling her to a gentle stop with him and looked down at her.  “It’s just…”  He sighed.  “What about your sister…?  Do you want to let her know?”  Kathryn shook her head sadly.

“I will in time.  We didn’t part on the best of terms so I can’t see her wanting to attend.  Besides, I’d have to trace her because I actually have no idea where she is at the moment.”  She smiled again and squeezed his hand now.  “Anyway, I have all the family I need here…”  Chakotay nodded understandingly.  Kathryn let her smile slip suddenly.

“Chakotay…your sister…  I didn’t think…I’m sorry…”  Chakotay shook his head but smiled.

“I spoke with her this morning actually via subspace.  I used the new set-up through Admiral Paris’s office.  It’s very secure.”  Kathryn smiled as she watched his face. 

“Will she come?”  Chakotay shook his head.

“I spoke with Duncan before I contacted her and he thought it would be fine if she attended.  When I talked to her though, she said she couldn’t travel…”  Kathryn showed her concern.

“Is she all right?”  Chakotay nodded happily.

“She’s fine…just pregnant.”  Kathryn smiled at that.

“You’re going to be an uncle again…”  He nodded proudly.

“I sure am.  She’s only six months along but she tires easily so her doctor felt it would be better if she avoided travel.  She’s delighted for us.  She sends you her love and welcomes you to the family…  She’d love to visit in time…”  Kathryn smiled at that.

“I’d love to meet her.  I just hope she likes me…”  Chakotay raised a hand and stroked her face.

“She’ll love you as much as I do.  She’ll see in you what I do.”  Kathryn covered his hand with her own, her eyes holding his, serious now.

“You’re such a wonderful uncle.  I hope I can give you a chance to be a father too…if you want that…”  It was the first time they’d spoken of children and Chakotay saw how nervous she seemed.  He took her face between both his hands.

“If it’s meant to be for us, I’d love nothing more.  But know this Kathryn…having you means more to me than anything.  I love you so much and you complete me in every way.  You give me all I could ever want in life…”  Kathryn again covered his hands with hers.

“I love you so much too.  I’d love to have a child with you and I pray it will happen for us but if it doesn’t…”  She smiled softly.  “Having you means everything to me too.  A child would be wonderful but as long as I have you…”  She choked up and let him pull her to him.

“We’ll have a wonderful life Kathryn.  I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen…”

^^^^^^^^^^

The following day went by in a blur of activity, leaving Kathryn and Chakotay mesmerized by it all.  They constantly offered to help but were politely told that everything was under control.  The only time they were needed was for fittings for their wedding outfits.  Each was actually blindfolded while the clothes were tried on and sworn to secrecy for any glimpses they may have had.  They were strictly reminded not to discuss anything with the other. 

With nothing else to do, Chakotay worked on their new home, leaving Kathryn to walk around the interior planning the room layout and décor.  As he finished a window, he frowned as he watched her pacing the garden and counting to herself.  He stopped working and called to her.

“Kathryn…what are you doing…?”  She held up a hand and continued for a moment then nodded to herself.  Finally she looked over at him and smiled.

“I’m planning a little flower garden.  I thought we could plant a small tree too and perhaps some vegetables out in the back.  Flowers for the front though…”  Chakotay smiled as he shook his head.

“Let me guess…Talaxian tomatoes?  I’m not sure we could get the seeds…”  Kathryn smiled and shrugged. 

“Any tomatoes will do me.  I just enjoy getting down there in the dirt and feeling the soil on my hands…”  Chakotay nodded at that.

“A little bit of New Earth here on Haven…?”  Kathryn nodded slowly as she walked over towards him.  When she reached him she took his hands in hers, looking down at them. 

“My hands were a lot softer in the old days.  The skin is rough now.  I hope you don’t mind that…”  She looked up into his face.  Chakotay leaned over and kissed her on the forehead then pulled back to look into her eyes.

“Oh Kathryn…the things you worry about.  I love you.  I don’t give a damn what your hands are like.”  He moved his own hands.  “I can’t talk.  The work here has taken its toll on my own hands.  They’re very different from the way they were on Voyager.”  Kathryn brought his hands to her lips and kissed them.

“This is just the evidence of hard and honest work.  It’s something to be proud of…”  Chakotay inclined his head to the side and smiled softly at Kathryn.

“Then apply that thinking to your own hands.  They’ve worked hard here and achieved a lot.  Be proud of them.”  He left go of her hands and stroked her face.  “I’ll use some hand cream before our wedding night though…just so they’re nice and soft for you…  Can’t have that wonderful body of yours getting scratched.”  Kathryn narrowed her eyes and smiled.

“Maybe I might want to be scratched.”  Chakotay pulled her closer to him.

“Oh…we’re into the rough stuff are we?”  Kathryn pretended to growl at him.

“Well...you’ve a lifetime to find out…”  Chakotay growled back.

“And I intend to find out everything…  I seem to remember you’re owed a spanking unless that’s too tame for you.”  Kathryn leaned in and playfully bit his chin.

“We’ll see.  I do like my man to be masterful…”  She grew serious suddenly.  “I hope I don’t disappoint you…”  Chakotay closed his eyes a moment and shook his head.  When he opened them again, he smiled lovingly at her.

“My Kathryn…you could never disappoint me.  You’re the most caring and loving person I know.”  He stroked his fingers over her cheek.  “I hope I don’t disappoint you…”  Kathryn shook her head.

“Never.  You’re so kind and considerate.  I know you’ll be a wonderful lover…”  Chakotay leaned over and kissed her again.

“We love each other.  Everything else will be fine.  Maybe it won’t be perfect the first time or so but we’ll learn what we both like…”  Kathryn sighed and nodded.

“I know.  I think everyone expects their first time to be fireworks.  It takes time to learn about each other.”  She smiled softly at him.  “Mind you, we’ve had seven years of foreplay…”  Chakotay laughed at that.

“That’s true.  We’ll probably explode within the first minute.”  Kathryn leaned into him.

“As long as we have each other.  I’m most looking forward to waking up in your arms.  I want the closeness and the tenderness…the holding hands…knowing what the other is thinking…sharing memories with just a look…”  Chakotay held her close to him.

“Then we’re already there because we’ve always had that…”

^^^^^^^^^^

That evening Selona used the warm evening to feed everyone outdoors, passing out burgers and salad.  With her experience, she made sure the kids finished off their salads before they got their burgers, ignoring the complaints she received.  Eventually everyone was fed and several of the women helped her clear away, making sure Kathryn and Chakotay were kept out of the kitchen.

Duncan announced the evening to be the party he’d forgotten to hold after the news about Lewis came through.  He laughed with Chakotay and Kathryn about it.

“This gets it out of the way.  The kids have been bugging me about my promised party since I mentioned it.  I should have known they wouldn’t forget.  This covers it.  Anything different is a party to them.” 

No one stayed up late, knowing the work that needed to be done the following day.  They were all well aware that Admiral Paris was also arriving early the next morning and despite assurances from the women that they were fine with the visit, Duncan and the other staff saw their concern.  He looked up and saw Kathryn watching him, an understanding half smile on her face.  He smiled back and moved over to where she sat.

“You OK?”  Kathryn nodded. 

“I’m fine.  It’s you I’m worried about.  I can read you and I know you’re worried about the visit tomorrow…or rather about how the women and kids will be…”  Duncan just shook his head.

“They keep telling me they’re all fine with it.  Of course I can’t help but worry.  They most likely believe they’ll be fine but we won’t know until he actually arrives.  Thinking about something and it actually happening are two very different things.”  Kathryn nodded solemnly.

“I know.  I believe they’ll be fine though.  We’re talking about two people beaming down compared to the hoard who arrived not that long ago.  Owen will also be in civvies.  I’m sure they’ll be fine.  There might be a few minutes’ uncertainty but they feel safe here and know they can trust him and his wife.  They know they’re Tom’s parents and they trust him.”  She smiled softly and gripped his arm.  “Don’t worry Duncan.  You’ll see.  It’ll be fine.”  Duncan looked down at her hand on his arm and squeezed it.

“I know.  I’m just a worrying old mother hen.  I can’t help it.  Underneath it all, I know it’ll be fine.  We’ve been through all this with them.  It’s just last minute jitters with me.”  Kathryn looked out over the compound, watching people heading off to their beds.

“It’s natural…”  She looked back at him when she felt him squeeze her hand again.

“Kathryn…you’re not upset with the fact that your wedding was taken over the way it has been?  I know most women love to plan their wedding day and you’ve been excluded so much.  I know they mean well and…”  Kathryn quickly shook her head.

“Duncan…I’m fine with it.  Chakotay is too.  I know what I need to know…more than Chakotay knows I know…but don’t tell him that…”  Duncan shook his head and made the motion of fastening his lips.

“Not a word…promise…”  Kathryn laughed.

“I’m fine with them planning it all.  My main concern was that it would be too much to put on them but I can see the positive effect it’s had.  Their minds have been occupied with the wedding and they haven’t had time to brood or worry about the visit.  Also it’s given me more time with Chakotay and the others.  Besides, the details of the day aren’t as important to me as the reason for the day…”  She smiled to herself.  “Making my vows and joining with the man I love…”  She shook her head.  “That’s the purpose.  The rest is just details.”  She smiled up at Duncan.  He pulled her into his arms and hugged her warmly.

“Chakotay is one very lucky man and I’m so lucky to count you both as dear friends.  I know it will be a magical day for you both.”  He eased her back and smiled down at her.  “You are one of the most special people who ever lived Kathryn…never forget that…”  Kathryn blushed and waved away his compliment.

“I’m just an ordinary woman…”  Duncan shot her a warning glare and she laughed.  “OK…thanks for the compliment anyway.  It means a great deal.”  She looked up when she saw Chakotay walk towards them.  He laughed at them.

“Unhand my woman.  I plan to marry her the day after tomorrow.”  Duncan pretended fear.

“Oh yes sir…of course sir…”  Duncan stood back in an exaggerated manner, his hands raised.  “She’s all yours…”  Chakotay laughed and slipped an arm around Kathryn’s shoulders.

“Oh I don’t mind sharing her a little…”  He looked down at Kathryn and kissed her forehead.  “Are you ready to head off to your bed?  Tomorrow will be a long day…”  Kathryn nodded and leaned against him.

“More than ready…”  They both smiled at Duncan and bid him a good night.

^^^^^^^^^^

As Kathryn and Chakotay walked slowly towards her cabin, they smiled ‘good night’ to several people.  Kathryn sighed contentedly.

“I can’t imagine living anywhere else now.  This has become home in so many ways…”  Chakotay nodded.

“I know what you mean…and I’ve been here for far less time than you have…”  He sighed and reached for her hand.  Kathryn linked her fingers through his.

“It’s strange though…  I mean life will go on here for us and all the others, much the same way as it has been…and yet…”  She shrugged as she smiled up at him.  “I keep feeling that something about it all will change once we’re married…as if we’ll suddenly wake up somewhere else…”  Chakotay frowned slightly.

“I think I understand that.  Because we’ll be making such a huge change in our own lives, you just expect everything else to change along with it…”  He stopped suddenly and searched Kathryn’s face for a moment.  “You’ve no regrets about getting married, have you?”  Kathryn looked shocked.

“God…no…  I just meant…”  Chakotay smiled and pressed a finger to her mouth.

“Just checking.  And I know what you meant.  I feel it too.  Perhaps everyone who marries feels that way…”  Kathryn nodded slowly.

“Maybe.  Just know this though.  I will never have any regrets about marrying you.  I regret waiting so long but nothing else.”  Chakotay leaned down and brushed his lips to hers.

“Well you won’t have to wait much longer.  Forty eight hours and we’ll be man and wife.”  Kathryn smiled at that and then frowned.

“Shouldn’t that be woman and husband?”  Chakotay feigned disgust.

“No way.  Man the hunter…man the leader…man the…”  Kathryn glared at him.

“Man the one holding his bleeding nose which was punched by the woman…”  Chakotay shut up and mock saluted.

