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Sugar and Spice
By Bratling


Disclaimer: If you think these characters belong to me, you’re sadly mistaken. I borrowed them, hugged them, squeezed them, called them George, then gave them back like a good girl. Star Trek and Star Trek: Voyager are property of Paramount and Gene Rodenberry.

Author’s Note: Never believed C/7 when I heard about it. Couldn’t believe it. TPTB must be crazy to think we’d buy it. So, in an effort to right what the network idiots did, I’m trying my hand at some J/C fic. This takes place seventh season, right after Chakotay and Seven started dating, but before Endgame. I've been told that some may be offended by a certain paragraph in part two regarding Q, but I'm just going with Roddenberry's characterization of him. I guess you could call this the mandatory Q story. My thanks to Kim for beta reading my first try at Star Trek: Voyager fanfic.

Rating: PG-13 - barely R for a little not-nice language

=/\= =/\= =/\=


“Sugar and spice,
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.”
--Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme


=/\= =/\= =/\=


Ah, the joys of children! My favorite female captain may have turned down the chance in several lifetimes to bear mine, but she did straighten Junior out, so I owe her. She wants them. Chuckles does too—and she wants Chuckles as well.

I am Q, after all. I am omnipotent, omniscient, all-powerful. I can do whatever I please. Today, it pleases me to do something different. Besides, it will be amusing to watch.

I never did like that Borg she took under her wing. Kathryn couldn’t see past that apparent innocence, even *after* she found the hologram. Humans. So gullible. Even when presented with irrefutable evidence, they want to believe the best of those they consider to be their children.

Kathryn is no better. Poor deluded mortal. She can’t see past the end of her nose when people she loves are involved. In case you don’t know it, Chuckles is now dating the Borg Bimbo. It’s only a matter of time before she injects him with those nanoprobes of hers and brainwashes him into being her abject slave.

That would make Kathryn unhappy. And I owe her. Big time. The way I see it, I should intervene; make sure she has a chance with Commander Chuckles. What fools these mortals be. If they only acted on their feelings, I’d never have to do this to pay back my debt, and I could have saved it for something like whisking her away to my own private pleasure palace.

Their young are remarkably uninhibited, don’t you think? Not afraid to say what’s theirs. Not afraid to tell you exactly what they want. And they don’t let much stand in their way. Very much like we Q.

I make myself disappear from the Continuum, turn myself invisible, send myself to Voyager, and start to watch. I know what’s coming; in a month or so, they’ll be home… And then the fun will begin. There’s one thing to say about humans, they’re fun to watch when they’re not being tiresome.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Kathryn reached for her coffee, took a sip, and grimaced. It was cold. She laid the PADD she had been reading down on her desk, recycled the cup, and got another from the replicator. She sat on the couch, picked up another PADD, and drank some of her coffee. She put down the mug and gasped. A wave of dizziness passed over her. She shook her head vigorously to clear it, dismissed the sensation, and went back to her reports.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Chakotay entered the last line in the report he’d been working on and got up. “You have the bridge, Tuvok,” he said, then headed towards the Captain’s ready room, barely acknowledging the “Aye, sir,” that came from the Vulcan.

Chakotay hit the chime, then walked in without waiting for her to acknowledge her. “Captain, I have the report you were asking for,” he said, then looked around. Kathryn was nowhere in sight.

A small figure toddled out from behind the desk. Spotting him, it walked over and handed him a cup. “Here,” it said, then tripped over the bottom of its clothing. The sleeves of a jacket were over its small hands, and the hem trailed behind it.

It couldn’t be. She’d been fine this morning. Chakotay sat down heavily on the couch. Her normal self; not a child. Shit. She made a cute kid, but how in hell were they going to get her back to normal? He forced down the momentary flicker of panic. The only thing he could think to do was to get this pint-sized version of his Captain to trust him so that they could figure out how to reverse whatever had happened to her.

