(NC-17)

by Delta Story

June 2005


~*~

Kathryn Janeway did not have a green thumb - that was a certainty. Oh, yes - she had had a brief success with some Talaxian tomatoes on New Earth; but to her recollection, that had been a sigma point accomplishment in her life.

She sighed as she stared at the dozen or so seeds she held in her hand and the container of soil sitting in the middle of the living room in her quarters. Grogas, the prime councilor on Protea II, the planet Voyager had just visited, gave the items to her as they left. She protested, citing that the Proteans had been more than generous in their many trades with Voyager.

"Nonsense," Grogas, a large jolly man said, wrapping her arms around the large pot. "I've seen how you admired and enjoyed the flowers and plants on Protea. Why not take a little something back to your ship by which to remember us? I'm sure your quarters get tiresome and boring during so long a journey. On a voyage such as yours, you need something to give you pleasure in your moments of solitude." He patted her hands as he stepped back.

Janeway groaned as she sagged under the weight of the pot, noting that it was filled with soil. She managed a smile to her jovial host. "I really don't think the soil is necessary; I can replicate some aboard Voyager"

"Tsk, tsk, my dear," he responded, giving her hand a final pat as he placed a small bag on top of the soil in the pot. "These seeds are native to Protea and they will grow much better in something they like."

Janeway struggled to set the large pot on the ground before its weight came crashing down. Curious, she picked up the bag and shook some of its contents into her hand. The seeds looked like large raisins, only lighter in color, with a hard outer shell. She rolled them around in her hand and looked at Grogas with questioning eyes. "And just what kind of plants will come from these seeds?" she asked.

"Let's just say that the outcome will be a surprise, but something I'm sure you will enjoy. They're meant to bring much pleasure into your life," the large man said, his eyes full of merriment. "Just give them lots of tender loving care and they will give you enjoyment for the rest of your journey."

And so it was that she came into possession of the large container and its contents that now sat in her quarters. The transporter's biofilter did its job, for the doctor had given everything a clean bill of health - it wasn't bringing any unknown alien pathogens or pests aboard. There was nothing more she could say.

The pot alone was a true work of art. It appeared to be made of glazed ceramic; the rounded container, fuller at its middle than at the top and bottom, stood about sixty centimeters tall and spanned about forty centimeters across. Its enamel-like finish glistened and shone in soft hues of blues and lavenders and deep grays, colors that seemed to change depending upon where the observer stood. Protean soil filled it to within a few centimeters from the rounded lip around the top.

She put the seeds back into their coarse cloth bag and ran her fingers through the dark soil. A musty loam smell wafted up from the disturbed soil, bringing back memories of her mother preparing flowerbeds in early May, the dirt rich and waiting to give life to awaiting seeds or young plantings. She rolled some of it between her fingers - it was moist but not wet, fine but not sandy - definitely good soil, if memory served her correctly. She smiled to herself; maybe Grogas was right - some plants... something she could tend and care for... might bring some pleasure into her all-too-lonely life aboard Voyager.

But - where could she put a container of this size? Did she want to leave it in her living area, where anyone who was visiting could see her progress - or non-progress! - as a gardener? No, that would never do, not even over by her desk. That left her bedroom area, and she didn't know if she had enough room in that small space. She sighed, wishing that Kes were still with them - Kes would know exactly where to put it and how to coax the seeds into full bloom. But Kes was long since gone, and her airponic bay was only a memory, currently housing part of astrometrics.

Perhaps Neelix could help her - after all, he stored fruits and vegetables with some success; surely he knew something about growing them, too. She hit her comm badge.

~*~

"All set and ready, Captain," the little Talaxian said, standing back admiring the large pot. He and Janeway had broken a few Starfleet regulations by unbolting the upright chest of drawers in her sleeping area and pushing it towards one corner, freeing up space for the her gift from Grogas. He even constructed a small frame box to fit underneath the pot, complete with a drain tray. "Very handsome, if I say so myself," he said proudly.

"It looks fine, Neelix," the captain said, expressing her appreciation with a pat on the shoulder. "I could never have done this by myself - and I guess I really needed some reassurance that it would be all right in here." She reached over to the light panel on the wall. "And this directed solar light is a stroke of genius. I never would have thought about that!"

"Well, we can't have your little plants struggling along without a source of energy," he smiled back. "Now - when you plant them, don't plant them any deeper than two centimeters - and don't pack the soil onto them too firmly."

"Aye, aye," said Janeway, saluting her resident gardener. "Thank you so much for your help."

Neelix started to leave and turned. "And not too much water. If you have any doubt, poke your finger into the soil. If it's only dry on the top, you don't need water. If it's dry past the first joint of your finger, add some."

She nodded her understanding. "You've been a big help," she said as the doors opened.

"My pleasure," he said. "Now - go plant some seeds!" he winked at her before the doors closed.

What have I done, thought the captain. I feel as if I'm taking on the responsibility of an animal... maybe even a child! This is silly.

Nonetheless, when she opened the bag of seeds and gently tossed them onto the waiting soil, she touched each one with a caress, letting out a soft 'coo' as she placed each one into its awaiting nursery, tenderly covering it with a thin blanket of the rich Protean soil.

~*~

Every day as she woke up, Janeway made her way to the pot to look for signs of growth. She returned to her quarters several times during the course of the day to check progress; and every night, before tumbling into a much-needed bed, she closely looked for evidence of tiny plants.

After a week, she pulled Neelix aside after a staff meeting. Her face was contorted with worry, even though nothing at the meeting should have brought such a reaction. "Neelix," she said, her voice almost quivering, "I'm afraid I've done something wrong with my seeds. There doesn't seem to be any sign of life with them."

"Now, now", he comforted her. "Those seeds had very hard hulls. They probably take just a little bit longer to germinate. Be patient; I'm sure you'll notice something any day now."

She sighed. "All right. I just want this to work."

"I'm sure it's fine; just give them time," he said, his voice serene and reassuring.

Four days later, Neelix's words proved true. As she prepared to lower the lights at bedtime, Janeway let out a cry of joy - several small raised nubs covered with the fine granules of soil peeked out at her. She woke up with excitement several times during the night, wanting to turn on the lights to see if there was any more progress. But she knew that little seedlings needed their rest, too.

First thing in the morning, even before she dressed, she ran over to the little garden. The emerging plants had doffed their caps of soil, and pale green loops of the hypocotyl stems pushed up, straining to welcome the 'morning' light. She quickly adjusted the solar lamp, making sure that it was set to the diurnal cycle, and found her comm badge.