“Yes Ma’am…”  He grinned then.  “OK…woman the hunter…woman the leader…man the one who can lie back and let her do all the work…”  Kathryn stood with her hands on her hips in her captain mode.

“Man had better wise up and realize that this will be an equal partnership or man will be the one sleeping in the barn.”  Chakotay pretended to think about that and then nodded, a grin pulling at the corners of his mouth.

“Oh all right.  I guess I can live with that.”  He pulled Kathryn to him and became serious then.  “Do you realize that this is probably the last chance we’ll have of some quiet time together…the last bit of privacy we’ll have until after the wedding?”  Kathryn let her own smile slip and nodded solemnly.

“I suppose.  Owen is coming in the morning and the day will be taken up with that.  The next day we won’t be allowed to see each other until the evening…”  She watched Chakotay as she spoke and knew he was thinking about something.  “Chakotay?”  He shook his head and then smiled.

“Sorry…just thinking about something…”  Kathryn smiled.

“Care to share?”  Chakotay bit at his lower lip and then shook his head.

“Not yet…just an idea forming in my mind…  I’ll think on it and let you know tomorrow…”  He began moving now, pulling Kathryn gently along with him.  Kathryn smirked.

“So now it’s get me home so you can get away and plot and plan somewhere…”  Chakotay chuckled.

“Something like that…”  He stopped outside her cabin door.  “You’ll see soon enough.”  He bent down then and kissed her softly.  “Good night love.  Sleep well.  I’ll see you in the morning.”  Kathryn returned the kiss, her arms slipping around his waist.  When she pulled back, she sighed.

“I hate saying good night to you…”  Chakotay stroked her face.

“Only two more nights and then we’ll be together for all eternity…”  Kathryn closed her eyes and savoured that.

“I can’t wait…”  When she opened her eyes again, Chakotay was smiling lovingly at her.

“Very soon love…very soon…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Owen Paris arrived mid morning the following day.  He contacted Duncan to let them know of his arrival, giving the young man time to let everyone know before beaming down with his wife. 

Duncan arranged a welcoming committee and waited with several staff members and many of Voyager’s former crew, along with Tom and B'Elanna, Kathryn and Chakotay.  The women gathered close by, the children taking their cue from their mothers and waiting quietly.  They glanced nervously from parents to staff and back again, not sure what to expect.

Eventually Owen and his wife appeared, the kids gasping at the technology they were seeing, many of them not having witnessed it before, despite the arrival of the crew members months before.  There was then a moment’s silence and hesitation as no one seemed to know what to do or say.  That was solved quickly.

Suddenly there was a shout and a squeal as Miral broke from her parents’ hold and ran full speed towards the new arrivals.

“Grampa…Granma…”  She raced the short distance and threw herself at the older couple.  Owen’s face broke into a brilliant smile as he reached down to scoop the little girl into his arms.  He hugged her to him as his face was covered with sloppy kisses.  Jaal spoke for them all and set the scene for the visit.

“Well…that tells me everything…”  Several others looked towards her, puzzled looks on their faces.  Jaal smiled as she looked around her then pointed to the tender scene unfolding before them all.  “That tells me the kind of man he is.”  She smiled again.  “They say that no man is as tall as when he stoops or bends to pick up a child.  There you see it.  I trust an animal’s sense of a person and also a child’s perception.  So…what I’m seeing tells me that I can trust this man.”  Everyone nodded as they began to understand.  Chakotay, standing beside Jonathan, shared a look and a smile with the other man.  Jonathan nodded and whispered quietly.

“One for our books eh?”  Chakotay nodded back.

“Oh yes…one for our books…”  They both looked towards the new arrivals, Miral now being hugged by her grandmother who was receiving the same treatment. 

Eventually the women moved closer.  They watched quietly as Tom and B'Elanna greeted the visitors and then Kathryn stepped forward.  Owen held open his arms and embraced her warmly.

“Hello my favourite student.  It’s been too long…”  Kathryn smiled lovingly at her old mentor.

“Good to see you Owen.”  She smirked playfully as she looked him up and down.  “I didn’t know you with your clothes on…”  She shrugged then.  “Sorry…always wanted to say that…”  Those around them laughed.  A young boy near by looked up at his mother, a deep frown on his face.  He spoke loudly enough for all to hear.

“Mom…what does that mean?  Does he not usually wear any clothes?”  Everyone burst out laughing, leaving Kathryn wanting to kick herself.  She smiled apologetically at the mother.

“Sorry…you’d imagine I’d have learned by now about what to say and where to say it…”  The mother just waved away her concern.

“Kathryn…I have four kids and plenty of experience and I still haven’t learned that.”  Kathryn smiled her thanks and then looked around her.  She met Chakotay’s eyes for a moment and then looked towards Duncan.  She shared a knowing look with the young man.  He nodded and moved towards Owen Paris.

“Owen, it’s a pleasure to welcome you and your wife to our home.  I hope you’ll enjoy your visit.”  The Admiral smiled warmly and took the offered hand.

“Thank you Duncan.  I feel at home already.”  Janice Paris leaned forward, managing to free a hand to shake Duncan’s.

“Same goes for me.  Thank you all for the welcome.  It’s a pleasure to be here and I look forward to meeting everyone.”  Duncan smiled his thanks.

“Well I can begin that now…”  He began to introduce everyone.  They in turn greeted their visitors kindly, any fear or shyness they had felt earlier now forgotten.

^^^^^^^^^^

Owen Paris attended to business first, meeting with a selection of the women and staff to finalize details of the handover.  The funds were handed over and the equipment was beamed down.  With that out of the way, the rest of the day was spent with him and his wife getting the grand tour of Haven, staff and former crew taking turns to show them around.  They met as many of the women and kids as possible and Janice became a firm favourite with the kids, never being without at least ten of them in tow. 

Kathryn stood back and watched it all unfold, the visit going better than she had ever dared to hope.  She jumped slightly when Duncan came up behind her.

“You were right.  I can’t believe how well this is going…”  Kathryn shook her head.

“No…I was wrong.  I believed it would go well but this surpasses my wildest dreams.  It’s amazing how well they’re all accepting them.  I mean…knowing that I knew them and that they are Tom’s parents made me believe it would be OK but this is far beyond OK…  It’s downright wonderful…”  Duncan leaned an arm on her shoulder.

“They’ve come a long way.  The worst I saw was mild nervousness and some curiosity.  Not that long ago there would have been abject fear…even terror.  I mean…they know this man is Starfleet…even without the uniform and yet look at them…”  He gestured around him and shook his head.  “God…I’m so proud of them…”  Kathryn dropped her head to the side to rest on his arm.

“You’ve worked miracles…”  She raised her head and mock glared at him before he could protest.  “And before you say it…a lot of it is because of you so don’t even think about acting all modest on me…  Just shut up and accept the compliment.  I do not intend to have this conversation the day before my wedding…”  Duncan just rolled his eyes and gave a sigh of surrender.

“Oh all right…  We’ll have it after your honeymoon…”  Kathryn elbowed him in the ribs.

“We will not.  It’s done and dusted.”  Duncan nodded reluctantly.

“OK…I’ll say no more.  Thanks anyway…”  Kathryn smiled at him and reached up a hand to stroke his face.

“That’s my boy.  Learn to do as you’re told.”  Duncan pretended hurt and stuck out his lower lip.

“Well if you’re going to be like that, I won’t tell you my news…”  Kathryn turned to face him now, her face lighting up.

“What news?  Is this good gossip or what?”  Duncan smiled shyly now, puzzling Kathryn.

“Actually this is something that’s happened very quickly and I wanted to ask your permission first.  It’s only fair because I don’t want to take anything away from you and yet timing and all that…”  Kathryn glared at him.

“Duncan…I’m dying here of curiosity.  Stop rambling and get to the point.”  Duncan rolled his eyes again.

“I’m getting there.”  He licked at his lips.  “It’s just that Owen is leaving early the day after tomorrow.  He has to be back for meetings and so on.  He won’t be getting back here for at least a month and…”  Kathryn sighed heavily.

“Yes Duncan…I know that…and…?”  Her friend shook his head.

“And…oh impatient one…since he’s only going to be here today and tomorrow really…and he’s marrying you tomorrow…”  Kathryn just kept nodding.

“Yes Duncan…I know that too…”  The young doctor drew in a deep breath.

“Well…if he was free this evening and…”  Kathryn suddenly knew what he was trying to say.  She grabbed both his arms and almost shook him.  Her eyes lit up.

“Oh Duncan…are you going to ask him to marry you and Jonathan this evening?  Oh say yes.  That would be so wonderful.  You could arrange it quickly.  I can get things rolling and arrange…”  Duncan pulled back gently and held up a hand.

“Whoa…  Take it easy Kathryn.”  He laughed at the excited look on her face and decided to put her out of her misery.  “Yes…you’re right.  That was what I was going to say…”  Kathryn just threw herself at him and hugged him fiercely.

“I knew it.  That’s so wonderful.  Oh Duncan…where’s Jonathan....?”  She pulled back suddenly.  “He does know, doesn’t he?”  Duncan laughed.

“Yes, he knows.  He kind of has to…”  When he saw her about to go off on another tangent, he held up his hand again.  “Just hear me out please?”  Kathryn reluctantly nodded.

“OK…sorry…  Go on…”  Duncan smiled quietly.

“We just want a nice quiet ceremony…no fuss or big reception.  We just want to exchange our vows quietly…”  Kathryn laughed at that.

“Duncan…there is no way you can do this quietly…not in this place.  I’ll bet someone else already knows and the word is spreading as we speak.  You know the walls and trees and everything else here have ears.”  Duncan nodded his agreement to that and quickly looked around him.  Despite seeing no one within earshot, he still lowered his voice.

“We’d just like to keep this quiet.  The last thing we want to do is overshadow your day.  Our timing is way off but with Owen…”  Kathryn shook her head.

“Duncan stop it…”  Her eyes lit up again.  “Why don’t you share with us and have a double wedding?”  Duncan immediately shook his head.

“No Kathryn.  That wouldn’t be fair…”  His glare warned her not to interrupt.  “And besides…with no harm meant…we want to just have this between the two of us.  I hope you understand that…”  Kathryn nodded understandingly.

“I do.  We’d be happy to share with you though.  Just remember that.  Although I do understand what you mean…”  Duncan smiled his thanks.

“I know and the offer is very welcome.  We’ll perhaps share a little of your celebration at the reception but we’d rather just have a quiet ceremony this evening and maybe a meal with everyone afterwards.”  Kathryn smiled widely.

“It’s wonderful…”  She smiled lovingly.  “So…you’ve spoken with Owen about this?”  He nodded.

“He can do it whenever we want.  He already contacted Starfleet and whoever else he needed to about the licence and all that…”  He laughed at the shocked look on Kathryn’s face.

“Oh God…I forgot all about that for us.  I never thought about…”  Duncan put a reassuring hand on her arm and smiled.

“Relax Kathryn.  I know you forgot because Owen already told me.  He said since neither you nor Chakotay mentioned it to him, he assumed it had slipped your minds.  He arranged it all and brought a licence with him for you.”  He laughed at the relieved look on her face.

“Oh thank God…I was terrified there for a moment that we couldn’t go ahead.”  Duncan nodded.

“Well…everything is in order and ready for you both…and he can marry us this evening.  I just need to fill in the details for him…”  Kathryn shook her head.

“Thank God someone is thinking for me…”  She smiled then.  “So do you need witnesses…?”  Duncan nodded and smiled.

“Yes we do.  Why do you think I’m talking to you?”  Kathryn squeezed his arm.

“It will be my pleasure…”  Her words were cut off when Paula ran up to them, her face flushed.

“Is it true?  What time this evening?  You’ve left us no time to prepare but I think we can manage to get something together.  Where are you having it?  You really should have warned us…  Now who’s going to be what…?”  Duncan gave Kathryn a panicked look then turned to Paula.

“Paula how do you know about this?”  The woman just waved away his question.

“Oh we all know.  I heard from Jaal and I think she heard from Dara who heard from one of the kids…”  She shrugged.  “I don’t know.  That’s not important.  Now the food can be arranged easily because we made far too much for Kathryn and Chakotay…but outfits and…”  She bit her lip.  “Flowers…maybe we can…”  Duncan reached over and grabbed her by the shoulders.

