“The Game Begins”
By: Katherina Rosellini
Synopsis: The continuing tale of what happened in the AQ while Admiral Janeway went back in time. Does the rest of her crew find out about what she’s planning and how do they feel about Admiral Janeway taking their lives in her hands?
Chapter 2: Homecoming
The deep growl was all Miral had heard when she walked through the front door. She had known immediately what was going on in the next room but had decided to go in anyway. From the sounds of things they hadn’t gotten that far. Growing up with Tom and B'Elanna as parents, she was used to all the kissing, the smoldering looks when they thought no one was looking, the loud thumps and stifled moans throughout the night. Her parents loved each other.
As a child on board Voyager, she remembered hearing stories about their indiscretions and sometimes felt a wave of embarrassment, but as an adult she was proud of the love they continued to share throughout the years. She recalled Uncle Harry telling her once about Dad throwing Mom onto an engineering console in the middle of their shift and ravishing her with kisses until Tuvok unexpectedly walked in on them. Well, she thought, it's nice to know some things just don't change.
“Why don’t I give you two a minute to get yourselves together?” she stated with a grin that was all too like that of the Cheshire cat. “I’ll be in the kitchen. Is that chili I smell?” She sniffed the air and left them alone to get themselves together.
“I can’t believe she walked in on us again,” B’Elanna whispered. “How does she know when we’re…you know?” Tom and B’Elanna scrambled to get their clothes back on with some modicum of dignity.
“I don’t know. She’s just got a knack for it I guess,” he said tucking his shirt into his pants.
“Tell me about it. It’s like living with Captain Janeway again,” she said with a smirk. “All right. Do I look okay?” she asked smoothing her shirt down and adjusting her waistband.
“You look great. Let’s go.”
“Actually, B’Elanna…why don’t you go on ahead? I think I should make a stop in the wash room first,” he said with his chin tilted down and his eyebrows raised.
“Good idea.” She took a deep breath and walked through the kitchen doors to welcome home their only child.
“You’re back!” B’Elanna grabbed their daughter in a full-bodied embrace, and kissed Miral soundly on the cheek. “I’ve missed you. How long will you be home? Do you need any help with your bags?” Her words practically spilling over one another.
“ I bet you’re hungry. Would you like something to eat?” B’Elanna didn’t even bother waiting for an answer she just pulled Miral away from her in order to look her daughter up and down to make sure she hadn’t lost too much weight.
“Mother?” Miral tried desperately to get a word in.
“Your father and I made chili…” she rambled on while brushing the hair away from Miral’s eyes. “…or maybe you’d like a piece of corn bread.”
“Mom?” she tried again.
“There aren’t any cookies or anything like that around, but if you really want something sweet, I could replicate it for you. I haven’t baked anything recently-- your father really doesn’t need that sort of thing, but I’ll deny it if you tell him I said that.”
“MOM!!” Miral shouted.
“What? You don’t have to yell you know.”
“Oh, Mom,” Miral laughed. “I’ve missed you so much,” She squeezed B’Elanna’s hands in her own and touched her forehead with her mother’s. “It’s good to be home.”
“So…tell me how everything went?” B’Elanna said softly, turning her head towards the kitchen doors to make sure Tom wasn’t coming through. “Did you get everything worked out between Admiral Janeway and Korath?”
“Ummmm. Sort of,” Miral whispered, somewhat taken aback. “I didn’t realize that the admiral told you about my mission. I was under the impression that it was confidential.”
“She had to let me in on it. How else do you think she got me to submit Korath’s house for the High Council?” B’Elanna bluffed, taking the chance that Miral’s mission was in fact related to B’Elanna’s own.
Tom burst through the swinging doors just then, with his arms wide open hollering, “Where’s my little girl?!”
“Daddy!” Miral shrieked as she hurled herself into Tom’s arms, Korath forgotten. The moment she felt his arms wrap around her she got that familiar feeling of security. That certain warmth and protection only her father could provide.
Damn, B’Elanna thought. She had come so close to finding out what the Admiral was up to. Now she’ll have to try again with Miral tomorrow. Right now she was intent on enjoying the sight before her.
Tom had Miral lifted off of the floor in a bear hug as she squealed in delight. Setting her down on the floor he asked, “How long will you be home?”
“Around a week.”
“A week?! That’s all?” B’Elanna complained, “You’ve been gone for so long. Surely the admiral could’ve given you more leave than that?”
“Mom, I’m a Starfleet ensign now and with that comes a great deal of responsibility.” Miral said with pride. “You two should know how important these very first classified missions are for my Starfleet career.”
“So, baby?” Tom rubbed his hands together, “What was this secret mission the capt…I mean the admiral sent you on?” he asked while taking a seat at the kitchen table.
“Daddy, it’s not exactly a ‘secret mission’ if I tell you about it now is it?” She stated as she took the chair next to his.
“Since when do we keep secrets in this family? I didn’t think we Paris’ kept anything from each other. Or do we?” He looked towards both B’Elanna and Miral as though he were asking them to finally confess what they had been hiding for months.
“Tom, why don’t we let Miral get settled in before giving her the third degree? She’s been gone for almost six months and you’re grilling her before she even sits down.”
