“I was wondering if you were all right.” The Doctor asked hesitantly as they sat in the cafe.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Kathryn answered, obviously confused by the question. “Far as I know, I’m perfectly healthy.”
“It’s not your physical health I’m worried about, though I suspect you still drink too much of that stuff.”
Kathryn gave him a mock glare. “You’re the one who invited me for coffee, remember?”
“Yes, well …” he harrumphed. He paused, trying to find a way to put his next statement delicately, but failed. “I was just concerned about your reaction to Chakotay and Seven’s marriage.”
“Oh, that. Just how did you expect me to react?”
“I wasn’t expecting anything. But I understand you didn’t attend the ceremony.”
“I was on Vulcan to give a seminar at the Science Academy. And as I remember, the invitation came on short notice.” She raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean you understand I wasn’t there? Weren’t you there?”
“Err… no,” he stammered. “I was undergoing a matrix upgrade.”
“I see. Well, B’Elanna told me it was very nice.” She looked at him for a long moment. “Now, just how was I supposed to react?
“I thought perhaps you might be upset.”
She sat back in her chair. “Oh, I get it. I’m supposed to be devastated because Chakotay supposedly abandoned me?”
“Well, not exactly that …”
She put up her hand. “Let me put your mind at ease. While Chakotay and I are great friends, and I owe him my life many times over, we were not involved. So if he and Seven want each other, then I wish them well.”
“I certainly wasn’t suggesting you two were involved. But I’ve always suspected that you had feelings for him.”
“Well, I suspected you had feelings for Seven. How are you reacting to this?”
He paused for a moment. “Well, in some ways, it jabbed an old wound. But let’s just call it a superficial cut. I’m fine.”
Her face softened. “I’m sorry. “
“No need. Like you, I wish them well.”
She sighed. “I owe you an apology. You’ve been honest, and I’ve repaid your concern with defensiveness.”
He couldn’t resist. “Really, I hadn’t noticed.”
“All right, I deserve that.” She took a sip of her coffee. “I admit that it jabbed an old wound for me, too. I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering I’d been forewarned.”
“The other Admiral Janeway?”
“Yes. On the other hand, I figured out a long time ago that while Chakotay and I might have worked on Voyager … though that wasn’t going to happen … we would not have worked once we got home.”
“You two are very different.”
“And probably made even more so by the journey. Anyway, like you, I’ll call it a superficial cut. I’m fine, too.”
“Good. I’m happy to hear it.” He leaned toward her. “Do you think it will work between them?” he whispered.
She gave him an enigmatic smile. “My crystal ball is a bit cloudy these days,” she whispered back.
He chuckled and leaned back in his chair. “Well, now that we have that out of the way, I see on the gossip vids that you have a rather busy social life. Found anyone special yet?”
She laughed. “Don’t believe everything you hear, though I admit I’ve been having fun. But no, there’s no one special. It’s going to be tough to find someone who understands what the last seven years have been like.” She put down her cup. “How about you?”
He shook his head. “There aren’t a lot of holographic women around. At least not ones that I can take outside a holosuite. And organic women probably find me a bit off-putting.”
She gave him a warm smile. “Oh, I don’t know. You have a lot of qualities that an organic woman would find appealing. You just have to find the right woman.”
He studied her for a moment as she picked up her cup again, admiring how the sun highlighted her hair.
“I was wondering … there’s a jazz concert at the university Thursday night. If you’re free, would you like to accompany me?”
The shock registered on her face, and he felt his processes freeze. But as she looked at him, her features softened … and he swore there was a playful gleam in her eyes.
“Why, Doctor …”
“Actually, I’d be honored if you called me Lewis,” he interrupted.
Her eyebrow shot up. “Lewis?”
He squirmed a bit in his chair. “Well, if I’m a sentient being, I should have a proper name. So I decided to take my father’s name.”
“So you’re Dr. Lewis Zimmerman Jr.?”
“Actually, it’s Dr. Lewis R. Zimmerman. The ‘R’ is for Reginald, since Reg Barkley has been such a good friend.”
She considered for a moment. “That’s very distinguished,” she said sincerely. She leaned back and gave him an appraising look. “So … Lewis … are you asking me out on a date?”
He looked a bit shocked, but grinned happily as the idea sank in. “Why, yes, I suppose I am.”
“I take it that’s not why you asked me to have coffee.”
“No … I wanted to check on you, and to tell you that I’d chosen a name. But, why not? You’re an incredible person … and an attractive woman, I might add. We certainly understand each other’s quirks. Why shouldn’t we enjoy each other’s company?”
She gave him a look. “What do you mean by quirks?”
She began to laugh. “Well, if you’re asking me on a date, I suppose we should be on a first-name basis.” She smiled at him warmly. “It so happens that I am free on Thursday. I would be delighted to go to the concert with you.”
His processes froze again. “You will?” he finally managed.
“Of course, but I have one condition.”
“You mean the ‘Leave rank at the door’ condition?”
“Well, that, too. But I want you to understand that we are going out as friends. We have changed roles since we left Voyager … we both need some time to work that out. “
She looked at him expectantly, and he nodded. “I agree completely.”
She smiled at him again. “I have to scoot. I’m having dinner with Admirals Klein and Toloff tonight.”
“Uh, uh … it’s business,” she said, handing him a chip. “That’s the direct line to my office. Give me a call and we can work out a time.”
She bid him goodbye, and he watched her walk down the street as he absently twisted the chip in his fingers.
The server arrived with a to-go cup in hand. “Your coffee, sir.” Lewis nodded as he took the cup and the offered bill. Not that he could actually drink the brew, but the small ruse made it easier to blend in. Besides, his assistant would appreciate the treat.
“Sir?” The server’s question broke into his thoughts, and he looked at him blankly. “Is everything all right, sir? I was asking if you wanted anything else.”
Lewis chuckled as he handed back the now-paid bill. “Forgive me; I was just thinking that it has certainly brightened up outside. I apparently hadn’t realized it was overcast.”
The server stole a glance at Kathryn’s departing figure and smiled indulgently at Lewis.
“I believe you’re right about that, sir,” he said. “Enjoy your day.”