Reprise 1/5: The Reunion
Written February 2001
Synopsis: An AU fic beginning six months after the Voyager returns to the Alpha Quadrant. Written long before the series finale.
Spoilers: small amounts from a few episodes including ‘Caretaker,’ ‘The Cloud,’ ‘Thirty Days,’ ‘Bliss,’ ‘Drive,’ ‘Legacy,’ and ‘Bride of Chaotica!’ and some details from Jeri Taylor’s novel ‘Mosaic’
Disclaimer: The characters, situations, ships, etc. belong to Paramount and its affiliates. No infringement is intended. Some of the situations and characters are my own.
Paris wasn’t even sure he was at the right address. The house looked so ancient, so…unlike her. He had been told she was staying with her mother–a true traditionalist–so it was entirely probable. He went up to the door and knocked.
The woman who answered recognized him immediately and smiled. “Thomas! I’m so glad to see you!”
“Mrs. Janeway, how are you?” he asked. He had heard of Gretchen Janeway through his father. The woman was pleasant, an older replica of her daughter. Paris hadn’t met her before, but he already felt comfortable with her.
“I’m fine! How’s your father?”
“We’re all okay.” He paused. “I’m sorry to arrive unannounced, but I’m looking for–”
“Kathryn is in the back, tending to the garden. The door is at the end of the hall.”
He nodded and stepped past her, down the hallway, to the back door. He exited the house, blinded briefly by the light. He shielded his eyes, waiting for them to adjust. Then he saw her.
A woman was bent over, implementing some sort of archaic tool. After a moment, she straightened, arching her body in the sun. Paris was truly breathtaken. Her long skirt danced around her ankles in the light breeze. Her strapped silver top revealed tiny but muscular arms. Her shoulder-length coppery hair shone like a halo above her head as she ran her hand through it.
He was stunned. This woman…was not the same woman he knew six months ago, whom he had rarely seen out of a Starfleet uniform. She had seemed tough, strong, and powerful. Now, in liberty clothes and barefoot, she looked small, vulnerable, and truly beautiful. This was not his captain.
He watched her for a few more moments, not saying anything, his breath stuck in his throat. The transformation had shocked him; he honestly didn’t expect to see her like this. He blinked, lips still parted in surprise. He absently took a step and nearly tripped when she turned toward him.
So much like Auckland… He clasped his hands behind his back in an effort to stand at attention, but he looked more uncomfortable than respectful. “We missed you at yesterday’s anniversary party.”
“I didn’t seem to get an invitation.”
He frowned, unsure of what to say. That certainly wasn’t the answer he was expecting.
“Are you going to stand there all afternoon, or do I have to make the first move?”
Too late, he realized, as she casually walked toward him. He put his hand out for a shake but was shocked when she threw her arms around him in a hug. Apprehensively, he put his hands on her back. She was so…small. He could put his chin on the top of her head, and she nearly disappeared in his embrace.
She looked up at him and grinned. “It’s good to see you, Tom. It’s been a long time.” She let go of him and picked up her shoes. “Do you want to stay for dinner, catch up on lost time?”
“Nothing extravagant. I picked some ripened tomatoes, so we’re just having soup.”
“Hot, plain, tomato soup?”
She raised an eyebrow in confusion. “Of course. Is there any other kind?”
He grinned broadly and followed her into the house.
“So there she is, feigning ignorance–and very well, in fact. Calling the cue a ‘stick,’ things like that.”
Gretchen chuckled, glancing at her daughter, who was shaking her head. “Kathryn, you didn’t.”
“She did!” Paris protested.
Janeway laughed and took another sip of her wine. “I did.”
“So Chakotay offers her his cue, and I tell her to break. So she leans over the table in total concentration. And then–pow!” Paris went through the motions with an imaginary cue. “Three or four balls roll right into the pockets–”
“Oh, hardly that many, Tom,” Janeway corrected with a smile.
“So she stands up, having easily gotten everyone’s attention, and says…” He gestured to her.
She rolled her eyes. “‘Solids.'”
Gretchen laughed. “Did you win?”
“Yes!” Paris answered for her. “And nearly every time after that!”
“It became a sort of ritual,” Janeway explained, “with very few wins in Tom’s favor.”
“Your daughter is a veritable pool shark. If we could’ve played against some aliens, she would’ve hustled them right back to their planet.” He took a drink of his wine, rolling it around in his mouth. He glanced sideways at Janeway. “Well, I suppose you haven’t told your mother about your shining holodeck moment.”
