Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Chakotay is accidentally transported to the mid-21st century and is in danger of losing his heart to another Kathryn J.
I think everyone knows that Paramount owns Voyager. I am just borrowing them for fun.
Oriana looked back at the clock sitting on the television; the time read 10:00pm. She could hear vague and muffled street noises as she stood at the window. Detroit was still awake, just as she was. She went to her chair and sat down. She sighed as she picked up her book. There were so many other things she could be doing. But she had her orders. "Take at least 30 minutes for yourself everyday." She had to admit she was glad her counselor had insisted on it. It seemed to go against logic, but she got more done when she took a break even this late at night.
However, she did not open the book right away. Her thoughts wandered to her grief counseling sessions which had been going more smoothly the last six months. Paul's death two years ago had hit her hard. She nearly had a breakdown over it a year ago. Her boss, Max, had made the first appointment for her. He threatened to fire her if she didn't go. Working through the sadness and despair was the hardest thing she had ever done. A slight smile of pride in her accomplishment curved her mouth as she opened the book and began to read.
Voyager's bridge began to shimmer before Commander Chakotay's eyes as if he were being transported. The first officer had just heard Ensign Kim say that the sensors were picking up an odd subspace fluctuation. He had turned to ask Kim to explain when the feeling started. The sensation of transporter suspension lasted longer than he could ever remember. Just as panic started to rise up in his mind, his eyes began see the reverse shimmer. Only it was not the bridge or any other part of Voyager that appeared before him.
He couldn't quite focus on the room or the woman seated in front of him. He heard a young child speaking, then the scene faded in and out as he collapsed to the floor.
"I'm here, Katie," The woman in the chair called out.
A small girl of six or seven years appeared in the doorway. She was wearing blue pajamas; her brown hair was tousled from sleep. Rubbing her eyes against the brightness of the room, she said, "Mama, I had a dream. A man from the future just appeared in our living room. He was a big man wearing red and black. He needed our help."
Oriana smiled at the little girl. "You're reading too much science fiction, Joy bug."
Katie stopped where she was as she dropped her hands from her eyes and looked at him. "There he is, Mama!" she pointed to where Chakotay stood. "the commander is here already."
Oriana gasped as she turned to see a strange man flicker in and out of sight until he took solid form and fell to the floor unconscious. The girl ran to Chakotay's side. Her mother followed and moved her daughter aside as she checked for a pulse. Finding a strong, steady heartbeat, Oriana sat back on her heels while she tried to figure out what to do next.
"Mama, the commander will be all right." Katie said as she stood next to her mother's shoulder.
Oriana had just decided to call 911 when Chakotay opened his eyes. He tried to sit up quickly, but he felt like the room begin to spin. He leaned back on his elbows to keep from passing out again.
"What happened?" he asked.
"You just got here from the future, Commander," Katie spoke.
A look of complete astonishment covered Chakotay's face upon hearing the child's statement. How could this child know who he was? How did she know he was from the future? He glanced toward the woman. She looked bewildered but she was calm as she said, "You just appeared here and collapsed. Are you feeling up to going to the sofa?"
Oriana extended her hand to help him get up. As he slowly got to his feet, he didn't feel as lightheaded as he had before. He found that he had the strength to stand.
"Please sit down, is it, Commander?" Oriana said as she motioned toward the sofa.
"I am Commander Chakotay, but how do you know?"
Oriana didn't answer his question right away. Instead she said, "I think you should know who we are first. I am Oriana Phillips and this is my daughter, Katie."
Katie smiled as she walked up and held out her hand to Chakotay. "Nice to meet you, Commander Chakotay. My name is Kathryn Joy Phillips." She looked at her mother and said, "Did I do that right, Mama?" She smiled proudly when Oriana nodded.
"My mama is teaching me manners." She explained to him.
Chakotay took her tiny hand in his as he said, "I'm pleased to meet you, Kathryn Joy Phillips." While still holding her hand, he leaned forward and asked. "Can you tell me how you know who I am?"
Oriana listened to her daughter begin to tell the stranger about her dream.
"I have future dreams sometimes," she began. "My mama knows I do." She turned to look at her mother. "Don't I, Mama?"
"Well, Katie does seem to know some things before they happen." Oriana reluctantly admitted.
"I do." Katie nodded her head solemnly. "I knew about Daddy's crash, and I was very scared and sad until he came to say good-bye. He is in heaven now and is watching over Mama and me."
"And you saw me in a dream also?" He urged her to tell him more.
"Yes, you came here from the future, you were on a starship, and we have to help you get back." The little girl patted Chakotay on the shoulder. "Don't worry. Everything will be okay."
"How do you help me?" He couldn't help but smile at the serious expression on the little girl's face.
"I'm not sure." Her face wrinkled as she tried to remember. "That part is fuzzy right now. But I know we help."
The commander sat back on the sofa. He was silent as he pondered his options. He had no more idea of how he came to be there than when he first materialized in the room. But what the small girl told him intrigued him. He glanced at the girl's mother. Chakotay was about to ask a question when Katie yawned.
Oriana saw the yawn and said, "Katie, I must insist you go back to bed. It is too late for you to be up."
"Okay, Mama," She turned to Chakotay, raised her arms to him, and asked, "Please, will you carry me, Commander? I want you to see my room."
"If it is okay with your mother." He made no move to lift the girl. Oriana's face showed her reluctance.
Katie looked up at her mother and begged, "Please, Mama, I want the commander to see my space stuff."
With obvious hesitance her mother nodded. Chakotay lifted Katie and said to Oriana, "Please lead the way."
Chakotay had never been in a little girl's bedroom before, but he was sure Katie's room was not typical for a girl her age. One of the walls was covered with posters of aircraft of all types including rockets, space ships, and satellites. Another wall seemed to be a work in progress. On it was a large mural depicting space flight. He was sure the art work was Katie's. Jets and space ships hung from the ceiling in various parts of the room. A small shelf was filled with books on a variety subjects pertaining to flight. There were only a few what could be called dolls, and they were dressed in flight suits or uniforms. Something about it made him feel closer to Voyager.
"Do you like my room?" She asked in a sleepy voice. "I drawed all the pictures on that wall. Daddy got me most of the pictures over there." She pointed around the room.
Chakotay carefully deposited Katie on her bed as he responded, "I like your room very much. That picture reminds me of my ship." He pointed to a drawing of a ship flying passed a large planet in the mural.
Katie smiled as she snuggled down under the blankets as her mother covered her. "Good night, Commander Chakotay. See you in the morning."
