Started/Completed: Friday, May 05, 2006

Disclaimer: Star Trek...blah blah blah ...characters.... blah blah... Paramount.

Author's Note: This story was inspired by Gilly's image of the same name. When I saw it on her website, I wrote to her, saying that I hoped it would inspire some baby fic... but I wasn't necessarily talking about me. *shrug* oh well. :)
and many many thanks to a nice friend for taking the time to read and offer suggestions for improvement!
Summary: Kathryn Janeway's childhood struggles create uncertainty for her future.

Rating: PG for angst

Characters: J/C

At the End of the Day
by Saffron

Kathryn Janeway stared out the window of her office at Starfleet headquarters. The Golden Gate Bridge stood about against the landscape. But her eyes were not focused on the sight before her. Her view was turned inward, focused on her thoughts. A focus was so deep, she didn't hear the door to her office open and close.

"Kathryn?" It was Chakotay

She only blinked in surprise but didn't turn around. Her eyes were moist with unshed tear that she tried to blink away. She stared at his reflection in the window. "Hi."

"I came to invite you to lunch."

Kathryn smiled and finally turned to face him, but stared at a PADD on her desk. "I can't. I have a meeting."

Chakotay sat down in a chair in front of her desk. "Look at me Kathryn."

She slowly raised her eyes to meet his. "What?"

"You seem unsettled. For days now."

"I'm fine." She could tell that he did not believe her but she knew he wouldn't go so far as to call her a liar, at least not at this point.

He reached across the desk and took her hand in his. "I love you. I'm here when you want to talk. Just don't wait too long."

She gave his hand a small squeeze of appreciation before she pulled her hand away.

He stood up suddenly. "I almost forgot I brought you something."

She watched as she quickly exited the room then reappeared, grinning and hiding something behind his back.

She stood and walked around her desk to meet him. Her mouth formed into a crooked grin as she chuckled. "What have you got there?"

Chakotay brought his hand around to reveal a crimson rosebud in a small silver vase.

Speechless, she took the vase from him and traced her fingers over the soft petals. "Thank you." Her voice was hoarse with emotion. She turned her back to him as she placed the vase on her desk. "I have to get ready for my meeting." She closed her eyes as she felt him gently grasp her shoulders, kiss her hair and quietly leave the room.

Kathryn took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She looked down at her hand resting on her abdomen. "What am I going to do?" she whispered.

@@ * @@ * @@

After her meeting, Kathryn sat in her darkened office once again staring out the window. It was now dusk and the Golden Gate bridge was now outlined with lights.

Her door chimed and she sighed. "Come."

It was her assistant, Lieutenant DeLohn. "Captain? Sorry to disturb you. You have a visitor."

"Who is it?"

"It's me." The familiar voice of B'Elanna Torres-Paris came from outside the door.

The young lieutenant lowered her voice. "I know you said no visitors, but she…"

"It's alright, Lieutenant."

DeLohn turned and gestured for B'Elanna to enter then left the room.

Kathryn flashed her friend a smile. "Let me guess. Chakotay sent you to talk to me."

B'Elanna nodded and sat down. "He said you seem unsettled. Want to talk about it?"

Kathryn turned chair to face the window again. "We were in the Delta Quadrant a long time, you know."

"We were," acknowledged B'Elanna."

"I had this focus. This drive. To get us home. I had no time for thinking about what might happen when we got home."

"That's understandable."

B'Elanna stared at her former commander as she became silent. She was startled when Kathryn suddenly turned to her.

"B'Elanna, I'm pregnant and I don't know what to do."

