DISCLAIMERS: Paramount is wonderful, Jeri Taylor is a goddess, etc., etc....
WARNING: This epic requires an extremely high tolerance for sap. I promise you, you will know by the end of the first paragraph whether or not to delete this story. If you make it that far without gagging, then enjoy!
POETRY: In part 4, from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran, (c)1923.
THANKS: To YCD, who knew I would write this two months before I actually started it and whom I accused at one point of being my best friend and worst nightmare all rolled into one, TFW! Thanks also to Diane, Tiara and Meri who have seen this in most of its incarnations and are still speaking to me!
HUGS AND KISSES: to Kate and Robert for....well, just because."


"CONFIRMATION" by Becca O. (sequel to "Rumors")

 

Kathryn was really dreading this. She had been putting off the conversation for weeks, hoping against hope that it could be avoided. Maybe in the long run it wouldn't be necessary. But, in the end, she knew she had only been fooling herself, buying some precious time before speaking the two solitary, horrifying words that could forever change the lives of everyone around her.

"I'm pregnant."

The silence in her quarters was excruciating. In all honesty, she could say she'd never seen quite that particular expression on Chakotay's face before. The scientist in her knew and had calculated all the facts at her disposal, but the woman underneath all that reasoning wanted nothing more than to cry, to scream, to laugh--to beat some sense and some words into the stricken man standing before her.

She wasn't quite sure when she first suspected. Maybe it had been the morning that Neelix's breakfast caused her to turn just a shade more green than usual. Maybe it had been that achy feeling she was used to getting once a month--but the month had come and gone. Long gone. She had been so enthralled with their newfound relationship that she never noticed the passage of time, or that there was never a date starred on last month's chronological data padd.

 

Pregnant. Such a straightforward word for such a complex process. Chakotay was searching desperately for the right thing to say. He knew that one misstep, one improper inflection could cause irreparable harm to the fragile woman in front of him.

Fragile. That was one word he would *never* have used to describe Kathryn Janeway. But that was before, and with the speaking of two simple words, his entire reason for existence was forever altered. His immediate thought was to drop to his knees and offer thanksgiving to the gods for the gift he was being given, but he was on new territory here. He wished he had some idea of what she was thinking, how did *she* feel? Was she angry? happy? in shock? His mind wandered and he remembered the first time they had made love.

~~~~~~~~~

Finally being with Kathryn was the fulfillment of his hopes, his dreams, the end to his frustrations. They had tiptoed around each other for months, neither willing to admit there was something between them; until that evening in the lift. Kathryn was wound tighter than a violin string, and it had taken only a mere touch of his hand to shatter the wall between them. Escaping into his cabin, they had dropped all barriers and consummated their desire, just inside the doorway. They never did make it to the bed. Hours later, they had awakened in a sweaty tangle of limbs, stuck together on the couch.

They both had chuckled and made disparaging remarks about each others' impatience, but then the loving began all over again and they forgot to care where they were. Both were inexcusably late for duty the next morning.

Rumors were rampant, and their tardiness only served to increase the speculation. Neither was willing to give credence to the stories, but more than once, one was seen quietly stepping into the other's quarters. No one really cared.

B'Elanna knew what was happening. She knew before Chakotay and Janeway did. She was happy for them, and actually thought their futile efforts at being covert were rather amusing. Paris--well, Paris was simply relieved that Chakotay didn't feel the need to take out his frustration on *him* anymore. Harry Kim was the happiest of all, aside from Janeway and Chakotay. He had been rather uneasy after casually mentioning the commanding officers' supposed liaison to Jenny DeLaney, but it seemed to have worked. No harm done...right?

Chakotay was certain that no man before him had ever felt this way about a woman. In spite of his reputation as a 'renegade Maquis', there was nothing he wouldn't do for Kathryn. Not a weakness, just a fact. Plain and simple. A soft sound before him brought him out of his thoughts and back to his senses. The sight of her full eyes, the tightness around her mouth was the only visible clue to her shaky composure.

Chakotay reached gently for her and drew her to him. His tears in her hair mingled with her own as they fell freely. Offering silent thanks at last, he held her safely against him as she wept. The horrible, hormonal fact was, she had no idea *why* she was weeping, it just felt good.

Oh, gods, he thought, it was going to be a long nine months.

 