He wished her good night.
Oriana kissed her daughter's cheek as Katie's eyes closed. She whispered, "Love you, Joy Bug."
"Love you, Mama," was Katie's drowsy reply.
Back in the living room the two adults stood some distance from each other deep in thought. Chakotay tried to decide what to do next. He wasn't even sure where he was in time and had no idea how to get back to where he belonged.
Oriana watched Chakotay as he stood in the middle of her living room. He made no move. He merely stared at the window through which he could see the night sky. She wasn't sure what to do. He hadn't come through the door or window. How did he get in her home? Was he really from the future? She shook her head to clear it. *I should probably make him leave now. Katie would just think he went back to where he came from. But what if Katie is right again?* She decided to try to find out more. Oriana was the first to speak. "Would you like a cup of coffee?"
"I'd love one, thanks."
She walked into the tiny kitchen and began to make the coffee. Chakotay followed her as far as the doorway. As she reached into the cupboard for the cups, she spoke, "Please sit down." She pointed to a table that was only big enough for three at the most. "I'd like to ask you some questions."
"I'll try to answer them." Chakotay said simply as he took a seat.
"Are you really from the future? And are you really a commander."
"Yes to both questions."
"Are you from the future?"
"I am from 2377."
"That's 355 years in the future!" Oriana's mouth dropped for a second. "How is that possible?"
"I wish I knew." Chakotay felt trapped suddenly. Three and a half centuries was so far from Voyager. How was he to find a way back?
Oriana was quiet while she waited for the coffee to finish brewing. She was trying to decide whether to believe him or not. It seemed so incredible and impossible. If she hadn't seen him appear the way he did, she would have called the police by now. She retrieved a box of cookies from the cupboard and set them on a plate. When it was ready, she poured the hot liquid into the cups in front of her. "Do you like cream or sugar in your coffee?"
"Both." He grinned at her surprise. "Captain Janeway tries to get me to drink it black, but I just can't seem to do it."
She placed the coffee and cookies in front of Chakotay before getting the cream and sugar. She told him to help himself. Oriana sat down at the table and watched as he put in two spoonfuls of sugar and lightened the coffee with cream. "You put almost as much in your coffee as Katie does when I allow her to have coffee with me."
Chakotay lifted the cup to his mouth, took a swallow, and savored the taste. "I haven't such a good cup of coffee in years. Thank you. My captain would be jealous. Replicated coffee just isn't the same." He reached for a cookie and ate it.
Now her mind was so full of questions that she couldn't even seem to be able to phrase one. She simply sat drinking her coffee and eating a cookie.
Chakotay broke the silence as he set his cup on the table. "Could I ask you something?"
"What did Katie mean she knew about her father's crash?"
Oriana's eyes glazed over with pain for a moment as she remembered that night two years ago. "My husband was a pilot in the Air Force. He tested high performance aircraft. He died during one test flight. Katie had a dream the night before. In it she saw the crash. She knew many details, some of which she couldn't have known until the official report came out." Her voice was so low that Chakotay had to strain to hear her. "I didn't believe it. If I had, maybe I could have warned him. He might still be alive." She struggled to maintain her composure.
"Would your husband have believed in the dream?" Chakotay asked quietly.
Oriana sighed heavily, "Probably not. He would have laughed at me if I tried to stop him. He loved what he did. I think the way he died was the way he would have wanted to die."
"Katie was only what, four or five when this happened? It must have been very hard on her."
"She was four. It was hard, but she says that Paul came to say good-bye a few days later. I wish that he had come to say good-bye to me. I had to get through this the hard way." Oriana's face showed pain again, then triumph. "Actually I am glad she didn't have to struggle the way I did. And I know I am stronger now than I was." She changed the subject. "Katie says we help you. Do you have any idea what we can do?"
"I am completely baffled. If I could find the device that brought me here, I might be able to use it to get back." Then he added, "It sounds like you believe me. I must have frightened you, appearing like I did."
"Yes, I was very frightened. I still am nervous, but I saw you appear, nearly disappear ,and reappear before you collapsed." she said candidly, "I didn't believe what Katie said once before. And I was wrong. I cannot discount what the both of you say. Frankly it is the only thing that could explain your being here. And I guess you would have harmed me already if you were going to."
They sat not speaking as they both tried to make sense of what had happened. Finally after Chakotay drank the last of his coffee, he said, "I guess I'd better leave now."
"Where will you go?" Oriana asked.
He shrugged his shoulders. "That's a good question."
"Well, Katie says we are going to help you, so I can start by giving you a place to sleep tonight. Our sofa turns into a bed. It might be a little short for you, and it is lumpy, but it is better than the streets." She walked into the other room and began to pull the cushions from the couch.
"I wish I didn't have to inconvenience you like this. But I have no way to get lodgings elsewhere, and I think my uniform would be out of place." He looked chagrined. He was frustrated by his situation. He wondered if his crew was trying to find him. Did they even know he was missing yet?
"Katie would never forgive me if I didn't do something." She had pulled blankets and a pillow from a storage place under the sofa and proceeded to make up the bed for him. "The bathroom is at the end of the hall. Towels are under the sink."
She turned to leave the room when her eyes fell upon a picture hanging on the wall. She went to the wall and removed the picture. She stared down at it as she approached Chakotay. She held it out for him to see. "This is a picture of Paul." A broad shouldered man in a military uniform smiled at him from the portrait. Chakotay could tell that Katie had her father's dark brown hair and eyes.
"Katie looks a lot like him."
"She does." Oriana swallowed hard and turned to take the picture back to its place. Making a decision, abruptly she said, "I'll be right back." She went into another room and closed the door. In a few moments she came out of the room with a stack of folded clothes in her arms. "These were Paul's. I think you are about the same size. He was a little taller maybe, but I don't think that will be a problem."
Chakotay took the clothing from Oriana and thanked her. He could tell it had been a difficult for her to bring them to him. She merely nodded, bid him good-night, and went back to her room. He heard the lock click and he smiled. She wasn't taking too many chances.
Chakotay set the clothing on the end table and took off his jacket and boots. As he lay down on sofa bed, he felt something hard against his side. His tricorder! He had forgotten it. He was glad to have it. At least he had something with him that might help him find a way home. He placed the tricorder under his jacket before lying down once more. Although the bed was a bit short, he was surprised to find it comfortable. He tried to think of a solution to his problem, but fatigue overtook him and he slept.