"Neelix, Neelix," she called out in childish glee. "The plants have sprouted!"

Neelix's voice on the other end sounded just as excited. "See? I told you they would be coming. By the way, Captain - you never told me what kind of flowers or plants they are. What can we expect?"

Janeway paused as she tried to remember what Grogas had told her. "You know, Neelix, I don't think Grogas ever mentioned exactly what kind of flower this is. He just insisted that whatever it was would bring pleasure to my life."

"The best surprise of all!" the little Talaxan said. "Let me know when I can come visit."

"Anytime, my friend," said Janeway. "You have been such a big help; I could never have done it without you. "

She could almost hear his blush across the comm link. "Nonsense, Captain. It just takes patience. Keep up the good work."

She found herself actually humming as she got dressed and made her way to the bridge.

~*~

Of course, the rest of the day became embroiled with one crisis-to-be after another. Every time Janeway thought that she could run back to her quarters to check on the emerging plants, someone else needed her attention for something: long range sensors showing a possible upcoming plasma storm; gel packs going off-line in the mess hall; yet another altercation between B'Elanna and Seven - it was just one thing after the other.

The lighting in her quarters was at sleep-mode level before she got back late that night. She didn't want to disturb the plants, but she desperately wanted to check their progress. Just a wee bit of light, she thought, as she called for a higher illumination.

The little bumps of the morning now had fully emerged, the primary leaves wrapped around a stumpy little stem. She bent down low for a better look and it seemed that the leaves on one the plants began to part a bit, showing a glimpse of a buff colored stem. How odd, she mused. I thought that all plants were green at this stage. But she decided it was just the lateness of the night and tricks her eyes were playing. She would be able to see more in the morning after a good night's sleep.

~*~

Janeway jumped out of bed even before the computer was due to buzz her awake. "Computer, eighty percent daylight," she instructed. She blinked as her eyes adjusted to the sudden increase of light. She shook her head, clearing it of early morning cobwebs and went over to the pot.

Eleven little shoots seemed to stretch and rise, twisting towards their 'sun' in phototropic need. The primary leaves on most of them began to peal back, each one giving a sly glimpse of additional leaves centered by the rounded end of the center stalk. As she had done the previous night, Janeway leaned over to examine her 'offspring' more closely. What she saw - or what she thought she saw - brought a gasp from her. She looked again - and her hand flew up to her mouth; she stumbled backwards. She blinked and took a third look, but the little stalks still looked the same: they were all short and fleshy, in varying shades of buff and tan. Some were rounded at their ends, others appeared more lancet-shaped, somewhat covered by a small hood. She fell back into a chair, gulping huge mouthfuls of air, her heart racing.

Kathryn Janeway's garden wasn't growing plants - it was growing penises... various shapes and forms of humanoid penises!

No, this is some mistake, she thought. I'm imagining things! She hadn't seen anything like this on Protea; certainly it was some primordial stage of an alien plant. They would change again before reaching maturity. They will look different later on. I've got to go through the day without wondering about this any more. Maybe they're mushrooms - that's it; I'm growing mushrooms!

She quickly pulled the coverings and pillows of her bed together, still shaking her head as she finished and went into her bathroom to get ready for duty. She allowed herself a water shower that morning instead of using the usual sonic version, turning on the cold water full force, letting its icy jets awaken her fully. As she toweled herself dry, she rubbed until she thought her skin was peeling off - anything to get her mind off what was growing in her bedroom!

"Black coffee, extra strong," she barked to the replicator as she dressed. She glanced into the mirror, brushing her hair into place, patting a little makeup into place. From over her shoulder, the tiny plants seemed to be waving at her, twitching in a breeze that wasn't there. She shook her head and groaned, grabbing the mug of coffee from the replicator and downing its hot contents. Maybe a few coffee scalds would bring reality to the situation.

"Bad night, Captain?" asked Chakotay as she swung into her bridge chair. "You look a little bit tired - or dazed."

She was doing a poor job of hiding her dismay. "No, no; I'm fine. Just overslept a bit and I'm rushed."

The first officer smiled. "It happens to the best of us. You really haven't missed anything."

She crossed her legs and licked her lips. She had to get her mind off what she'd seen. "How are we doing in circumventing that plasma storm?"

"Tom's shifted us sixty-nine degrees to port and it looks like we'll even miss any outlying turbulence," Chakotay answered. "And before you ask, I've talked with B'Elanna and Seven and they've both agreed to talk to each other before either of them does anything to tie up the main power grid."

Janeway sank back into her seat - at least two of yesterday's problems seemed resolved.

Chakotay leaned over to her. "Say, when I was in the mess hall this morning, Neelix was telling everyone that the seeds you got from Grogas have sprouted. Any idea what they're going to be?"

Her eyes flew open - of course Neelix would be telling everyone! There wasn't anyone on Voyager who didn't know about her gift from the prime councilor, and that Neelix had helped her set up the container garden in her quarters. Anything new like this was bound to grab everyone's attention in a small, enclosed population like Voyager. What to say... how to keep the others off guard...

"Kathryn?" Chakotay's voice sounded distant, calling her back to her place on the bridge.

"Uh... no, they're much too small yet. Probably nothing more than what we can grow in our small herbarium area," she managed to mutter.

"I'm sure Neelix will want to see them," Chakotay continued. "You would think that he's the father of those babies."

"No!" she said just a bit too forcefully. "I mean... I'm sure there will be plenty of time for everyone to see them."

Chakotay let out a deep laugh. "And now you sound like a defensive mother! That must be quite a powerful brood of little ones," he continued with a chuckle.

Play along with him, she thought. "Er, I guess that's it. You know that horticultural skills aren't one of my strong suites."

"Oh, I don't know. You did a pretty good job with some tomato plants a few years ago," he smiled, his eyes saying something unreadable to her. "Too bad we couldn't see them produce," he finished wistfully. He mercifully changed the subject. "Ready for that staff meeting in fifteen minutes?"

She jolted to attention - the staff meeting! "I will be. I'd better get some reports finished."

She jumped up and whisked off to her ready room, leaving both of them to their private memories.

~*~

It was late again when Kathryn Janeway got back to her quarters. She had forgotten about the birthday party for Susan Nicoletti that evening, and then there was an impromptu combo performance that Harry had as a surprise for the party's guest of honor. Why was it that these social functions tired her out more than red alerts? She felt as if a forced smile were permanently embedded onto her face.