Chakotay examined the child closely, trying to see if there was anything he could do right away. Long, carroty hair hung in slightly-tangled strands down her back, and large, blue eyes looked around the Ready Room curiously. “Kathryn?” he tried.

The toddler turned around to look at him. “No Kadhryn. Me Kadie Janeway. Who you?”

Chakotay put the cup on the table and walked around the desk. A pile of discarded clothes were on the other side, along with a stack of abandoned PADDs. “I’m Chakotay,” he answered with a smile as he squatted down to her level.

Katie moved back from him. “Kadie potty,” she said with a smile, then squatted in the middle of the room and started to concentrate.

“No!” Chakotay said. He picked her up, tucked her under his arm, hurried to the head, and held her over the toilet just in time. He cleaned her off, headed back to the ready room, and put her back down.

Katie walked over to the wall and put her thumb in her mouth. “Where Mommy, Daddy?” she asked around her thumb. “Go bye-bye?” she said.

Chakotay tried to think of something to say to her. He hated lying, especially to children. “Um, yes... they had to go bye-bye, Katie.”

Katie’s face crumpled. “Wand Daddy. Wand Daddy NOW.” Her lower lip started to quiver and tears began to roll down her face.

Chakotay moved closer and picked her up. “Shaa, shaa,” he murmured, patting her on the back. It took a few minutes, but she quieted down and rubbed her face on his shoulder with a sniffle.

Katie pulled back and looked at him through tear-wet eyes. “Lub you. My ‘Koday,” she said with a small, crooked smile.

Chakotay’s heart melted. He’d dreamed of children that belonged to himself and Kathryn who had that smile. It was possible that this wasn’t a younger version of his Kathryn as he suspected. There was only one way to find out; he had to take her to Sickbay. “We’re going to see the doctor, Katie,” he said gently.

A stormy look passed over her small face. “NO!” she yelled, then squirmed in his arms, trying to get down. “Docdors OWIE!”

With practice born from years of babysitting nieces, nephews, and village children, Chakotay held on grimly, not letting Katie escape. “Yes,” he said firmly. “It won’t hurt, I promise.”

“No, no, no, NO!” Katie screamed, then started to cry and beat her fists against his chest. She squirmed some more, then got away.

Chakotay caught her again and left the room. “Tuvok,” he said grimly, “we have a problem.”

Tuvok got up from his chair and walked over. “I see,” he answered. “Since we did not have a red-haired child on Voyager a few minutes ago, and the one you are holding looks remarkably like the holopictures that of the Captain from when she was approximately two years old, logic dictates that somehow the Captain has regressed in age, and that you are holding her.”

“That would be my guess,” Chakotay said dryly.

Katie buried her face in his neck. “Scary man,” she said. “No docdor.”

“I’m taking her to the Doctor to see if she’s okay, and try and find out how this happened.” Chakotay said.

“Docdor OWIE!” Katie protested. “NO DOCDOR,” she proclaimed.

“Sorry, Kathryn, but you’re going to the doctor,” Chakotay said as he headed for the turbolift.

“NO! NONONONONONONONONONO!” Katie screamed.

Chakotay stepped into the turbo lift. “Sickbay,” he told the computer, then looked down at the screaming child in his arms. “I guess that answers one question,” he grumbled good-naturedly. “You’ve always been this stubborn, and you’ve always avoided doctors like the plague.”

Katie’s screams degenerated into quiet sobbing. She looked pleadingly at him through big, tearful, blue eyes. “Pwese? No docdor?” She pointed at her right arm. “Docdor owie.”

Chakotay rubbed her back. “I promise that the doctor won’t hurt you, okay, Katie?”

Katie threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. “My ‘Koday,” she mumbled.

Chakotay sighed and kissed Katie on the forehead. Normally, he wouldn’t mind it if she called him hers, but the fact that she was a baby when she was doing it made him feel... odd. Especially since she obviously didn’t remember being an adult.

