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RE: VC: Homecoming, part 1
D'Alaire — 13 Oct 1998, 4:44 PM

"Mister Torres! Mister Torres! Got a latter from B'Elanna!"

Chakotay smiled down the hill at Harry, waving the letter as he came up, he gladly released the heifer he held to a hand. Harry gave him the letter, then turned back. "Don't you want to hear, too, Harry?"

"Thanks, Mister Torres, but I'll have to hear it later." Harry grinned. "Qwai-chang hates it when I'm late."

Chakotay grinned. "Give your brother my regards. And much obliged." Wiping off his brow, Chakotay gladly took a seat and a slug of water.

The last real letter was sent from a post a couple weks after they left, then a note for Christmas. Finally, she'd written again. He hoped it'd say when they'd be getting home. It'd been a long four months.

He took another drink as his fingers unfolded the paper. Then he read.


Kathryn saw him out the window, sitting with his elbows on his knees, head slightly bent. She frowned. Wasn't he supposed to be out checking the heifers?

She stepped out onto the porch, sat down by him by him, placed her hand on his arm. "Bad news?"

Ironically, he laughed, then pulled his head up only to look at the new stable. "You were right," he said softly.

"I was?" She wondered what she might have said that time.

Chakotay nodded and pulled the letter out of his pocket. "B'Elanna and Tom are heading home. Should be here next week."

"That's wonderful," Kathryn said, knowing there was more.

"They regained B'Etor's name in the tribe, Kathryn, vindicated her. That's why B'Elanna wanted to go." He grinned. "B'Etor would've liked that. It broke her heart more than she'd say to lose her family." He saw Kathryn nod in the corner of his eye. "B'Etor's father ended up taking them as his own. They did real good. It's all in the letter. Both of them wrote in it."

"I'll have to read it, then," she said, still curious.

Chakotay paused again, and that strange smile returned to his mouth. "Kathryn..." He licked his lips, met her eyes. "We're grandparents."

She felt a stone drop in her chest. "What?"

"You told me they were up to something--you were right. They hid it so they wouldn't have to get married. They knew we'd make them. They got married in the traditional Klingon way, retribution for B'Etor's marrying outside the tribe. About a couple weeks after, our granddaughter was born...Her name's Beata Janeway."

She stared at him, flicking her eyes to the letter. When he placed it in her hand, Kathryn walked down the steps. "They went behind our backs," she muttered. "Decieved us. I knew it" She turned a look back at him. He looked impassive. "Doesn't this bother you?"

Chakotay sighed. "Sure it does--I'm bothered by the fact they both refuse to have the reverend wed them--B'Elanna said specifically they wouldn't break their promise to Kor. Tom did too. It's important to them, this choice of theirs, important to B'Elanna. I've got to let it be."

She was surprised. "Let it be? You, Chakotay?"

"I can't ask them to break their word. I know what my answer would be if someone asked me the same...They've done what they set out to do, come clean, and are heading home with their girl."

"Beata," Kathryn whispered, looking again on the view. "Means 'blessing' you know."

"Really?" Chakotay asked. "Can't say I did know that."

"Yes." Kathryn took a breath, not looking back. "Guess I'll tell Miss Henley to fix up some things up for them," she said quietly, "get some things from B'Elanna's room...They should take the side house. It's plenty big, and I'm sure they'd like their own space."

Chakotay heard her tone well, like a wheel on soft gravel. "Kathryn--"

"I'm having a walk," she said abruptly. "I'll read this letter for myself." With that, she turned, glad Chakotay said nothing as she pocketed the letter and strode out into the yard.

RE: VC: Homecoming, part 2
D'Alaire — 13 Oct 1998, 4:49 PM

"A niece?" Harry smiled. "That's great!" But when his voice died, the room silenced, aside from the ticking clock behind his mother, who sat very still. Her fork touched the plate; she took another bite of food. Harry closed his mouth.

Kes, watching them, offered a small smile. "Well, I think it's wonderful," she said. "They're good for each other, love each other a lot." She peered around the table. Chakotay was pleasant but neutral, pocketing the letter he'd read to them. Harry was back to his meal. The matron at the head of the table ate silently. Kes watched for a moment, then, "Don't you think it's wonderful, Mama?"

"Yes," Kathryn said, took another bite, chewed slowly. Her steely eyes rose but once to acknowledge her daughter.