She groaned. “You mean the time the eight ball flew off the table and knocked you unconscious? I still maintain it was an accident.”
“No,” he said, eyeing her squarely. “Arachnia–”
“–Queen of the Spider People–”
“Tom, don’t you dare!”
“–defeating Chaotica with your pheromones and a really…provocative dress.”
Janeway was red-faced, trying to contain both laughter and embarrassment. “I’ll have you know that little costume didn’t even make my log entries.”
“Too bad. Could’ve become a Starfleet standard.” The moment it came out of his mouth, he regretted he’d said it. He noticed Janeway flinch and chastised himself for not thinking. The last thing she needed to be reminded of was Starfleet.
“I doubt it,” she said finally, staring into her empty glass.
Gretchen glanced at both of them before standing up. “I expect to hear this story, Kathryn. My curiosity has been piqued. However, it’s getting late, and I should get to bed. Good night,” she said, dropping a kiss on her daughter’s forehead. “I trust I’ll see you in the morning, Tom.” Not waiting for a response, she smiled and slipped into her room.
Janeway gazed at Paris, who was staring intently at his hands. She touched him gently, and he was so startled that he jumped. “Care to join me on the porch?”
He stood up and followed her. They sat on the step, the half-empty bottle of wine between them. They were silent for a few moments. She rolled the stem of her glass between her hands absently, looking at the sky. Everyone once in a while, a starship flew high overhead.
“Did you ever think we’d be here, on Earth, looking back up at the stars?”
He turned to her, not sure if she had spoken or if he had dreamed it. “Always. Only I figured we’d be a hundred years old.”
“It’s so different, seeing them now. I can’t even look at them without seeing the Kazon, the Devore, the Vidiians… Fate is cruel. The stars have been spoiled.”
She chuckled. “Captain? Neither of us are in uniform, we don’t have communicators, and we certainly aren’t under Starfleet command. I think formalities are a bit unnecessary, don’t you?”
“I don’t even know what to call you,” he said quietly.
She held out her hand. “Hello. I’m Kathryn Janeway.”
Smiling, he accepted a shake. “Tom Paris.” He let go and leaned on his knees. “So, do you come here often?”
She chuckled. “Not quite as often as I should, I’m afraid.” She looked at him again, her face bathed in twilight. “Why did you come here, Tom?”
“I don’t know,” he answered truthfully. “I just knew that I had to. What Starfleet did was unacceptable.”
“You may be the only one who thinks so. My actions warranted a prison sentence.”
“Are you crazy?”
She frowned at his comment. “I can’t even count the number of times I violated a Starfleet regulation. The Prime Directive–even worse. They did me a great service by their decision.”
“And what about the rest of us? All of the Maquis were war criminals, yet they were all pardoned. No Starfleet officer received any charges. Hell, they practically handed me my own ship, and I wasn’t even an officer! They made us all out to be these great heroes, but there is only one hero on Voyager, and she was suspended.”
It took him a moment to realize that she was crying. Her shoulder shook gently, and she had her face in her hands. He had never seen her cry before; he wasn’t sure if anyone had. She had always been the strong one, never showing a sign of weakness. In all honesty, he wasn’t sure what to do.
Impulsively, he moved the bottle and their glasses and slid next to her. He put a hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged away from him. He didn’t know if she wanted any comfort, but he wasn’t about to leave her alone. “I’m here if you need someone to talk to.”
The sobs subsided, and she raised her head. “Damn you for making me cry.”
“I just have that effect on women, I guess.” He smiled at her. “Tell me what’s wrong, hmm?”
A few more tears fell. “I am so ashamed. I come from a long line of admirals with clean records, and now…I will never see that fifth pip. I have embarrassed my father’s memory.”
“Embarrassed? I only met your father once or twice, and although I was really young, I recognized the pride in his voice when he spoke of your accomplishments. And now? What do you have to be ashamed of? You are brilliant, beautiful, and strong. You are the most highly decorated captain in Starfleet’s history, not to mention a damn good pool player. You were a captain, a mother, a woman, and a best friend all at the same time. In the course of eight years, you made Maquis rebels succumb to Starfleet regulations. You rescued a Borg drone and turned her into an amazing individual. That’s not even mentioning a certain ex-con.” He paused thoughtfully. “You gave him hope, something to look forward to in life, responsibility, self-confidence… In essence, you gave him life. You brought one hundred fifty people together to create a loyal crew, and then you granted their single wish. You brought them home. They have gone on to pursue greatness, and they have you to thank for it. Your father is not ashamed of you, Kathryn. He is the proudest, luckiest man in the universe to have a daughter like you.”
