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Based on events from "Author, Author". Contains mild spoilers.



Disclaimer: TPTB owns 'em...I just have fun with 'em.

Summary: It's Kathryn's turn to receive a communique from home.

 

Three Minutes

Kathryn took a deep, meaningful breath as she nervously entered Astrometrics. This was a day she feared would never come...and yet here she stood. Apprehension was an understatement, and excitement couldn't begin to describe her feelings.

She nodded at Seven, making her way to the console which faced the large viewscreen, where only a short time ago she had received a magnificent gift. Reg's live satellite feed of Earth. It looked the same as always, but in that moment, Kathryn felt she had never seen anything more beautiful. But in some ways, it also was depressing, thinking that it really didn't have to be this way. If only she'd...

"Captain, it is time," Seven spoke, startling her from her thoughts. Maybe, one of these days she would be able to forgive herself. But for now, there were more important matters at hand. She smiled at Seven again.

"Open the link."

Here we go, she thought when her mother's slightly aged face shimmered into existence before her. No words were exchanged for a moment, as the two women regarded each other. Finally, Gretchen Janeway broke the intense silence.

"Well, after all these years, you would think we would have more to say to each other!" Both of them broke into a small fit of giggles.

"I'm sorry, Mom. It's just...I was afraid that I would never see you again. I still can't believe that I'm here talking to you!"

Gretchen grinned. "I know exactly what you mean. I have missed you so much. But I believe I was worried about you for nothing. Just look at you! You look wonderful."

Her mother continued on, recalling how worried she and Kathryn's sister had been, and about how relieved they were to find out she was still alive. Telling her how proud she was of Kathryn's bravery and courage. Kathryn simply stared back at her, on half-hearing her mother's words. They only had three minutes, but she wished that this moment would never end.

Noticing the simpering grin plastered on her daughter's face, Gretchen furrowed her brow. "Are you still there, Kathryn?"

Kathryn nodded slowly. "I was just thinking...I thought that I had received the most wonderful gift when Mr. Barclay showed us Earth. But now I realize...seeing you is even more wonderful."

"Don't start with me, young lady," Gretchen replied, an edge of emotion touching her voice as she tried to fight off the now-threatening tears. "I don't want to spend these few precious moments with you crying like a baby! Now we don't have much time...so let's get straight to the point. Have you met someone new?"

She felt her jaw drop open. The woman never ceased to amaze her. Of all the things to be worried about, her mother wanted to know about her love life.

And was it her imagination, or was Seven snickering behind her?

"I can't believe you just asked me that!"

"Dear, these are the things that mothers worry about..." she replied, a devious smile appearing. "I'm hoping you will find out one day."

Kathryn groaned, unaware that the doors had opened behind her. Her mother's eyes widened upon seeing the person who had come in, and Kathryn could feel the hairs on the back of neck begin to prickle. Chakotay's voice broke through, and suddenly she wished that she was not in this room.

"Captain...I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were in the middle..."

"It's alright, Chakotay," she answered, throwing a cautious glare at her mother. "There's someone I'd like for you to meet. Mom, this is my first officer, Commander Chakotay."

"My, my..." Gretchen offered, making Kathryn feel even more horrendous.

Chakotay's dimples made a grand entrance. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Janeway. Kathryn has told me a lot about you."

"And she's told me absolutely nothing about you! Kathryn, I can't believe that you've been stranded out there with *him* all these years and I still don't have any grandchildren!"

Kathryn was mortified. The scowl on her face deepened.

"Mother!"

Chakotay's father had always told him to never waste an opportunity. He casually slipped one arm around Kathryn's waist, feeling her shudder in surprise. His grin still intact, he responded.

"I'm working on it!"

Gretchen began to chuckle, much to Kathryn's surprise. "Oh, I like you, Mr. Chakotay! You'd better promise me that you'll come by for some caramel brownies when you get back to Earth."

"Consider it a date, Mrs. Janeway."

Kathryn elbowed him away, muttering "Would you stop baiting her?" She then gave him a mischievous smirk, to which Chakotay laughed. He knew that she was going to get him back for this at some point, but he also knew that that was only half the fun.

She turned her attention back to the monitor. "Mother, you are impossible!"

Gretchen shook her head. "Sweetie, you take things much too seriously for your own good!"

Kathryn sighed in reply, knowing that her mother was right. In most cases, she usually *was*.

"Thirty seconds, Captain," Seven interrupted, earning herself two death glares. Chakotay felt a shiver race up his spine. Now he knew where that infamous look came from.

Not wasting any time, Kathryn gazed back up.

"Mom, please tell Phoebe that I miss her dearly, and I hope to be able to see her again next time. She won't believe you, but tell her anyway." She felt her heart sinking, knowing that it would be several weeks before she had this opportunity again. "That goes doubly for you."

Gretchen smiled. "I'll tell her." She continued to gaze at her daughter for a moment. "I just wish that I could reach through this screen and give you a great big hug."

Her eyes were stinging now. "Oh, I wish I could, too."

Gretchen placed a kiss into her palm, then blew it towards Kathryn.

"I love you sweetie. Come back to us safely."

Kathryn reached out to the monitor as the signal began to break up, catching the kiss in her hand. "I love you too, Mom. I'll write to you soon!"

Then as quickly as her mother's image had appeared, it was now replaced with the static from before. Kathryn's outstretched hand now fell over her heart, and she could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. Noticing, Chakotay gently rested an arm across her shoulder. This time, she didn't mind.

"Are you alright, Kathryn?"

A silent tear slipped down her cheek. "I will be."

He led her down from the console, still rubbing a comforting hand across her back as more tears were shed. They stopped short of the doors, and Kathryn turned to face him, slipping her hands into his, much to his surprise. Seeking out his eyes, she offered him a smile.

"Thank you. For being here. For supporting me. For...everything."

The sincerity in her eyes was genuine, and he wasn't really sure how to respond. Then he realized one thing that he should do above anything else.

"I'm sorry for barging in earlier. If I had known-"

Kathryn interrupted, completely ignoring all that he was saying. "Would you like to come by for dinner tonight? I feel like celebrating. And who knows? I may be inclined to give you a preview of those delectable brownies!"

Surprised, Chakotay returned her smile. "With an offer like that, how could I refuse?"

Their hands still joined, Kathryn and Chakotay stepped out into the corridor, starting down a newly discovered path in their complex relationship. One that it had only taken three minutes for her mother to find.

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