Summer break was arriving to its end. Kathryn and Will continued with their weekly meetings, sometimes in New York, sometimes in other places. They took long walks in different cities, went to secluded cafés, watched holomovies or just sat in a park to talk.
Their friendship was becoming stronger. They weren't afraid of talking to the other, there wasn't a topic uncomfortable between them and they loved teasing each other on a big variety of subjects.
It was Friday and Kathryn was sitting on the back porch of her house in Indiana, drinking a cup of coffee and reading a novel while waiting for Will's message. She was anxious to see him and to go to the museum, as they accorded in their last meeting.
The back door of the house opened and Phoebe appeared. Instead of going directly to her sister, she waited, leaning on the door frame, for her sister's acknowledgment.
"What do you want, idiot sister of my heart?" Kathryn asked without taking her eyes from her book.
"Me? Nothing, but Ma says you have a call, dorkface."
Without waiting for an answer, Phoebe turned round and returned inside. Kathryn closed her book and left it on the table, next to the coffee cup, before getting up and going to the study. She wrote her code on the computer and accepted the call.
"Big Guy! Hi!"
"Hi yourself, Kitty-Kat." Will said smiling slightly.
"Don't call me that."
"You are not. Is there something wrong? You usually send a message."
"Nothing's wrong, Kitty-Kat."
"Would you believe me if I said that I just wanted to see your face?"
"Soppy. Are you gonna play hooky on me?"
"Not at all, but I have a new suggestion, a change of plans if you agree."
"Robbie, a classmate, is throwing a party tonight at his house in Los Angeles. It's meant to be the last one before classes start. He invited me, along with some other people, and I thought that maybe you would like to come with me."
"A party? Will, I don't know..."
"Come on, Kitty-Kat! It'll be fun!"
"But I don't know anybody there."
"You know me, and you know Alyssa and Mike, they'll be there too. What do you say?"
"I'll have to look for something to wear."
"Really? That was easy! I thought it would be harder to convince you."
"Don't push your luck, Big Guy. I can still change my mind."
"But you won't, right Kitty-Kat?"
"I'll pick you up at 1900."
"Are you sure? My parents will be home."
"I'll wait for you at the end of the front path."
"I'll see you later, Kitty-Kat. Oh! And bring your swimsuit! Riker out."
Kathryn was running late. She began to get ready with plenty of time but her indecision about what to wear made her lose valuable time. Finally, she decided to wear a bright blue sundress, her black bikini and flip-flops. After taking a quick sonic shower, she styled her hair in a high ponytail with a white flower attached to it and applied some light makeup. She checked herself in the mirror one more time before running down the stairs.
Gretchen, who was on the kitchen, heard her and went to the living room where her oldest daughter was throwing her things on a purse and her youngest was reading a book.
“Where's the fire?" Gretchen asked Kathryn.
"What?" Kathryn said looking at her mother with surprise written on her face.
"Where are you going?"
"Out, with some friends."
Phoebe snorted and had to hold her laughter after her mother threw her a Janeway death glare.
"Shut up, idiot." Kathryn said to her sister, who in return stuck her tongue out.
"Phoebe, mind your own business, please."
"Sorry, Ma." Phoebe said before returning her attention to the book, even though she still got her hear fixed on the conversation between her mother and her sister.
"Katie, your father's gonna get here in less than ten minutes. We thought we all could go someplace to dinner, together."
"Sorry, Ma. Take the little monster here and go. We'll do it another time."
"Kathryn!" Gretchen exclaimed.
"Mom, I'm gonna be late. See you tomorrow."
"Yes. Goodbye everybody!"
"KATHRYN!!" Gretchen yelled in vain.
Kathryn grabbed her purse, her sunglasses, got out of the house running and didn't stop until she got to the end of the front path, where Will was waiting for her.
"Sorry, I'm late. I had a bit of a situation with my mother."
"Is everything alright, Kitty-Kat?" Will asked, concerned.
"Yes, don't worry Big Guy. Come on, let's go! There's a party waiting for us!"