Chakotay stretched his legs and his feet bumped into the hardness of the end table. He sat bolt upright and looked bewilderedly about him. He remembered where he was when he saw Katie watching him from her mother's chair.
She smiled at him and said cheerfully, "Good morning! I like your face, 'specially the drawing."
"Good morning and thank you, I like yours, too. The drawing is called a tattoo." He grinned at her statement. "You are up early, Kathryn Joy."
"I couldn't wait to see you. 'Sides we need to work on helping you." She noticed the place of clothing on the table. "Those were my daddy's. Did Mama give them to you?"
Nodding he said, "My uniform is too different for around here."
"I know. I'm glad Mama gave them to you." She crawled out of the chair. "I'm going to get dressed. Could you wear the blue shirt? It's my favorite," she asked as she left the room.
Chakotay chuckled as he looked through the pile. He couldn't say no to the girl. He found the blue shirt and a pair of pants. He walked down the hall to the bathroom. Several minutes later he entered the living room dressed in the borrowed clothes. The blue, long-sleeved knit shirt fit well, but the black pants were a tad long. Oriana had been right.
"I'm fixing breakfast for you, Commander." He heard Katie's voice come from the kitchen.
Chakotay saw the little girl opening the refrigerator as he came through the door. She was wearing a blue knit shirt and black pants. Katie looked up and smiled. "We're twins. This is my favorite color." She said pointing to her top. She then placed a container of milk on the table, and said in a very good copy of her mother's voice, "Please sit down. I'll get the cereal."
Chakotay watched Katie open a lower door and pull out a yellow box. She poured cereal from the box into the bowls that were sitting on the table. She carefully poured milk over the cereal. Pushing one of the bowls toward him, she whispered, "You can put sugar on the Cheerios if you want. Mama lets me sometime." She handed the sugar bowl to him. He spooned some sugar on the contents of the bowl.
"Cheerios? Is that what this is called?" Chakotay asked as he picked up a spoon to take a bite.
"Don't you have Cheerios on your ship?" She was incredulous as she poured milk on her cereal.
Chakotay swallowed and smiled. "I don't know, but after tasting them I am going to see if they are available."
"Would you like coffee with your breakfast, Commander?" Oriana asked as she came into the kitchen.
"I would love some. And call me, Chakotay."
"All right, Chakotay." She turned to make the coffee. "And Katie, you need to hurry; it's almost time for you to leave for school."
"But, Mama, Commander Chakotay needs our help." Katie protested.
"You have helped me already, Katie. You fixed my breakfast. You need to go to school," Chakotay stated firmly.
Katie sighed resignedly and resumed eating.
"Do you have any idea what are you going to do this morning?" Oriana asked Chakotay.
"I have an instrument called a tricorder that I'm going to use to check the area. I might be able to find something that will lead me to what brought me here."
"It's in the basement." Katie interrupted through a mouth full of Cheerios.
"What is?" Chakotay and Oriana asked at the same time.
"The machine that brought you here." Katie said casually. "I saw it there in my dream."
"Are you sure, Katie?" Her mother questioned.
"Yes, Mama! It's in a little room close to where our storage locker is." She finished the last bite of cereal. "I'll go brush my teeth." She bounded out of the room.
"I will take you there," Oriana told him, "after I take Katie to school."
Chakotay spent the time Oriana was gone using the tricorder to scan the spot where he materialized. He found that there was a small amount of chroniton particles in the area, but there was not enough evidence to indicate how he got there. He walked to the window and peered out. He had not seen Earth's sky for years. The city streets below him were full of cars and people. He was a stranger to them in time and place. He already missed Voyager and its crew so much, that it felt as if he couldn't get enough air to breath with the panic which was washing over him. He pushed down the emotion. He was determined to find his way back to Voyager. He squared his shoulders. When he heard the door open, he turned from the window
"Does it look a lot different from your Earth?" Oriana asked as she crossed the room.
"It is different in some ways," he replied simply. "But it is still Earth."
Oriana went the kitchen and returned with a chair. She opened what Chakotay had thought was a closet. However, inside was a small office with a computer. Oriana sat down on the chair and tapped the keyboard a few times. On the screen appeared the face of a bald man in his mid-fifties. "Hello, Max," she said.
"Good morning, Oriana. Is something wrong?" He looked worried.
"No, Max, everything's fine. A friend of the family arrived unexpectedly last night. I would like to spend some time with him before he has to leave. Could I take today off?"
"Of course you can! I have been trying to get you to time off for months now." His look turned to one of happy relief. "I'll see you on Monday."
"Thank you, Max." She pushed a key to terminate the call.
Chakotay was grinning when she turned from the computer. "You handled that well - the truth without revealing any facts."
A slow smile brightened Oriana countenance, "I don't lie to my boss, but I didn't think you'd want people to know who you are. And don't worry about Katie. I told she had to help you by keeping you a secret. She liked that."
"Thank you, Oriana."
She could tell he was anxious to start, so she walked to the door. . On their way down to the basement floor, Oriana asked a question that had been on her mind. "Why do you have a tattoo on your face?"
Chakotay smiled as he answered, "I wear it to honor my father. He wore it to honor our ancient ancestors, a tribe from Central America called the 'rubber tree' people."
The two of them lapsed into silence until they reached to the basement. Before them was a door that read "lower level, authorized personal only." Oriana produced a card and slid it through the card lock. A buzzer sound and the lock clicked. She opened the door and motioned for Chakotay to go ahead.
She led him past several doors into they came to one marked "storage room." "Katie said it was close to our storage locker. But I have no idea which room."
"I'll try scanning the ones closest first." He activated the tricorder.
Oriana was fascinated by the instrument, and she leaned closer to see the display. Chakotay held it so that she could more easily observe. The first two rooms held only cleaning supplies and tools. However, when he scanned the next room the tricorder showed unusual readings.
"There is something rather large and metallic in there that my tricorder cannot identify. It is an strange alloy not found in our database." He looked around to see if anyone else was around, then tried the doorknob. The door was locked. "I was afraid it wouldn't be that easy."
"Let me try my card." She inserted the card but nothing happened.
"Is there something I can help you with?" asked a heavily accented voice behind them.
Startled, both Oriana and Chakotay spun around to see a stocky man dressed in overalls approaching them. He appeared to be a janitor.
"Do I know you?" Oriana took a defensive stance.
"My name is Cosimo." Chakotay was even more surprised when the man turned to him and said. "I'm glad to see you, Commander Chakotay. You look rested after your sudden trip last night."
"How do you know me?" the commander asked as he took steps to place himself between Oriana and the stranger.