He’d heard of the temporal anomaly that had caused some of the Enterprise crew to regress in age, who hadn’t? But if that had happened to Kathryn, she’d still remember being Captain, and Katie didn’t remember that. It was almost as if she had switched places with her younger self, or her memories had been suppressed.

The turbolift opened, and he hurried down the corridor and into sickbay. He deposited the child on one of the biobeds and the doctor came out of his office. "Commander, who's my new patient?" he asked.

Katie stuck her lip out in a pout. "Docdor OWIE," she said.

"Doctor, I need you to run a DNA scan," Chakotay said with a sigh. "It appears that the Captain has... regressed, for lack of a better term."

The EMH shot a doubtful look at the little girl. "Certainly, Commander. If you can get her to lie down..."

Chakotay turned back to Katie. "Katie, can you do me a favor and lie down, please?"

Katie slipped her small hand into his and seemed to consider it for a few minutes. "Okay, Mine," she said with a smile before she obeyed.

When the doctor came close to her, she started squirming away from him. "Docdor owie," she repeated.

Chakotay leaned down and whispered something in her ear. Katie held still and allowed the doctor to scan her with the tricorder and then take some deeper readings. "What did you say to her, Commander?" he asked.

Chakotay shrugged. "I offered her ice cream if she held still," he explained. "Can you tell me if there's any record of why she starts throwing tantrums when somebody mentions doctors?" he asked.

"Well, Commander, this is Captain Janeway; the rest is confidential medical information. She appears to be in perfect health for a child between twenty-four and twenty-nine months in age."

Chakotay grimaced. “Any ideas how this happened?”

“I’m not equipped to scan for chronoton particles,” the Doctor said. “Have you asked Engineering?” He walked over to the replicator. “One red lollypop with a safety handle,” he said. After it appeared, he pulled off the wrapping, walked over and handed it to Katie. “There you go; that wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Katie grabbed the candy and stuck it in her mouth.

“What do you say, Katie?” Chakotay asked.

“Dank you,” she replied around the candy.

“It always works for Naomi,” the Doctor said with a smirk.

“Go bye-bye, Mine?” Katie asked, holding her arms up.

“I’ll take her to Engineering. Thanks, Doctor.” Chakotay picked her up and headed out of the room. “Okay, Katie, we’re going to see a good friend of mine.”

“Lub you, Mine,” she said with a winning smile.

“So I’m ‘Mine’ now, hmm? What ever happened to ‘Koday’, Katie?” Chakotay touched her nose playfully.

Katie frowned for a minute and it looked like she was concentrating. “Mine ‘Koday?” she offered.

Chakotay chuckled and kept walking. It wasn’t long before he reached engineering and headed towards B'Elanna’s office. “B'Elanna?” he called. “I’ve got a problem that I could use some help with.”

B'Elanna came out from behind the conduit that she’d been working on. “Chakotay,” she began, then she caught sight of the Captain. “Where did the kid come from?” she asked.

“Me Kadie,” she said.

“B'Elanna, I need you to see if there are chronoton particles hanging around her,” he said. “This is the Captain, she’s just... de-aged.”

B'Elanna rolled her eyes and held out her hands to Katie. “Want to come over here, sweetheart?” she asked.

Katie launched herself out of Chakotay’s arms and into B'Elanna’s. “I’ll scan her, Chakotay, but why haven’t you gotten her anything to wear? We don’t know how long it’ll take to figure out how to reverse what’s happened to her, and she can’t wear this.”

“I didn’t think of it,” he said defensively. “There hasn’t been time; I had to take her to see the doctor.”

“Mine, come here.” Katie demanded imperiously, pulling the lollypop out of her mouth. Willingly, Chakotay came closer he opened his mouth to say something else, and Katie stuck her half-eaten lollypop in his mouth. “Kadie share!” she said, clapping her hands.