The party was a big hit and everybody had a great time, Kathryn and Will included. Drinks and food flew through the attendees and, at the end, all of them were drunk.
Will accompanied Kathryn home. They walked the front path grabbing each other for support, their equilibrium was a bit rusty, and laughing at some silky joke one of them told. Just before they got to the door, Kathryn tripped over the stairs and got them ending on the floor. They laid silent for a few seconds before they bursted in a nearly hysteric laughter. Will put his hand on Kathryn's mouth trying to silence her but he didn't succeed.
"Shhhhhhht." Will whispered.
"It's four in the morning here, everybody is sleeping."
"You're gonna wake them if you don't lower your voice, Kitty-Kat."
"Really?" Kathryn asked, joking.
Neither of them bothered to get up from the floor. They laid there, one next to the other, in drunk happiness and contently to be with each other's company. Kathryn turned her head to look at Will, who had his sight fixed on the ceiling. Sensing her, he also turned his head to look directly at her blue eyes. Invisible sparks flew between them, thing that surprised them.
"Kathryn ..." Will said turning to his side.
"I better go home."
Will tried to get up but Kathryn grabbed his arm and pulled him down, right on top of her. They didn't dare to say a word, the moment was to precious to spoil it. Kathryn looked directly to his eyes and an smile formed on her lips. She raised her head slightly, just enough to capture his lips in a chaste kiss. Will was too stunned to return it so Kathryn did it again, only that this time it was full of passion. He recovered quickly from his shock and returned it with equal passion.
They rolled to their right, Kathryn ending on top of him. She leant her hands on the wooden floor while Will put his on her waist. They continued with their kiss and didn't notice the door being opened nor the angry Admiral that stood there.
"What the hell are you two doing on my front door?" Edward said with a loud voice, nearly yelling.
The young couple, startled, stopped kissing and looked up. Quickly, they tried to get up but ended falling down again. Kathryn started laughing again while Will accomplished the task of getting up and helped Kathryn do the same.
"Are you drunk, young lady?" Edward asked her daughter.
"Uhmmmm." Kathryn muttered as a response.
"It's an easy question, Kathryn. Yes or no." He said, getting angrier every second that went by.
"Maybe a bit?"
"Are you asking me?"
"No what? You aren't asking or you're not drunk?"
"I only know that you're confusing the hell outta me," Kathryn said with a sight, leaning onto Will for moral and physical support. Will wrapped his arm around her waist.
"I can only assume that you're drunk too, young man." Edward said to Will.
"Yeah." was his only answer.
"Perfect! Just perfect!"
The Admiral ran his fingers through his hair, trying to think what to do with both of them. His trail of thought was interrupted by a soft, sleepy, feminine voice.
"What's going on? Is everything all right?" Gretchen asked as she stood next to her husband.
"Ugh! Now Mother Monster is here too." Kathryn tried to whisper but her words came loud enough for everybody to hear.
"Kathryn?" Her mother said.
"Hi Ma!" She answered way to happy.
Will blushed with embarrassment so he lowered his eyes, trying to avoid the Admiral's death glare and the curious look on his wife face.
"What's wrong?" Gretchen asked again.
"Your daughter is drunk and was making out with her friend on our front porch."
"Hey! We weren't making out! Big Guy and I we were just kissing!" Kathryn exclaimed, offended.
"Kitty-Kat, don't make things worse, please." Will pleaded.
"Wise words." Edward said with irony in his voice.
"Thank you, sir."
"It wasn't a compliment."
Gretchen moved to stood between Edward and the young pair.
"Okay. It's late and I'm tired. Edward, why don't you go upstairs? I'll be there shortly." She said, indicating clearly that it wasn't a request. Without saying a word, Edward got into the house. "Kathryn, you've got a minute to say goodbye while I go to the kitchen to drink some water."
As soon as they were left alone, Kathryn and Will released the breath that they didn't even know they were holding. They looked at each other before falling into an emotional embrace.
"I'm sorry." Will whispered.
"Why? I was the one who took the first step." Kathryn said, confused.
"I don't want you having problems with your parents because of me."