The bell chimed on the hour.

Kes knew better. "You're upset because they lied to you."

Kathryn put down her fork, folded her napkin. Looking around the table to see six eyes aimed at her, her jaw tightened. "Excuse me."

As she breezed away from the table, Kes saw Chakotay move to stand as well, but she held up her hand. "Please, Mister Torres, let me." Putting aside her napkin, she left to find her soon after in the garden, staring up at the moon. Her arms were crossed, her posture was straight, her jaw was tight enough to break a nut. Kes couldn't help but sigh.

Kathryn didn't turn around. "How could he go behind my back like that? How can I trust him knowing he could--again? It's starting all over again, Kes, and I won't have it."

Kes smiled gently, shook her head. "Mama, it's not like it was before. Tom's grown up. He had to support B'Elanna in getting her family back--a family she never knew."

Kathryn turned then. "We're her family--here, on the Delta Q. That Tom would lie through his teeth for her, help her go through that fool of an idea--"

"I don't think it was foolish at all," Kes countered softly, looking up to her with a sure stare. "I know that if my roots had disowned my family, I'd want to get them back, by whatever means. As for Tom, he'd read about Klingon Indians since he was a boy. He knew what he was getting into." There, Kes laughed quietly. "Well, maybe he had some adjusting to do, but it seems like he takes a lot of pride in what he did. I can say the Klingons accepted him a lot more fairly than people here have."

Kathryn furrowed her brow slightly. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, Mama, that B'Elanna was about the only one, besides me and Harry, maybe Miss Julie too, who'd accept Tom for the man he became after righting his wrongs. Everybody kept expecting wrong out of him, waiting for him to mess up--even you."

"How can you say I thought Tom any less than--"

"Not less," Kes told her. "You just didn't trust him as much as you'd wanted to believe. And now he's proved you right and wrong."

"He proved me right, for sure--got himself wrapped up in B'Elanna's personal business and all that trouble. Lucky he didn't get himself killed. And I hoped I was through with having to wonder about him."

"Mama, that's not fair and you know it. Tom wouldn't have done it if he didn't want to, and he did what he truly felt was right--Or can't you remember the last time you lied to protect and help someone you loved?"

Kathryn froze at that. She remembered quite clearly, knew exactly who she protected, even then--and desperately wondered if Kes knew...No, she couldn't know...Maybe Tom's lie wasn't as shattering as my own.

RE: VC: Homecoming, part 3
D'Alaire — 13 Oct 1998, 4:55 PM

Meeting her daughter's eyes again, she managed a weak grin. "Maybe so. Still, I would've preferred a normal wedding."

"They did have one. --I know, you mean a church wedding. But they never were keen on that, anyhow. It would've only been for appearance's sake if they had, which isn't like them. So instead, they committed to a marriage system twice as unyielding as our own, and it was true for them. They've made their bed and are laying in it. They have the right to make decisions according to their principles."

"Not so long as they're living on my land, they don't."

"Then you should tell them when they get in, so they'll have time to find a new home." Kes turned her look askance. "Actually, I think I know of a homestead up for let over by Miss Vickie's. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to have two young, skilled neighbors looking for work. And I'd look after little Beata if B'Elanna had to go out often."

Her tactic wasn't lost on Kathryn. Sighing, she moved away. "I don't want to lose them over that." She shook her head. "Figures Tom 'd love and marry a girl as stubborn as himself."

Kes laughed. "Then they're in good company here at the Delta Q. Be a shame to break up such a good likeness over the little things--and they are little things, Mama. They got her mother forgiven out there, earned the respect of a people not known for favoring foreigners, got themselves married and made a little girl. They did it together, out of their love and respect for each other."

"But what about respect for their parents?" Kathryn asked.

"They respect you. We wouldn't have gotten a letter with them fessing up and telling all if they hadn't cared. They'd have just come on home expecting everything would be just fine."

Kathryn had to agree to that. That poorer aspect actually sounded more like the Tom of old, in those bad days before Mark died.

"Now, I can see why Tom not trusting you to the truth and going against what you would've wanted would hurt," Kes continued, "but I would've done the same." Kes nodded to her mother's stare. "If I loved a man whose family was in disgrace and wanted to redeem that, I'd be right by him no matter what I had to do--and so would you."

