Home Trials Part Three
by Rose Kira

Disclaimer: All characters herein owned by Paramount Studios and assorted other entiities. No profit made, no copyright infringement intended.

* "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be." -Douglas Adams *

I found myself watching her as the shuttle went down into her Indiana snows. She was trying, of course, to be at her command best, but the sleepiness in her eyes and slight twitch of anticipation belied it. Home sweet home, I thought, assisting her out as a house door flew open, a bustling, but not quite motherly figure flying out. "Kathryn! Good god, you finally decide to shirk those duties and its in the middle of a night storm!"

"Wasn't my idea." I caught the murmered complaint, and grinned, as the other woman...her sister Phoebe, I realized...reached us and nearly smothered the Admiral.

She pulled away, clinging to an arm, but turning to grasp mine. "Phoebe...Lieutenent Harry Kim. He was Operations on Voyager."

"You survived her just to escort her home? You are Starfleet." Flashing what had to be a family grin, Phoebe wrung my hand. "Kathryn, do you remember the last Starfleet you brought home in the dead of winter..."

"Long ago and far away." The Admiral met my head over her sisters shoulder, expression a wry grimace. "And nothing Harry wants to hear about. He does, however, express interest in Mom's apple pie."

"There might be enough left." Measuring me inch by inch, the more boisterous of the Janeway duo nodded towards the warmer house. "You two have at it. Mom, as it is, is in town, riding out the storm...our generators haven't been acting so well, and you know how she hates overusing modern marvels out here. We decided we'd be more comfortable with friends. I'm sure Harry here can get operations up for tonight, though. Tomorrow you can just order her to surrender to civilization."

"I wouldn't try to go that far on my worst day." The response was dry, her glance equally so as we made way to the porch. "Care to operate, Operations?"

"I'd rather have a Klingon do it." Shrugging, I played along with their little skit, shutting the door behind us. "But winter makes for hard duties and self-sacrifice."

"Klingon? We have a fixing wish, not a destruct wish, good man." Phoebe drawled, throwing the door open. She clearly hadn't grasped the reference to Torres, but her sister had, and we both barely hid a smile.

The captain...former, I corrected myself...kept my gaze, brows raising, lips curving faintly in quick mischief. "Very good man." She agreed solemnly, attention quickly switching targets. I ignored the surprise of the moment, following her gaze. The house was old, probably borderline historic. Up to safety standards, to be sure, but strewn with the homey little touches that I had always associated with Kathryn Janeway. Of course, it was her breeding ground. 

Stepping over the threshold, I set her bag off to a side. "Nice home, Admiral."

"Its been redecorated since my time." She walked around slowly, lifting knick knacks and pictures with uncertain fervor I remembered from my own first visit home after our return.

Phoebe caught my eyes for a moment, smiling her own brand of understanding. "We haven't changed your room."

"Phoebe, you make it sound like a memorial." Turning, the Admiral frowned. 

"It was, for the better part of your journey." The zealous cheer was subdued now, and I didn't miss the shadows under the eyes.

"I don't particularily want to talk about that." A quick glance in my direction. "And I'm sure Harry doesn't either."

Phoebe accepted the warning quickly, turning back to face me. "Thanks for bringing her home, Lieutenent. She would've curled up in a Jeffries Tube and died before coming alone. The long past can be very frightening for your former captain." Brushing away comment, she pulled her gloves back on. "Kathryn, I'm heading back to town. Mother is asleep by now, but coming up to see her tomorrow wouldn't be a bad idea. She's got seven years worth of longing in her heart for you to assuage."

"It wasn't my fault I was stranded across the galaxy..." My 'former captain' shook her head, lips curving in a smile. "You won't pull me into that old blame trap. Go on, go on, theres no need to share the Janeway insanity with the sane."

Watching as Phoebe raced down the walkway and towards the waiting hovercraft, I shrugged. "She seems like a nice enough person."

"She's a hideous example of a sister, Mister Kim." Janeway chuckled, shedding her coat and kneeling to examine the unlit fireplace. "Loves sinking her heels into my dignity and shoving it right out the nearest window. I've missed it, actually. The leveling was always good for me. Although...Tuvok did it well enough on Voyager, and Chakotay."

"You haven't spoken to them lately, have you?" Just how much isolating had she been doing to herself? None of us had really been in close contact in the past few weeks, but Tuvok and Chakotay...

"Tuvok is with his wife and family on Vulcan. I have no right nor any desire to break their privacy, not after what that original mission has cost all of them. Chakotay...he and Seven have been...busy, he's helping her reintegrate into life within the Federation, on her own soil..."

"Hurts, doesn't it?"