She trudged to the replicator and called up some herbal tea. Taking the steaming cup, she plopped down in the nearest chair and tugged off her boots, sighing in relief and wiggling her toes. She leaned back, her eyes quickly closing. Her respite was only momentary, as her eyes popped open just as the thought popped into her head - the plants! Had they changed any during the day?

Her body suddenly became energized as she ran to the bedroom, calling for additional light, for the solar light constructed for her garden long since had 'gone down'. Like a spotlight on a prima donna, the lights focused directly on the large ceramic pot and its contents. There was no doubt about it - Voyager's captain did indeed have a green thumb... or some other talent that she didn't want to admit.

Her eyes opened in horror; she slapped a hand to her mouth to stifle the scream she felt rising in her throat. There, in front of her, were eleven fleshy stalks, tall and erect, all looking as if they were ready to explode. Her earlier perceptions indeed were correct, for right in front of her eyes were eleven tumescent phalanxes, standing at attention and looking as if they were ready to service any available orifice. Some pale and more slender, some darker and more full - all of different skin hues and 'builds'... different 'finishing touches' according to cultural practices among humanoids... but they were definitely mature, male organs.

What was she going to do? She certainly couldn't tell anyone, much less show the crew, what she was growing! But everyone on the ship knew about 'the Captain's garden' and continually inquired about it, especially following Neelix's announcement earlier in the day. There was only one thing she could do - and she had to do it right away: get rid of them!

She reached out to pluck one, but her hand began shaking as she neared the flesh-like pillar. Don't be an idiot, Kathryn, she told herself. It isn't as if you've never touched one before! It's just a plant for heaven's sake, not the real thing. She steadied her hand and grabbed the nearest 'stalk', one of the lighter toned ones. Her fingers closed around it and she gasped - it wasn't cold as she had expected; it was warm and felt alive and vibrant, almost as if it were throbbing within her grasp. Do it, she heard herself say. Just get rid of it! She gave a mighty yank and the tall 'plant' broke off at ground level; she rushed to the recycler in the room, activated its action and watched the form disappear.

In a maniacal frenzy, she went back to the garden pot and tugged at the rest of the cylindrical structures. Her hands quivered and shook as each one broke off. She felt as if she were emasculating half her crew as she ripped at the offending stems. She stuffed them all into the recycler at the same time, pushing and compacting them, wanting to rid them from her sight. As the last molecules disappeared into another energy form, she felt a cold sweat pouring down her face and neck and back.

All that remained were the shriveling primary leaves and they looked like they would be dead in another few hours.

That's it, she thought, stumbling back onto her bed. I'll just tell Neelix that they died, that my 'record' as a gardener remains true to form.

She pulled off her uniform and carelessly tossed it onto a chair. She grabbed a nightgown from a drawer, splashed water onto her face and fell into bed for a restless night of haunting dreams that she couldn't remember the following morning.

~*~

'Dawn' aboard Voyager and in the crew quarters. The ship's captain awoke and stretched, smiling as she remembered the decimation of the little garden in her room - that was one less thing to worry about!

"Lights," she called out and her sleeping area became flooded with illumination. Her eyes drifted over to the pot as she continued smiling and getting out of bed. But her peace and calm was short lived - the container garden was in full 'bloom' again, flaunting a new 'crop' of the multi-sized and varicolored 'plants'. If anything, they even seemed larger and fuller than before.

"NO!!!!!!" she cried out, flying to the container and ripping at the plants. "This can't be - you did this overnight? Without any light?" Like a lioness tearing into her prey, she pulled and yanked until plant parts and dirt covered the area. Sweat ran down her face and arms, acting like glue to clumps of dirt that clung to her skin. She dug her fingers into the soil, trying to upturn any roots to the plants, but the primitive foliage wouldn't budge and tenaciously remained in place.

Huffing and puffing, she gathered all the organic debris in her arms and again stuffed it into the recycler. She at least had to get rid of that part of her efforts. She dragged out her floor cleaner and whisked up the remains, dumping that residue also into the recycler. Satisfied with her clean-up efforts, she collapsed into a nearby chair.

What was she going to do? Did she destroy enough of the vegetative matter to prevent any re-growth? Maybe Neelix knew of some herbicide that would sterilize the soil. She laughed in spite of herself, as she thought about her choice of words, given the nature of her 'crop'. Yes - that's what she would do; a herbicide certainly would do the trick!

She quickly got dressed and made a rare foray into the dining area for breakfast.

"Captain! Good to have you join us today!" the jovial Talaxian smiled as she came to the counter where he was handing out blueberry muffins and melon. "Would you care for some of today's specials?"

Food was the last thing on Kathryn Janeway's mind, but she smiled back at her chef. "Yes - looks good, Neelix." Her stomach turned flip-flops looking at the food. "Actually, I need to ask you a couple of questions..."

"At your service," he answered. "What can I do for you?" She leaned in towards him, her voice low and conspiratorially. "Actually, it's about my plants. I need to ask for your expertise about them." She looked around at the gathering people around the serving counter. "But I'd like to go somewhere more... um... private."

The little chef's face turned serious. "Certainly," he responded somberly as he doffed his apron and hat and nodded to Chell, who was helping him this morning, to take over. "If you don't mind my saying so, you do look rather concerned. I hope it isn't anything serious."

She led him towards a small table away from the gathering crew. "It's about my 'garden'..." she muttered as they sat down.

He took one of the chairs at a right angle to her and leaned in closely. "Ah, yes - how are your little ones doing? Do you know what they are going to look like yet?" he asked.

She shook her head as they sat down. "I'm afraid I do know what they are - and I want to get rid of them."

"What?" he said loudly enough so that several heads turned towards their direction.

"Please - not so loud, Mr. Neelix," she whispered. "Yes - they... they're just not very pleasant and I want to get eradicate them... as soon as possible."

He shook his head. "Whatever could be that bad? Everything we saw on Protea was lovely! I can't believe that Mr. Grogas would intentionally give you an ugly plant or a noxious weed. Maybe they're just immature; give them a few more days..."

"No!" she interrupted. "They won't change - I just want to get rid of them!"

"Maybe if I came by and took a look at them..." he continued.

"NO!" she said, her raised voice drawing attention to them once again. She reddened as she continued. "Please - that won't be necessary."

"Then just pull them out and toss them in the recycler," he stated matter-of-factly.

She shook her head. "Won't work; I've done that twice and they came back." Her eyes took on a darkness that he rarely had seen in her. "I need a poison... a weed killer... something that will destroy them once and for all. Can you help me?"

Her eyes drew him into her. "I... I don't know. We haven't ever had the need for anything like that aboard. Maybe the doctor could provide you with..."