The other man grinned sheepishly as he said, "Well, I'm the reason you are here." He raised his hand to silence them both. "We need to get out of this hallway." He used a small device which he waved over the card lock. Then he turned the door knob and opened the door. He motioned for them to come into the room. When they reluctantly followed, he closed the door.
The man who called himself Cosimo leaned against a counter and began to explain. "I'm from a different plane of reality, a different time stream if you will. Normally, we would not have met, but I was using my concurrent scrimpter to retrieve a Class Seven deranged cyclonic temporal-spatial vortex. It is something like what you would call a wormhole. I retrieved you instead, Commander. And in the process the scrimpter and I were brought here, too."
"That doesn't explain how you know my name," Chakotay said impatiently.
The shorter balding man smiled calmly, "I have learned a great deal about you and your crew. I have even met another member of your crew, Ensign Harry Kim. Do you recall that little shuttle accident that nearly stranded him in an alternate reality? I was sent to keep watch on him. I was required to do research so that I could help him. I hope he doesn't regret his choice to go back to Voyager."
Chakotay recalled the time when Harry Kim had been sent to an alternate time frame. He did recall that someone had helped Harry return. "Then you can use the scrimpter to send me back," Chakotay demanded.
"I could if the scrimpter's drive were working. It was damaged when I arrived, and I have none of my implements or parts for repairs with me. I hoped that you were indeed near by and that you would find the scrimpter with your scanner, so that you could assist me in the repairs. I had to stay close by so that my mechanism would not be discovered by anyone else."
Before them was a tarp-covered object; Cosimo removed the covering. The machine was smaller than an escape pod and box shaped. There was a room enough a person to sit in it. The outside casing's color had an iridescent quality that continually changed before their eyes. Cosimo opened a panel on the side of the scrimpter, revealing the drive assembly.
"Could I use your scanner? I have to figure out what failed. Neither of us will be going anyplace if we can't get the drive on line." Cosimo's frustration was apparent.
Chakotay was reluctant, but his desire to find a way home was strong, so he handed the tricorder to him. Cosimo activated the device and slowly passed it over the drive. He studied the readings, tapped a couple of buttons and passed it over the drive again. He shook his head and grinned wearily. "A cracked inductor chip."
He handed the tricorder back to Chakotay to see. The display displayed a schematic of the drive, listing the failed chip. Chakotay could see by Cosimo's expression that he thought the problem was serious.
"What is the chip made of?" Chakotay asked.
"A compound I can't even pronounce. Where I come from it is rare and is authorized for use only in level 1 and 2 scrimpters." He leaned dejectedly against the machine.
Oriana spoke for first time since they had entered to room. "I remember my grandfather telling stories of his grandfather's old tractor on his farm. It would break down and parts were hard to find. He said that sometimes he fixed it with baling wire and chewing gum. We need to find the proverbial baling wire for this machine."
"What do you suggest? Cosimo inquired.
"Chakotay, would your tricorder be able to diagram the molecular structure of the chip?"
"We might be able to find a close enough match to replace the clip or at least repair it." She explained her idea.
"My database is 24th century. Many of the compounds are not available in this time period. Also the materials available now may not be listed."
"Maybe if your tricorder can't find a match maybe my computer can."
Chakotay nodded and set the tricorder to molecular scan. When the scan was completed, he ran a matching search. As the tricorder worked, Chakotay asked, "Why were you trying to retrieve this vortex?"
Cosimo frowned as he considered how to explain. "Any deranged cyclonic vortex can cause problems in the time stream, in my reality, but a Class Seven is rare and very destructive. This vortex spins through time and space. One end is relatively fixed, while the other end circles widely. We have been tracking this one quite some time. The circling end has collided with our time stream in a remote area where damage was still minimal. The fixed end is the Delta Quadrant. The plan was to use my scrimpter when the circling end next hit that remote area. The scrimpter's tractor beam was to catch the fixed end and pull it through to my location, thus rendering the vortex harmless. From all indications the fixed end was in an uninhabited part of space. Voyager came upon the scene at the wrong time. I snagged you, Commander, instead. So here we are."
"You even know the name of my ship?"
"Yes, as I said, I did research."
A beep from the scanner caused Chakotay to look down at the results of the search. "There are only two likely matches, but I know that neither would be available on Earth at this time. One is from Vulcan and the other from Ferenginar." With a heavy frustrated sigh he turned to Oriana, "It looks like we will have to try finding a match using your computer."
Oriana and Chakotay left Cosimo in the basement as they returned to her apartment. "Do you believe him?" she asked quietly as they entered her home. "Did what he said happen to a member of your crew?"
Chakotay paused and tugged at his ear, "Something did happen to Harry, and Harry told us that the name of the man that helped him was Cosimo. But as to whether I believe him. That the verdict is not in yet. The machine is emitting chroniton particles which match the ones my tricorder scanned in this room. And he knows a great deal about the crew and the ship. I think he may be telling the truth. I guess it comes down to trust."
Oriana give him a smile of understanding and went over to her computer. She motioned for Chakotay to give her the tricorder. Based on what she saw, she began a search.
Chakotay had to reign in the urge to pace as they waited for the computer to complete its task. He walked to the window to distract himself. He clenched his teeth when the view did nothing to distract him.
"Our computers are much slower than yours, aren't they?" He jumped at her voice. She had followed him to the window.
He laughed a short laugh. "They are, at that. But I get impatient sometimes even with ours."
"What will you do if we can't find a way to repair this?"
"I will think about that if the time comes. I don't want to borrow worry." He eyes fall upon the trees that lined the street below. They were ten meters tall and very slender plants. "It has been years since I have seen trees like those. I walked past some when I left San Francisco."
"The man, Cosimo, said you were in the Delta Quadrant. Where is that?"
"The other side of the galaxy, 50,000 light years, give or take, away." He sighed. "Our ship was brought there by alien technology. We have been trying to get back to this part of galaxy for nearly seven years."
"And now you are even further away." She shook her head in sympathy and turned back to her computer. She read the message on the screen. Oriana said reluctantly, "There is no match."
Chakotay hung his head and did not speak. Oriana wanted to say something that would give him hope but could not think of anything. She merely sat down at her desk in silence.
After several minutes Oriana looked at the clock. It was nearly 12:30. She quietly said, "Chakotay, I have to pick Katie up from school in a half hour. She is dismissed early on Fridays."
Chakotay turned slowly from the window. He responded woodenly, "I'll go tell Cosimo that we didn't find anything."
