B’Elanna caught sight of Chakotay and waved him over to the office.
“Survive another year of flight camp?” he teased as B’Elanna handed him a drink.
“It’s fun, but exhausting,” she sighed. Tom’s brainstorm to promote their shuttle design firm: a two-week summer camp that offered flying lessons and flight engineering classes. Truthfully, the credits allowed them to buy the extras that the company always seemed to need, so they kept it going.
“So how did my boy do?”
“Tom says he has a real knack for flying. The coursework, well ...”
Chakotay laughed. “Discipline isn’t Kol’s strong suit. So, how’s Miral doing at the Academy?”
“Very well, but I really miss her help here. We still have Michael, and Joe is old enough to be useful. And we were able to hire Brandon and Alex.”
Chakotay looked confused. “Brandon … Harry’s son. He’s over there,” she said, pointing to a young man working on a flight simulator. “Alex is standing on top of that shuttle.”
“I saw her coming in,” he said. “She reminds me of someone.”
“That so?” B’Elanna said with a smirk.
“What’s her name?” he asked as he peered at the teenager. Dark hair, hint of Asian ancestry ... something about her face seemed familiar.
“Imada.” She waited, but no response. “Tell you what, Old Man, watch her for a bit. If she puts her hands on her hips, it might come to you.”
His mouth dropped open. “She’s … Kathryn’s?”
B’Elanna laughed. “She is indeed. And Alex is a lot like her mother. She’s also off-the-charts intelligent; she taught my basic engineering classes. But Ben and Kathryn didn’t spoil her; she’s a good kid. ”
“Guess I’m out of touch,” he murmured as he guiltily remembered two messages that he’d deleted as soon as he saw the sender.
As if she knew they were talking about her, Alex poked her head in the door. “Aunt B, I packed up those materials. What else can I do?”
“Brandon may need some help, but come on in; I want to introduce you to someone. This is Kol’s dad, Chakotay. He was your mom’s first officer on Voyager.”
“Hi,” she said, offering her hand, which Chakotay shook. It seemed almost surreal … he could see the echos of a young Kathryn Janeway; same intelligence, same force of personality.
“So, are you going to follow your mom into Starfleet?” He could have kicked himself; Kol hated that question.
“No thanks,” she said as B’Elanna laughed. “I want to join Mom in her work; I can’t do that in Starfleet. Actually, I’m in my school’s dual-track program with Daystrom Tech.”
He was about to ask about that work, but was interrupted by Brandon’s yell: “Alex! A little help here!”
“Nice to meet you,” she called over her shoulder as she ran out the door.
“You know, I’ve seen an image of Kol’s dad,” Alex remarked as B’Elanna drove her home.
“I imagine you have,” B’Elanna said. “You’ve probably seen images of all of us in our younger days.”
“This one … oh, yeah, it’s in her office at work,” she said, her voice getting stronger as her memory became clearer. “She’s standing with him at a party … they were looking at each other ...” she mused as B’Elanna raised an eyebrow.
“The way they were looking at each other … Aunt B, was Mom in love with him?”
Uh, oh. “That’s not a question I can … or should answer for you. I know they were very close. You know, we were out there under very difficult and dangerous circumstances. They formed a friendship and a working relationship; lucky for us because it kept us all together.
“If she felt more than that, I don’t know. We’ve never discussed it. And Voyager was a long time ago, long before she met your dad. So whatever may or may not have been true then doesn’t necessarily matter now.”
They could hear Kathryn’s smoky laugh coming from the patio before the dogs announced their presence.
“Hi, baby,” she said as she gave Alex a hug. B’Elanna smiled. Those who considered Kathryn to be professionally icy had no idea just how warm and affectionate she was with family and friends … particularly with her daughter.
“Tom and the boys out there? Bring them in,” Kathryn began. B’Elanna chuckled. “No, he’s taking Brandon home, so I suspect they will be stopping for pizza.”
Well, then I insist that you stay for dinner. We have plenty on the grill, and I bet you could use some time to relax. And you can tell me how Alex did.”
“She did great. She ended up teaching all the basic engineering courses, and did really well with the kids.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” she said. “I have to admit I missed her terribly. I’m going to be a basket case when she goes off to Daystrom.”