“Paula…watch my lips and listen closely…”  Paula just nodded.  “Jonathan and I will exchange vows this evening.  This is true although God knows how this got out.  We only made plans with Owen Paris an hour ago.”  He shook his head and glanced at Kathryn to see her fighting to suppress her laughter.  “And you Miss Kathryn…this is not funny…”  Kathryn bit down hard on her lip and shook her head.

“No…of course it isn’t…”  She didn’t dare look up.  Duncan blew out a breath and turned back to Paula, still holding onto her shoulders.

“Listen to me woman.  We want to exchange our vows quietly with two witnesses.  We do not want a big wedding with a huge reception.  We do not want outfits or flowers or anything else like that.  We will just quietly exchange those vows…”  Paula made a face at him.

“Duncan…shut up.  You will exchange your vows in front of us all in the compound or somewhere like that.  It’s too late for outfits although we can manage some flowers.  Food as I said isn’t a problem and we’ll lay on a good spread for you.  Now just tell me the time of this event and I’ll take care of the rest, and if you argue you and Jonathan may never be forgiven.”  She finished that with a sweet smile.  Duncan just stood staring at her then turned quickly to Kathryn when she lost it and almost howled with laughter.

“You’re a big help…”  Kathryn tried to speak but couldn’t.  Tears rolled down her cheeks, finally infecting Paula.  Duncan stared at the two women gasping for breath and just shook his head.

“I give up…”  He looked around to see Jonathan coming towards them, a puzzled look on his face.  He stopped when he reached them.

“What’s so funny?”  Kathryn looked to Paula and fell apart again.  Duncan just stood there watching them.  Finally he turned to his partner.

“It’s not funny.  Word of our wedding has spread to everyone and they’ve taken over.  This one here…”  He pointed to Paula.  “This one has it all planned out already.  Apparently the only thing we don’t have are outfits.”  Jonathan closed his eyes and shook his head.  He opened them slowly and then smiled at Duncan.

“We knew this could and probably would happen.”  He smiled and shrugged.  “Oh well…better go along with them…”  Paula punched the air.

“Yes…”  She ignored the glare Duncan gave her.  “Now if you’ll excuse me, we ladies have another wedding to plan.”  She was gone before anyone could say another word.

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn stood with Chakotay as they waited for the happy couple to arrive.  She looked around her in amazement at the hastily prepared scene, the coloured decorations which hung from the trees along with the lanterns lighting the area.  Flowers were dotted here and there and a small space had been sectioned off with white ribbons.  Admiral Paris stood before them and whispered to Kathryn.

“This time tomorrow…”  Kathryn smiled and nodded and reached for Chakotay’s hand.

“I know.  And thank you for arranging our licence.  We’d completely forgotten about that.”  She looked towards Chakotay and saw the look of panic on his face.  She smiled sweetly.  “Relax honey.  Owen took care of it.”  Chakotay let his relief show and thanked the old man also.  A loud murmur from those gathered drew their attention then and they looked towards the staff quarters.  Duncan and Jonathan made their way towards them, both men looking very shy.  Each wore cream coloured slacks with pale blue, open neck, collarless shirts.  Finally they reached the ribboned area and nodded to Owen Paris, who smiled kindly at them.  He sensed their embarrassment and began the ceremony quickly.

“Friends and family gathered here…”  The ceremony went smoothly, broken only by the sobs of many of the women.  When Owen Paris pronounced them united as one and they kissed and embraced tenderly, a loud cheer went up.  The couple turned to face their ‘family’ and smiled their thanks.  And then the party began.

^^^^^^^^^^

Haven celebrated all through the evening, the air balmy with the coming Spring.  The lanterns glowed in the fading light and the sounds of laughter filled the air.  The women had done wonders with the food and decorations considering how little time they’d had.

Kathryn finally made her way over to the happy couple and smiled as she watched Jonathan finger feeding food to Duncan.  She shook her head and smiled as she came up beside them.

“The phrase ‘get a room already’ comes to mind guys…  You can food play all you want later…”  She laughed at the way they jumped.  Duncan made a face at her.

“Just wait until tomorrow woman.  See how you’ll be with Chakotay.”  Kathryn made a face back at him.

“I’m a model of self control…”  Jonathan roared at that.

“Oh sure…”  He grew serious then.  “Look…thanks for all this.  Witnessing and all…you and Chakotay.  We managed to get around to most of the women to thank them and we’ve thanked Owen and just about everyone…”  Kathryn rolled her eyes.

“I think a speech would kill all those birds with one stone.”  She picked up a spoon and banged it against one of Selona’s glass jugs.  “People…people…speech time…”  Jonathan stared at her in shock and then looked around him at everyone staring at him in expectancy.  He grunted under his breath.

“I’ll get you for his Kathryn…just wait…”  Left with no choice but to speak, he cleared his throat and made his speech short and to the point, thanking all those present for everything he could think of.  Duncan spoke after him and basically confirmed everything Jonathan had said.  They stood there embarrassed until Tom put them out of their misery.

“Guys…just go.  There’s a cabin waiting for you.  You know where it is.  Now get out of here and go have fun.  Just be back here before tomorrow afternoon.  We have to go through this all over again.”  He groaned.  “Oh the hardship.  All this celebrating…”  Laughter rang out around the compound.  The happy couple took their chance and pushed through the crowd of well wishers.    Chakotay sidelined them as they made their escape.  He pulled Duncan to one side and slipped something into his hand, whispering quietly to the man.

“This is a little something from me.  No one else knows about it…not even Kathryn.”  Duncan looked down into his hand and frowned.  Chakotay smiled.

“It’s a data chip for Holodeck One on Voyager.”  He pulled a small padd from his pocket and slipped it into Duncan’s pocket unseen by anyone else.  “All the instructions are on there.  No one will be on the ship but the padd tells you how to activate the security lock to be safe.  Just instruct the computer with what you want.  You can even save the program when you’re finished.  Just remember to take the chip with you.  You have four hours there.  You can go to the cabin afterwards and no one will be any the wiser.”  Duncan locked eyes with Chakotay, at a total loss for words.  Chakotay quickly dispelled any embarrassment the man might have felt.

“This is just my wedding present to you both and a promise kept.  It’s our little secret.”  Duncan smiled and shook his head.

“I don’t know what to say…”  Chakotay just patted his arm.

“Nothing to say.  Just enjoy.  I owed you big time.  I hope this repays you both in some small way.  Now go and have a great wedding night.”  Duncan looked towards a confused looking Jonathan standing nearby then smiled at Chakotay.

“Thank you my friend.”  Chakotay waved that away. 

“It’s nothing.  You both deserve it.”  He stood back now and spoke loudly enough for others to hear.  “Come on you two.  I’ll transport you to the cabin.  This lot will be partying on into the night for hours yet…”
  
^^^^^^^^^^

As the party eventually wound down, Kathryn began to help with the clearing up but was told to basically get lost.  She finally gave in when they all ganged up on her, telling Chakotay to take her home and get himself home also.

With the sounds of clearing away fading behind them, Chakotay walked Kathryn home.  He slipped his arm around her shoulders.

“Are you tired?”  Kathryn sighed but shook her head.

“Not really.  I’ll sleep though.”  She laughed.  “I’d better if I want to get through tomorrow.  I think it’s going to be a very long day although I wouldn’t change a thing.”  Chakotay nodded thoughtfully and Kathryn studied him.  “Why do you ask?  I get the feeling you’re up to something.  And last night you said…”  Chakotay kissed the side of her head.

“Shhh…  Just go home and relax.  Try and get some sleep.”  They reached her cabin and Chakotay leaned down and kissed her passionately.  “Get some sleep…  I’ll see you in the morning.”  With that he was gone.

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn rolled over in bed and opened her eyes.  It was still dark and silence filled the small cabin.  She lay there for a moment wondering why she had woken up and then sat up quickly when a faint sound reached her ears.  She jumped when she heard a voice but relaxed at once when she recognized it as Chakotay’s.

“Kathryn…are you awake…?”  She whispered back.

“I am now.  Where are you?  Put the light on…”  His voice came back to her.

“No lights.  It would only draw attention.”  Kathryn frowned into the darkness and swung her legs over the side of the bed.

“Why are you whispering and what are you doing here?”  She felt him sit down on the bed beside her and could barely make out his face now as her eyes adjusted to the lack of lighting.  Chakotay handed her something which felt like cloth.

“Just take this and come with me.  Be as quiet as possible.”  He got up off the bed and then sat down again.  “Where are your slippers?”  Kathryn felt around with her feet.

“I have them here…  There…they’re on…”  She stood up with him.  “Where are we going?”  Chakotay gently took her arm.

“All will be revealed.  Let’s go…as quietly as we can…”  Kathryn nodded in the dark and let him lead her.  They left the cabin and sprinted towards the trees and into the woodland behind the compound.  Kathryn could see better now with the full moon but let Chakotay lead her through the trees.  They moved quickly for several minutes before they eventually came to the stream, where he stopped.

Kathryn stood and caught her breath for a few moments, looking around her as her breathing calmed.  She saw that they were in a small clearing, the gentle sounds of running water the only thing which broke the stillness of the night.  She turned to Chakotay, her eyes asking the question.  He came over to her and smiled, taking the cloth from her hands. 

“I hope you don’t mind this and I’m sorry for waking you but this is the only chance we’ll get.”  Kathryn just nodded, trusting him completely.  Chakotay spread the cloth now and draped it around her shoulders.  He then leaned down and retrieved another cloth from the ground which Kathryn realized must have been there already.  He draped this around his own shoulders.  He turned to face Kathryn and took her hands in his.

“I wanted to take you here…just the two of us…alone with nature.”  He looked up.  “These trees…to me they are nature’s cathedrals…  The water of the stream…it’s the giver of life…  All around us…above and beneath us is nature and life…as the Gods always wanted it to be…as they designed it.  And now it’s just the two of us here…sharing this…sharing this moment…and this is the way many of my people have done things since their time began…and I wanted to continue the tradition.”  He looked back at Kathryn, her face shining in the moonlight.  “The moon above us…guarding us and lighting our way…witnessing our love…”  He squeezed her hands.  “You wear the blanket of my tribe…as do I…  It will warm us and bind us.”  Kathryn barely managed to nod, her eyes filling with tears.

“Kathryn…I will make my vows to you tomorrow in front of many people…and we’ll make it legal in the eyes of the Federation.  We’ll declare our love in front of them all and it will mean everything.  It will be just us in some ways because I’ll only see you.  They will all be there though and I wanted to do this also with just the two of us.”  He moved a little closer to her.

“Tonight…with nature and the moon as our only witnesses…I want to declare my love for you.  In an age old tradition, I give you my life, my heart and my soul.  They are yours for all eternity.  They will not exist without you.  My love for you will never die and I pledge my life to you because all that I am is because of you.  Your love to me is the greatest gift and I need you to know that.  And so I bind myself to you for all eternity…giving you all that I am…loving you with every fibre of my being.”  Kathryn swallowed loudly, giving way to her tears.

“Oh Chakotay…  I love you so much.  I could never find the words to express that to you as you have to me…  You saved my life…gave me life…  I didn’t know what living was before you…not real life…”  Chakotay leaned in and kissed her forehead.

“You’ve just said it all my love…  Thank you for your love.  You complete me.”  He took hold of the edges of his own blanket and wrapped his arms around Kathryn, the blanket shrouding them both.  He kissed the side of her face and then just held her.  Kathryn slipped her arms around him and held on.  They stayed like that for a long time, not needing to speak, silently communicating their love for each other.

Eventually Chakotay eased back and smiled down at Kathryn.  He took his own blanket and threw it around her shoulders over her own.

“I just want to show you one thing…”  He took her hand and gently led her over to a large boulder near the edge of the stream.  He kneeled down, Kathryn joining him.  She looked where he pointed.  “There.  Can you see it?”  Kathryn peered at the stone and suddenly saw her name alongside Chakotay’s carved into the rock.  She drew in a sharp breath.