"Something will come up." She tried to encourage him.
Katie and Oriana joined the two men in the basement about an hour later. Katie ran to Chakotay and hugged him around the knees. "I didn't tell anyone, Commander Chakotay. It was hard but I didn't." She grinned up at him proudly.
Chakotay could not help but be cheered by the little girl. He picked her up and hugged her back. He then turned and said, "Kathryn Joy, this is Cosimo. He is the one who brought me here with his machine."
Katie reached out her hand. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Cosimo."
The older man solemnly nodded as he shook her hand. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Kathryn."
"Katie, why don't we go make lunch for all of us?" As her mother spoke, Chakotay put Katie down. Oriana turned to the men and said, "You can come up to the apartment in about fifteen minutes."
"I'll stay with my machine, but I could use a bite to eat if you would be so kind as to bring me something." Cosimo said.
Chakotay indicated that he would bring the food down to him as soon as it was ready.
Katie chatted about her day as they returned to the apartment. She had a picture that she had drawn to show Chakotay. It was a likeness of him and a small child next to him both in Star Fleet uniforms. He smiled at the accuracy of the detail.
"Is this you, Katie?" he asked.
"Yes, I want to be a starship commander, too."
"I would not be surprised if you do become a commander someday. It is a little soon in time for you to be a starship commander, though." He patted her shoulder and said, "Did I tell that my captain's first name is Kathryn? Your love for space flight reminds me of her."
The little girl was so pleased with the information that she stopped talking and stared up at him. After a few seconds she couldn't keep still. "Mama, did you hear that? His captain is a Kathryn, too. Maybe I'll be a captain."
Back in the apartment Oriana began to make sandwiches. She assigned Katie the task of washing the fruit she bought on her way home from Katie's school.
Chakotay merely sat on the chair, staring at the computer. He was stunned. The feeling of helplessness was nearly paralyzing. He thought of the crew back on Voyager. They could have come up with a solution by now, but they were over 300 years in the future. He put his face into his hands and softly moaned.
He started when he felt a tiny hand pat his shoulder. He looked up to see Katie's face close to his. "Are you sick, Commander?" she said with deep concern in her voice.
"No, I'm not sick, just frustrated." He smiled in reassurance.
Nodding with understanding, Katie asked, "Can I show you something?"
When he nodded, she left the room for a few moments. When she returned she was holding a small object. It appeared to be a model of an aircraft of some kind. When Katie held out her hands, he saw that it was in two pieces.
"It is a Hyper-Soar. My daddy flew one. It is very fast. It is almost a space ship. When Mama told me about it, I saved my money to buy this model. I can't do it right. It 'fustrates' me." She knit her small brow into a frown.
Chakotay took the toy from her and examined the parts. As he tried to put the two together, he saw that there was too much glue on the places where the parts should connect. He pulled off the excess fixative and set the sections together. He looked at the little girl and said, "I think you need to use less glue, and it will be just right."
As he handed the miniature aircraft back to Katie, a thought came to him. He walked into the small kitchen. "Oriana, when you talked about your old grandfather and the tractor, you talked about baling wire and chewing gum. We have only been looking for the baling wire; maybe we need to look for the chewing gum." Oriana looked puzzled.
"Maybe we can find a glue that will fix the cracked chip long enough to get us back. I have to ask Cosimo some questions about the drive." He paused for a moment and then asked, "But what could we use for the glue?"
Chakotay hurried to the basement with a paper bag filled with the lunch Oriana had prepared. Arriving at the door to the room where Cosimo was, he knocked. "It's me," He called. The door swung open.
He handed the bag to Cosimo and began his questions. "How hot does the drive get when it is working?"
Cosimo had begun examining the food. He looked up and replied, "A few degrees warmer. Why do you ask?"
"I have been thinking that maybe we could use glue to repair the chip long enough to get us both home."
"I suppose it is possible, although the glue would have to be quite strong, but flexible. Where would we find the glue?"
"Oriana is gathering as many types of glue as she can from someplace called a 'home improvement' store. She also said she had another idea of a source."
"Good! From what I can remember of our calculations about the vortex, we have under 24 hours before the circling end of the vortex returns to this time and place. That time will be the best to get us both back where we belong." Cosimo's mouth was full, "Oriana makes good sandwiches." He handed the bag to Chakotay. Chakotay suddenly had an appetite, and he began to eat a sandwich, too.
Oriana and Katie arrived just as the two men were finishing their lunch. Oriana deposited a full bag on the short counter next to the scrimpter. She poured out the contents. "I bought one of each kind that even remotely sounded promising. After I left the home improvement store, I stopped by my desk at work. One of our customers has a new product line which includes a universal glue. Its called 'Absolute Glu'. They left some of their products for us to try. I remembered it when you mentioned the 'chewing gum'.
Cosimo and Chakotay began scanning and testing on the various tubes and bottles. Oriana wanted to watch as they worked, but she didn't think Katie could stay still with nothing to do. The two men continued to work as Oriana took her little daughter back to their apartment.
"Mama, I want to go back downstairs to see the commander." Little Kathryn came out of her room for the third time within the last hour.
"Joy Bug, I know you do, but I already told you that we would only be in their way." Oriana also wanted to go the basement, but she didn't tell her daughter. "Commander Chakotay knows the way up here. If he needs something, he will come to us."
"Please, Mama," Katie pleaded. "I promise I will not bother them. I just want to see what is happening."
Oriana wanted the same thing, so she said, "Okay, we'll go downstairs for a few minutes, but you have to promise not to get in their way."
Katie eagerly nodded her head as she ran to the door.
Chakotay and Cosimo looked up when they heard the knock on the door. Cosimo went to the door and asked, "Who is it?" When he heard Oriana's voice, he opened the door.
"How is it coming?" Oriana asked as she walked to where Chakotay stood scanning a small flat object.
"It looks promising," he responded as he looked up. "We scanned every tube and bottle of glue that you brought us. The Absolute Glu' is the only one that looks like it might work." He turned back to his tricorder.
Katie stood close to the door with her eyes opened wide and her teeth clenched. Cosimo noticed her and spoke to her, "Is something wrong, little one?"
Katie glanced at her mother before she replied, "I am trying not to bother you."
Cosimo burst into laughter and leaned down to pat her shoulder. "You would never bother us, Katie."