“I know, I miss Miral, too, even though we’re in the same city.”
B’Elanna debated about bringing it up, mostly because she feared Alex would start asking some personal questions. On the other hand, maybe better from her than Alex.
“By the way, Chakotay’s eldest was at camp this year.”
Kathryn raised an eyebrow. “How old is he now? Twelve, thirteen?”
“Yeah, I met his dad. Aunt B introduced us,” Alex added.
“That’s nice,” Kathryn said noncommittally. “So how did … Kol, isn’t it? How did he do?”
“Tom says he’s a good pilot, but the coursework ...”
“He’d of done better if he hadn’t been mooning over that blonde girl … Carrie, I think.”
Both Kathryn and B’Elanna erupted into a fit of laughter at that remark; apparently, it was a private joke, because just looking at each other set them off again.
Ben was amused, but Alex was confused. “What’s funny?”
“Oh,” B’Elanna said, wiping tears from her eyes. “Like father, like son.”
“Chakotay,” Kathryn managed to say, “had a thing for blondes. I think there were at least a couple on Voyager. He also was married to Annika for a while.”
Alex was wide-eyed. “You mean Annika was married to him before she married Tohl?” she asked, clearly questioning the former Borg’s taste in men.
“Oh, yeah,” Ben said. “I remember they were married when we saw her at that conference … I think Alex was a baby then. Guess it didn’t last must past that.”
“Apparently not,” Kathryn agreed, and decided to change the subject. There were some things Alex didn’t need to know, at least not at this point in her life.
Later that night, as Kathryn tried to read something not work-related, Alex plopped down next to her.
“Kol’s dad seemed OK,” she opened. “He did ask that question that I hate.”
Kathryn chuckled. “Oh, ‘Following your mom into Starfleet?’ ” she asked to Alex’s disgusted nod. “Sorry, kiddo. That’s going to happen. Of course you are following your dad into Daystrom Tech, you know. At least you won’t be the Dean’s Kid.”
Alex just shrugged. “You know, I do remember him from that image in your office. The one of you two at a party.”
“B’Elanna called it,” she thought, noting that Alex’s memory — and eyesight — were pretty damn good. That photo was up on an out-of-the-way shelf. “You do, eh?” she said casually.
“Yeah … I remember how you two were looking at each other. Looked like you two were in love. Were you?”
“Well, aren’t you the romantic,” Kathryn teased, knowing full well that Alex wasn’t going to be dissuaded. “You know, Chakotay and I had a complicated relationship. I was supposed to arrest him. But we ended up having to depend on each other in a very difficult situation.”
“You sound like Aunt B.”
“It was difficult and dangerous. There are reasons I haven’t talked to you about it. Anyway, Chakotay and I managed to forge a deep friendship. And frankly, if it wasn’t for him on a few occasions, you wouldn’t be here, because I would have been dead.” She paused for a moment to let Alex digest that. “He is dear to me, and always will be. But what I felt … or feel … for him certainly doesn’t compare to how I feel about your dad.”
Alex, however was giving her the “gotcha” look. “Yeah, but I’ve heard folks talking at the Voyager reunions. I’ve heard them say he was in love with you.”
“You know, he never told me that. And it wouldn’t have mattered. Captains don’t get romantically involved with the people under their command. It’s a bad practice,” she said firmly. “And part of that time I was engaged to Mark. But even if I had been in love with Chakotay, it would never have worked.”
“Too different in beliefs, lifestyle, expectations. We balanced each other professionally and as friends, but marriage is a whole different thing.”
Alex’s retort was interrupted by Ben’s entrance. “Vid for you, Alex. It’s your boyfriend Mike.”
“Daaad … he’s not my boyfriend!”
Ben and Kathryn just laughed. “Well, whatever he is, make it quick. It’s a bit late to take calls.”
Alex ran out of the room. Ben winked at Kathryn before he left, too.
Kathryn sat back and sighed. She hated to half-lie to Alex. But satisfying her daughter’s curiosity was not a good reason to bare her own emotional scars. And for Alex’s sake, she hoped that she would never have reason to do so.
Besides, she decided as she picked up her book, mothers are entitled to have some secrets.