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"Well," Kathryn turned back towards the window. "I just … I've been thinking of my father and how his being in Starfleet and how it defined my childhood, how it shaped the person who I am… and how I don't want it to do the same to my own child." Kathryn stood up to stand closer to the window. "I keep thinking of something that happened when I was 8 years old. I had a project that needed to work on for school and my dad had promised to help me. I don't even remember what the project was. But I remember something and happened and I was late. When I got home, he had left. My mother had said the he'd be called away for his job, but I remember not believing her. That it was my fault he wasn't there because I was late – that if I had been on time, he would have been there and stayed. I started working so hard to be the best at everything I did. I entered Starfleet Academy hoping that if we had that in common we'd be closer. But he was still away when I needed him most." She turned to face B'Elanna, her eyes moist with unshed tears. "What if I'm not there when my child needs me?"

B'Elanna walked around the desk to stand next to her. "You need to talk to Chakotay about this."

Kathryn took as step back. "What? That I'm thinking of leaving Starfleet? That I can't…"

B'Elanna put her hand lightly on Kathryn's shoulder. "Chakotay intercepted a message from the Doctor this morning. He may be worried that it's something worse than your being pregnant . . . and congratulations, by the way."

Kathryn smiled through her tears. "You're the first person I've told."

"Shouldn't Chakotay be next?"

@@ * @@ * @@

"Hi," said Kathryn, when she saw Chakotay sitting on the porch as she approached the house.

He stood up and enveloped her in a hug. "Are you all right?"

She nodded against his chest. "I'm sorry if I've worried you." She looked up at him. "I'm perfectly healthy, Chakotay."

He didn't respond, held her tighter. But even the warmth of his body could not keep her from shivering in the cool night air. "Let's go inside. I've saved a plate for you."

She touched his cheek lightly before moved toward the door. "You're so thoughtful."

Once inside, Kathryn placed her bag on a table then changed her clothes. She watched Chakotay as he moved about the kitchen. He was carrying her coffee mug to the table when she found the words coming from her lips. "I… I'm pregnant."

The next sound was the coffee mug shattering on the floor. Chakotay looked at the mess, then at her. "What did you say?"

Kathryn cleared her throat and raised her chin. "I'm pregnant."

She didn't see him move, but suddenly Kathryn felt herself pulled into a fierce hug then just as suddenly held at arms length. "Why have you been so distant lately? You said you're healthy. What about the baby? Is something wrong…?"

"No. The baby's fine, Chakotay."

"Then I don't understand. What's wrong?"

Kathryn walked away from him. "I've just been thinking … wondering if I'll be a good mother."

"What?" Chakotay's tone was incredulous. He turned her to face him. "Kathryn, I have no doubt that you'll be a good mother to our child."

She gave him a rueful smile. "I don't think I will be if I'm off on a starship all the time. My father…"Her voice faded away.

"Your father was working during the escalating threat of war with Cardassia. You know it couldn't be helped."

"Chakotay, you don't care about Cardassians when you're eight-years-old."

"I know."

"How do I choose between two passions? No matter what I choose, something … or someone will be sacrificed and I don't know how I can be happy either way." Kathryn sat down on the couch and sighed. "What I do want is to know, at the end of the day, that I've done everything possible to make sure that my child has what he or she needs, and that includes a mother." She looked up at Chakotay. "It's the 24th Century and women are still struggling with this. You'd think we'd have some answers by now." Her voice had taken a bitter tone.

Chakotay sat next to her and put his arm around her to pull her close so her head rested on his shoulder. "You don't have to make this decision now, Kathryn. Why don't you use these next few months to consider other options open to you in Starfleet. Talk with Admiral Paris. Talk with other mothers. You don't have to decide now and you don't have to wrestle with it alone. I don't know why you feel like you have to deal with everything alone."

Her head still on his shoulder, she moved to look at him while using her hand to pull his head down for a kiss. "I know," she admitted. "I'm getting better though," she smiled as she poked his rib with her knuckle.

He grasped her hand and held it to his chest. "Yes, you are," he responded with a chuckle

Dinner forgotten, they sat there for another hour, talking about the future, stealing chaste kisses intermittently until sleepiness finally overcame them. After they stood to leave for the bedroom, Kathryn pulled him down once more for a kiss.

"What was that for?" he asked.

"Just because."

FINIS

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