B'Elanna snickered. “So she calls you ‘Mine’?” she asked.

“Can we just scan her?” Chakotay asked as he pulled the candy out of his mouth and surreptitiously put it in the recycler.

“Let’s get her a diaper and clothes first before she makes a mess,” B'Elanna said. She walked over to the replicator, punched in a selection, and pulled out a set of clothing the right size. “She can pay me back once we get her back to normal,” she muttered.

B'Elanna handed the clothes to Chakotay. “Okay, ‘Mine,’ you get her dressed while I go get my tricorder.”

Katie giggled and held out her arms. “‘Koday!” she called cheerfully. “Mine!”

A slow, evil grin spread over B'Elanna’s face. “You do realize, Old Man,” she began, “that the two of you are going to be teased about this until we get home?”

“Don’t remind me,” he said with a groan as he cleared a spot on B'Elanna's desk and diapered the baby clumsily, then started to pull the too-large top off her.

Katie frowned at him. “I do,” she said, then tried to take the jacket and turtleneck off herself.

B'Elanna tried not to laugh as she programmed the tricorder and started scanning the captain. “No sign of anything unusual, including chronoton particles.”

“Thanks, B'Elanna,” he said with a grimace. Chakotay wrestled the new clothes onto Katie, then picked her up again. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do with her; she’s too little to leave alone, but I’m going to have to call a meeting to see if we can figure out what happened so that we can reverse the process.”

B'Elanna smoothed her tunic down over her pregnant belly. “Talk to Sam Wildman,” she suggested. “She’s managed to cope with Naomi, and I bet she’d know somebody who’d be willing to baby-sit while you take care of stuff; she’s been telling me how she handled things when Naomi was a baby.”

Chakotay rubbed his eyes with his free hand, then looked down at Katie, who was busily engaged in playing with his rank bar. “I should’ve thought of that, but—“

B'Elanna chuckled and leaned against the wall. “I’d be distracted, too, if my best friend was suddenly a two-year-old kid and I was going to have to be Captain until we figure out how to fix it.”

Chakotay pushed a strand of ginger hair out of Katie's mouth. Katie frowned at him, then got distracted by his tattoo. She patted it curiously, then laid her head on his shoulder. “I don’t know what we’re gonna do if we can’t find a way to reverse this,” he said.

Katie looked up at him and flashed a bright smile. “Mine no be sad,” she said, and then pulled at his collar. Without thinking, he leaned down slightly, and she gave him a wet kiss on the cheek.

“Oh yeah,” B'Elanna said. “You two are never going to hear the end of this—-I now have enough stuff to tease you about for the next sixty years or so.”

Chakotay just shook his head and left Engineering. He hoped that Ensign Wildman had some short-term solutions about their new childcare problem so that they could work on getting the Captain back to normal. While he wanted children--preferably his and Kathryn’s--he didn’t want Kathryn to be a child. He just couldn’t see raising the woman he had fallen in love with so many years ago.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Humans. So stubborn. So determined to fix every little problem. I thought that young Kathryn would have taken care of the Borg bimbo by now, but Chuckles is still hauling Kathryn around like a favorite toy.

If the Continuum had not objected the first time, I would simply have turned Seven into a pillar of salt like I did Lot’s wife. Too bad they didn’t have French fries back then; a little of her would have tasted good on those. What? You do not think I know what they taste like? I was human for a brief time, remember?

I suppose that I could snap Seven into their path, but this time I need to be subtle... yes, subtle! You do not get to be omnipotent without learning some sense of discretion!

"Father, when are you gonna make Aunt Kathy happy?"

"Junior, sit down! You cannot just run amok and make these tiresome mortals behave how you want them to!"

"You don't think they're tiresome, Father."

Junior is taunting me. Perhaps I should do something to make him stop. A weeping, itchy rash, perhaps. Then again, he is my son. It would probably give him infinite amusement.