~~~~~~~~~

Her face pressed into the now-damp front of his uniform, Kathryn's voice was muffled when she finally broke the silence. "Chakotay, how could this have happened? This kind of thing is unheard of nowadays; accidents like this are a thing of the past. I mean, even with all we've been through, I still keep my boosters up to date." Narrowing her eyes suspiciously she added, "You have too, haven't you?"

Setting her away from him, his voice was rough with emotion. "Of course I have. Do you honestly think I would be that careless?" That she could even ask the question stung him.

"No, I don't," she sighed. There was no one to blame for this; something had obviously gone wrong. Terribly wrong.

"How do you feel?"

"That depends. Physically or mentally? What time of day? What day of the week?" She paused and shook her head. "Chakotay, I'm a mess."

Taking her hands in silent sympathy he asked, "When did you eat last? You have to take care of yourself."

Kathryn broke out in a cold sweat. Swallowing with difficulty, she said, "I can't face what Neelix is serving. I try, really I do, but I always mange to lose it within an hour."

Regarding her with a stern parental look, Chakotay began the inevitable inquisition. "What does the Doctor say about this?" No answer was forthcoming, which was all the answer he needed. "He doesn't know, does he. Damn it Kathryn, you can't do this alone. Replicate yourself something edible and then we're going to sickbay."

*Damn, I hate it when he takes charge* she immediately thought, but secretly was pleased. Admittedly, it was a relief to relinquish control, if only for a little while.

One hour and two partially-consumed servings of eggs Benedict later, she found herself facing the stern countenance of the holographic Doctor. Waving his tricorder over her abdomen, he caustically confirmed what they both already knew. "Human female, age forty. Five weeks gestational growth." Chakotay cringed.

*Gestational growth* It sounded so clinical. He must have made a disparaging sound, because he caught Kes looking at him with merriment sparkling in her eyes.

"I think it's wonderful," she whispered to him as she recorded the proceedings in Janeway's permanent record.

 

Chakotay finally smiled for the first time in hours, giving her a glimpse of the boyish dimples that were so rarely seen. Kes could always be counted on to see the good in everyone and every situation. It didn't matter to *her* that their lives were unraveling before their eyes. Sobering, he turned to watch Janeway with concern.

"Your blood pressure is slightly elevated, Captain. I suggest you try to relax." The Doctor methodically continued his examination, oblivious to the scathing look that Janeway cast in his direction.

*Relax. And just how does he propose I manage THAT?* she thought. *HE'S never been a pregnant Starship Captain, stuck in the middle of nowhere...*

Chakotay saw the agitation on her face and intercepted her forthcoming outburst with a well-timed hand on her shoulder. The look he gave her spoke volumes. *Later* it seemed to say. *You can rant later. Just let him get this over with*

 

"Your system is dangerously depleted, Captain. Under the circumstances, I recommend a review of your present rationing policy regarding the use of replicators. You need to be more aware of receiving the proper nutrients if you want this child to arrive in good health. I should also remind you that there are other options available to you. If you wish to discuss the termination--"

"What I *really* want to discuss is how this happened in the first place." Janeway looked steadily at the holographic image before her and silently demanded an answer.

"Captain," he replied sarcastically, "I would have thought that your Starfleet training included a course in basic biology. Surely you know how--"

"Of course I do. And *you* know very well that my fertility suppression boosters are up to date, and the Commander assures me that his are as well."

The Doctor looked from one to the other as if suddenly realizing just why Chakotay had accompanied the Captain to sickbay. "Kes--"

"I have the Captain's and Commander's medical records right here, Doctor." Kes quietly and efficiently handed him a data padd with all the pertinent information already retrieved.

He studied it intently, frowning slightly as the information scrolled across the screen. "Hmm."

The longer he remained silent, the more apprehensive Janeway became. "What? What is it?"

Looking up at last, he said, "According to these records, the supplements have been altered. The suppression matrix has been tampered with."

