Disclaimer: Paramount owns all, but the story, which popped into my head many miles away.
Dedicated to Cait. . .for asking. Thanks again. . .!
Kathryn Janeway walked through the park. She didn’t take much notice of what was around her; the children running in play, the kites held high on the wind, students studying for exams. The world was of her own making. Nothing mattered.
They’d made it home—eight years, five months, eighteen days, six hours. Eight years had changed many things for the lives on board Voyager. Opposing forces had combined. Enemies became friends. Friends became allies. Allies became lovers. Marriages, children; all of it had happened.
So had death.
Kathryn continued walking through the park, not noting the way the breeze bit into her skin. The way her hair whipped into her face, stinging her eyes. None mattered.
" ‘scuse me, lady," a little girl said, running past her. Kathryn mumbled something in response. The sound of her voice seemed to bring her out of her automaton. She blinked her eyes and finally took in her surroundings.
"Pardon?" she asked. The little girl, dressed in red overalls and a white shirt turned around. Her light brown hair offset by her bright blue eyes. Kathryn quickly noted what a beautiful child she was.
"I said, ‘scuse me," the girl cocked her head and looked at Kathryn, her eyes sparkling. "Wasn’t that right? My mommy always tells me to say ‘scuse me’ when I go in front of someone or other times."
Kathryn’s hardened features softened. "No, you did right. I wasn’t watching what I was doing. I just wanted to make sure of what you said." Kathryn began walking away.
"Lady," the little girl said after a moment of watching Kathryn walk away from her. "why are you so unhappy?"
This brought Kathryn up short. No one ever seemed to notice her moods; with the exception of one. She usually kept her face in neutral, letting her emotions boil beneath the surface. She turned slowly and walked back toward the little girl. Her shadow fell over the little figure and the little girl turned her face up to look at Kathryn.
"Why do you say that?"
The little girl put her hands behind her back and crossed her leg over the other and swung back and forth. "I see a lot of people who are unhappy. They all come here."
"They do?" Kathryn asked.
"Uhm-hmm." The little girl grinned. Kathryn swore the little girl looked familiar, strangely so, but couldn’t place her.
"Do you have a name?" Kathryn asked her, looking down quickly, then sitting down in the grass.
"Tatianna," she said, sitting down in front of Kathryn, her legs crossed Indian style, her elbows resting on her knees. "What’s yours?"
"Kathryn," she said. Another regret ran through her head as she sat with the child. No family to call her own.
"That’s my mom’s name. I think it’s very pretty," Tatianna stated plainly.
"You said you knew I was unhappy; how?" Kathryn said softly.
"You have the same look as my mommy when she’s sad. Same look as people who come here." Tatianna picked at the grass, pulling out individual blades, studying them, setting them on her leg. She pointed to a nearby bench, where a white haired woman sat, looking out into the misty ocean. "See that lady? She is always here, always sad."
Kathryn turned her head and looked at the old woman. Something about her was also familiar to her. She turned her attention back to the girl. "You know, you’re going to make a bald spot if you keep that up." Kathryn pointed to the neat little row of grass blades.
"Mommy and daddy are scientists. I’m always very careful about nature. If you look closely, not one of these blades are the same type of grass." She held up two different blades for Kathryn to see. "Different varieties. It makes the grass stronger and more green. Mommy and daddy told me that."
"They must be smart," Kathryn said, looking at the two blades. "What did you mean when you said that old woman was sad?"
Tatianna looked over again toward the bench. "She is. Her name is Kathryn, too. But it’s probably not spelled the same way." Tatianna watched her for a moment, Kathryn looking back over her shoulder as well. "She was once in Starfleet. Some high kind of officer."
"Oh, really?" Kathryn asked.
"Yes. She came home from some trip…and lost everything. People were always hounding her, bothering her, so she went into hiding…embittered by the way she was treated. Before she knew it, she had no friends, no one to love. So she comes down here, sits on the bench all day. Even when it’s raining."
Kathryn looked at the child. "How do you know so much?"
Tatianna stood up, dusting her legs off as well as her rear. "I asked her." She looked at Kathryn. "Don’t let yourself become so sad and unhappy that you forget your life. You’re too nice to end up like that." And without a further word, the little girl left.
Kathryn sat there for a long time after the little girl left, thinking. Tatianna was right. She couldn’t let herself be weighed down any further by the past. She had to look forward to the future. She leaned back in the grass and stared up at the blue sky. She sighed and rejoiced in the simple pleasure.
Then somewhere in the back of her mind, she heard a voice. Kathryn felt disconnected as she sat up and looked at people rushing toward the bench with the old woman. She felt far away as she heard them say the old woman wasn’t breathing, that she had no heartbeat—that she was gone.
Kathryn leaned back and closed her eyes. . .
"Kathryn? Kathryn, come on. It’s time to wake up." The voice was gentle, yet commanding.
Her eyes blinked once—twice—three times. Then she closed them and slowly opened them, getting used to the bright light.
"It looks like we have her back," she could hear the voice of the EMH say.
"Kathryn, can you hear me?" Chakotay asked.
"Yes…Chakotay—I had the strangest dream. . ."
Chakotay looked at the EMH, then down to Kathryn. "Kathryn, you were out for just a couple of minutes."
She tried sitting up, but couldn’t; she could feel nothing from her chest down. "Why can’t I move?"
The EMH came into view. "Captain, you went into shock. I didn’t anticipate a reaction to the epidural and it gave us a start. But we got you back—"
Kathryn was looking at Chakotay, feeling disoriented and confused. She could still smell the ocean air, hear the waves; even feel the grass beneath her.
"Epidural? I—I don’t understand." The EMH’s back was turned to her and she felt she’d somehow missed something. He turned back around and in his arms was something in a white blanket. She felt her bed raise so she was sitting up.
"Well, maybe now you will. Captain, may I present—" he leaned down and Chakotay moved to take the blanket away from a little face. "your daughter."
"Daughter?" Kathryn said, looking between the two men.
"You were sure it was going to be a boy. . .you’re not disappointed, are you?" Chakotay asked, watching Kathryn take in the little bundle.
"No. . .girls are every bit as much as fun. I just was sure that it would be a boy."
"What will we call this little lady?"
Kathryn looked at her, the light brown hair, her open eyes a vibrant blue.
"Tatianna? Are you sure?"
Kathryn looked at baby. Then she looked up to Chakotay.
"Yes. And she is going to be a smart and wise little girl."
"Another feeling?" Chakotay asked.
"No. I just know."
Kathryn looked at her little girl and thought, ‘No, no more bitterness. Today is a new beginning.’