"You like them, Father! You keep going to talk to Captain Picard all the time, and you made Aunt Kathy my godmother; you even wanted her to be my mom!"

"Junior, go see your mother. She can find you some lesser life forms to torment; I am busy. Go. Now." My son sighs as he pops out. I love him, don't get me wrong, but he's annoying. He might have been less annoying and more entertaining if only Kathryn had accepted my little offer.

But I digress. All children grow up eventually. So will Kathryn. She just has to reach out and take what is hers. What? You think that it will be painful? I am insulted. This time, I will make her happy to repay my debt. Let us look at what is currently going on in the Delta Quadrant.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Chakotay rang the door chime and shifted Katie to his other arm. "Mine sad?" she asked, her forehead furrowed with concern.

Chakotay flashed her a smile. "No, I'm not sad, Katie. I just miss my best friend."

Katie threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. "Kadie here. You no miss friend."

Chakotay pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Thanks, Katie."

Before he could say anything more, a high, childish voice chirped, "Come," and the door opened. "Commander Chakotay!" Naomi said cheerfully. "Who's that?" she asked, pointing at Katie. "Since the Borg kids are gone, I'm the only kid on board, aren't I?"

"It's temporary," Chakotay said grudgingly. "Can I talk to your mom?"

Naomi smiled brightly. "Sure! Commander Chakotay, when you're done talking to Mom, will you tell me a Coyote story?  I'll never be too old for those"

"We'll see, kiddo," Chakotay reached out with his free hand and messed up her hair.

"MOM!" Naomi yelled.

"What is it, Naomi?" Samantha came out of the head and looked at her daughter. "Commander! What can I do for you?" she asked. "Please, sit down."

Chakotay sat down on the couch, and shifted Katie into his lap. "Mine?" Katie said quietly.

"And who is this?" Samantha asked.

Chakotay sighed and rubbed Katie's back. "We're not exactly sure how it happened, and I haven't made any announcements yet, but somehow the Captain has been de-aged."

"You mean, that's--" Naomi took an involuntary step forward and a huge smile blossomed over her face. "Can I take her to my room to play?'

Katie looked up at Chakotay with her bottom lip stuck out in a pout. "Mine no go 'way," she pleaded.

"I'm not going anywhere, Katie," Chakotay promised. "Would you like to go with Naomi and play while her mom and I talk."

"Mine be here?" she asked, seeming to consider his question.

"Of course, Katie," he answered.

"Okay, me go," she agreed as she slid off his lap.

Naomi offered Katie her hand. "C'mon, Katie," she said with a smile. "I'll introduce you to Flotter."

"Who dhad?" Katie asked as they left the room.

Chakotay smiled as he heard Naomi's response. "Samantha, B'Elanna said you might have some solutions for me about the Captain's care in the immediate future; she's currently too young to be left alone."

Samantha sat down in a chair nearby. "Have you talked to Ensign Celes?" she asked. "She used to volunteer a lot when Naomi was younger and she's good with kids. Seven might do it, too; she was good with the Borg kids. Katie could stay here tonight, too." Samantha smiled. "Naomi asked for a little sister for her birthday; it might be good for her to have one until we figure out how to reverse whatever happened to the Captain."

"I'll talk to them," Chakotay said. Privately, he thought that there was no way he'd talk to Seven about it. If she mentioned anything about the fact that they'd been on a few casual dates and the Captain happened to remember when she was her real age.... Well, it wasn't something that he'd want to have happen.

"Moooooommmmmmm!" Naomi called. "Katie has Flotter, and she won't give him back!" She ran back in the room, Katie trailing behind her, holding the disputed favorite toy.

"Mine," Katie insisted. "Nod Flodder, 'Koday."

Chakotay tried hard to suppress a grin. "She didn't have to share at this age," he murmured. Naomi had never been asked to share Flotter; it wasn't surprising that she was objecting now.