"No!" she said a third time, grabbing his arm as he was about to activate his comm badge. "We can't draw him into this; I don't even like talking to you about it."

A quiet descended on the pair as they became lost in their thoughts.

Neelix suddenly snapped his fingers, accompanied by a muted "Aha!"

The captain's reverie broke. "An idea, Neelix?"

His eyes gleamed. "What about tossing the container and plants out the airlock with some of my waste? No one would be the wiser!"

Her eyes lit up with excitement. "Yes - that just might work!" But she then she sagged and sighed. "But how would I get it to the cargo bay without anyone noticing what I was doing?"

"A direct transport?" he queried.

"No, that would alert security that a site-to-site transport was occurring and documentation would be necessary in a report," she responded. "Besides - once the container has been jettisoned, its... um... contents would be visible to anyone looking out."

"Then how about destroying it with your phaser, in your quarters?" he submitted.

She shook her head sorrowfully. "No; again security would be alerted to phaser fire within the ship and come running..."

Neelix's looked at her full of unanswered questions. "Captain, certainly these plants can't be so terrible. Please let me come and assess the situation."

Janeway sighed. "If I do let you come look, please promise me that you won't make any comments - and that your lips are sealed? None of this can ever get out to any of the crew."

He looked at her solemnly. "I promise, Captain. On the grave of my parents, I swear."

She looked at him until she was certain of his fealty. "All right then - let's go."

Her breakfast remained untouched.

~*~

They arrived at the door to her quarters. Before keying in her entry code, Janeway turned to her friend. "I don't know what we'll see, Neelix. I tried pulling out as much as I could, but these... um... 'plants'... seem to grow rapidly."

"Understood," he said somberly.

"Lights," she called as they entered. She stopped and turned towards the Talaxian. "No comments, no judgments..." she reiterated.

He held up his hand. "You have my word," he promised anew.

She led him into her sleeping area, her body shielding him from viewing the pot and its contents before she could examine it. "Oh, no," she gulped. Her body sagged and she hid her face in her hands. "Not again!"

Neelix ran in front of her. He gasped as he looked at the newly emerged 'crop' of flesh-like stems. In spite of himself, he began to giggle; it was all he could do to keep himself from laughing out loud. "Why, Captain," he finally said, "it looks as if you have a field of..."

"Penises," she finished for him. "Yes, I know what I have, Neelix - and they won't go away! What am I going to do?" she pleaded.

Neelix cautiously approached the big blue container. He tentatively reached out and touched the large phalanx that was closest to him. "Oooo - it feels like it's almost real!" he chirped, jumping back. "And they look so real, too," he continued, looking at them more closely. "Why, I would even venture to say that this one looks like it could belong to Mr. Tuvok..."

"Neelix!" Janeway cried out, her face flushed and flustered.

He tried to suppress his delight in recognition as he continued to wend his way through the various stalks. "Oh, no!" he suddenly cried out, his own face suddenly matching hers.

"What's the matter?" she asked.

"Tha... that one!" he continued, his pointing finger trembling.

Janeway looked at the object of his panicked attention. There, in the middle, was a short, thick stem of pinkish-beige that appeared to be dappled with soft brown spots. Now it was her turn to prevent a giggle. "Would that one be representative of a Talaxian male appendage?" she finally managed.

He couldn't look at her. "Yes," he mumbled sheepishly. "It's exactly like..." he couldn't finish his statement.

Horror washed over her as the reality of the situation hit her. If the spotted one was a replica of Neelix's organ, was the dark-fleshed one really like Tuvok's? Were the others duplicates of other males in the crew? Whatever did this perverse growth represent?

"That's it," she fumed. "I'm going to contact Grogas and get to the bottom of all this. I'm not going to let him embarrass me - or the men of my crew - with such a depraved gift." She grabbed Neelix's arm. "Come on; let's get to the bridge and hail Councilor Grogas of Protea."

Still stunned too much to speak, Neelix allowed her to pull him along in her wake.

~*~

The turbolift doors opened onto the bridge and she ran to Harry. "Open a channel for Protea; I need to speak to Grogas as soon as possible," she demanded without any preliminary explanation.

"Well, good morning to you, too," Chakotay said, turning around to greet her.

"Oh, yes - that, too," she glared at him. "Harry, I'm waiting..."

"Um... I'm trying, Captain. But it's been almost two weeks since we left Protea - they're over forty-five light years away from us! I'm probably going to have to go through a sub-space channel, and that will take a couple of hours for making contact and receiving a response."

"You're right," she sighed. "All right, but try to expedite the communication." She turned towards Neelix. "Sorry; looks like we're going to have to wait a little longer. You might as well go back to your duties."

"Understood, Captain," he nodded. "But you will let me know what you find out?"

"You'll be the first to know," she answered as he made his way to the turbolift.

Chakotay watched Neelix depart and turned towards Janeway. "Care to let me in on what's going in? Why do you need to talk to Grogas?"

"It's a private matter, Commander," she answered.

"Private? Among you and Neelix and Grogas? Now this is getting more and more peculiar," he smiled. "Does it have anything to do with that mysterious plant in your quarters?"

"That will be all, Commander," she answered sharply, her eyes avoiding any contact with his... or those of any of the males present on the bridge. "I'll be in my ready room when you've gotten in touch with Grogas, Harry."

"Yes, ma'am!" the young man responded to his irate captain.

~*~

"Captain Janeway - good to hear from you!" Grogas genial face filled the monitor screen in her office. "How is your trip? Have you planted your seeds yet?"

Janeway forced a smile and tried to keep animosity out of her voice and body language. "We are doing well, Mr. Prime Councilor. Your travel recommendations have proven beneficial and we have avoided any hostile elements since leaving Protea."

"Excellent," he beamed. "I knew that we could become good allies."

She tented her hands in front of her face, attempting to calm her rising discomfort. "However, I would like to talk to you about your gift to me..."

"Ah, yes," he smiled. "I do hope that they are bringing you enjoyment!"

She swallowed before continuing. "Um... Councilor Grogas, just what sort of plants are supposed to grow from those seeds?"

His face lit up with boyish delight. "Ah, my dear captain - I have no idea! I gave you what we call dream seeds. They have the most unusual ability to produce whatever is the fondest longing of your heart, without your even having to say or think what that desire is. Am I to understand that the results have surprised you?"

The captain's face drained of its color; her face contorted in shock and disbelief. "Surprised is much too mild a word, sir. Horrified and aghast is a better statement..."