“I’m not ‘grilling her’ I just wanted to know what was so important that it kept her away from home for so long, that’s all.”
“But Tom, surely you don’t expect her to fill you in on a highly classified mission? That wouldn’t be very honorable.”
“Nobody’s questioning her honor, B’Elanna.”
“Well I didn’t say that you were.”
“But you were implying it.”
“Whoa!” Miral interrupted with both hands raised. “I’ve been home less than 10 minutes. Do we really want to do this right now?” She asked looking back and forth between her cautious mother and curious father. “I’ll make you both a deal. You guys fill me in on what’s been going on around here and I’ll tell you as much as I can about the last six months.”
Both Tom and B’Elanna looked a little uncomfortable. This wasn’t the first time their daughter called them to the carpet about a minor dispute and it wouldn’t be the last, but she did have a point…this time.
Wanting to keep the peace, B’Elanna placed her hand on Tom’s shoulder and said, “You’re right. Sorry Tom,” and leaned down to kiss his cheek. “I didn’t mean to start a fight.”
“You didn’t start anything.” His hand found hers on his shoulder and squeezed. “You were right. I shouldn’t have been asking her questions regarding her mission so soon after her getting in,” he said implying that he wasn’t sorry he asked about something classified. “I’m sorry too,” Tom said and leaned up towards B’Elanna’s cheek to whisper in her ear, “I guess I’m just a little…frustrated,” than placed a kiss on her lobe.
Miral watched them as they smiled into each other’s eyes. “Would you two like me to leave you alone again?” She giggled. “So?” She settled more comfortably into her seat. “Is that offer for corn bread and chili still good, Mom? Or do I have to do it myself?”
Miral went at her bowl of chili with gusto, dipping her corn bread into it and taking hefty bites while Tom and B’Elanna told her about the last Voyager reunion and updated her on all of the latest news. They talked and laughed for what seemed like hours until they eventually got to the topic they all seemed to be avoiding: Admiral Janeway.
“Well she looked good at the reunion, but there was something bothering her. I can’t place my finger on it, but I know that there was something up with her,” said Tom.
“I don’t think it’s anything to worry about,” B’Elanna shrugged. “I’m sure it’s nothing. She would’ve talked to us if it was serious.”
“I don’t know, Mom. She looked a little anxious the last time I saw her. Like she had better hurry before she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar. And when she dismissed me, it felt like she couldn’t get rid of me fast enough. Almost like she was hiding something. Although it’s beyond me why I couldn’t be there for the exchange between Aunt Kathy and Korath. I mean I set up the whole thing and realistically, it would’ve been me that brought the time displacement equipment back to her if Korath hadn’t insisted on handing it over himse…” Miral stopped short, knowing from the slack jaw looks on her parent’s faces, that she had given away way too much information. Trying to make a pitiful attempt at a yawn she said, “Wow. I didn’t realize how late it was. I should really get to bed.”
“Miral?” Tom looked at her as though he were trying to read her thoughts.
“Yes, Daddy,” she swallowed hard, hoping she could escape the kitchen before she revealed everything she knew.
Her dad had been right earlier. There were no secrets in this family. Even when they were on board Voyager, and they had classified missions, they would discuss it around the breakfast table. The rule back then was ‘what was said at the table, stayed at the table’ and she was sure that the rule would never change, but she was a Starfleet officer now. Regardless of her Starfleet heritage and her high-powered connections, Miral knew she was still considered a little fish in a big sea, and she didn’t want to jeopardize her career in any way.
With questioning eyes Tom replied, “It’s good to have you home. Your mother and I missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too,” she said with a sigh of relief, “both of you,” and headed off to bed.
Tom and B’Elanna grasped hands across the table looking deeply into each other’s eyes. “All right B’Elanna. I’ve let this go on long enough. What’s going on here? Tell me that it’s nothing to worry about.”
It was time to come clean and B’Elanna knew it. Tom knew about her helping out the admiral, he just wasn’t aware of what it entailed. “I wish I could Tom, but I have no idea,” she said with the shake of her head. “All I know is that Admiral Janeway came to me a few months ago and asked me to tap into some of my Klingon resources.”
“For this time displacement equipment obviously, but I didn’t know that at the time.” She stood up and started to clear Miral’s dirty dishes while Tom wiped the table clean. They both had a lot to think about and neither one of them knew what step to take from here.
“Look,” Tom finally said. “Let’s go up and say goodnight to Miral. She’s been gone for 6 months and I don’t want her to go to bed tonight worrying over this. Then you and I can talk about what to do next.”
B’Elanna led Tom up the stairs to the second floor where the bedrooms were located and turned to him as a thought came to her. “I knew she was lying to me at the reunion. I just knew it. I had this gut feeling that she just wasn’t telling me something. Her whole attitude…her demeanor…it all seemed very evasive.”
“What do you mean?” he asked quietly. “Who lied to you?”
“B’Elanna, on second thought, maybe we should talk this over with Miral tonight? If the Admiral’s in some kind of trouble than we should know about it.”
“Agreed. It’s time we got to
the bottom of this,” she stated with a matter of fact as they made their
way in to have a little talk with their daughter.