“Our names…carved…”  Chakotay nodded.

“I know it’s a bit…”  He smiled shyly.  “It’s what teenagers do I guess but…”  He shrugged now.  “Most people carve their names on trees but to me they are living so that goes against my beliefs.  I used a phaser to carve these here.  Only we know about them…although around here I’m sure someone else will see them at some stage…”  Kathryn just shook her head, tears in her eyes again.

“It’s beautiful Chakotay.  It’s a wonderful idea…  I love it…”  She reached out and fingered the letters.”  Chakotay watched her face for a few moments then stood up, pulling her up with him.

“Come on…let’s get you back to bed.”  Kathryn held the blankets to her and nodded.

“Chakotay…thank you so much for this.  I’ll cherish the memory of this night for all time.”  Chakotay kissed the side of her head.

“As I will…”  He moved them forward and led the way back towards the village.  “Now…let’s get you tucked back up in bed…nice and warm…”  Kathryn grinned up at him.

“And tomorrow night you’ll be curled up with me…”  Chakotay tightened his arm around her waist.

“And every night after that forever…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn stretched lazily in her bed as she thought back over the night.  She smiled to herself as she remembered Chakotay tucking her in and kissing her softly before leaving.  She turned now and slipped one hand under her cheek, gazing towards the window.  Thin slivers of light were just visible through the lace curtains there, signalling the birth of her wedding day.

Too excited to sleep, she tiptoed from the bed and pulled on a pair of pants and a sweatshirt, slipping her feet into a pair of canvas pumps.  She eased the door open and looked outside, satisfying herself that no one else was up yet.  Quietly closing the door behind her, she trotted across the compound and slipped behind the dorm buildings to an area which the crew had cleared shortly after their arrival.

Kathryn breathed in the early morning air, enjoying the scent of pine on it and entered the small garden the crew had built.  She relished the quiet before the kids woke up and descended on the place.  She also wanted a quiet moment to herself before this day began.  She stopped to look at some flowers which had been planted and tried to imagine how they’d look in full bloom, their scent filling the air.  She straightened and moved on, making for one of the benches which had been put in place in the garden.  As she rounded some shrubs, she practically came to a halt, surprised to find someone else in the garden with her.  She smiled now as the man on the bench looked up in her direction.  He smiled also and reddened slightly.

“Captain…”  He blushed a little more at the look on Kathryn’s face.  “Sorry…Kathryn…”  Kathryn indicated for him to sit as he began to rise.

“Good morning Noah.  Please sit.  Do you mind if I join you?”  The young man shook his head and waved his hand to a space beside him.

“Of course not.  Please sit down.”  Kathryn sat and smiled at him.

“You’re sure I’m not interrupting your solitude?”  Noah shook his head.

“Not at all.  You’re more than welcome.”  He drew in a deep breath and looked down at the ground for a moment.  Finally he looked back at Kathryn and smiled shyly.

“It still feels strange to call you Kathryn.  It’s hard to get used to.  You were Captain Janeway for so long…”  Kathryn leaned back and smiled.

“I also have the same trouble.  You were Crewman Lessing to me for a long time too.  I have to get used to calling you Noah.”  He smiled at that.

“I guess we can get used to it together.”  Kathryn nodded her head.

“We have plenty of time…”  They were both quiet for several moments.  Noah coughed slightly then.

“Are you nervous about today?  You’re up very early…”  Kathryn smiled and then sighed.

“I was too excited to sleep although it’s still very early.  I might manage an hour or so before the madness starts…”  Noah laughed softly at that.  Kathryn shook her head slowly as she looked down at her feet.  “I’m a little nervous, I suppose.  Excited certainly.  I guess I’m just over-awed by it all…can’t believe it’s actually happening…”  The young man nodded slowly when Kathryn looked at him.

“It’ll be a wonderful day for you both.  You’ve waited a long time for each other.”  He drew in a deep breath as he smiled at his former captain.  “I’d like to wish you both a long and happy life together…”  Kathryn smiled kindly at him.

“Thank you Noah….that means a great deal…”  He nodded this thanks as he looked away.  They both stared out over the garden for several minutes, each not knowing who would speak next.  Noah glanced quickly towards Kathryn when he heard her take in a breath.  She smiled sadly at him.

“Noah, I really want to apologize to you for not being there for you when we got home…”  Noah raised a hand.

“You have nothing to apologize for.  You got us home.  You did your job.”  Kathryn shook her head, her face serious now.

“No Noah, I didn’t.  You were still my crew.  Getting you to Earth and getting you home were two different things.  I should have seen that and been there for you.”  Noah held his hand up again before Kathryn could say anything else.

“Kathryn…dragging over the past is debilitating.  I’ve learned that with my family and what I saw Marla go through.  We’re all here now.  That’s what’s important.”  Kathryn smiled softly.

“A clean slate, yes?”  Noah nodded.  Kathryn shook her head and looked down at her feet again.  When she looked back up, Noah saw that she looked embarrassed.  He frowned.

“Kathryn…?”  She shook her head.

“Oh Noah…”  She sighed heavily.  “There’s still something on that slate.  I need to address it…should have addressed it a long time ago…  Hopefully then we can have those clean slates…”  Noah continued to frown.  Kathryn shook her head again.

“You know what I mean…what I’m talking about…”  She closed her eyes a moment and then looked at the young man beside her.  “The cargo bay?”  Noah looked a little embarrassed now.  Kathryn shook her head once more.  “Noah…I need to ask your forgiveness for my behaviour back then…”  The young man shook his head.

“You did what you had to do…”  Kathryn shook her head vigorously.

“No, I didn’t have to do that.  That was unforgivable behaviour on my part.”  She leaned back again and sighed deeply.  “I don’t know.  I despised what I saw Ransom become.  I was so busy despising him for it, that I didn’t see myself becoming the same thing.”  She rubbed a hand over her face.  “I should have spoken to you about it then but I was too embarrassed and disgusted with myself.  I hid behind my rank.  I mean…I know there always has to be some distance between a captain and her crew but I seized that distance to hide behind and that was wrong.  I had plenty of time after…during the rest of the journey…to say something.  I’ve even had time here…”  She turned and looked at him now when she felt his hand on her arm.

“Kathryn, I won’t lie to you and say I didn’t have a problem with it at the time but I let it go.  As time passed, I saw you work and I grew to respect you as a captain.  In time I also learned to respect you as a person.”  He sighed and removed his hand.

“I had those feelings of respect for Captain Ransom when I first served with him.  He ruined that even though I understand his reasons.  He felt he was doing what he needed to do in order to save his crew.  I can’t ever hate him for that.  I knew him before it all you see.  I saw the man and the captain he was before.”  He sighed.  “What I’m saying is…as a captain you have to do what you can to save your crew.  The needs of the many compared to the needs of the one.  Sometimes that can be the wrong thing but the desire to save your crew overrides it.”  He smiled gently at Kathryn.  “What I’m saying is that I understand.  It’s the past though and raking over it is useless.”  He shrugged.  “So…there’s nothing to forgive.  I’ve let it go and you need to do the same.”  He saw that Kathryn had tears in her eyes.  He squeezed her arm again.

“Look at these women here.  They left all that was hurtful outside of this place.  We need to do the same…especially you.”  Kathryn wiped at her face when she felt her tears fall.

“You’re letting me off the hook Noah…”  The young man shook his head.

“No I’m not.  I’m dealing with what’s really important in my life.  Looking back on the past isn’t.  Marla and our love for each other…being here with my ‘family’…working here and making a difference…finding a home…  That’s what’s important.”  He squeezed her arm once more and looked kindly at her.  “I appreciate you telling me all this but now let it go.  I have.  Go forward and marry the man you love today.  The slate is clean.”  Kathryn bit hard on her upper lip and nodded.

“You’re a wonderful man, Noah.  I still have to say I’m sorry for all the wrong I’ve done against you but I thank you for your forgiveness.  I’m honoured to have you as a friend.”  She leaned forward and hugged the man, feeling his surprise for a brief moment before he hugged her back.  He spoke in her ear.

“Clean slate Kathryn…  Just remember that…”  Kathryn nodded against his shoulder.

“I will Noah…and thank you…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn managed almost an hour of sleep before she was wakened by a loud knocking on her door.  She jerked out of her slumber and sat up, reaching for her gown as she called out.

“Just a minute…”  She looked down at herself and smiled.  She was only wearing her underwear, having just stripped off her pants and sweatshirt upon her earlier return from her walk.  She slipped her feet into her slippers and went to open the door.  B'Elanna stood there with a tray.

“Good morning to the bride.”  She gently pushed her way past Kathryn and made for the table.  “Now…there’s no hurry or anything.  This is a light breakfast to keep you going for a while.”  She set out a plate of scrambled eggs with toast and a pot of coffee.  “Sit here and enjoy this while I go over some things with you.”  Kathryn stood rooted to the spot for a moment but the aroma of the coffee soon got her moving.  She leaned over the table and inhaled deeply.

“God that smells good…”  She smiled at her friend.  “Just give me a moment to take care of nature and I’ll be right back…”  B'Elanna nodded and smiled.

“Don’t be long.  Just have a quick spot clean because you won’t need a shower.  Your bath is being prepared as we speak…”  Kathryn stared back at her.

“My bath…?”  B'Elanna smiled.

“Oh yes…  We have a full day of pampering ahead for you.  You just sit or lie back and put yourself in our capable hands.”  She laughed.  “Don’t worry.  Chakotay is getting the same treatment…”  She waved her hands.  “Go on…your breakfast will get cold…”  Kathryn shook her head and hurried off.  Five minutes later she was back, savouring her coffee.  B'Elanna laughed as she watched her.

“God woman…if coffee can have that affect on you, I sure hope Chakotay can match it.  He’ll have his work cut out for him.  Still…if he fails to satisfy, he can always give you coffee…”  Kathryn blushed.

“Don’t worry about us…”  B'Elanna leaned forward.

“Oh do tell…”  Kathryn swatted her hand.

“Behave yourself.  I do not kiss and tell…”  B'Elanna pretended to sulk.

“Just dying to know…”  She dropped her head to the side.  “Is he as good as he looks?”  Kathryn blushed even deeper.

“I wouldn’t know…and don’t you dare talk about this to anyone else…”  B'Elanna looked shocked.

“You mean you two haven’t…?”  Kathryn looked down at her plate.

“No we haven’t.  We wanted to wait…”  B'Elanna smiled softly now and laid a gentle hand on her friend’s arm.

“You know I don’t gossip.  This will never go any further.”  Kathryn nodded.

“I know.”  B'Elanna smiled again, a mischievous edge to it.

“After all these years of courting and waiting…you two will explode.  I’ll leave a comm line open in case you need help putting the fire out…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn’s day went by in a glorious haze of pampering and spoiling.  She had been amazed when B'Elanna took her to Voyager and onto one of the holodecks.

“What are we doing here?”  B'Elanna just smiled.

“We worked it out together for the holodeck rations.  Had to work the timing out too so you and Chakotay don’t see each other.”  She shrugged.  “Computer…run program Janeway Wedding Day…”

Kathryn gasped as the scene around her changed to a large room with an enormous sunken bath in the centre.  She looked around her at the detail, the walls covered in small tiles of blue and green flower motifs in the style of ancient Islamic architecture.  She moved forward slowly, the scent of jasmine and rose filling the air.  At one end of the room, a small waterfall flowed over smooth pebbles, the gentle tinkling sound of water soothing her.  She shook her head in amazement as she fingered a large pile of soft, fluffy towels.

“B'Elanna…this is…”  She was lost for words.  B'Elanna moved to her side and guided her towards the bath.

“This is all for you.  Now let me show you around.”  She led Kathryn towards the bath.  “This…as if I need to tell you…is your bath.  Sunken of course.  As you can see, the water is ready and will remain at a constant temperature for you.  Plenty of bath oil and bubbles.  We’ve also scattered rose petals in it for you.  It’s ready when you are.”  She indicated around the room.