Grogas became concerned; he leaned in closer to the monitor, as if trying to get nearer to her, to understand her anguish. "Why, what has happened? Why has such a gift of honor and pleasure given you such pain and unhappiness? It certainly wasn't meant to cause you despair, my friend. I only wanted to give you something that would bring you solace on your long journey."

She tried to compose herself. "I'm sure your intention had no malice to it, Mr. Councilor. It.. it's just that whatever these seeds do, perhaps they react differently with different species."

"Hmm," he said thoughtfully. "We frequently give these out to visitors as a gesture of empathy and friendship. I've never heard anything but profuse thanks for the results they bring."

Janeway was getting desperate. "Maybe if I showed you what is growing..."

Grogas recoiled in horror. "Oh, no - we can't do that! It would bring bad luck to both of us if I became privy to your deepest desires!" He quieted a bit. "Perhaps you just haven't examined the results closely enough... looked into your own heart to understand the outcome..."

Janeway's ensuing blush and silence communicated across the subspace connection.

Grogas nodded, knowingly. "Aha - perhaps you now understand a little bit better. Perhaps the seeds have produced something missing in your life but you have denied as being necessary to being happy and fulfilled."

"Perhaps," she finally nodded. "But... but... I don't really need quite so much! And I've tried to get rid of the... um... 'plants'... but they keep growing back! Can't I just get rid of all of them?"

Grogas shook his head. "No, my friend. If you destroy them, bad fortune will certainly come your way."

"With all due respect, Councilor, aren't both of our cultures beyond childish superstition?" she retorted.

"Maybe," he answered. "But my people and others have had experiences with dream seeds that prove otherwise. Do you really want to tempt fate?"

She slumped back into her chair. "Then what am I going to do? The plants are of such a personal nature that I can't allow them to be seen by anyone else. If I can't destroy them, I'm not going to be able to allow anyone into my quarters ever again!"

The Protean became silent, obviously thinking about the situation; Janeway, lost in her own remorse, let him think.

A bright look suddenly lit up Grogas' face. "Captain," he smiled, "I have a suggestion."

"Yes?" she answered hopefully.

"You are a woman of science - you appreciate experiments," he continued.

"Yes," she nodded.

"Then, let's do a little experiment. When you garden, you pull out weaker plants in order to let one or two strong ones flourish," he said.

She nodded a silent assent.

"I am assuming that all your 'plants' are of a similar nature," he continued.

"Yes," she answered.

"Maybe some of them are not as 'agreeable' as others..."

"I'm listening," she said.

"Instead of pulling out all of the plants, why not pull them out one at a time, finally leaving one or two that you think might be meaningful to your pleasure," Grogas hypothesized. "That way, you might cut back on the total growth and leave the strongest - which just might begin to make some sense to you, while not destroying the entire system."

Janeway leaned back into her chair, a light chuckle coming from her. "You just might have a point," she smiled.

"Then you're willing to try this approach, rather than destroying everything and bringing misfortune on both of us?" he asked.

"Most definitely," she answered. "Anything is worth a try."

"That's the spirit!" Grogas grinned. "I'm sure that eventually you will discern the pleasure in our gift."

"Thank you," she said. "I will try my best. You have been a great help, Councilor."

"You will let me know the outcome?" he asked.

"Perhaps," she responded. "We'll see."

"That's all I can ask," he said. As an after thought, he added, "Oh - and talk to them! All plants like to be talked to."

"Talk to them?" Janeway exclaimed. "But really... I don't think..."

"Just try it," he added. "I'm sure it wouldn't hurt."

As his image faded across the parsecs of subspace, Janeway could have sworn that she saw the Cheshire cat in his face.

~*~

Janeway exited her ready room, prepared to take her place on the bridge.

"Is everything all right?" Chakotay asked as she swung around into her chair.

"I think I may have a grasp on how to solve a certain problem," she answered. She twisted around in her chair to face the ops station. "Thanks for your efforts, Harry - I really appreciate it!" she called out to the young man, her voice in a much lighter mood than it had been an hour earlier.

"Any time," he smiled back.

"So you and Grogas had something to discuss?" the first officer continued, trying to prod an answer out of her.

She turned to him and nodded. "That's right."

"Care to elaborate?" he continued.

"Not at this point in time, Commander," she huffed.

He turned back to his monitor. After all these years, he knew when Kathryn Janeway was reaching her limit of questions.

~*~

"And that's the possible solution that Grogas proposed." Janeway had explained in detail her conversation with the Protean councilor to Neelix, whose image was on the monitor on her desk in her quarters.

"So do you require my help? Do you want me to come to your cabin?" he asked solicitously.

Her face lit up with her crooked grin. "I think this is something I'd better do by myself, Neelix. But - um - thanks for your offer."

"Understood, Captain," he responded. "But, tell me - any idea which one will be the first to be er... um... done away with?"

"Neelix!" she shouted, her tone filled with embarrassment. "Why, I don't even know whose... thing... each one is."

"Well, you do know a couple of them," he continued.

"I probably do," she laughed. "That's all for now - good night!"

She logged off the communication screen before he could say anything else and walked into the bedroom. Eleven fleshy stems seemed to turn and 'face' her as she came into the room, each appearing to vie for her attention.

Remembering Grogas' words, she knelt and began talking to them. "Hello there, my little friends. It looks as if you're happy to see me." Without thinking, she reached down and stroked the one closest to her, a firm fellow of a dusky color. It seemed to mesh into her hand as she petted it. "Well, aren't you the friendly one," she laughed as she continued her motions.

Suddenly the preposterousness of her actions rang home and she jumped back and upright. This is foolish, she thought. Do what you must do! Without further deliberation, she reached down and pulled out the short one with brown spots. It came out easily, looking like it had been completely extracted, roots and all.

She chuckled as she took the plant to the recycler. "Goodbye, Neelix," she whispered as the apparatus did its job.

The next night, she bid a farewell to the pillar that was probably 'Tuvok'. She grimaced a bit this time, not wanting to place a face with its 'host'. Ah, well; at least the others were going to be more difficult to identify with definitive crewmembers. In fact, the less personal she could keep this chore, the better!

For eight more nights, she went through her ritual. She tried hard not to think about 'whom' she was eradicating each time. But she did notice, particularly after the fourth night, that the 'friendly' one towards the front seemed to become more amiable each night. It almost appeared to be 'looking' for her and eager for her touch. By the seventh night, she knew which 'plant' would remain as her sole survivor.