Her lips curled into a smile despite her tears. “That’s the best thing anyone has ever said to me. Thank you, Tom.”
He smiled back at her. “You earned it.”
The unmistakable aroma of eggs, bacon, and coffee roused Paris from his slumber. He stretched carefully, opening his eyes, and remembered where he was. He heard soft humming and slowly sat up to peek over the edge of the couch.
Janeway saw a tuft of blond hair poke up, followed by two blue eyes. She grinned. “Good morning.”
He raised the rest of himself off the couch and arched away his sleep. “Hey. I thought you didn’t cook.” He stumbled over to her to see what she was preparing.
“Mom left me in charge of breakfast while she went to get some fruit.” She began to stir something runny. “Why don’t you go get cleaned up? Breakfast should be ready when you return.”
He took the spoon from her gently. “Uh, why don’t you let me take over here? You can get dressed first.”
She let out a relieved sigh. “Thank you. Mom won’t let me use the replicator, and I’m going crazy with these ancient appliances.” She headed in the direction of the bathroom and disappeared.
Paris examined the meal. He could tell exactly where Gretchen had left off and Janeway had taken over. Everything she did was either too raw or too cooked. Fortunately, there were plenty of eggs and strips of bacon, so he threw hers into the recycler and went to work.
“Tom, did Kathryn trick you into cooking for her?” Gretchen smiled and sat her basket of fruit on the counter.
“No, ma’am. It was my idea.”
“Good. Kathryn is a terrible cook. I try to teach her, but she’s hopeless.”
He sighed. “Gretchen, I just wanted you to know that your daughter is one of the most…amazing people I have ever met. She saved my life and helped me become the man I am today. Without her, I would be lost, and I know I speak for every member of Voyager when I say that. She deserves better than what Starfleet gave her.”
She smiled. “I’m very proud of her, Tom. She was the twinkle in her father’s eyes, and she has done nothing wrong in my mind. She also has wonderful friends who care about her, and that’s what she needs more than anything Starfleet could provide.”
“No, Tom, thank you.” She took over the cooking duties. “Now, then. How long are you staying?”
“I’m leaving this afternoon.”
“So soon? Kathryn will be disappointed.”
“I took a leave from Starfleet, but I got a job at the French Flight Academy.” He paused. “I start tomorrow.”
“You should have stayed longer. I had hoped to hear of Arachnia.”
He chuckled. “Hear of it? I have vids of it! But, uh, she doesn’t know that.”
Gretchen laughed. “Ah, Tom, I can see why she missed you.”
He lifted his head. Chakotay, yeah; Seven, maybe, but him?
“Oh, yes,” she continued, reading the question on his face, “she kept hoping that she would hear from you. She called from time to time, had nice conversations with your father.”
“He never told me that.”
“I’m not surprised. She never told him that she was calling for you.” She wiped her hands on a towel. “She may never admit it, but you did as much for her as she did for you. Your visit was simply the icing on the cake. But you will be sorely missed.”
He looked away, words failing him.
“So, the French Flight Academy. That’s in Marseilles, right? Where will you be staying?”
“I have a little apartment overlooking the ocean. It’s right by the Academy.”
“Ah, I see. Do you have a roommate?”
“No, but it does have two bedrooms. Just the right size for that type of arrangement.” He looked at Gretchen, who gave him a Mona Lisa smile, and suddenly became aware of what she was implying.
Janeway walked into the room, breathing deeply. “I’m so glad you cooked. It smells wonderful!” She poured herself a mug of coffee, oblivious to the gaze between her mother and Paris. She sat at the desk and touched the computer screen to see the news.
“–releasing the logs of Captain Kathryn Janeway,” the reporter stated. Paris and Gretchen gathered around the screen to watch. “The Federation captain commanded the U.S.S. Voyager, which was lost in the Delta Quadrant for eight years. The crew returned to Earth six months ago, where Janeway stood trial for two-hundred twenty-six violations of Starfleet regulations, forty-two of those under review as Prime Directive violations. The human captain–” An image of her face appeared on the screen. “–was suspended for one year and denied any advancement opportunities. Although not all log entries are being released at this time, those that are depict a harrowing image of the dangers of the Delta Quadrant. In other news–”
Paris tapped the screen to mute the report. “Two-hundred twenty-six violations in eight years? Not bad.”