“We have the sounds of water and of course nature…”  Only now did Kathryn realize that she could hear the sound of birds singing through several open windows.  B'Elanna smiled at her reaction as she led her through a door.

“In here we have your sitting room…with patio doors leading out into a beautiful garden.  Not too hot out there…plenty of flowers and trees giving you shade.”  Kathryn just shook her head.  “Your meals for the day will be served here.  And all you’ll need for later is also here…your clothes…make-up…all that stuff.  The floral bouquet will be waiting for you later at the site of the wedding.”  Kathryn had tears in her eyes as she looked around her.  She pointed towards one wall.

“A bed…?”  B'Elanna nodded.

“You might need or like a nap later on…”  Kathryn couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

“We’ll be here for the day?”  B'Elanna nodded.

“We saw it like this…”  She led Kathryn over to a large sofa and eased her down, sitting down beside her.  “This way you get all the pampering in the surroundings we couldn’t give you at Haven.  It also keeps you out of the way of everyone else.  And you can and will have visitors throughout the day…as and if you want of course.”  B'Elanna squeezed Kathryn’s hand.  “And Chakotay is getting the exact same treatment in the next holodeck.  We wanted this to be special for you both but knew that you’d want to share your day fully so this way you both experience the same thing.  Not sure where that idea came from but…”  She gasped as Kathryn threw herself into her arms.

“Oh B'Elanna…it’s so perfect.  I’ll never be able to thank you enough…”  B'Elanna hugged her old captain back.

“It’s nothing you’re not well due.  We all owe you so much.  This is just a small payback…”  Kathryn sniffed loudly.

“I don’t deserve this.  I let you all down when we got back…”  She gasped when B'Elanna pushed her back, her hands gripping the older woman’s shoulders.

“Kathryn Janeway…I do not expect to ever hear anything like that from you again.  This is the present day and it’s your wedding day.  We’re all home and that’s all that matters.  Now put the past behind you and all your imagined regrets and get happy.”  She was half joking but Kathryn saw the serious glint in her eyes.  She swallowed quickly and nodded.

“OK…”  B'Elanna’s expression softened and she smiled.

“Good.  Now…let’s begin.”  She reached into her pocket and pulled out a padd.  With another smile at Kathryn, she activated it and began to read.

“Let’s see.  We have the bath…long soak…  Your hair can be washed later and styled then…  Dressing will come last…no…make-up last and then hair…  Have to dress you first or you might get make-up on your dress when you’re putting it on…  We have your perfume too.  I checked in the database for your favourite…”  She looked up and laughed.  “You’ve a lot of secrets in there Kathryn.  I found all your favourites…”  Kathryn just sat back and listened in shock.  B'Elanna simply shrugged.

“OK…after your bath…oil and a massage…courtesy of Miriam.  She’s quite the expert I believe.  You may or may not want another soak after that or a nap…whatever suits you and then maybe a light lunch.  Facial and nails after that with a nice glass or two of champagne…  We also have your jewellery here…”  She smirked.  “Anywhere you want to shave or remove hair?”  Kathryn shook her head, a look of disbelief on her face.

“No…taken care of…”  She licked her lips and frowned.  “Did you say ‘shave’?”  B'Elanna laughed loudly.

“Many Klingons still prefer the old way.  They get a kick out of using their daggers…”  Kathryn looked horrified.

“Daggers?  I know women used to use small blades but…”  She shook her head.  “Thanks…I prefer the modern ways.  I think they even used wax or something to tear the hairs out.  God…makes the eyes water just thinking about it.”  B'Elanna laughed and patted her knee.

“I’m not into the Klingon way either.  Modern science is for me.”  She looked back down at the padd.  “Owen will probably call by later to have a little chat with you and Chakotay…separately of course…to make sure you’re happy with the ceremony details…”  Kathryn nodded.

“We’ve been over the main points with him already…”  B'Elanna nodded as she studied her list. 

“That’s fine then…”  Kathryn watched her.

“By the way…if you’re here with me and Tom is with Chakotay…  Who’s taking Miral for the day?”  B'Elanna smirked.

“Owen and Janice have her.”  She rolled her eyes.  “I mean…I really had to force them to take her…”  Kathryn laughed at that.  “Janice is spoiling her rotten.  They both are.”  Kathryn smiled softly.

“I’ve never seen prouder grandparents…”  She looked up at her friend now.  “It’s all really happening, isn’t it B'Elanna?  I mean I won’t wake up in a minute…”  B'Elanna reached over and stroked her face softly.

“No Kathryn.  It’s not a dream.  It is really happening and you both deserve every moment of it…”  Kathryn nodded and bit her lip, almost afraid to speak.  B'Elanna understood and looked back at her padd.  “Right…anything else you can think of that you’d like?”  Kathryn thought a moment and then shook her head.

“I think you’ve thought of everything.”  She gripped B'Elanna’s hand.  “Before this day takes off completely…”  She sighed and smiled.  “B'Elanna…for everything…today and yesterday…all the yesterdays…”  She paused a moment.  “I thank you for everything.  On Voyager…above and beyond the call of duty…the scrapes you got us out of…off-duty with your friendship…here and everything you’ve been to me and to Chakotay…”  She swallowed loudly and leaned forward, hugging the other woman tenderly.  “Thank you my friend…thank you…”  B'Elanna hugged her back tightly.

“That’s a two-way street Kathryn…I thank you for everything also…”  They embraced for several moments until B'Elanna gently pulled back.  “Now friend…let’s start getting you ready.  You’ve a wedding to attend and it can’t go ahead without you…” 

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn lay back in the large tub and played with the bubbles as B'Elanna sorted out towels and various beauty products.  She inhaled the scent of the oils and listened to the sounds of bird song and water.  She closed her eyes and savoured the moment.  When she opened her eyes again, she saw B'Elanna watching her.

“Relaxed?”  Kathryn nodded dreamily.

“In heaven…”  She sighed.  “I hope the wedding night for Duncan and Jonathan last night was heaven too…”  B'Elanna laughed.

“That caught us by surprise.  A bit of advance warning would have been nice.  We barely managed to get those decorations up in time.”  Kathryn laughed as she splashed her hands through the water.

“I think it was a last minute idea…what with Owen here and all.  Maybe it was playing at the back of their minds for a while but once he was here…”  She pushed a wet tendril of hair from her face.  “I suggested it to Jonathan some time ago and he obviously said it to Duncan.  Maybe it’s taken them this long to decide.  I’m delighted for them though.  They make a great couple.”  B'Elanna sat on the side of the bath and smiled also as she remembered.

“They certainly do.”  She sighed then.  “You know…Jonathan told me that it wasn’t until the early 21st century that same sex couples could marry.  Can you imagine that?”  Kathryn nodded sadly.

“I know.  It’s hard to believe.  They saw the Dark Ages as part of their history.  They didn’t see that they were still living in them.”  B'Elanna just shook her head.  They both looked up then when they heard Miriam and Paula calling to them.

“Anyone here?”  B'Elanna leaned forward.

“It begins.  You ready?”  Kathryn drew in a deep breath and nodded.

“Yes…although getting me out of this bath may not be easy…”  B'Elanna stood and laughed then threw a towel at Kathryn. 

“You’ve got ten more minutes while I help Miriam set up the massage table…”  Kathryn smiled at the thought of that.  “Thought that might get you moving and besides you can come back to this for a while afterwards if you’re a good girl…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Chakotay was getting much the same pampering in the next holodeck.  He enjoyed a long soak in his own bath but preferred to take care of his own personal grooming.  He sat back and let one of the women give him a manicure, jumping back in horror when she showed him some nail polish as a joke.  Voyager’s Doctor called by and gave him a massage, reassuring him first that it would be nothing like the ones he had given in the Delta Quadrant.

Tom and Mike stayed with Chakotay for the entire day, bringing him lunch and relaxing with him.  Mostly they sat around and talked, Tom and Mike sensing how nervous Chakotay seemed.  Tom laughed as they watched him.

“Chakotay…marriage isn’t the end of life as we know it.”  Mike laughed too.

“No…it’s just the end of your freedom…”  Chakotay shook his head.

“I’m not nervous about marrying Kathryn.  I can’t wait to do that.  I’m just worried that I’ll say the wrong thing or trip up or…”  Tom stood and helped himself to more lemonade.

“You’ll be fine.  The very fact that you’re nervous proves that.  All the best performers get stage fright and they give a better show because of it.”  Chakotay looked aghast.

“Oh is that all I am?  A performer?  Is this just a show?”  Mike roared.

“Relax mate.  You know what we mean.  Every man is nervous before the big moment.  I guarantee Kathryn is going through the exact same thing next door.”  At the mention of her name, Chakotay’s face softened into the most tender look.  Mike and Tom exchanged a smile.

“I wonder what she’s doing now?”  Tom sat again.

“She’s doing what all women do on their wedding day.  She’s sitting around being pampered and gossiping with the best of them.  They’ll be comparing notes on how to nag a guy to death.”  Chakotay just smiled.

“Not Kathryn…”  Mike nudged Tom beside him.

“Poor fool.  We all said that.”  Tom smiled.

“Yep.  Who was that famous 20th century showman?  Bar…Barnum…  He had a famous line.  ‘There’s a sucker born every minute’.  Made a fortune out of them…”  Chakotay looked from one to the other.

“Very funny guys.  You’re not helping here.”  Both men grew serious.  Mike leaned forward.

“Chakotay…old friend…  Kathryn is inside getting spoiled rotten and she deserves it.  She’ll be sitting back and letting the women do her nails and her hair…”  Chakotay suddenly sat forward.

“What if she changes her mind?  What is she doesn’t show?”  Mike rolled his eyes.

“Chakotay…will you please relax…  She won’t change her mind and where exactly would she run to?  If she was going to have second thoughts, you’d know by now.  Besides, Kathryn Janeway is not someone who changes her mind.  I think we all know that.  She committed herself to you.  She’ll be there.”  Chakotay relaxed a little but still looked worried.  Tom shook his head and stood up again, fetching a glass of champagne.

“I know you don’t normally drink but I think even the Doc would prescribe this.  Knock it back…”  Chakotay eyed the glass and then grabbed it.  He gulped it down and handed back the empty glass.

“I think I need one more…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Once Kathryn had finished her lunch, she was taken over by the women.  They gave her a manicure and pedicure, smoothed jasmine scented cream over every inch of her and washed and styled her hair.  She sat in a soft towelling robe and let them work their magic.  She selected a pale pink polish for her finger and toe nails and then sat out in the garden to let it dry. 

They chatted for some time until B'Elanna checked the time and suggested they move onto the next stage.  By this time, Kathryn knew it was useless to question and just went along with everything.  She constantly thought about Chakotay though and wondered what he was doing.  B'Elanna watched her as she sat in front of the mirror to test make-up colours.

“What is it?”  Kathryn looked up.

“What if she changes his mind or doesn’t show?”  B'Elanna smiled kindly.

“I can almost guarantee that he’s voicing those same fears to Tom and Mike.”  She kneeled down beside her friend.  “Kathryn…this is just pre-wedding nerves.  He’ll be there.  He loves you too much.  You’re both so alike.  Once you commit to something, you see it through.”  She squeezed her arm.  “Now stop worrying and let’s get you ready.  Time is a moving on…”  Kathryn studied her friend’s face for a moment and then nodded.

“I know…”  She sighed.  “I’m relaxed.  I am.”  B'Elanna laughed.

“After that massage you were almost asleep.  Should I call Miriam back?”  Kathryn drew in a deep breath. 

“No.  I’m relaxed.  I’m fine.  I had a good massage…even a little doze.  I’m pampered and preened.  I’m relaxed.  I’m fine.  Not nervous…”  B'Elanna laughed again.

“Yes Kathryn…you’re relaxed…”  She looked over at Paula and Dara and rolled her eyes.  “She’s relaxed…”  The two women broke down in laughter.  Kathryn just stared at them.

“This isn’t funny.  I’m nervous enough.”  B'Elanna pulled Kathryn’s face back so she was looking towards the mirror.