On the tenth night, only her 'favorite' remained. She almost felt sad for it; it looked so alone without all the others! After ridding herself of number ten, she came back over to the container and knelt down, whispering words of comfort to the remaining phalanx. She wrapped her hands around it, shushing it as it seemed to tremble. "Now, now - everything is going to be all right. I'm not going to do anything to you, my little one. You're the one I'm going to keep." Within her hands, she felt it calm a bit, even relax. Its flesh became soft and molded itself to her hand. "That's right - you'll be fine," she soothed, stroking and rubbing it.

Suddenly she relinquished her grasp a bit. It felt as if the stem were heating up, becoming firm and hard again! Why, it was almost as if... No - don't be foolish, Kathryn; what you think is happening couldn't be! It was only a bit of botanical tissue, not human flesh! But it was responding to her touch. It radiated heat and its outer sheath became taut as the internal flesh filled and firmed up. Its rounded top began to take on a deep purplish red color and the entire organism strained to reach up tall and unyielding.

Primitive desire arose within her. She stroked the pillar faster and faster; somewhere in the distance she heard herself moan, recalling actions long since gone from her life. Before she realized it, she leaned across and took the tip of the plant in her mouth, licking and suckling it like a forbidden treat. Soon both of her hands surrounded it, guiding it into her mouth, filling her with forgotten pleasure. The plant itself responded to her actions, stretching and twisting, dancing with her rhythms.

Suddenly, it leapt within her mouth, brushing against the back of her throat and releasing a creamy substance, sweet but salty. She jerked back in surprise and the plant popped out of her mouth, losing its rigidity as it did so, the residue of its 'sap' slowly making its way down its sides.

She fell back onto her haunches, her mouth agape in wonder, as she watched the plant go into an almost dormant state. As she came to her senses, she licked her lips, recognizing the lingering taste of the 'sap' from the plant.

There was no doubt about it - this was not a plant, but the 'real thing': that which she had not had in her life for a long time... that which, in her heart of hearts, she desired the most. Grogas' dream seeds had indeed read her deepest needs... and grown them into fruition.

~*~

The captain wasn't one to abuse privilege or pleasure, so she kept her hands to herself for a couple of days with her newfound 'toy'. For a while, she jokingly thought it might be fun to name it - him? - but she decided against getting 'too personal' with it. If she did that, it might become an obsession with her. But 'he' was fun; she enjoyed her occasional touch and taste sessions with her friend.

About a week after their initial encounter, she was talking to her pal, stroking 'him' into a firm uprightness. A smile came across her face as she wondered what would happen if she straddled the pot? Would the little fellow 'rise' to the occasion? Let's consider it another experiment, she laughed to herself as she rid herself of the lounging robe she was wearing.

It was a wide stretch for her, but she managed to get a leg on either side of the container. Its width forced her to squat a bit, bringing her closer to the surface. As she jockeyed for a relatively comfortable position, the little 'guy' standing tall brushed against her labia. 'He' twittered and gained momentum at this new touch, twitching up and down, seeming to want to touch and learn about her. She groaned at the sensations and moved along with 'him', as if needing to scratch an itch that she didn't even know was there. With her legs spread wide over the container, the lips of her labia parted, allowing further touch and play by the fleshy pillar. It seemed as if 'he' was playing a game of hide and seek, anxiously flitting around trying to find her.

Faster and faster 'he' went, teasing her to warm wetness. 'He' slipped out of the fleshy confines of her labia and hit something compact and hard towards the front of her. 'He' liked the feel of that and kept hitting the area. Her groans became more audible the more 'he' pounded, so 'he' retreated into her softness.

Suddenly, 'he' fell into a deep abyss, a long tunnel just as warm and wet as the cushions he had been in. Deeper into it 'he' went, exploring and feeling around. 'He' lost his grasp as she rose up, only to come down onto him again. The dual sensations stimulated each of them, and 'he' began an up and down movement in syncopation with hers. One of her hands grasped 'him' at his base, guiding and holding 'him' in place while her other hand played with the little hard spot 'he' had found.

Faster and faster they went until she felt 'him' reach out and grab her inner being. She moaned, holding 'him' still while 'he' released his creamy sap. Then she called out, in a pleading cry, "Oh... my... Chakotay!"

She heard her voice and pulled back, awkwardly climbing off the straddled container. She stood dazed for a couple of moments, her legs weak and shaking from the extended position and the unaccustomed activity. Her face became contorted with pained embarrassment as she realized what she had done - and whose name she had cried out at the peak of her passion.

She stumbled over to her bed and fell onto it, burying her face into its covers in shame. What had she done?

~*~

Janeway couldn't even look at Chakotay as they began their shift the following day. Even hearing his voice threw her into appalling replays of her uncharacteristic actions the night before. She found trivial reasons for checking with every other person on the bridge, doing her best to avoid him. She found herself almost wishing for a Borg cube or an Kazon attack - anything to relieve her mind of its waking nightmares.

"I think I'll go to stellar cartography and to check with Seven about projected trajectories of that approaching cluster of comets," she finally said to no one in particular as she nervously swung out of her chair.

Chakotay reached over to her, grabbing her arm as she turned. His touch burned and she jumped, pulling away. "What's wrong, Captain?" he inquired. "You're as nervous as a caged targ today. Besides - I already have Seven's report; we can review it either here or in your ready room, whichever you feel is more convenient."

The sound of his voice brought a rush of blood to her face. She couldn't bear the thought of being alone with him - not now... not ever. "Here... right here is fine," she muttered, sitting down, crossing her legs and pulling her arms tightly across her chest.

She heard his voice reviewing Seven's findings but it came from far off, lost in a distant yesterday.

"Kathryn... Kathryn..."

She jumped back to the present. "Ye... yes - I agree," she nodded.

"You agree that I should jump out of an airlock?" Chakotay asked.

"What?" she responded, shaking her head as the words sank in. "What did you say?"

"That's what I thought," he said. "You haven't heard a thing I've said. Are you all right? You look like you've spent a week in a Cardassian deprivation chamber."

"I had a bad night," she retorted. "Actually, I guess I haven't been sleeping well lately."

"Look, Kathryn," he said softly, "Things are fairly calm now. Why don't you go to sickbay and see if the doctor can give you something to help you sleep? Take a few hours off and try to get some rest. We'll call you if something important comes up."

"That would be nice," she sighed. "Maybe I'll do just that."

"Please do," he said. "For once, why don't you practice a little bit of what you preach?"

She sighed and got up. "You have the bridge."

She exited, never once having said his name or having looked at him. She even failed to touch his arm like she usually did when she turned over command to him.

~*~

"Kathryn?"

Janeway awoke with a start, disoriented and fumbling for her comm badge.