Just as Katie smiled up at Cosimo, Chakotay nearly shouted, "It will work! I am sure of it. Cosimo, the glue is dry." He handed the chip to the other man. Cosimo busied himself with the job of returning the chip to its proper place. The rest of those in the room scarcely breathed as he worked. He closed the drive panel and sat down in the scrimpter. His short fingers flew over the controls when suddenly lights flickered and tiny sounds came for all over the machine. All four of them stood transfixed for several seconds before anyone spoke. Oriana put her hand over her mouth to keep from shouting. Katie ran to Chakotay. He grabbed her mid-stride and lifted her up nearly to the ceiling while he laughed out loud. Katie giggled as Chakotay held her there and spun her around several times. Cosimo and Oriana watched as Chakotay stopped turning and leaned against the counter with Katie in his arms. It took a few moments for their dizziness to pass. "I hope didn't scare you, Katie," Chakotay grinned at the child.
"Oh, no, Commander," she said as she hugged him. "That was fun!"
Oriana chuckled, "Well, Joy Bug, now that we know the machine will work, we should go back to the apartment and let the gentlemen finish."
"Oh, Mama," Katie pouted, "do we have to?"
"I will come up soon, Kathryn," Chakotay said gently as he lowered her to the floor. "You go with your mother."
Katie sighed, "Yes, sir!" and followed her mother as she left the room.
About a half hour later Chakotay was seated on the sofa. As Oriana and he were talking, Katie crawled onto Chakotay's lap. She sat smiling as she listened to the adults talk.
"What happens next?" Oriana asked.
"After we tested the scrimpter and brought its computer on line, Cosimo determined that we have 17 hours until the end of the vortex returns here. We will have to move the scrimpter into next room because this end will arrive in that location when it returns. We thought we would wait to move it until late tonight. We don't want to attract attention."
"We should celebrate," Oriana said. "We'll go have pizza."
"Yeah!" Katie agreed.
"I've never had pizza. One of my crew, Tom Paris, is always trying to replicate it, but I have never tried any of his creations." Chakotay told them.
Katie jumped off his lap and grabbed his hand to pull him up. "We know a great place for pizza. I bet you'll like my favorite. Mushroom and olive. Mama likes pepperoni, but I don't."
"You may be right, Katie." He smiled at her enthusiasm. "I am a vegetarian and I love mushrooms."
It was decided that pizza was indeed the right meal for the evening. They checked in with Cosimo, but he still preferred to stay with his machine. Promising to bring something back for him, they left the building to walk to the pizza parlor.
As he entered the establishment with Oriana and Katie, he thought, *Tom would love this place.* The restaurant looked old. It had faded red flocked wallpaper. It was lit by chandeliers which had red glass shades. Although the place looked old, it was clean and obviously popular since most of the tables were full.
Oriana and Katie walked up to a counter. Katie stood on her tiptoes and greeted the chubby woman behind the counter, "Hello, Mrs. Geroldi. How is Joey?"
The older woman laughed heartily, "My grandson is fine, but he will be unhappy that he missed seeing you. Do you want your usual tonight?"
"Yes, Marie, but make the mushroom and olive pizza a large. We have a friend with us tonight." Oriana answered.
Marie looked at Chakotay with a smile, "Welcome to Pete's. I'm Marie." She held out her hand.
"Thank you. My name is Chakotay. It is a pleasure to meet you." Chakotay shook her hand.
Katie led him to a table and they waited there for the pizza. The little girl began to chat with several children who had just arrived with their parents.
"Some of her friends from school," Oriana told him as she took a drink of her Coke. "Does Cosimo have everything out worked for you to get back?"
"I think so." Chakotay was vague as he stared at Katie.
"What's wrong, Chakotay?" she asked.
"I was just thinking how much I will miss Katie. I have only been around a few children. We have a few kids on board my ship, but Katie has a special way about her."
"I think she will miss you, too," Oriana said softly.
"No. If this is successful, neither of you will remember me."
"I don't understand."
Chakotay took a long swallow from his glass. "If Cosimo makes the right adjustments, it will be as if I were never here. You can't remember something that never happened." He sighed in resignation.
Oriana looked from Chakotay to Katie and back to Chakotay again. *It is so unfair. Katie won't even have the pleasure of remembering. And neither will I.* She sat in silence until their meal came.
Chakotay watched Oriana as she withdrew from the conversation. He knew that she was struggling with the thought of losing these memories. He was almost envious of her. He would be forced to live with his. He looked at the woman and her child, thinking of how appealing being part of this small family was.
The walk back to Oriana's building was quiet. Katie asked Chakotay to carry her, and a block later she was asleep. They had planned to take pizza to Cosimo, but they decided to take the elevator to Oriana's apartment first.
Chakotay took the little girl to her room. Oriana pulled back the blankets. As he laid Katie on her bed, she awakened slightly.
"Night, Commander," Katie said in a drowsy voice and reached up to kiss his cheek.
"Good night, Kathryn Joy." He told her as he kissed her forehead and covered her. He left her room quickly.
Oriana came back to the living room a couple minutes later. "She was really tired. She never falls asleep that fast and so soon after dinner."
"Speaking of dinner, I better take this pizza to Cosimo." Chakotay picked up the box and the beverage container as he walked to the door. Turning back when he reached it, he said, "I'll stay there until it is safe to move the scrimpter."
"I will have the sofa ready for you when you get back."
He nodded and left for the basement.
Cosimo was grateful for the food. He was quite cheerful as he talked about what would happen when the time the vortex returned.
"I will program the scrimpter to transport you through the vortex just before I latch on to the fixed end," he spoke around a mouth full of pizza. "You will have to be ready to drop and roll away from the spot where you materialize. Otherwise you could be pulled back through again."
"Will I pass out when I reach the ship like I did when I got here?" Chakotay asked.
"I don't think you will, since I will enter the calculations based on you and your ship's exact temporal confines." He reached for the drink container and took several swallows. "I am going to miss Earth food. There is so much variety."
Chakotay only half listened. He was thinking that he would miss Katie and her enthusiasm for space. He remembered when he was young and how exciting the thought of exploring space had been to him. His father never understood his fascination with traveling away from Dorvan. Kolopak had only traveled to Earth to seek his ancestors.
He was sure Katie had the drive to succeed in her quest for space travel. He decided to check on her when he got back to Voyager. If the records still existed, he was sure that her name would be there.
When Cosimo had finished his meal, he began entering the preliminary numbers into his computer. Chakotay watched and asked questions, hoping to keep himself distracted from his own musings. He was astounded to find out how much calculation and planning was necessary to make the time jump, return him to Voyager, and retrieve the Class Seven vortex.