Kathryn chuckled. "I suppose I would."

"It's different because Tom's your son, 'cause it's easier to act on your own heart than watch others do the same. But look who he learned it from."

Kathryn nodded at that, let her hands fall on her skirt. "Well, I suppose he could've gotten in a h*ll of a lot more trouble if he'd wanted to," she relented. "I still don't like that they hid from us, but maybe it was for the best, seeing how it turned out for them." She smiled again. "But that's Tom--give him a chance and he'll follow through. And just like B'Elanna to follow through with her intent." She thought on that. "Must've been hard for her, knowingly carrying a b@stard all that time. Likely, they were relieved to get married."

Kes peered up to her curiously. "And the wedding?"

"I suppose it doesn't bother me as much as I pretended," she admitted. "Indian marriages are common law even back east, and that's legal enough by me, as long as they abide, upright and proper. No, Chakotay's the one who's stuck between their promise to her granddaddy and his old ideals--the same ideals that got his wife disgraced and put his daughter on that mission in the first place."

"I'm certain he'll be fine, Mama," Kes told her gently.

RE: VC: Homecoming, part 4
D'Alaire — 13 Oct 1998, 5:04 PM

Kes moved to put her arm in her mother's. "Just think about this, Mama: There's going to be a pretty little filly on the ranch, with a spirit and fire all her own--your granddaughter."

Kathryn smirked--yet another hard-headed soul on the Delta Q. But a baby girl, with little dresses and shoes, all those sweet things she'd remembered from her own and only daughter. Suddenly, it didn't seem that long ago, the memories came so clearly then.

Kathryn turned to her girl, couldn't help but smile into those big blue eyes, gazing soulfully up at her. "What would I do without you, Kes?" she whispered, then gave the young lady a hug. It'd been too long since she'd had the pleasure of her daughter's gentle wisdom. "Leave it to you to see the good in a thing and leave the mess in the garbage where it should be."

When they parted, Kes kept hold of her mother's hands. "So, why don't we go and look through the side house?"

"Now? At suppertime?"

The younger woman nodded. "Sure. We'll get a lantern, and start planning on how to fix it up. It doesn't need much. And seeing as it's more private and only across the back drive, I think they'll like it as much as y'all will."

"Actually, I'd toyed with the same thought today. You think so too, then?"

Kes grinned and led her mother out of the garden. "The walls in the big house aren't all that thick Mama," she teased. "Harry and I will never get any rest with another couple in the house."

Kathryn flushed, bit her lip. "Where's that lantern?"


Kes was on the back stoop when one of the hands ran up with the news. "Why don't you go tell Miss Kathryn? She's out back." When he left, Kes stood and walked down the drive. As she moved past the big oak, they were in plain sight and moving steadily closer.

They looked the same, Kathryn thought, rounding the corner of the big house. B'Elanna looked fine and pleasant, had on the skirt and shirt she recalled quite well, all her usual gear and that saber, but also a strange looking sling full of...The baby, she realised, and for the first time felt a sudden curiosity to see who it took after. Tom had his hat and taupe duster on, and a large, unusual blade slung over his back. But he flashed a smile bright enough to light the night sky when he caught sight of his sister.

Kes clapped her hands when Tom dismounted before her, and they hugged warmly. "Mighty good to see you, sis!" he said, then moved around to reach up to help B'Elanna, who was already dismounting. "See what we've got here."

B'Elanna laughed and kissed Kes' cheek. "Prepare yourself for the proudest stud this side of the range...Of course, she does deserve it."

Kathryn still watched, while the hands, whom they greeted kindly and gave some instructions to, led the horses off--after introducing the colt, of course, their other baby. They began to chatter on about their trip home, two days of rain on the trail and a dull train ride that the horses hated. Kathryn took a breath and walked out.

Tom had taken Beata from the sling for B'Elanna, who gladly put it aside to give her sister a proper embrace. On invitation, Kes proudly took the infant into her arms, as Tom and B'Elanna stood together, smiling at her auntly manner. Then B'Elanna glanced over, nudged Tom. He mirrored his wife's expectant face when he did.

Kathryn met both their stares in turn with one of her own. They're scared, she realized suddenly, seeing both the fear and hope in them.

"Mama..." Tom said, wanting to smile, but unable to say more.