"Are you awake?" the voice called out again.

"I'm... I'm in here, Chakotay," she managed. What time was it? Why was he in her quarters?

The light level rose to a tolerable level and she blinked, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. Oh, yes; the doctor had given her a mild sedative to sleep - that's why she felt so groggy.She pulled herself out of the bed and grabbed the robe by her bed. "I'll be right out!" She stumbled to her feet and staggered into the living area.

She adjusted her robe and attempted to smooth down her unruly hair. "I'm sorry; I probably look a mess. Whatever the doctor gave me did its job too well." She glanced around, still orienting herself. "Why are you here? What time is it?"

Chakotay softly moved towards her, noting that her walk appeared a bit rocky yet.

"I guess that you really did need some rest," he said, guiding her to a chair. "You've been asleep for ten hours and we were starting to get worried. I hope you don't mind, but I overrode your entry code to come in to check on you." He bent over her and brushed a tress of hair out of her face. "And you look fine. You just look like someone who awoke from some much-needed sleep."

"Too much sleep," she groaned, holding her head in her hands. "Now I feel groggy all over again."

"How about some coffee then - and maybe a bowl of chicken soup?" he called out as he walked over to the replicator. "You can go splash some water on your face and I'll set up a light supper for us."

"That sounds good," she said, getting up and making her way back to her sleeping area. "Besides - you always cook better than I do," she said with a chuckle.

"That's not saying much!" he laughed in her wake.

"Watch that, mister," she yelled across the rooms. "I could bust you on insubordination for a comment like that!"

He placed the steaming bowls and mugs on the small table and followed the sound of her voice. "Ah, ah - you need a witness for something like..." His words suddenly stopped.

"Chakotay?" she called out, concerned about his sudden silence.

"Kathryn..." he barely squeaked.

She came out of the bathroom and found him in her sleeping area, standing dead still, his eyes riveted to an area in the corner of the room. She looked at him, then at the object of his focus. Oh no, she panicked. Not him - of all people...!

He was staring right at... it. At the lone 'soldier' in her garden, the stem standing at what looked to be a parade rest for this particular form.

"I can explain," she muttered, hoping that she really could.

"It looks like... it looks like..." he sputtered. Beads of sweat glistened on his forehead.

"I know what it looks like," she sighed, pulling him aside and turning his head.

"Do you?" he asked. "Do you really know what it looks like?" he asked, his voice frightened and quivering.

"Yes, Chakotay; I know. I am a normal adult woman, you know," she responded, trying to calm herself as well as him.

He turned to her, his eyes full of horror and distress. "I don't know where you got this, Kathryn - but what you have here is me! You have an exact replica of me!"

"What?" she cried out as the full impact of his words hit her. "What do you mean?"

His face burned as he turned to her; even the cold sweat running down his cheeks couldn't cool him. "I mean - that's exactly what my... what I... look like! Look at the color, the texture, the..."

She ran away from him, flustered and embarrassed for both of them. "How should I know?" she spit out. "I've never seen that... that... part of you!"

He looked like he wanted to evaporate into the cosmos. "Then how..."

"I don't know; I really don't know." She paced the floor. "All I do know is this is what 'grew' from one of the seeds that Grogas gave me."

"This? This is your 'garden'?" he stammered.

"That's why I didn't want to tell anyone," she whimpered. "I've been so embarrassed..."

"But why?" he pleaded again.

She shook her head. "I don't know why. It's a long story, Chakotay - one that is difficult to believe."

"Try me," he said, his eyes filled with a mixture of hurt and anger and confusion.

She sat down on the edge of the bed and began the complicated tale, wondering at what point she would ... she ... stop. As she reached the part in her story of her physical encounters with the single 'plant', she paused.

He had not spoken a word during her entire tale, although several times he shook his head incredulously and sighed. He finally broke their silence. "So, did you ever... know that the remaining one was 'me'?"

"Yes," she answered meekly.

"And when was that?" he asked.

"When I let it make love to me," she confessed.

All color drained from his face. "You... you did what?" he stammered.

"It... he... you... wanted to, and I gave in. Who was going to know?"

"Well, I do now," he said. "After all this time... and this is the way you end up letting me make love to you?"

"But it wasn't you - not really! At least, I didn't think that - at first," she sputtered.

"At first? he countered. Just when..."

She hung her head, not wanting to face him. "At the end. When I... you... when I cried out your name."

He shook his head, not wanting to believe what he was hearing. "No... no!" he moaned.

"But no one heard... no one knew. And it was done in the privacy of my bedroom," she pled to him. "No one was here and nobody was hurt; it did not break any Starfleet regulations!"

He grabbed her arm. "Well, I'm here now and I know... and yes, it does hurt me," he fumed. "And to hell with those bloody Starfleet protocols!"

She broke his grip and jumped up in a huff. "So - should I put myself on report? Do I check myself in with the doctor for having had sexual relations with an alien plant?"

Her words hung in the air, playing back to her in a silent echo. She knew her tirade was almost comical - she could just imagine what her 'report' and that of the doctor would say. She began to chuckle in spite of herself. "I guess that does sound rather far-fetched."

Her self-admonition lightened the conversation. He walked over to her, pulling her close. "I've got an idea," he said. "Something that might put all of this on a back burner."

She was once again too mortified to look at him. "What?" she asked, her eyes looking elsewhere.

"You're a scientist," he responded. "How about making a comparative study?"

"What?" she asked, confused.

His eyes twinkled as mischievously as the tone of his voice. "A comparison. You tried the clone version... now how about testing the real thing?"

"Here? Now?" she stammered, as the meaning of his words registered.

"What better place?" He pulled her closer and she felt his rising readiness.

"Chakotay, I..."

"I'm not going to force you into anything - you know that, Kathryn. I just thought that it seems that you've finally put certain fears aside and..."

He pulled her into a firm embrace and read her answer in her eyes; no words were needed. His lips - those wonderful, wondrous lips - engulfed hers; the tip of his tongue teased and pleaded with hers. Her mouth opened, allowing him to deepen the kiss. It was then that she knew that this experiment was over before it had begun.

Behind her closed eyes, visions of the 'plant's' dance of anticipation floated across the insides of her eyelids. He pulled her closer and she felt him - his insistence communicated so much better than the false phallus in the corner. She felt herself responding stronger than she had the night before, suddenly wanting him - all of him.

Only the need to draw in a breath broke their hold. She pulled back momentarily, her breathing quick and shallow. "Yes," she panted. "I do want you. I always have and it took this 'gift' to awaken me to that fact." She untied her robe. "And I'm ahead of you, Commander. Let's get some clothes off of you, too."