After a couple of hours Cosimo decided that it was time to move the machine to another room. Fortunately there was a room, nearly empty, exactly where Cosimo said his scrimpter needed to be. The boxy device was not heavy, but it was awkward. Chakotay helped to block open the two doors and maneuver it through them. There was a moment of panic at the sound of footsteps in the hall. However, it was only Oriana.
"I couldn't wait any longer to see how things were going." She looked sheepish.
"We're nearly done." Cosimo smiled as he closed the door to the former hiding place.
"I'll go back up. Don't want to leave Katie for long." She returned the smile. "Is there anything you need, Cosimo?"
"No, everything I need is right here." He opened a small compartment on the inside of his contrivance and pulled something out. It looked like an ample roll of red paper and was less than a meter long and fifteen centimeters thick. When he unrolled it flat on the floor, it was less than two centimeters thick. "I sleep quite comfortably on this."
He laughed when he saw their skeptical looks, "I will demonstrate." And he proceeded to position himself on the red mat. He touched a small raised spot on its side. The pad formed a pillow and mattress under Cosimo and a covering over him.
He grinned up at them, and said, "I always get a good sleep this way. And since I am already here, would you take care of the lights?"
"Of course," Oriana and Chakotay said at the same time. They chuckled as they went to the door.
"I'll see you in about eight hours," he said in a drowsy voice.
They bid Cosimo good night and left the room after Oriana turned out the lights.Neither of them spoke as they entered the elevator nor when they reached her apartment. Chakotay was suddenly very weary.
Oriana said, "I'll say good night. I am tired." She moved toward her room, then turned to ask, "Is there any thing you need, Chakotay?"
"No, thank you and good night." He sat on the edge of the sofa bed and began to take off his boots.
She nodded and started to leave the room when Chakotay said softly, "Wait, Oriana. Could we talk for a while?"
"Sure," she said as moved to her chair and sat down. "What is it?"
"I am not sure how to put it into words." He sighed and raked his fingers through his hair. "I am torn up about leaving here in a way that I don't completely understand." He stood and walked around the room, looking at the small items that decorated the apartment's living room. "I have dreamt of having a place to come home to. You have made this place a comfortable, appealing home. You have done a wonderful job raising Katie, in spite of your loss."
Chakotay returned to the sofa and sat down again. "There is part of me that does not want to leave."
Oriana waited for him to say more, but when he remained silent, she said in a near whisper, "We don't want you to leave, but I know you can't stay."
"I can't stay," he echoed her words in a flat tone. "No, I can't stay."
They sat, not speaking for several minutes before Oriana asked a question, "Chakotay, will tell me about your Captain?"
Chakotay was startled by the request. He didn't speak as he pondered how to answer. After collecting his thoughts, he tool a deep breath and began, "Kathryn is the most capable, principled, and determined officer I have ever served under. She is stubborn and obstinate, especially when she is convinced that she has come up with the only solution to a crisis or problem. Our crew and the goal of getting us home is foremost in her mind at all times."
Chakotay smiled as he continued, "She is addicted to coffee, doesn't remember to eat at times, and hates to see our doctor for medical check-ups."
"How does the crew feel about her?" Oriana asked.
"They would follow her anywhere," he said. "And die for her without hesitation."
"And you, Chakotay," she stated softly. "you love her."
Again Chakotay was startled by what Oriana said. He looked down at his hands before he spoke. "Yes, I do."
"Have you ever told her?"
"Not in so many words," he said, still not taking his eyes from his hands.
"And why is that?" Oriana probed.
"I have tried," he said as he looked up. "I tried to tell with a story, with roses, and by being there beside her."
Oriana smiled slightly as she shook her head, "I was married, but I wouldn't have been if Paul had only told he loved me in those ways. Women need the words."
"I also knew that Starfleet protocols stood in my way," he told her grimly.
"I understand military regulations, but it seems to me that your situation is unique. I don't think that those protocols should prevent you from declaring your love for your Kathryn." She leaned toward him and touched his arm. "If you tell her, at least, you will find out how she will react. Isn't that better than being uncertain all of the time?"
"I am not sure. I always think, 'What if I lose her friendship, too?'"
"That is a risk!" she told him. "I can't tell you how she will respond, but the outcome could be the one you want." "It is late." Oriana stood to her feet. "Thank you for sharing with me. And Chakotay, think about what I said."
"I will," he smiled. "And you are welcome."
Chakotay reclined on the sofa, thinking about his home on Voyager. If all went right, he would be back with the only family he had left. At that moment his trip to Earth would an ancient and actually non-existent event. The little girl sleeping to the room down the hall would no longer be alive. He would have not thought when he first appeared in this room the night before that he would become so attached to the tiny Kathryn. Again the thought of never seeing her again grieved him.
There was much about Katie that reminded him of Kathryn Janeway and of himself. That thought brought another enlightening one. The child could have been their daughter. Chakotay pondered the idea for a while, then his mind wandered to Janeway. A pang of loneliness hit him, making him want to double up with the agony of it.
He realized that Oriana was right. He needed to tell Kathryn Janeway his feelings. He would live with the consequences, good or bad, but he had to tell her as soon as he could. He thought, "The machine has to work." He could not live his life without his Kathryn, even if it meant never seeing the sweet little girl named Kathryn Joy and her mother again. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep.
Chakotay was surprised to waken several hours later. He had thought he wouldn't sleep at all. The first light of the day was pouring through a crack in the front curtain. He yawned as he sat up. He smelled coffee brewing, then he heard movement in the kitchen.
He walked to the kitchen doorway, and saw Oriana sitting at the table with a cup in her hand.
"Good morning, Chakotay," she smiled at him. "I hope I didn't wake you. I just couldn't sleep any longer."
Chakotay smiled back and said, "You didn't. I should be up now anyway. I have go down to basement soon." He took a deep breath and sighed. "Could I have a cup? It smells so good."
"Of course, and please sit down," she said as she rose to get him a cup. "I am glad you slept."
"I am surprised that I did, but I did need it." He took the cup of hot liquid from her said, "Thank you."
"Mama, Commander!" Katie called in a panicked voice. "Where are you?"
"We're in the kitchen, Joy bug," her mother answered.
They heard the pounding of small feet as Katie ran to kitchen. When she arrived in the doorway, she quickly looked for Chakotay. Upon seeing him, she launched herself into his arms and began to sob.
"What is it?" Chakotay asked as he rocked Katie on his lap.
Oriana's face was full of concern, but she could tell that Katie wasn't hurt, so she allowed him to comfort her daughter.
