Years passed. Maria, James and Laura grew. However, as time went, all noticed that Laura was different. She rarely cried as a baby and when she reached the age where she should be talking, she rarely uttered a sound. It bothered Kathryn and Chakotay. It bothered Maria. James thought it was for the better, since he still blamed her for almost killing his mother. Kathryn and Chakotay had both talked to him, telling him that what had happened to Kathryn had been nobodies fault.
The three sat in the floor, holding their favorite memories in their hands. Laura stared intently at James, who held the picture of their parents.
"Give her back the picture, James." Maria said, rising on her knees.
"She doesn't deserve it."
"Yes she does. You have always blamed her for everything that's ever gone wrong in your life. You were the one who insisted on grabbing that Padd from me. You were the one who had to listen in on their conversation. You were the one who wouldn't go and see mom or Laura in sickbay. Every little thing you think, has been caused by Laura."
"Life was fine until she came along."
Maria stood up and crossed the room, slapping her brother hard across the face. "Don't ever let me hear you talking that way again, James. So help me, if I do, I'll take moms phaser rifle to you." She went over and sat beside here nine year old sister.
Tension filled the air now instead of sorrow. Maria had always been Laura's protector. She hugged her sister to her, letting the little girl know that she had someone who cared desperately for her. They sat that way for a long time. Laura had managed to get the picture from James and held it against her, loving the way her parents looked.
Before they'd died.
Hours passed and Maria finally convinced Laura to help her make some dinner for the three of them. Maria had requested that they be left alone for a while. So when the door chimed, Maria looked at it, slightly annoyed.
It rang again and Laura looked up. Her blue eyes narrowed and she walked toward the door. Her small hand reached for the control that would open it. Maria and James gasped when their parents walked through the door.
"Mom! Dad!" Maria said, running for them. Kathryn and Chakotay encompassed their eldest in a hug. "We thought you were dead. Tom said that the explosion was at the reception and that's where you were."
"We were there." Kathryn said. "But we had been outside when it went off. No one had seen us leave so they assumed we had been caught in the explosion."
"However, we were working to find survivors." Chakotay finished for his wife.
"How did you do?" Kathryn said, noting James reddened face.
Maria stepped back and pulled Laura in front of her. "James acted like an ass. But we were doing okay. In fact, we were just making some dinner."
"Sounds good. Actually, it even smells good." Chakotay said, putting a hand on his stomach.
During all of this, Laura stood within Maria's arms, watching her parents intently. She saw them through the eyes of a child, a child who rarely complained or said anything. She studied her mother, small, petite, hair showing some signs of gray. Her father, she always loved looking at. Dark, expressive eyes, black hair that had been salted by age. Laura pulled herself from her sister's grasp and took a step toward them.
Kathryn and Chakotay looked at their little one, then at each other. She continued toward them until she had to crane her neck to look up at them. She put her hands on her little hips and puffed out her chest.
"Just where have you two been?" She asked.
Maria choked back a cry and James looked completely dumbfounded. Kathryn looked at Chakotay and down to her little daughter, who seemed to finally find her voice.
"We've been sitting here for hours." Laura took one of each of their hands. "We drew pictures at school today. Naomi says I have 'talent'. I don't think so. She says I should be an artist, but I know what I want to be."
Kathryn crouched down to her littlest and looked into her eyes. "What do you want to be Laura?"
Laura looked up at her dad and then looked her mother in the eye. "I want to be captain, just like you. And I want to l earn about the spirit world just like you, daddy. And I want to be smart like Maria and nosy like James." She gave her mother a smaller version of a crooked grin. "I want to be everything."
Chakotay also kneeled down beside his daughter. "You can be anything you want to be. We've told all three of you that for years."
Maria looked over the three to her brother. He was confused. Laura had wanted to be a little like him as well as everyone.
"Mommy, daddy. I love you." Laura said. Her little face turning into a full fledge grin, showing her missing teeth. "But I have a question?"
"Yes, honey." Kathryn said, tears forming in her eyes.
"Can we eat? I'm like daddy. I'm starving."