“Kathryn…shut up.  Concentrate and tell me which colour you prefer…  And relax…will you?”  Kathryn was left watching the three women howling with laughter for the next five minutes.

^^^^^^^^^^

Chakotay stood stiffly and allowed Tom and Mike to dress him.  He looked at his reflection in the mirror and hardly recognized himself.  He studied his image for several minutes as a slow smile spread across his face.

“I think she’ll like it…  Will she like it?”  He looked nervously at his friends who just rolled their eyes.

“Yes…she’ll like it…  Yes…she’ll be there…  No…she won’t change her mind…”  Chakotay made a face at them and turned back to the mirror.

“OK…I get the message.  I know I sound like a broken recording…”  Tom adjusted the shoulders of the jacket and smiled.

“You can bet B'Elanna and the others are getting the same thing.”  He stood back.  “Now…let’s see you…” 

Chakotay stood quietly and allowed their inspection.  He wore cream linen slacks which were pleated.  A casual style jacket matched the slacks, with a slightly paler collarless shirt.”  Mike nodded his approval, his and Tom’s outfits matching the groom.  He stepped forward now and pinned a small cluster of flowers to Chakotay’s lapel. 

“It’s not Paris fashion but dying fabric would have taken too much time and they worked with what they had.  I know we could have replicated suits here on Voyager but somehow these have more meaning…”  Chakotay turned back to the mirror and nodded at what he saw.

“I’ll thank them all personally after the wedding.  It’s perfect.  I don’t like formal suits anyway…all those top hats and tails.  I’d be uncomfortable for the entire evening…  This is personal and made with love…”  Mike smiled as he fixed his own jacket.

“And a hell of a lot more comfortable too…  I could live in this…”  Chakotay smoothed out his sleeves.

“It’s very comfortable.  I always pity couples who are fluffed up to the nines at their weddings…afraid to move in case they crease something…  This is great.  It’s so personal and made with love.”  He stared at himself for a further moment and then looked at his two friends.  “I wonder what Kathryn will be wearing…?”  Tom shrugged and smiled at the same time.

“I honestly can’t tell you and I mean can’t because I don’t know.”  Chakotay barely nodded.

“She’d be beautiful in sackcloth and ashes…”  Both men stood and watched their dear friend, seeing the love he had for his woman.  It was almost corporeal.  Tom handed a smaller cluster of flowers to Mike and then pinned one on his own jacket.

“Well…someone will be along shortly to let us know we can go.  We have to get you there before Kathryn so you’ll be waiting for her…  Now is there anything we’ve forgotten?”  Mike stepped forward.

“Cologne?”  Tom nodded quickly.

“Of course.  Not too much and not too little…”  He handed a bottle to Chakotay.  “Database said this was the one you used most often…”  Chakotay looked at the bottle and nodded.

“Yeah…  Kathryn always loved it…”  Tom smiled at Mike behind Chakotay’s back.

“Of course…” 

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn stood staring at her own reflection in awe.  Her eyes travelled from her head to her toes and back several times as the smile on her face increased.  Then it faded as tears filled her eyes.  B'Elanna and Ria jumped forward and called out together.

“Don’t cry…your make-up…”  They laughed together as they dabbed under Kathryn’s eyes, careful not to smudge anything.  B'Elanna shook her head.

“I don’t care if they swear that this stuff is waterproof.  I’m not taking any chances…”  She stood back for an inspection and nodded.  “OK…no damage done…”  B'Elanna and Kathryn locked eyes for a moment as B'Elanna nodded.  She smiled tearfully.  “Kathryn…you’re a vision…you’re beautiful…”  Kathryn swallowed loudly and looked back at her reflection.

The women had gone to a lot of trouble for Kathryn’s wedding dress.  It was made from cream linen with a covering of gauze like fabric, dyed in whispered patches of pale blue, mauve and light pink, the subtle colours blending together to create a mist effect.  The sleeves came to just past her elbows and the skirt fell mid way between her knees and ankles.  The neckline showed just a hint of cleavage.  The dress seemed to flow on her slim figure, gathered at the waist, falling and hugging her in just the right places.  Her make-up was what could only be described as delicate with her lipstick a pale pink.  Small diamond studs adorned her ears and she wore a matching diamond around her neck on a thin, gold chain.  Her hair was pulled up in curls, tendrils falling around her face.  Small white flowers had been woven through it.

“I hope Chakotay likes it…”  B'Elanna met Kathryn’s eyes in the mirror.

“You know he will and you can bet he’s asking the same thing about his outfit.”  She stood back.  “Now my lady…your shoes.  Are you sure they’re comfortable?  Not too high?”  Kathryn looked down at her feet.

“Too high?  No.  The heels are lower than those damn Starfleet boots and that’s fine by me.  Actually, the leather is so soft, I hardly feel them on my feet.”  She shook her head.  “How you managed to cover them with the same fabric is beyond me.  The talent in this place…”  Ria laughed at that.

“We worked as a team.  We wove the fabric and used natural dyes.”  She stepped forward.  “Now a spray of perfume and you’re just about ready.”  She sprayed the scent onto Kathryn as B'Elanna guarded her face with a tissue.  Ria then sprayed B'Elanna too.  “B'Elanna…you look lovely as well.  Your dress is great.”  Kathryn looked at her oldest friend and nodded.

“It is beautiful B'Elanna…”  B'Elanna’s dress was similar to Kathryn’s but the gauze fabric covering the linen was only in blue, the same mist effect and a little darker.  B'Elanna looked down at herself.

“I really love it and I’m not one for dresses.  Julie’s matches this too.”  Kathryn smiled at the mention of the girl.  She looked across the room where Paula was putting the finishing touches to the girl’s hair, having just helped her into her dress.  The child seemed in a state of bliss.

Kathryn looked up now as Marla came into the room.  She stopped and looked at her former captain, shaking her head slowly.

“Kathryn…  You look so beautiful…”  Kathryn smiled her thanks.

“Marla…thank you.”  The young woman crossed the room and handed Kathryn a small box.

“This is a little something for you.”  Kathryn smiled as she opened the box and then frowned as B'Elanna laughed.  She looked up in puzzlement.  Marla smiled.

“Kathryn…it’s a garter.  You wear it on your thigh.”  She leaned in so Julie wouldn’t hear her.  “Old tradition and it’s Chakotay’s honour to remove it later.”  Kathryn’s eyes widened at that.  Marla leaned back and laughed.

“Now another tradition.  Old, new, borrowed and blue.  The garter is blue…and your dress is new…  That leaves old and borrowed.”  Kathryn touched her chain and earrings.

“These are old.  They were my mother’s…”  Marla nodded at that and then took a thin, gold chain from her pocket. 

“This is a small bracelet which my grandmother gave me.  Wear this.  That will be borrowed…”  Kathryn sniffed and held out her arm.

“Thank you…”  As Marla placed the bracelet on Kathryn’s wrist, B'Elanna watched her carefully.

“Kathryn…if you cry or even come close to it before the ceremony, I’ll not be responsible for what I do to you…”  Kathryn sniffed again.

“I can’t help it.  I’m so happy…”  She looked down at her wrist and smiled, then looked to her right hand where she wore her engagement ring for the day.  Before she could get any more emotional, B'Elanna stepped in. 

“OK ladies…it’s almost time.  Paula…can you check the progress of the other half of this party?”  Paula nodded and left.  B'Elanna then looked over at Julie.  “Honey…you’re beautiful.  You go ahead with Dara and Marla and get ready.  You know where.”  The girl nodded eagerly, delighted to have a secret.  She looked at Kathryn before she left.

“Mommy Kathryn…you look so beautiful.  Thank you for letting me be your flower girl.”  Kathryn leaned down and kissed the child.

“It’s my honour.  I’m the lucky one.  And you’re beautiful too.”  Julie happily skipped off with Marla and Dara.  B'Elanna called after them. 

“Check the coast is clear before you leave…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Mike came back onto the holodeck where the men had spent their day and nodded to Tom.

“The coast is clear.  Julie has just gone on with Marla and Dara so it’s our turn now.  Tuvok got dressed at his place with Car so they’ll be there already.”  Tom nodded and looked at Chakotay.

“You ready mate?”  Chakotay drew in a deep breath and nodded.  He swallowed loudly.

“Yes…I think so…no…what if…?”  Tom glared at him and he managed a small smile.  “Yes…I’m ready…”  Tom smiled now.

“Good.  That’s better.”  He put a hand on Chakotay’s back and guided him towards the exit.  Suddenly Chakotay stopped and looked at the two men in panic.

“The rings…  Who has the rings?  I forgot them.  I’m sure I did and we haven’t time and…”  Mike patted his own pocket.

“Chakotay…relax.  You gave them to me earlier.  They’re safe.  I have yours and Tom has Kathryn’s.”  Chakotay looked from Mike to Tom, who nodded also and patted his own pocket.  He still looked worried and only relaxed when each man took their respective rings out and showed him.  Tom almost pushed the groom out the door now.

“Right.  We have the rings.  We’re dressed.  Nothing is hanging out which shouldn’t be…”  He did a quick scan of them all and nodded.  “Now…can we please go?  Mike, check again just to be safe.”  Mike nodded and looked out into the corridor.  He saw Jaal standing outside the other holodeck and smiled at her.  She nodded and gave him a thumbs up sign which Mike returned.  He called back to Tom and Chakotay.

“Coast is clear.  Let’s go.” 

Jaal stood with tears in her eyes as the three men passed her.  She nodded to Chakotay and smiled lovingly at him.

“Chakotay…you look very handsome.”  She stepped forward and fussed with his jacket a moment and then with the flowers in his buttonhole.  “Just adding a little woman’s touch.  Now go on…  Kathryn will be along in a few minutes.”  She saw his eyes light up at the mention of his future wife’s name.  He leaned over and kissed Jaal.

“Thank you for everything.  I love the suit.  Thank you all for the amount of work you’ve put in…  I don’t know how to thank you all…”  Jaal waved away his thanks.

“It was our pleasure.”  She swallowed quickly.  “Now go on.  You’ll have me in tears.”  Chakotay smiled and squeezed her hand.

“Just get her there for me.”  Jaal nodded.

“Wild horses wouldn’t keep her away.  You’ll be very proud of her.  She’s beautiful…”  Chakotay nodded and smiled as he moved away.

“I know that.  I’ve always known that…”

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn stood alone on the holodeck now with just B'Elanna.  She looked around her for a moment and smiled.

“Is Chakotay’s program the same as this one?”  B'Elanna nodded.

“An exact copy.  Why?”  Kathryn smiled at her friend.

“Can you save it for us?  I really love it.  I’d love to visit it again with Chakotay…”  B'Elanna nodded, tears in her own eyes now.

“Of course.  That means a lot Kathryn.  I’m so happy you liked it that much…”  Kathryn nodded as she looked around again.

“I love it.  I’ve been very happy here all day.  It seems so fitting somehow that Voyager was such a part of our wedding day…was able to share it with us.”  B'Elanna nodded in agreement then looked behind her a moment as she heard the door open.  Jaal looked in and nodded.  B'Elanna went over to her and exchanged whispers for a moment and then smiled her thanks.  She turned and came back to Kathryn.

“OK…they’re all gone.  It’s our turn now.  You ready?”  Kathryn drew in a deep breath and swallowed then licked her lips lightly.  She nodded her head.

“Ready.  Nervous but ready…”  B'Elanna smiled softly at her.

“OK then.  Tuvok will meet us down there.  He changed at home with young Car.  Julie will wait with them.  Tom and Mike are with Chakotay and Owen is in place.  Duncan and Jonathan have been acting as ushers and have everyone in place.  We just need the bride now.”  Kathryn drew in another deep breath and let it out slowly. 

“I’m ready.  I’ve been ready since the day I met him.  I just didn’t know it.”  B'Elanna smiled at her and offered her arm for Kathryn to link.

“Well it’s happening now and that’s all that matters.  You’re two hearts were joined all along.  This is just the official part.”  She suddenly pretended horror as she looked at Kathryn’s face.  “Will I ever learn?  Don’t you dare cry on me now Kathryn Janeway.  I’ve gotten you this far.  You’re not going to fall at the final hurdle.”  Kathryn made a brave effort and nodded.