In a rapid flurry of motion and color, various pieces of clothing fell onto the floor. There were no more barriers, no more excuses. They stepped back to look at the newness of their nakedness.

Kathryn looked at him, standing at 'full attention' in front of her. She quickly glanced over at the garden container and smiled broadly. "Why, I do agree with you - there is a definite resemblance here. Now let's see if the 'real' equipment works as well."

They laughed as they tumbled onto the bed, oblivious to the little fellow in the corner. Arms and legs twisted and interlocked, as they rolled about giggling and grasping at each other like children wrestling on the ground.

But childish actions ceased as their bodies reacted as the hungry adults they were. Thrashing arms gave way to seeking hands, hands exploring as if for the first time. Chakotay reached around her, burying the fingers of his right hand in her hair. His other hand found the small of her back and pulled her towards him until every square centimeter of their torsos touched, meshing flesh with flesh, nerve to nerve. Her body quivered at the sensation, whether from anticipation or fear of what was to come, she didn't know. Their mouths sought out each other again, more hungry for each other than either of them realized... attempting to sate a hunger that had lingered for years.

She sighed as he drew back from the long kiss. "No," she whispered, her face aglow. "More..."

He brushed away the hair that strayed onto her face. "You are so beautiful, Kathryn. I've seen you day in and day out, and knew that you were a lovely woman, but right now, you are the most beautiful I've ever seen you."

With a trembling finger, she traced the blue lines across his temple. "It must be a reflection of the wonderful man who's right here. He's not too shabby, either," she said drawing him down to her again.

Not one to spurn the sudden gift she offered, he responded with another offering of his mouth. But after a quick dip between her lips, he began a downward journey with his mouth, wanting to taste her unknown areas, wanting to ignite the fire that had begun in her.

Her body became a pliant palette for the paintbrushs of his mouth and tongue, as he drew himself down her body, delighting in the pale ivory of her neck, the shadows between her creamy breasts, dabbling and dining with the dusky rose of her uplifted nipples.

Kathryn sighed, but like a good model, remained as still as she could, to allow him to continue his artistic work. He added hands and fingers to his tools, touching and stroking, caressing and coddling. He worked and molded her flesh, defining it as his own. She gave herself to his every touch, allowing him anything he desired.

He came to the dark auburn thatch between her legs. Without a word, she raised her knees and opened to him, allowing those marvelous fingers and that talented mouth entrance to her other set of lips. He responded to her invitation with readiness, first dipping one finger then another into her well of womanhood. The sudden evidence of her willingness brought satisfied moans from both of them. He spread her lips wide and leaned down to drink from them, his tongue delving into her depths.

No longer was Kathryn a passive palette - her body could not help but respond to his mouth and fingers. As he continued his actions, waves of uncontrollable delight surged within her; she swirled around him as his actions became unrelenting.

Just as she felt she could not hold back the upcoming crash of orgasm, he pulled away, whispering in her ear. "Could your little plant do that?" he asked, his voice husky with his own passion.

"N... no," she managed, reaching for him.

He pulled away, resting on his haunches, his tumescent organ flailing against his stomach. "Then how... how did you do it? We want... to make this... a fair... comparison..." he panted.

"Like this," she murmured. In a sudden burst of strength, she caught him off guard and rolled him onto his back and straddled him. "And like this..." she cried out as she impaled herself on his upright, taut organ.

He yelped in surprise as her body descended, suddenly immobilizing his writhing member. She reached behind herself and grasped the base of his manhood while squirming around the distension.

Beads of sweat popped up on his forehead. "Kathryn," he moaned as she began her 'dance' around his totem pole.

Faster and faster she circled and pumped, up and down and all around. She released her hold on him, allowing him to join in her rhythms, their bodies smashing into on another like wild waves on the shore. He raised in a final tidal surge, crying out as he crashed into her, releasing the ultimate energy of his assault.

His quivering pole brought her to spasms of conclusion, and, as she had the night before, she called out his name as she succumbed to the spent passion of the union.

Quaking became calm; flesh relaxed into flaccidness. She rolled off him, his spent member pulling out of her, leaving them both feeling empty and cold. He turned, nuzzling her neck with his warm breath.

"Now how do I compare to your 'friend'?" he murmured breathlessly.

She raised his hand to her mouth, kissing the fingers that replayed the muskiness of her femaleness. "Not bad," she teased. "But, like any other experiment, I think it should be repeated, just so I can confirm the reproducibility of the results."

"I guess we'll have to get the equipment set up again," he smiled. "But... how about adding some variables this time… to give it a little more of a challenge?"

"I'm game," she answered. "Now - about setting up the lab apparatus..." And she began stroking him into preparation.

Several hours and a couple added rounds of the 'experiment' later, Chakotay whispered, "I really should get back to my quarters, Kathryn - at least make an 'appearance' there before heading off to our duty shift." His hands ran down her body again, as if trying to memorize every inch of her before leaving.

She sighed with his touch, wanting to throw duty and responsibility aside. "You're right, but I feel there is so much more that we need to say and do..."

"And we will, my love" he promised, kissing the tip of her nose. "We will."

She watched despondently as he dressed and slipped away into the stillness of Voyager's night.

~*~

Kathryn awoke as the lights began their soft ascent into 'daytime' within her cabin. Her face turned towards the corner of her 'garden' and she blinked to bring it into focus, for all she saw was a wall of color. She blinked again - and there it was... a container full of a cacophony of colors, all sorts of different flowers tumbling all over each other in wild profusion.

She ran over to the garden and rummaged through the delicate blossoms, looking... searching. But she couldn't find what she was looking for - gone was the lone phallus, with its monotone display... gone was that pillar of flesh that she had learned to love and cherish.

She went back to the bed, tossing the rumbled covers, taking in a deep breath that filled her with recollections of their lovemaking, of her acknowledgment of her need - and love - for Chakotay. As she straightened the sheets and pillows, she smiled, knowing that the desire the garden had shown her had been fulfilled in real life, and now it was time for it to be just what it looked to be: a simple little pot of flowers, bringing color and joy into her life.

~*~

The Protean dream seeds had completed their mission. Several dozen light years away, Grogas smiled and nodded, sensing the rightness in Kathryn Janeway's life.



~The End~






(Since this story was first posted, a couple of 'illustrations' have been passed along that might provide some 'visualization' of the Captain's interesting plant. You might want to make sure you're alone in the room when you check the out, though! [g]:

PICTURES of the CAPTAIN'S PLANT





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