"Miss Kathryn..." B'Elanna echoed, almost on top of his words.

RE: VC: Homecoming, part 5
D'Alaire — 13 Oct 1998, 5:14 PM

Kathryn took a deep breath. They didn't have to say anything. Standing proud, their arms around each other, upright and proper, they still looked wanting. They don't regret what they've done, but they're sorry for the necessary hurt. Kes was right.

Finally, a little grin formed at the top of her breath, and Kathryn slowly opened her arms. "Come here you two rascals, and give your Mama a hug." Relievedly, they did move into her arms and embraced her, whispering their endearments in her ears, glad to be back, hoped she'd forgive them for the trouble. The mother felt a natural swell in her heart to hear it. "It's good to have you home. And about time." She held then both at arm's length. "So, where's this baby you made so much fuss over?"

B'Elanna touched her mother-in-law's arm as Tom took the baby. "Miss Kathryn--"

"Mama," Kathryn corrected with a grin.

B'Elanna's smile grew. "Mama, it's our honor to introduce you to our daughter, Beata Janeway." As Tom placed the infant in her grandmother's arms, B'Elanna caught his shining eyes. It had turned out much better than they'd expected, they both knew. Then, hearing a horse's brurr, she glanced aside and caught her breath. "Pa," she breathed, and moved to greet him.

She looked about the same, Chakotay surmised as his girl approached. Looked like she'd had a child recently, but much herself, too...And she embraced him in a way he always knew her to, quick yet warm, kissed his cheek. "Good to have you two home," he said, meaning it. And he greeted Tom with a firm handshake, some kind words. And he peered down at his granddaughter, smiled. "She's the spittin' image of her mama," he said, and laughed when the baby let out a yell. "In more ways than one."

B'Elanna giggled as she took Beata. "She's hungry, Pa, you knew that." She turned in Tom's arm, asked with her eyes.

Tom nodded, understanding, and looked back at the others. "We'll be back in a bit, get Beata's cradle and all."

Kathryn waved them off, and as the couple walked away, talking quietly to each other, she glanced at Kes. "You'd better direct them to the kitchen, lest we give their present away too soon. I know where they're thinking on going."

"I was thinking the same thing," Kes grinned. "I'll see they get some refreshments--certainly they're hungry and thirsty after their long ride." With a nod to the foreman, she hurried after her siblings and led them in.

RE: VC: Homecoming, part 6
D'Alaire — 13 Oct 1998, 5:22 PM

Kathryn then looked to Chakotay, who followed them with his stare alone. "You're taking this better than I thought."

"They're settled, grown up," he replied. "Why should I bother that? And as you said, they're common law married. That's enough for a judge."

She blinked at his plain tone. She'd thought he'd gotten over it, the way he'd acted. But he wasn't. Even his face had fallen as the others had gone in. "But not for you."

"No, it'll do," he said softly. "B'Elanna and Tom's got their word to Kor. I'm not gonna make the same mistake twice and tell them to break it. It cost too much the first time. It'll cost more if I do it a second. They're fine as is." He walked back to his horse, took the mare's reigns. "Tell B'Elanna I'll be in later, and we'll get to catching up with them then."

Kathryn was tempted to stop him as he rode off, but decided to let him go. Chakotay, she figured, always took a little more time to get settled in his acceptance.

As for herself, she'd had her own time to stew and get over it, then get happy about it while she and Kes fixed up the side house, complete with a little girl's room. She'd let Kes get her caught up in the little joys of their new addition, and she wasn't sorry, seeing how thrilled Tom and B'Elanna were just to have her approval. She was anxious to see how they'd take their gift.

She saw Harry coming in quick down the drive, and waved him in, called out with the news. Harry almost jumped straight off Libby, tying her on a post and running ahead of his mother when she told him to go ahead. She was on her way.

Chakotay would need time, she told herself again, and so she let him have it.

Crossing through the house, she found her four children and grandchild already there in the kitchen, her new daughter nursing the baby at the table, the other talking happily with her, her two sons greeting each other with a firm embrace and handshake. Then they all started chatting together, as if there'd never been a day between them, but with so much having happened. True siblings.

My family, Kathryn knew, feeling a proud beat in her heart, and her spirits lifted. As she gladly moved to join them in that unplanned homecoming party, she decided she didn't regret a bit of it.