"You don't play with Flotter much anymore, Naomi," Sam pointed out. "What would it hurt to let Katie play with it for a while?"

"But Mom, he's mine," she protested.

"And it will still be yours when we figure out how to make Katie old enough to become Captain Janeway again." Samantha said.

"All right," Naomi grumbled. She looked at Katie, and a huge smile spread over her face. "Can we fix Katie's hair? It's a mess, and I've got ribbons!" Without waiting for an answer, she ran into her bedroom and emerged a scant two minutes later with a hairbrush, ribbons, and ponytail holders clutched in her hands. She hurried over and handed them to her mom. "Please, Mom? Her hair is so pretty."

Samantha sighed and took the ribbons. “I guess dinner can wait for a few minutes,” she said. “Katie, come here, please?”

Katie looked at Chakotay. At his encouraging nod, she went to Samantha Wildman. “Hi,” she said, looking at the deck.

“Turn around and let me fix your hair, sweetie,” Samantha ordered.

Katie looked at Chakotay again before she obeyed. He smiled as he watched Samantha brush her hair, then divide it in two and start to braid it. “Computer, what time is it?” he asked.

“The time is 18:45 hours,” was the answer.

Chakotay frowned. He was supposed to be meeting Seven for dinner at 1900; it had been close to the end of Alpha shift when he had discovered their little problem, and most of the Senior staff would be either eating or on their way to dinner. He sighed, stood up, and headed towards the workstation. If he remembered correctly, two-year-olds didn’t have much staying power, so Katie would be ready to sleep soon.

“Samantha, is it okay if I borrow this for a minute to send out a message?” he asked.

“Sure,” was Samantha’s abstracted answer as she bound off the end of one pigtail and tied a ribbon into a bow on the end.

“You’ve got pretty hair, Katie,” Naomi said with a smile.

“Koday,” Katie said, reaching out and walking towards him, only to be jerked back by the hair that Samantha was braiding. She started to cry. “Mine, want MINE.” She dropped the toy on the floor, forgotten in her struggle to get to him.

Samantha leaned forward and dropped a kiss on the top of her head. “It’s okay, Katie. I’m almost done.”

Chakotay hurriedly finished his message and got up. There’d be a Senior Staff meeting in two hours to see if they could figure out how to reverse whatever had happened and get their Captain back. “Katie, what’s the matter?” he asked.

“OWIE!” she proclaimed. “Mine and Kadie go bye-bye. No more owie.”

Chakotay dropped to his knees. “Katie, I promise, if you hold still for a few minutes, it’ll be okay. Can you do that for me?”

Katie gave him a hesitant nod, tugging on her captured pigtail again. “Kadie hungy,” she said. “Ice cream?” she asked hopefully.

“I did promise you that, didn’t I?” Chakotay said. “After dinner.”

“‘Kay,” she agreed.

Sam finished the second pigtail, bound it off, and tied the ribbon around it so that it matched the other side. “She looks beautiful, Mommy,” Naomi said with a smile as she leaned down, picked up the bear, and hid it behind her back. “Doesn’t she, Commander?”

Chakotay grinned, showing his dimples. “My younger sister used to wear her hair like that,” he offered.

“Up, Mine,” Katie said, holding out her arms.

Chakotay gathered the child to him and hugged her. "I've got plans for tonight," he commented wryly. "What am I going to do with you?"

Samantha glanced at Naomi. "We could take her to dinner with us, Commander; and I already offered to let her spend the night here."

Chakotay shot her a grateful look. "Thanks!" He released Katie, stood up, and started towards the door. "I'll be back to get you, Katie," he promised.

Katie's lip started to tremble and her eyes filled with tears. She ran forward, hurled herself at Chakotay and wrapped her arms and legs around his leg. "MINE 'KODAY NO GO!" she cried, then started to scream. "Kadie sday with 'Koday!" she sobbed.