“I can’t believe they’re releasing some entries now, especially since the review isn’t over,” Gretchen mentioned.
“I guess it’s in the public’s best interest to know what ‘harrowing dangers’ exist in the Delta Quadrant.” Janeway shook her head sadly. “I came out here to avoid distractions from reporters. Now that my logs are released, I’m sure they’ll hunt me out. And I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. ‘We were forced to improvise’? ‘I did what I had to do to save my crew’? They already seem to have their own views of the situation.”
Gretchen put a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t lose hope, Kathryn. There are at least one hundred fifty people who agree with your actions, and two of them are standing right here.”
She squeezed her mother’s hand. “Thank you. I’m just not sure what I should do now. I’ve spent the last six months gardening and cooking. Is that how I’m going to spend the next six months? Or the next six years? I wanted to be an admiral someday, but now…do I even want to be in Starfleet?”
Paris had been quiet up until then. Janeway was so lost. He needed to cheer her up, let her know that she was going to be fine. An idea came to mind, and he brightened. “Who needs to be an admiral,” he asked, pulling a vid chip out of his bag, “when you’re already a queen?”
Janeway’s jaw dropped. “You didn’t!”
“You recorded your ‘Captain Proton’ series?”
“Of course, and I just so happen to have a little episode called ‘Bride of Chaotica!’ Care to watch?”
Paris was certain that Janeway felt better after watching the vid. Everyone had laughed at Janeway’s performance, and the fond remembrance on her face was enough to make him smile. He readied himself in the bathroom once the fun had died down and returned to the living room, knowing full well that he had to leave. His transport was due to depart in one hour.
He was about to break the news to her, when Gretchen asked, “Kathryn, could you pick some potatoes for me please? I think I’ll have potato soup for dinner tonight.”
“You? What about us?”
Her mother gave her a cryptic smile. “What about you?” She shooed both of them out the back door.
Janeway frowned, picking up a spade to unearth the potatoes. “Well, I guess we’re going to have to fend for ourselves. What would you like me to cook for dinner?”
He bit his bottom lip, still reluctant to tell her that he had to go.
She misinterpreted his look and chuckled. “Okay, okay, fine. You can cook dinner. I’ll watch, but I need to have some idea of what you want.”
He grabbed her hand and looked sadly at her. He opened his mouth, but no sound came out.
Finally, she understood. “You’re not staying for dinner, are you?”
He shook his head. “I’m sorry.”
“But you just got here,” she pointed out. “We haven’t even gotten caught up on the last six months! Where are you going?”
“Marseilles. I’m going to teach at the French Flight Academy.”
“But what about Starfleet?”
“I guess I’m kind of freelance now. I’m on leave, but I was reinstated.”
“Congratulations,” she said flatly, dropping to her knees and digging furiously for the potatoes.
“Look, we both have six months until we have to make any decisions. Why not–” He knelt beside her and held her hands to make her stop. “Why not come with me?”
She turned her head. “Come with you? To France?”
“Why not? You could see the real Sandrine’s. I already have an apartment, with replicators and a bathtub. You could relax on the beach or come to work at the Academy. There isn’t a large population of Fleet officers, so you could be at peace without any influences. Maybe then you could make up your mind about your future.”
“But my mother–”
“Actually, she hinted at it, and…well, I miss you. Having you around is comfortable, and I know you well enough that it would feel like…well, like home.”
She blinked, a tear sliding down her cheek. He watched her; he could almost see the thoughts forming in her head. He wanted her to say yes, but he wasn’t sure how she would answer. Finally, she spoke. “What time does the transport leave?”
“In an hour.” He smiled slightly. “Just think. It could be more adventurous than anything Starfleet could offer.”
“I don’t doubt that, but…” She continued to ponder the situation.
“You’ll have a chance to beat me at a real pool table.”
“You wouldn’t have to cook or garden. You could watch ‘Bride of Chaotica!’ a thousand times.”
“I still can’t believe you have that.”
He smiled. “What do you say?”
She stood up, potatoes forgotten. “The Queen needs help packing her things.”
He also rose, grinning broadly. “Captain Proton to the rescue.”
End of Part One