"Don't worry about it, ok?"
They stood silent for a few seconds.
"You better go, before Mother Monster returns." Kathryn said softly.
"May I kiss you again, Kitty-Kat?"
"I'd like that."
They kissed again. Gretchen stood hidden inside the house but she saw them and a tiny smile appeared on her face. It disappeared as quickly when Kathryn got inside.
"Come on, Katie, let's get you to bed. You'll have a hell of a headache tomorrow."
The next morning was a tense one at Janeway's farm-house. Phoebe had her breakfast with her parents but she didn't understand what was happening. Her parents were silent, like they had a fight, and her sister was still asleep. She didn't dare to ask them what was going on so she decided to wake her sister up and ask her.
She stood up quietly and left her plate and cutlery in the sink. She went upstairs and knocked softly on her sister's door. She didn't get an answer so she got in. Kathryn was, indeed, still asleep. The sheet was on the floor and her sister was only wearing a t-shirt and her panties. That amazed her. She went silently to the bed and sat beside her.
"Kaaaaaaaaaaathryn." Phoebe said with a cute sweet voice but her sister didn't even stir so she shooked her lightly.
"Leave me alone." Kathryn murmured.
"Are you sick?" She asked while feeling her sister's forehead.
"Yes. Now shut up and don't yell."
"You're not making any sense."
Kathryn tried to get up but she began to feel dizzy. Phoebe helped her and sat beside her on the bed.
"Explain. Now." Phoebe said, excited.
"I went to a party, got drunk, had a wonderful time and returned home."
"Yeah, I got that part when you told me you were hungover, Einstein. Why is Dad angry as hell and Ma is giving him the silent treatment?"
"I don't know, Phoebs."
"Something more happened. Come oooooon! Tell me!" Phoebe said nearly bouncing on the bed.
"Well ... Will accompanied me home and ..." Kathryn hesitated. "Dad caught us kissing."
"Awesome!" Phoebe exclaimed.
"Don't yell!" Kathryn hissed.
"Sorry, sis. Where were you?"
"Floor of the front porch."
"No wonder Dad is mad."
Both sisters sat there for a few minutes, in silence. Suddenly, Phoebe got up.
"Come on, get dressed while I find Dad's hypo and we'll go downstairs together, before this gets worse."
"Thanks, little monster."
"You're welcome, dorkface. But don't get used to it! It's funnier when we're at each others throats."
Fifteen minutes later, Phoebe and Kathryn entered their kitchen. Gretchen was sitting at the table, drinking her tea, and their father was nowhere in sight. Kathryn kissed her mothers check before sitting down in front of her.
"Breakfast is on the stasis unit." Gretchen said, coldly.
Phoebe went to get it and poured a cup of coffee for her sister before putting everything in front of Kathryn and sitting down next to her.
"Where's Dad?" Phoebe asked.
"Went to take a walk." Gretchen replied.
Neither of them spoke. Gretchen continued sipping her tea while Kathryn tried to eat some toast and drank her coffee. The older Janeway got up in order to clean the table, once Kathryn was finished. Phoebe stared at them, switching from one to the other but without saying anything. Finally, Gretchen broke the uncomfortable silence that surrounded the room.
"I know, Ma."
"You know what, exactly?"
"How disappointed you are, how mad is Dad ..."
"Disappointed? Not exactly. I'm surprised by your behavior."
"It's not like you. You never go out with friends and, to my knowledge, never got drunk before."
"You're surprised that I have friends? Thank you very much." Kathryn said, sarcastically.
"Kathryn, don't be dense." Gretchen reprimanded her.
"I'm not trying to be."
"What about that boy?"
"Will? What's wrong with him?" Kathryn asked, getting angry.
"Come on, Ma! She's twenty! She has to live a little! She was always at home or at her dorm with her books and PADDs, always studying. Let her have some fun!" Phoebe said defending her sister.
"Stay out of this, Phoebe." Gretchen said while giving her a death glare.