A helpless feeling stole over him. Children weren't supposed to cry; they weren't allowed to cry! He picked her up and patted her back awkwardly. "Shaa, shaa," he murmured in her ear for the second time that day. As she began to quiet, he looked at Samantha. "Thanks for the offer, but I think she's going to have to come with me."

"Are you sure, Uncle Chakotay?" Naomi asked. "I want her to stay and play for a while."

"Sorry, Naomi, but I think Katie might be scared; I'm the only person who's been with her since she de-aged, and she doesn't remember anybody. Thanks for the offer, Samantha." Without waiting for an answer, Chakotay left and headed for his quarters, still holding Katie, who was sobbing quietly into his shoulder. He was late, Seven would be waiting, and he still hadn't done anything about dinner.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Katie Janeway explored the quarters of her Koday happily. He had lots of interesting stuff in there; there were even pictures that looked a lot like Mommy. He was fussing with the machine in the wall, trying to tell it what was for dinner. She was hungry, and hoping for a hamburger and French fries. After all, he'd already said she could have ice cream. She looked up at him and smiled.

There was something about him that made her feel safe--even when he was doing something she hated, like washing all traces of snot and tears off her face. He was the only person in the strange place where she'd woken up that felt familiar. Something inside her said that he was hers, and he always had been. She stuck her thumb in her mouth, wandered over and tugged on his pant leg. "Kadie hungy," she said. "Wand fry."

Chakotay grinned. "So… you want French fries, Miss Janeway? I'm guessing you want a hamburger to go with them?"

Katie nodded vigorously. "Yesss," she said.

"As soon as my friend gets here, we'll eat, okay?"

Katie pouted. "Now?" she asked.

The chime on the door rang. "Almost," he answered. "Come in, Seven."

Katie eyed the person who came in the door mistrustfully. This Person was here to take what was hers. She let go of Chakotay's pant leg and crossed her arms over her chest. It would not be allowed. "Who dat, Mine?" she asked.

"Katie," Chakotay said. "This is Seven; she's my friend."

"Commander Chakotay, who is that?" Seven asked, her voice level.

"You got the memo about the Captain? This is Katie, and she's latched on to me."

Seven raised an eyebrow. "Can you not find someone to take care of her?" she asked. "I had plans for this evening. It is our third date. I believe that making out is now permitted." She leaned forward and put her hand on his arm.

"She starts crying--" Chakotay began.

"Tears are irrelevant." Seven said.

"She throws tantrums if I try and leave her…" Chakotay trailed off.

"Tantrums are also irrelevant." Seven intoned. "The Borg children did not throw them; she should not, either."

Katie leveled a glare at this new person. She didn't like the way Seven was touching Mine. She'd seen it at the play center. Somebody came up and started touching your toys just like that before they stole them. After a moments thought, she decided not to stand for it.

Katie kicked Seven in the shin, then punched her as hard as she could. "MINE 'KODAY. GO 'WAY!" she yelled, then sank her teeth into the woman's dangling hand. There were some metal bits on it that hurt, but Katie didn't care. Seven couldn't have her 'Koday.

Seven tried to move away, but simply pulled a struggling Katie with her. Katie kept hitting and kicking as hard as she could without relinquishing her teeth's grip on Seven's hand.

Chakotay dropped to his knees. "Katie, stop, now."

Katie let go, ran to Chakotay, and wrapped her little arms around him. "MINE." She repeated. "You go 'way. NOD YOURS."

Chakotay stood and gathered Katie to him. "Seven, perhaps this isn't the best time…" he glanced at her hand, which was still bleeding. "You should go have that looked at, while I have a talk with Miss Janeway here."

Seven shot a distasteful glance at Katie. Her little face was blotchy from her tantrum, and a small stream of snot was coming from her nose. "Acceptable. I do not think I like children; the Borg children never behaved as Captain Janeway does." She turned and left his quarters.

