As Time Goes By


By Diane

Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.

Chakotay pulled the warm blankets from the bottom of the bed and wrapped them securely around his daughter. He watched as Leah snuggled under them, instinctively pulling the old worn and tattered teddy in her arms closer to her side. Tenderly brushing away the wispy strands of red hair falling into her eyes, he quietly said, "Night sweetheart, Merry Christmas."

Leah looked up at him, clearly trying to fight off sleep for just a few moments longer. "I miss grandma," she whispered, clutching the teddy even closer.

"I know honey, I know."

Leaning down, he kissed her on the forehead, unsurprised to find her asleep when he pulled away. Checking she was well tucked in one final time, he switched off the bedside lamp and stood, quietly leaving in search of Kathryn.

He'd left her with Phoebe and her family downstairs some time ago. He had quietly herded two excited but tired children up to bed while Phoebe's husband had prepared their children for the journey home. It had left Kathryn and Phoebe a couple of moments to themselves to have a few quiet words about their mom.

Making a brief detour, Chakotay sighed sadly as he carefully opened the door to Duncan's room and checked inside. The news of Gretchen Janeway's death just over a month ago had been very sudden and left a very large gap in all their lives. He himself had warmed to Gretchen the moment he'd met her, and had grown to love her as he had his own mother. She'd had a gift of being able to make everyone feel welcome and at ease, a gift he had seen Kathryn use on more than one occasion with various members of Voyager's crew.

It had amused him how both Gretchen and Kathryn always claimed Kathryn had been a 'daddy's girl'. He had been able to see much of Gretchen Janeway in her eldest daughter, an observation he had shared with Gretchen many times, and one he knew had genuinely pleased her.

Seeing Duncan had fallen asleep just as quickly as Leah, Chakotay closed the door again and headed for the stairs. Reaching the bottom and walking into the living room, he was greeted by silence, Phoebe and the others having already left. He expected to find Kathryn curled up on the sofa, a warm cup of fresh coffee in her hand, but she was nowhere in sight. When he padded through to the kitchen and found that empty as well, it suddenly dawned on him where he would find her.

Moving towards the counter, Chakotay began making a fresh pot of coffee, not once sparing the replicator a single glance. He knew Kathryn wouldn't mind a few minutes alone, and she would more than appreciate the coffee after their hectic day.

Minutes later he was climbing the stairs once more, cup of coffee in hand, but this time headed for the guest bedroom. It had been the room Gretchen used when she stayed over, and had soon come to house various bits and pieces of her own personal possessions.

Softly opening the door of the bedroom, Chakotay peered round and found Kathryn sitting on the side of the bed. Closing the door behind him, he walked over and settled down beside her.

"Thought you might feel like some coffee," he offered, holding the mug out to her.

She turned to face him and smiled, gratefully accepting it. She sipped carefully, closing her eyes as the first drops slid down her throat.

"Mmm... real coffee," she muttered, and Chakotay smiled. She hadn't once taken real coffee for granted since their return from the Delta Quadrant, even after all these years.

He watched as she continued to drink, quite content to simply sit with her, knowing she would talk when she was ready. He looked around the room, taking in the little pieces that still lay scattered on the dresser and the shelves. No one had wanted to remove anything after Gretchen's death, especially as Christmas hadn't been too far away.

"Are the children asleep?" she finally asked, moving closer to his side and taking his hand in her free one.

"They went out like lights," Chakotay answered, squeezing her hand in return. "They miss Gretchen," he prompted, and recounted each conversation he'd shared with Duncan and Leah as he'd said goodnight to them.

Kathryn sighed, and closed her eyes as she rested her head on Chakotay's shoulder. "It's their first Christmas without her." She paused before continuing. "I spent seven years without seeing her but..."

"There was always the hope you'd see her again," Chakotay finished. He felt rather than heard her acknowledgement when she nodded her head, and felt her tighten her grip on his hand.

"We'll need to clear some of her personal things away," Kathryn began again a few minutes later, thinking of what lay around the room.

"Leave it," Chakotay almost whispered. "It can wait 'til after New Year."

He felt her nod again before she sat up and looked at him.

"I miss her Chakotay," she said softly, leaning in to rest her forehead against his.

Chakotay pulled her into a warm hug, knowing there wasn't really anything he could say or do to make her feel any better. They simply sat, holding one another, feelings and images of Kathryn's mom fleeting through their minds.

Chakotay was the one who eventually said, "Let's go to bed, Kathryn."

He felt her tighten her hold on him briefly before letting go and pulling back. One hand still in his, she stood and pulled him with her. With one final glance around the room, Kathryn called for lights out before they silently left the room together.

The End

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