"I thought you had gone without saying good-bye," the little girl said against his shoulder.
"Oh my little Kathryn," he said soothingly, "I could never leave without saying good-bye." He continued to pat her small back and making consoling sounds.
Katie sniffed and hiccuped as she began to calm down. "I was so afraid," she said as she pulled back to look into his eyes, "that I had slept too long." She hugged him around his neck as tightly as she could and as if she wouldn't let go.
Chakotay smiled sadly at Oriana who returned the same dejected smile. He loosened Katie's arms and moved her so that he could look into her eyes. "I will never forget you, Kathryn Joy Phillips. But I need to tell you something. You are sad now, but if Cosimo's machine works and he uses it to send me back, you won't remember me because it will be as if I was never here."
"No, Commander," she said in a serious voice, "I can't forget you. I won't ever forget you.'
"But you will, honey," her mother spoke.
"No, I won't." Katie stated again without arguing.
"Well, we will see, but you need to get dressed now," Oriana told her.
Katie kissed Chakotay on the cheek and climbed down from his lap. "Okay, Mama, I will," she said cheerfully and left the room.
"At least she won't know when she does forgets," he stated simply.
After changing into his uniform Chakotay waited at the door for Oriana and Katie. He smiled as Katie ran toward him with a large grin on her face. She had something in her hand.
"I want you to have this, Commander Chakotay," she said as she handed him the 'hyper-soar' model. She put the toy in one of his hands. Then she asked, "Are there books where you are in the future?"
"Yes, we have books, both paper ones and on PADDs," he answered. "Why do you ask?'
" 'Cause I am going to write a book someday, so I want you to read it when you get back." The little girl waited for his response.
"I will look for it when I get back, I promise."
Katie was satisfied with his answer. She nodded and took his hand, and three of them left the apartment.
Cosimo had everything prepared when they arrived. He greeted them and said, "It is nearly time, Commander. And Ms. Phillips and Kathryn, thank you for your assistance and the wonderful food you provided for me."
Cosimo indicated the place where Chakotay needed to stand. He checked his instruments again while Chakotay turned to Oriana and Katie.
"Thank you, Oriana, for everything," he said in a husky voice.
Oriana hugged him, then said, "You are welcome, Chakotay. I hope you talk to your Kathryn soon."
Chakotay nodded before he squatted down in front of Katie and pulled her into his arms. "Good bye, Kathryn Joy. You have been a good friend. I hope you get to fly into space." He fought the tears which stung his eyes.
"Good bye, Commander." She hugged him as the tears ran down her cheeks as she whispered into his ear, "I love you, Chakotay." and kissed his cheek.
She pulled back and wiped at her eyes when Cosimo said, "Over here, Commander. We must begin the sequence. Ms. Phillips, I must ask to you leave. The scrimpter can be thrown off by your presence." He gave her a small smile.
Oriana and Katie quickly moved to the door, only looking back once to wave a final good-bye.
As Chakotay saw the reverse shimmer, he prepared to finish the roll he had begun. He felt his body hit the deck. He somersaulted twice and stood to his feet. Everyone else on the bridge stared in disbelief. Ensign Kim was the voice for the rest of the crew when he asked. "What happened, Commander? You were gone for 7.6 seconds."
"Report," Captain Janeway said as she hurried from her ready in response to Harry's call.
Chakotay didn't know how to answer right away. He could hardly believe what had happened. If Harry had not just told him he had been gone for the 7.6 seconds, he might be tempted to think he had hallucinated. Little Katie and Oriana were now in his distant past. They had helped and they would have no memory of it. He looked down at the small toy in his hand. He had a promise to keep. With a sad smile on his face Chakotay replied, "I had a run-in with Harry's old friend Cosimo, but it was just a Class Nine temporal anomaly that he cleared up as quickly as possible. I can prepare a full report in and get it to you in, let's say, one hour."
"Very well, Commander, one hour in my ready room," she agreed and walked back through the ready room door.
"Oh Harry, Cosimo said 'Hello'." Chakotay chuckled at the young ensign's shocked reaction as he went to his office. Once inside Chakotay sat down at his deck, put the model aircraft down in front of him, and activated the computer, "Computer, access history and literary files for Earth, second half of the 21st century."
The computer responded with its familiar beeps, and few seconds later it intoned, "Files accessed."
"Find any reference to Kathryn Joy Phillips."
"Six historical references and one literary found," was the monotone reply.
"Display all references," he commanded excitedly. He watched his computer screen fill with pictures of a lovely woman in a captain's uniform. She was obviously Katie grown up. There were references to her history making test flights and accounts of her rise to astronaut. She seemed have made a name for herself. The final account was an announcement. It told of the publishing of her autobiography. Chakotay quickly opened the literary file and found the full text of the book. Looking at the acknowledgments page, he began to read. "I want to thank the people who have most influenced my life. First Paul Phillips, my father; he passed on his love of all things flying. Second Oriana Phillips, my mother; she has always been by my side. Finally Commander Chakotay, my oldest friend; he inspired me to reach for my dreams. I will never forget him."
The commander stopped his reading and smiled as he thought. *She didn't forget.* Saving to files for future reading, he rose from his desk and walked out of his office to the captain's ready room. Upon receiving permission to enter, he went in. He stood in front of her desk.
"Well, Chakotay, are you ready to tell me about what happened?" Janeway looked up at him with obvious curiosity.
"Yes, Kathryn," he said softly, "I will start by telling you about another Kathryn."
"I'm here, Katie," the woman in the chair called out.
A small girl of six or seven years appeared in the doorway. She was wearing blue pajamas; her brown hair was tousled from sleep. Rubbing her eyes against the brightness of the room, she said, "Mama, I had a dream. A man from the future just appeared in our living room. He was a big man wearing red and black. He needed our help."
Oriana smiled at the little girl. "You're reading too much science fiction, Joy Bug."
Katie stopped where she was and dropped her hands. She looked around the room. She sighed, then she smiled, "No, we helped him really good. I remember he said that if we helped him right, we wouldn't see him again. That makes me kind of sad. But it was important that he get back to where he belonged. But I told him I wouldn't forget him."
Oriana felt goose bumps cover her skin. She also sensed a loss, the understanding of which remained out of her grasp. In a mere blink of memory she saw a man's face with a marking on his forehead, but it faded quickly and was gone. She smiled at her daughter and reached for her.
"Then, my little Joy Bug," Oriana said as she pulled Katie into her lap, "I think we should be glad."