Chakotay took a deep breath and counted to ten. Her leaving kept him from reminding her that the Borg baby had, indeed, cried to make its wants and needs known; just like any other small child. He walked over to the couch, sat down and settled Katie in his lap. "Katie," he said softly. "That wasn't a nice thing to do to Seven."

"You MINE," Katie reiterated stubbornly. "You nod hers."

Chakotay sighed, pulled a tissue out of his pocket, wiped her nose, and tucked her under his chin. He rocked her gently until the tears stopped and the only noise to be heard was her soft breathing. He looked down to see that she was fast asleep.

"Cute, isn't she?"

Cakotay looked up and anger started to well up in him. "You did this to her! Change her back, Q!"

Q lounged in front of him, suspended in air. "Oh, I will eventually, Chuckles. You see, I don't like you much, but I owe dear Kathy--and she wants you. I just gave her a form in which she would express it."

"Change her back NOW, Q," Chakotay demanded.

"I'm doing you a favor, you know," Q smiled, and a shiver ran down Chakotay's back. "If you stuck with the Borg bitch, you'd either end up mad or her slave." Q yawned. "I grow weary of your mortal babbling. She will remember everything that occurred." With a flash, Q disappeared, and Chakotay ended up with a lapful of warm, sleeping, barely clothed woman.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

Kathryn cracked open her eyes, surrounded by a scent that she knew as well as her favorite perfume--Chakotay. She snuggled closer to the source sleepily, hoping not to wake up this time. It was a heck of a dream she'd just had. "Kathryn?" she heard his voice call her name.

She sighed. "I don't wanna wake up," she muttered. She finished opening her eyes slowly as consciousness and memory returned. Her face turned bright red as she realized where she was, felt him underneath her, and discovered what she was barely wearing. Sure, the shorts and shirt she had on covered the essentials, but they were little better than a bra and panties.

"Chakotay?" she asked, looking up into his face. One long braid hit her back. She frowned as she pulled it forward. The pigtail reached her waist--she hadn't worn it that long since she was a teenager!

As he looked at her, his eyes darkened. "I'd better get you something better to wear," he said.

She got up and followed him into his bedroom, looking around curiously. She'd never been in there, but it was as sparsely decorated as the main room.

"Here," he said, handing her a pair of sweats and the old, worn shirt that she'd stolen on New Earth.

Kathryn looked at the clothes, then back up at him. "Chakotay? Did I just spend the afternoon as a two-year-old?"

"Um, yes," Chakotay admitted. "I'll fill you in on anything you don't remember after you change."

Kathryn nodded and hurried into the bathroom. She emerged a few minutes later and went into the living room and sat on the couch next to him. Unconsciously, she shifted slightly, leaning against him.

"What do you remember?" he asked.

She frowned. "Everything, I think. I even remember calling Tuvok a 'scary man' and hitting Seven," she paused for a moment. "I should apologize to them."

Chakotay brought his arm up around her. "Probably," he agreed. "Did you mean what you said to Seven?" he asked.

Kathryn was silent for a few minutes as she fought the internal battle between what she wanted to say and what she, as the Captain, was allowed to say. It took a few minutes, but she, as Kathryn, won. "Yes," she murmured. "I don't know how long getting home will take, and maybe you were right; the future might not happen... I can't give up now for that." She looked up at him. "Is it too late, Chakotay?" she asked. "Did I wait too long?"

Chakotay hesitated. "No," he admitted finally. "I love you; I think I always have."

"That's good," she said, laying her head on his chest. "Because I need you. Not just as my XO, not just as my best friend. I need you because I love you."

Chakotay leaned down and kissed her gently. Kathryn melted into the kiss; it was full of love and the promise of a new side to their relationship. She opened her mouth under his, inviting him to deepen the kiss. A few seconds later, they broke off the kiss, and he wrapped his arms around her. "Welcome home, Kathryn," he said softly, "welcome home."

The Beginning...