"She's right, Ma. Will is my friend, a wonderful one, who understands me and knows how important are my studies for me but also knows that I'm young and that I have to have some fun and, more importantly, have a live. He taught me that both things are compatible."
"Your friend?" a voice asked from the door.
The three women turned to look at the door and saw Edward standing there, leaning against the door frame.
"Yes, Dad, a friend." Kathryn answered, firmly.
"So you kiss all your friends like that?"
"Edward, please." Gretchen pleaded.
"Kathryn, come with me. I want to talk with you." Her father said.
"We can talk here."
"I don't think so." He said, getting angrier every second that passed.
"Katie, please." Her mother pleaded, this time with her.
"You know what? Get mad! I don't care! I'll pack my things and return to San Francisco tomorrow." Kathryn said before getting up and flying out of the room, leaving her parents and her sister astonished.
Will looked at his watch for the third time in five minutes. He was waiting outside a cafeteria, in Bloomington, for Kathryn to arrive. He received a message from her telling him to meet her there. After what happened the previous night, he was nervous and anxious. He was sure that Kathryn would told him that she regretted having kissed him and would try to end their friendship. He began pacing in front of the door.
"You'll make a hole in the floor, Big Guy, if you don't stop." A voice that he recognized immediately told him.
"Kitty-Kat!" He said, turning around.
"Hey there." Kathryn said, smiling.
Will, then, realized that Kathryn wasn't alone.
"Little monster, this is my friend Will Riker. Will, my sister Phoebe."
Phoebe and Will shook their hands and stared at each other. After a few seconds, Phoebe got out of her trance and spoke.
"I'll go get myself busy. You have an hour, dorkface."
Phoebe kissed her cheek and left. Will looked at Kathryn, worried.
"Yes. We're going to spend the next few days with my Aunt in New Haven." Kathryn said, sadly.
"Let's go inside and get some coffee and I'll explain."
Together, they walked inside the cafeteria and ordered their coffees before sitting in a secluded table.
"How are you?" Will asked, concerned.
"I'm fine. Don't worry."
"Ok. What happened? You sounded pretty nervous on your message."
"My parents are mad at me and I wanted, needed, to talk to you."
"Do you regret what happened yesterday?" Will asked with a touch of fear on his voice.
"No, I don't." Kathryn answered, quickly. "Do you?"
They took a break to sip some coffee.
"Why are they mad?" Will asked before realizing the stupidity of his question. Kathryn smiled at him.
"Dad's mad because he caught us and I was drunk. Mom is disappointed in my apparently change of behavior."
"I'm never at home, I'm not studying, I'm getting irresponsible ..."
"It's summer break!"
"That's what I told them."
Will looked at her deeply and extended his arm to take her hand.
"There's something that you are not telling me."
Kathryn put her hand on top of his and squeezed it before responding.
"They think it's your fault."
"Well, I understand."
"What?" She nearly shouted. "Will, it's not, ok? I admit that I've changed since I met you but for the better. I've always been a quiet girl, focused on my studies and with few friends. I never went out to play with the other kids, I never really played with my sister either. I preferred to stay at home to study or to read. My goal was to be the best. Same thing happened when I entered the Academy, even though I think it got worse. I'm the daughter of the Oh! Great Admiral Edward Janeway. Everybody has expectations of me and my work. I wanted to be the best but my real goal was to make my father proud of me so, that way, I could obtain his attention. And then I met you and you taught me that I can still be the best but I can have a life too."
"Yes, and I have to thank you. I think that my parents are just too shocked to understand it, that's why I'm going to Aunt Martha's for a few days. I wanted to return to San Francisco but Phoebe decided to come with me to spend this last days of summer together before I return to the Academy and she to school. She understands me better than I thought she could."
"She's your sister."
"Yes, she is. Will, about last night... " Kathryn hesitated.
"What are we going to do?"
"What do you mean?"
"We don't have to decide anything right here, right now. Let's see how it goes, at our own tempo."
"Would you accept to go out with me sometime next week?"
"Are you asking me out on a date?"
"Yes, I think I am."
"Well, in that case ... Tell me when and I'll be ready."