“I’m fine.  Under control.”  One last deep breath.  “OK.  Let’s go.”

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn stood at the edge of the main compound unable to see much.  She could hear excited murmurings though and knew now that the ceremony was to take place outdoors.  She looked up at the sky which was slowly darkening, stars peeking out in preparation for the night.  The air was balmy with just the faintest of breezes and the scent of flowers carried on it.

She looked at B'Elanna standing before her and smiled.  Julie stood just in front of B'Elanna with Car while Tuvok waited at her elbow.  B'Elanna smiled at her.

“OK Kathryn…  Chakotay is in place with Tom and Mike.  I’ll walk ahead of you with Julie and Car.  You follow with Tuvok.”  Kathryn nodded and swallowed to try and ease her dry throat.  Jaal rushed up now and handed Kathryn her bouquet which almost set Kathryn crying again when she looked at it.  Small white flowers nestled between blue and purple cornflowers.  Kathryn shook her head in amazement.

“It’s beautiful…”  B'Elanna smiled softly.

“The cornflowers grow naturally here.  The white flowers are called baby’s breath.  We had to replicate them.  They’re what we put in your hair.”  She took her own slightly smaller bouquet from Jaal.  “We made tiny clusters for the guys buttonholes.”  She pointed towards Tuvok’s then turned to Julie and Car.  “These guys here will carry baskets of rose petals and they’ll sprinkle them before you.”  Julie looked excited about that part while Car squirmed at the idea.  B'Elanna saw him.

“Young man, I hope you know that you’re the envy of the other boys.  You get to be the centre of attention for the evening and it means you’ll also be closer to the food at the reception.”  That did the trick and the boy stopped all his fidgeting, his eyes lighting up at the mention of food.  B'Elanna turned back and winked at Kathryn.  “Works every time.”  Kathryn smiled but her nervousness was beginning to show.  B'Elanna noticed and knew they needed to get things moving.  She nodded to Jaal.

“Check they’re ready…”  The woman nodded back and went to check.  Kathryn drew in a deep breath.

“Where…?”  B'Elanna leaned forward and made a final adjustment to Kathryn’s hair.

“By the pool.  No harm in telling you at this stage.  We had some awning ready in case it rained but we won’t need it now thankfully.”  Kathryn licked at her lips and jumped when B'Elanna slapped her hand.

“Stop messing.  You’ll lick all your lipstick off.  You can do what you want afterwards but for now just stare ahead and walk forward.”  Kathryn made a face at her friend.

“Can I breathe?”  B'Elanna pretended to think about that and laughed.

“Maybe every second breath.”  She turned when Jaal came back.

“All in place and it looks so perfect…”  B'Elanna nodded to herself then turned back to Kathryn.

“OK honey, this is it.  You ready?”  Kathryn took a moment and then nodded.

“I’m ready…”  B'Elanna did a quick visual check.

“Got everything?  Your garter?”  Kathryn laughed at that and nodded.

“In place.”  B'Elanna smiled.

“Ok then…”  She nodded to Jaal who moved Julie and Car forward.  As they rounded the cabin which blocked Kathryn’s view of the pool area, soft music began to play.  B'Elanna checked Kathryn one last time, casting a quick look over Tuvok.  “Right.  We’re ready.  Just follow me.”  Kathryn nodded and slipped her arm through Tuvok’s.  She moved forward, keeping B'Elanna’s slow pace.  Just before they rounded the corner she looked up at her oldest friend and smiled.

“Thank you for this my friend.  It means a great deal.”  He looked down at her, his face the closest to a smile Kathryn had ever seen.  His hand covered hers for a moment.

“The honour is all mine Kathryn.”

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn’s breath caught in her throat as she came around the cabin and into the main pool area.  She almost stopped as she took in the scene before her.

The fence had been taken down and people stood around the edge of the pool.  At the top, a gazebo of sorts had been erected, rose like flowers trailing over it with blue and white ribbons.  Candles in glass holders hung from a wire across it.  Beneath this, Admiral Paris stood, Chakotay beside him with Tom and Mike.  Lanterns hung everywhere, from trees and more wires, casting a gentle light over the area but Kathryn’s eyes were drawn to the pool itself, filled for the occasion.  Hundreds of floating candles dotted the surface, their flames reflected in the water. 

B'Elanna turned back to watch Kathryn’s reaction and nodded to herself.  She stopped a moment and whispered urgently.

“Don’t cry…please…”  Kathryn swallowed her tears as she looked up.

“It’s beyond beautiful…”  B'Elanna smiled.

“I know but please save the tears for a little while longer…”  She gave her friend one last smile.  “Now…forward…” 

Julie and Car walked ahead, tossing handfuls of rose petals in Kathryn’s path.  B'Elanna followed them.  Kathryn moved slowly with Tuvok and only now noticed the rows of children on either side of her, white and blue ribbon draped from one hand to the next, forming a guard of honour for her.  Each child also held a candle.  She fought valiantly with her tears as she moved forward with Tuvok through this lit corridor, every face turned to her and every eye on her.

And then she looked forward and met Chakotay’s eyes and everything else faded away.

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn’s eyes never left Chakotay’s as Tuvok handed her over.  She was vaguely aware of B'Elanna taking her bouquet then standing back.  Chakotay smiled down at her, tears in his eyes.  He leaned down and whispered to her.

“I love you.  You’re so beautiful.”  Kathryn whispered back.

“I love you too…”

Their attention was then drawn to the man standing before them.  Admiral Paris smiled at Chakotay first and then at Kathryn, his eyes telling her how proud he was.  He nodded and then began the ceremony.

“Friends…family…  We have come together in this place to witness the uniting of these two people…Kathryn and Chakotay.  We are gathered here to see them join as one…to join their lives and pledge their love for each other.”  He smiled out over the assembled women and kids. 

“They will exchange vows and rings in front of us all and we will bear witness for them and make a vow of our own…to support them in their life together, in whatever way we can…to make their journey together smoother.  We do this by our love for them and our belief in their love for each other.”  He smiled at Chakotay and Kathryn before looking at everyone else again.

“We come here to bless this union and celebrate with them as they seal their love.  However, we will not witness what has already taken place and will be re-affirmed here today…and that is the joining of two souls…united for all eternity.”  He smiled softly at Kathryn.  “I believe that took place the moment they first laid eyes on each other.”  Kathryn returned his smile then turned to look at Chakotay.  He nodded at her, his love for her clearly written on his face.  Owen coughed slightly.

“Chakotay…”  The man in question pulled his eyes from Kathryn and looked at the Admiral.  “Your vows…”  Chakotay nodded and turned to Kathryn, taking her hands in his.  His voice was hoarse as he spoke.

“Kathryn…I stand here today in front of our family and friends to join with you.  I solemnly pledge before them that I will love and cherish you for all time.  All that I have and am is yours.  To share my life with you is all that gives it meaning and I pray that we have love and happiness all our days and beyond.  I promise to support you in all you do, to provide for you and care for you.  Whatever comes across our path…whatever troubles or illnesses…I will be there for you.  We will face all problems together and work as one.  Today I give you my body and my soul to death and beyond.”  Kathryn bit down hard on her lip, determined not to let her tears flow just yet.  She looked down at their joined hands a moment then back into his loving face.

“Chakotay…you have loved me through the rough and the smooth.  Often I turned away from you and still you loved me.  You have always been there for me.  You have always supported me.  I can only hope to return some of that to you.”  She swallowed.  “Chakotay…I love you with all that I am.  You are my life and the meaning for it.  I don’t have the words to express all that is in my heart for you.  I can only hope to show you as we walk through this life together.  You comfort me, allay my fears, tend to me, support me…  You are the other half of my soul…my soul mate.  Today here in front of our family and friends…I pledge my life to you and everything thing that I am.  I love you.”  They stared into each other’s eyes for several moments, the only sounds audible being the sniffling of the women.  Owen touched Kathryn’s arm to draw their attention back to them.

“Your vows have been made to each other and now you will exchange the rings…”  He looked to Tom and Mike who handed over their preciousq2qly guarded bands.  Owen took them and handed one to Chakotay who reverently placed it on Kathryn’s finger.  She stared at it, immediately loving it.  Instead of plain gold bands, the wedding rings were of woven pieces of gold in the same Celtic knot design as her engagement ring.  She then reached for Chakotay’s ring and placed it on his finger.  Owen reached forward and took their hands in his.

“What has been joined in this way…by whatever God or Gods we believe in…let all see as sacred and eternal never to be broken apart.”  He smiled at them both.

“By the power vested in me under Federation Law and the law of all mankind…I now pronounce you husband and wife…”  He smiled at Chakotay.  “You may now kiss your bride…”  Chakotay nodded, tears in his eyes as he turned to Kathryn.  Slowly and gently he took her face in his hands.  He stared deeply into her eyes for a moment then lowered his lips to hers.  The kiss was gentle and soft, deepening after a moment.  Kathryn slipped her arms around his waist, treasuring the moment, which was eventually broken by cheering all around them.  Owen shouted above the noise.

“Ladies and gentlemen and children…I present Kathryn and Chakotay…husband and wife…”  Music started up as everyone rushed forward to congratulate the happy couple.  Owen stepped back and watched them.  He turned to the side and saw his wife watching him.  She nodded, her eyes speaking to his as they remembered their own wedding day.

^^^^^^^^^^

The reception went on into the late hours, the kids making the most of the fact that no one told them to go to bed.  By four in the morning though, most had fallen asleep in a mother’s arms and were gently carried to their home by someone.  Kathryn and Chakotay shared a first dance together as Tom organized the music, having raided Voyager’s Database.  The food and drink flowed leaving Kathryn worried about how much the event was costing everyone.  She was sternly told by Owen and B'Elanna that everything was covered and to stop worrying or she’d be thrown in the pool.

The women had even organized a wedding cake four tiers high, the bottom tier in the shape of Voyager.  It was iced in white with blue piping and within two hours, met a terrible death.  Paula managed to salvage the ribbons and flowers from it and put them aside for the happy couple.  The Doctor made use of himself by taking thousands of holoimages and recording the event for them.  At first, Seven had stayed by his side helping him but in the end wandered off to join the others, muttering to herself about him being too exact and impossible to work with.

Kathryn danced with every man present, Chakotay with almost all the women.  As Duncan whirled Kathryn around the dancing area, she gently quizzed him about his own marital status and his short honeymoon.  He gave her a quiet smile but refused to go into detail, telling her she could wait until her own honeymoon was over before she got any gossip out of him.  When she danced with Jonathan, she got the same result.  Both men did however, manage to pull Chakotay aside and thank him for their ‘wedding present’.

About half way through the reception, Kathryn cornered Jaal and Ria.  She frowned as she looked from them towards a small group of men and women she hadn’t noticed before. 

“I know my mind has been elsewhere but who are those people?”  She looked worried until the two women laughed together.  Ria placed a reassuring hand on Kathryn’s arm.

“They’re the crew from the ship which brought Tom’s parents here.  We figured it wasn’t fair to leave them sitting up there on their own when all this was going on down here.  We asked that they be allowed to land their ship and join in.  Besides, they already know where this place is and the Admiral trusts them so…”  Paula laughed also.

“Aren’t we the brave things?  Well…we’re getting there.”  Kathryn shook her head in astonishment.

“You’re amazing.  You’ve all come so far…”  Her deep pride and love for these women showed in her eyes.  The two women merely shrugged it off.

“Ahh Kathryn…we had a lot of help on that journey.  We may have come a long way but we didn’t get there on our own.  We had a lot of support and encouragement from you and the others.  You led us along that road and were there with us every step of the way.”  Ria nodded.

“She speaks the truth.”  She reached over and fixed a loose strand of Kathryn’s hair.  “Now get back to your party and dance the rest of the night away.”

^^^^^^^^^^ 

As things wound down, Kathryn finally got a moment to herself.  She stood beside the pool staring into it at the candles still alight, most having been replaced during the evening.  Only now did she realize that flowers floated in amongst them.  She shook her head as she felt Chakotay slip an arm around her waist.

