Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: Most of the folks belong to Paramount or Jeri Taylor. I just added to the family...
"Gods! What an extravaganza," Chakotay whispered into his wife's ear. "I haven't seen so many uniforms since I left the Academy."
Kathryn Janeway smiled as she glanced around the packed hotel ballroom, her gaze softening as she watched her eldest and his new bride greet guests. "I know what you mean. Tommy Paris said he was afraid Paka would make him join Starfleet as a condition of being best man. I guess some admirals want to send their only daughters off in style."
Chakotay cocked an eyebrow. "So, Admiral, I suppose you intend to pull out the stops when our only daughter gets married?"
She glanced over to the corner where Tala was talking animatedly with a young Bajoran, handsome in the dress uniform of a Starfleet physician.
"We may have no choice, you know, with Ra'ka's father being a Vedek. He'll probably insist on the Kai performing the ceremony."
Chakotay groaned. "Maybe I can get them to elope."
It was Kathryn's turn to cock an eyebrow.. "Oh, no," she said. "I still haven't forgiven Thomas and Mattie for that particular trick."
They looked up to see Phoebe coming toward them. Kathryn noted with a start that her sister's hair was completely gray now. "Not that your own hair isn't," she told herself.
Chakotay , the coward, excused himself to get them a drink, leaving them alone - and feeling slightly awkward.
"I haven't had a chance to talk with you ... the festivities and all." Phoebe said. She was being polite. Truth was, they hadn't seen each other since mother's funeral, three years ago.
They had been close, once. But when she finally returned from the Delta Quadrant, she'd discovered that they were strangers. Fifteen years apart could do that, she supposed. Trouble was, they were much too busy, too distracted with their own lives, to change things. Mother had been the one thing they had in common.
"I saw your new grandson, he's beautiful," Kathryn began.
"He is," Phoebe agreed. "I'll get to see a lot of him; Kathy and I are going to open a gallery."
"That's wonderful, Phoebe."
"I haven't had much of a chance to talk to Claire; she seems like a lovely person. She's Starfleet?"
Kathryn smiled wryly. "A lieutenant commander, like Paka. Her grandfather and father were ... are admirals, so she's not put off by having one for a mother-in-law. We're quite fond of her."
Phoebe smiled. "I'm glad Paka chose well." She paused. " I hear from Thomas that you may not be an admiral much longer."
Kathryn felt vaguely ashamed of herself. She'd told everyone except her own sister.
"Oh, I'll always be an admiral. I guess semi-retire is the right word. I'm leaving active duty, but I'll continue as a consultant for the alternate fuels project. There's a new starship on the drawing board ... a Pacific Class ... that's going to run on one of our concoctions. I want to be around to see it."
Phoebe chuckled. "You and Daddy ... always a pet project." She saw her sister's eyes darken. Perhaps that was the wrong thing to say ... "I was thinking about Mother and Daddy, too. I wish they could see this."
Kathryn's expression was far away. "Things would have been different had Daddy been here," she said, almost to herself.
Gods, that was the wrong thing to say, Phoebe thought. The memories came tumbling back; the shock of Daddy's and Justin's deaths; Kathryn huddled in her bedroom for weeks. No, this couldn't go on. She grabbed Kathryn's arm.
"You aren't still beating yourself up over Daddy? Not after all these years.." she said, more sternly than she had intended.
Kathryn looked shocked. "No, of course not ..."
"Good. I didn't want to come after you with another bucket of ice water." Kathryn laughed; she remembered Phoebe' unconventional treatment for depression.
"You're right, Kathryn. Things would have been different if Daddy were here. Things would have been different had you not taken Voyager on that mission. But would you have traded any of this?" she asked, nodding toward Chakotay, who was standing by the drink table, talking to Tala.
"No, " Kathryn said gently. She'd forgotten her sister's spunk . Then she chuckled. "You know me, though. I tend to want it all."
It was Phoebe's turn to chuckle. "Yes, I remember." Then she sobered, her blue eyes searching Kathryn's. "I think all Daddy ever wanted, was to see you ... us ... happy. I know that's all I ever wanted for you."
"There you are!" Kathryn’s reply was interrupted by the arrival of the groom. "Claire's mother informs me that it's time for me to dance with my mother. " He turned to Phoebe, "Honestly, you'd think she was the admiral," he said conspiratorially.
"In a minute, " Kathryn rolled the phrase off her tongue with the skill of one used to saying it. Paka rolled his eyes with the expression of one used to hearing it. Kathryn didn't notice, though, an idea was forming. Perhaps it was not too late to mend fences ...
"Phoebe, when you open that gallery, let me know. I'd love to come see your work."
"Phoebe’s mouth dropped open for just a second, but she recovered quickly. "I will," she said, warmly. "Now, go dance with your son."
"So, Edward," she said, emphasizing Paka's given name as they moved across the dance floor. "Did Mary Hayes really put you up to this?"
"Ah, no." Paka admitted sheepishly. "Dad thought you might want to be rescued."
"Thank you dear, but it wasn't necessary." She looked around the room for that husband of hers. Not in sight. Oh, well, she'd deal with him later.
"So, any advice?"
"What? For you? Nope. I'm not going to be a meddling mother. Just be happy."
He pulled back to look at her. He was quite handsome in his dress uniform. Just like his father. That wicked gleam in his eye was just like his father's too.
"Tell the truth, mom ... any regrets?" he asked, laughing at the shock on her face.
"That is a loaded question, Paka. You must be damn sure I'd say no."
Paka threw his head back and laughed, drawing amused looks from nearby dancers. "Mom, the only thing I've ever been damn sure of is that you would tell me what you thought."
She looked at him, bemused. So much like his father, so much like her. She thought of Chakotay, and Thomas and Tala, and all the years on Voyager ...
"Well, there are some things I could have done without. But when it comes to your father, and you children ... No, dear. No regrets. I'd do it all again ... even the days when I wanted to jump in a shuttle and head off to the Alpha Quadrant on my own."
The song was over now, and he held her hand as they walked off the dance floor. When they got to the edge, she pulled him down for a hug, and while there, whispered in his ear:
"And don't you ever tell your father I said that. I prefer to keep him guessing, sometimes."
She finished the admonition with a kiss, "Now, go dance with your wife."