"What are you trying to say?" Chakotay's voice had softened, a dead give-away to the anger residing just below the surface.

"Someone changed the code, Commander. In fact, the formula for both yours and the Captain's boosters has been reversed."

"Reversed? Why would someone do that?" Kes was obviously puzzled. Every time she thought she had these humans figured out, something like this happened and confused her even more.

"The fact of the matter is, instead of *suppressing* fertility, the booster has served to almost triple your hormonal levels. In essence, instead of preventing pregnancy, the likelihood of fertilization occurring was practically guaranteed."

The horror of his words struck them like a physical blow.

Janeway was the first to speak. "Who would do something like that? Who would have a reason to inflict this kind of vicious harm?"

"Well, Captain, whoever it was had to have an extensive knowledge of genetics. And there is currently no one on board with that profile." The Doctor was already scanning his personnel files for a match. "And the perpetrator would have needed a good deal of unsupervised time in my lab to accomplish it. There has been no one authorized to have entry to--"

"Seska." Kes spoke softly as three pairs of eyes gave her their horrified, undivided attention. "It had to be her. Remember when she was here? We purposely left her alone because you wanted to give her time to alter the computer's records."

Chakotay paled, leaning on the bio-bed for support.

Janeway lay back and closed her eyes, nausea holding her in its grasp. She remembered Seska's parting words. *You're a fool, Captain. And you're a fool to follow her* she had added to Chakotay. She had felt betrayed by them both and, now, had succeeded in perpetrating her final act of revenge.

"In view of the circumstances, I would remind you again that there are several alternatives. There is no reason for you to continue the pregnancy if you do not choose to do so." The doctor calmly awaited their answer.

Kathryn's hands had unconsciously strayed to her abdomen. It wasn't her fault, it wasn't Chakotay's fault, and it certainly wasn't this child's fault.

A child. *His* child. When had she begun thinking of it as a child and not an insurmountable problem to be overcome? More than likely, the moment she had seen the look of dazed wonder in his eyes as the facts registered in his stunned mind. How in the name of God were they going to work this out? Never mind the logistics of caring for an infant on a starship, what about the realities of their situation? Was it fair to subject a small, innocent being to the dangers they were facing? On the other hand, was it fair to ask Chakotay to give up the one thing that would irrevocably bind them together for the rest of their lives...

That very issue had been the center of discussion as she choked down her dinner earlier. Giving up all pretense of actually having an appetite, Janeway had pushed away her food and looked wearily at her First Officer.

"I can't do this."

"All right, you can eat something later," Chakotay answered, removing her dishes.

"No. That's not what I meant." The only answer she received was a steady look. Sighing, she continued. "I can't have a baby. It won't work."

He was ready for this and had fully expected to hear these words directly following the blunt announcement of her condition. He had to convince her otherwise, but it had to be her decision. Patience.

"Why won't it work?" Calm and rational. The only sensible approach where Janeway was concerned.

"Because I'm the Captain."

So much for rational. Chakotay smiled. "That's what you keep telling me. Go on."

Janeway stood and began to pace, punctuating the air with her fingers as she ticked off her reasons. "I have a responsibility to the crew. We're not equipped to deal with children, this is a small ship. Starship captains do *not* get pregnant." He resisted the urge to point out the obvious.

"You know the Doctor will be offering you several choices. Have you thought about that?"

"Chakotay, there *is* no choice in this matter. I simply cannot go through with this." Oh, gods, he isn't going to let this drop.

"Yes--there is a choice. You could give up the child. The Doctor could remove the embryo and set up an incubation field until it comes to term. That's a common enough procedure."

"And then what?! We're still faced with the prospect of a small child on the Voyager." Janeway pressed her fingers to her forehead in concentration.

"Perhaps one of the younger officers would be willing to take the child." This was killing him, but he knew he had to continue. "You wouldn't be faced with the prospect of sharing your duties with a family."

Janeway blanched. It sounded so cold, so unfeeling when put that way.

"You could also deal with it the old fashioned way. Simply ask the Doctor to terminate it." His voice had hardened perceptibly and his heart ached as she turned away. Chakotay continued ruthlessly. "No more problems, no one would know. The baby would be a memory--nothing more." He paused. "And so would I."