“They went to so much trouble.  To make the candles alone must have taken so much…”  Chakotay smiled and squeezed her waist.

“I guess that explains what was going on in the barn all that time…”  Kathryn nodded and turned to him.

“It’s been the most perfect day…”  She was losing her battle with her tears as Chakotay leaned in and kissed her.

“It has…and it’s just the first of the rest of our lives together…”  Kathryn let her tears fall now and leaned into him.

“It’s been the most perfect day…the candles and our clothes…all the food and drink…and it all went like clockwork…”  Her voice broke as Chakotay held her to him.  She looked up at him now.  “Becoming your wife was all that mattered though.  I’d have done that in a swamp.”  Chakotay hugged her to him tightly.

“My wife…my Kathryn…  It feels so wonderful to say that.”  They embraced for several minutes until Kathryn realized that those remaining at the party were watching them.  She smiled, a little embarrassed.

“Did we thank everyone?”  Chakotay slipped his arm around her shoulders.

“Yes we did.  Several times.”  He smiled down at her then wiped at her face.  “We thanked them all and you cried enough to cause a flood.”  He dropped his head to the side as he looked at her.  “B'Elanna’s fears for your make-up were unfounded.  It’s still intact.”  Kathryn stuck her tongue out at him.

“OK…and you were dry eyed all evening…”  Chakotay smirked and shrugged.

“A man is entitled to some tears on his wedding day…”  He looked up when he saw B'Elanna approach.  “And here comes your Maid of Honour…”  B'Elanna smiled at them both.  She looked very tired.

“I see you two finally got a moment to yourselves…”  Kathryn smiled lovingly at her friend.

“B'Elanna…it’s been such a perfect day…evening…  All of it was wonderful.  We’ll never be able to thank you all properly.”  B'Elanna shrugged that off.

“It was our pleasure.  I’m just so happy that everything went to plan.”  She sighed now.  “Look, you two must be very tired at this stage.  It’s been a very long day…”  Chakotay looked over towards those still remaining.

“It has and we are tired but it’s what I called a very happy tired.”  He looked back at his oldest friend.  “Thank you again.  Those words just don’t sound enough.”  B'Elanna shook her head, close to tears herself.

“It was nothing and it was the greatest pleasure to be able to do it for you.”  She cleared her throat.  “Now…you’re both tired and it’s time to send you off on your honeymoon.”  Kathryn looked shocked at that.

“B'Elanna, we have our home…”  B'Elanna shook her head.

“Yes I know you have and we’ll have that finished and ready by the time you return.  There’ll just be the finishing touches to be added which we’ll leave to you.  You can add your own touch.”  She held up an old fashioned key with a blue ribbon tied to it.

“This is just symbolic but it’s a key to one of the lake cabins.  It’s all ready for you both and no one will go near you out there.  Everything inside it is ready for you too.  We’ll transport you over there in a few minutes.  For now, just take your leave and say your ‘see you laters’…”  She handed Chakotay the key and smirked.  “And behave yourselves out there.  You have a week.  You can contact us if you need anything but otherwise we don’t expect to hear from you until this day next week…although I may check in now and then to make sure you’re both still alive.”  She giggled now as she watched their stunned faces.

“That’s it.  We even packed for you and sent the stuff on.”  She looked at Chakotay.  “You can go and begin the goodbyes while I have a little woman to woman chat with your wife.  Go on now…”  She literally pushed him.  Chakotay pretended hurt but finally smiled and walked away.  Kathryn watched him go in amazement.

“You have some way with men…”  B'Elanna shook her head.

“They just need to be told who’s boss…”  She grinned then pulled Kathryn towards one of the nearby cabins.  She went in ahead of Kathryn and ordered the lights on.  Kathryn stared in shock at the table.

“What…?”  B'Elanna shrugged.

“Just a little sample.  Take your pick…some or all.  I’ll beam them to the cabin ready for you…”  Kathryn walked over to the table and laughed now.  Spread out across the table and several chairs was a selection of lingerie…in several colours.  Black and white predominated with several pieces in red.  Kathryn looked back at her friend who now had a wicked grin on her face.

“I know it won’t be on for very long but…”  She shrugged.  “You need to look nice for your wedding night and before you ask…this is strictly between you and me.  No one else knows about this although I think some of the women suspected.  They said nothing though.”  Kathryn shook her head as she fingered the delicate fabrics.

“I don’t know what to say…”  B'Elanna joined her and stroked her back.

“You say nothing…except I’ll take that one and that one…”  She laughed.  “I’m sure the boys are giving Chakotay something to wear also.”

^^^^^^^^^^

It took another half hour before Kathryn and Chakotay had said their final thanks and goodbyes to those still left at the reception, including Owen.  He just laughed and said that he’d be back shortly as he had a waiting list of people wanting to be married also.  Kathryn had even wanted to stay and help clear away but was quickly told off for that.

Kathryn and Chakotay also made sure they thanked and said goodbye to the Starfleet scientific and medical personnel who had come to Haven with Voyager.  They were finally leaving, returning on Admiral Paris’s ship the next morning.  The reception had also turned into a farewell party for the people who had become friends to everyone.

Finally the newly-weds were ready to leave as Tuvok arranged their transport to the cabin.  B'Elanna winked at Kathryn.

“Just remember…everything is ready for you.  Even the bathroom is equipped.”  Kathryn smiled knowingly at her friend and nodded.

“Thank you…”  As they de-materialized, the last thing she saw was happy faces, all for her and Chakotay.

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn and Chakotay materialized on the porch of one of the lake cabins.  They stood quietly for a moment, inhaling the fresh pine scented air.  Kathryn leaned back into Chakotay’s embrace as she looked around her.

“It’s so quiet out here after everything.”  Chakotay nodded as he hugged her to him.

“Miss them already?”  Kathryn shook her head and turned in his arms.

“Oh no.  A week of this is just what we need.  Sleep late…eat when we want…”  She smiled up at him.  “Do what we want…”  He leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose.

“We may never want to go back…”  He kissed the top of her head also.  “Come on…let’s go inside and check the place out.”

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn inspected the small bathroom while Chakotay put on some tea in the kitchen area, both having had enough champagne for one day.  He had taken a quick shower while she unpacked their few belongings and turned back the quilt on the bed. 

She looked around her now and pulled open a drawer in a small chest.  Inside, as promised, was the lingerie Kathryn had selected.  She smiled to herself as she fingered the lace and silk items.  She quickly took a shower and slipped into some of the items, a black silk teddy and panties set, trimmed with black lace.  Tiny red roses were sewn around the bodice and on the panties.  She inspected herself in the mirror and took a deep breath.  The woman looking back at her looked flushed with a combination of the shower and anticipation.  She also looked exhausted.  Splashing some cold water on her face, she tried to push her tiredness away, applying a little make-up to hide the dark circles under her eyes.  Finally she slipped her garter on, smiling to herself.  She took a last look and straightened the straps of the teddy then ran a hand over her stomach.

“Not too bad for your age Kathryn…”  The sound of Chakotay’s voice calling her made her look towards the door.  Quickly she brushed out her hair and slipped on the black silk robe she had picked out.  With a last glance at her reflection, she left the small room.

Chakotay was standing beside the patio doors at the rear of the cabin, holding two steaming cups in his hands.  He wore a dark blue silk robe with white piping around the collar.  He stared at Kathryn as she came into the room then smiled.

“I’ve made tea.  Do you want to sit out the back and watch the sun rise?”  Kathryn smiled lovingly at him and nodded as she came over to him, taking one of the cups from him.

“That sounds wonderful…”  They made their way outside and Kathryn smiled when she saw that he’d spread several cushions on the back porch along with some blankets.  Chakotay took her cup until she settled herself.  He then sat down beside her.  As the sun rose on their first day of married life, they sat sipping their tea, watching one of nature’s greatest shows.

^^^^^^^^^^

Kathryn lay back against Chakotay’s chest, her hands playing with the tie from her robe.  He nuzzled his lips against her neck, his hands around her waist.

“You must be exhausted…”  She stirred lazily.

“I think we both are.  I had a bit of a nap in the afternoon but still…”  Chakotay stroked over her stomach.

“I did too but the benefits are long gone…  An evening wedding takes it out of you.”  He looked down at her, seeing how sleepy she looked.  “Are you all right?”  He saw her make an effort to hide her tiredness.  She smiled softly.

“I’m fine…”  She laid her head back against his chest then turned to smile up at him.  Chakotay looked down at her and took her hands in his.

“Kathryn, our wedding night was spent eating, drinking and dancing…  In fact, I think most couples spend their wedding night celebrating, travelling or asleep.”  He grew serious now.  “Honey, you’re exhausted and fighting sleep…”  He shook his head and pressed his fingers to her lips when she went to protest.  “We both are…”  He sighed then.

“Kathryn, I want our first time to be perfect…special.  We’re both very tired…drained in fact…   Let’s just go to bed and lie together…get some sleep…”  Kathryn twisted to turn towards him.

“You wouldn’t be disappointed…?”  Chakotay shook his head, his eyes filled with love for this woman.

“I’ll never be disappointed with you.”  He frowned.  “Unless you would be…  You were in the bathroom a long time and I…”  Kathryn slipped one hand free and reached up to caress his face.

“I’m…dressed…if that’s what you mean.”  She looked down and lifted the edge of her robe.  “I even have this…”  She smiled shyly back at him as she showed him the garter.  “Marla gave me that and B'Elanna gave me some things before we left…beamed them to the bathroom…”  Chakotay laughed and shook his head.

“I had an idea that’s the reason she disappeared with you for a while.”  He laughed again.  “Tom and Mike did the same with me.  This robe and some silk boxers were in a drawer in the kitchen…”  He sobered now.

“Kathryn, you’re worn out as I am…”  She nodded slowly.

“I know.  I thought you’d want to though and you’ve waited so long and…”  Chakotay covered her hand with his.

“Kathryn…  This is US…  It’s about love and being together.  It’s not about sex or just about sex…”  He smirked slightly.  “Don’t get me wrong.  I would like nothing more than to make love with you and we will.”  His grin widened.  “I’ll need energy to give you that spanking though…and I seem to remember you mentioning something about dogs…”  Kathryn grinned back at him then grew serious when he did.  He shook his head gently.

“What I’m trying to say is that with US…it always has to be what WE want.  I know it’s traditional…the wedding night and all that but there’s no law stating what you have to do or don’t do…  I seriously doubt any couple manages anything on their wedding night.”  He smiled softly at her.  “Look, we’re both falling asleep where we are.  You go and slip into something really comfortable…”  He laughed at that.  “Something comfortable for you.  I’ll rinse out these cups and then we’ll go to bed and just sleep.  Later today and the rest of the week is waiting for us.  The rest of our lives is waiting for us.”  Kathryn kneeled up now, staring deeply into his eyes.

“I want nothing more than to make love with you also.  However, I don’t think you’d get me at my best.”  She sighed and studied his face.  “You always know what I need…always consider my needs…”  She stroked his cheek and looked back at the rising sun for a moment then turned back to her husband.

“I once heard someone say that our dreams are never where we expect to find them.  Now I know how true that is.  Not that long ago, I thought all my dreams were gone.  I never believed I would find all my heart desired when I came here, that you would come here and find me…that we’d find each other.  I know now that there was always a place for us and we were lucky enough to find it.”  She sighed.  “I love you Chakotay.  Always know that.”  Chakotay nodded, tears in his eyes.

“As I love you Kathryn.  Never doubt that.”  He stroked her face also as he stared into her very soul.  He leaned forward and brushed his lips to hers.  “Let’s go to bed.”  He helped her up then slipped his arm around her waist.  Kathryn smiled up at him.

“I like the sound of that…”  Ten minutes later they were curled up together in bed, both just wearing baggy tee shirts.  Outside, the sun shone down on a new day and the birds sang.  Inside the tiny cabin, the happy couple slept, secure in each others’ arms and secure in their future life together.  Secure in their own personal haven.



THE END.



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