Her breath caught as a small sob escaped her lips. Janeway turned to face him as the fullness in her eyes spilled over and ran unchecked down her face. The pain etched in his eyes betrayed his true feelings. His words had been harsh, but necessary.

"Gods, Kathryn, don't do this. Don't throw away the one chance we have. You're talking calmly about destroying something that is part of *me*." Stepping closer he touched his hand to her belly. "This child," he stroked her gently, "was created from the most wonderful experience of my life--making love with you. How can you stand there and unconditionally decide *my* future, too? What gives you that right?" He was beyond pride or rational thought. Grasping her arms, he slid his hands up to hold her shoulders.

"What else can I--"

"Listen to yourself. Would you just stop and think for one lousy minute?" Staring intently into her eyes, he willed her to see beyond her thoughtless panic to the one remaining option. The simplest of all.

"You mean go through with it? Have the baby-- raise it myself? I'm not prepared-"

Shaking his head at her incredible lack of comprehension, he interrupted her wandering thoughts. "Not by yourself. I'm not asking you to do this alone. I want a child, Kathryn. I want *this* child. We can have it all if you'll just bend a little. Open your mind to the possibilities." His thoughts raced as he envisioned her full with their child, a new generation begun far away from home; their hope for the future.

Kathryn inhaled raggedly. God, was she insane?! She was seriously considering his offer. "I need your promise that you'll be there throughout all of this. I haven't the vaguest idea how to reconcile what we've done."

"One step at a time. That's the best we can do." He pressed his lips to her hair and held her close. Breathing her assent against his chest, they held to each other as the reality of their decision began to sink in.

Her mind spun as she considered the consequences of their choosing to have this child.. They were embarking on an entirely new adventure, they would be writing this rule book themselves.

 

"Captain?" The Doctor was waiting for an answer. "Do you wish to terminate--"

"No. I won't do that." She sat up carefully, shaking her head. "I don't know how we're going to handle this, but we will."

Chakotay quietly placed his hand over hers.

Kes smiled to herself. This was wonderful. A new life on the Voyager.

The Doctor administered a nutritional supplement to the Captain and sent her on her way with more instructions than she cared to deal with for the time being. Janeway reminded him of the extreme confidentiality of the situation. They both needed personal time to deal with this before announcing it to the crew. How in the hell were they going to handle *that*?

 

~~~~~~~~~

Janeway and Chakotay silently left sickbay, his arm draped protectively around her shoulders. Each was so caught up in their own private thoughts that they were unaware of the surprised looks from the crew. Never before had either shown a display of affection in public. There would be new reason for speculation tonight.

 

Kathryn keyed the security code on her quarters and they entered to darkness. Neither cared for the blinding artificial light, so it remained dim. There was so much to do; so many decisions to be made. She had to finish her daily reports--

"There's nothing more we can do tonight," Chakotay said stepping behind her, but not quite touching her.

"Of all the things I planned for out here--"

"This wasn't one of them. I know." He closed the short distance between them and wrapped her tightly in his arms, his inherent male joy tempered by genuine concern. "Whatever you decide--however you want to handle this, I'll back you one hundred percent."

Kathryn released the breath she had been holding since leaving sick bay. "Stay with me tonight?"

Turning her in his arms, he gently lowered his face toward hers. Touching her lips softly with his, he pulled away just long enough to seal their future with a promise she had secretly feared might never come.

"I love you, Kathryn." Any other words he would have spoken, were swept from his mind as she raised her face to his and kissed him with her entire soul.

Bending slightly, Chakotay picked her up and carried her the short distance to her bedroom. One knee on the edge of the soft covers, he deposited her gently, following her down to stretch out beside her. Stroking her face, he looked at her intently, searching for outward clues to the miracle she carried within her body. Feeling an overwhelming need to simply hold her safely, he helped her out of her uniform, undressed and pulled the covers up over them.

For the first night in recent memory, they didn't make love. Kathryn drifted off into an exhausted sleep, Chakotay's hand pressed gently to her belly as if cradling and protecting the life within.

 

END PART 1

Part 2



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