Rating: K+ ™©
Warnings: None (unless you really hate math)
Categories: Ship, Het, Fluff, Humor
Characters: Janeway, Naomi, Chakotay
Spoilers: The Q and the Grey
A/N: Written for Final Frontier. Naomi Wildman does her geometry homework. Rapid Ktarian development requires that this fic take place about the time of Mortal Coil, as I'm sure Naomi was studying Calculus shortly thereafter, and no doubt calculating String Theory equations by the end of the seventh season.
Thanks to Anne Rose for the late night beta.
Disclaimer: Paramount, don't bother me until you've finished your homework.
Naomi slumped in her chair in the mess hall and stared at the geometry lesson on her padd. She didn't want to do it. Everyone else had important work. Her mother said this was her job right now, but Voyager would fly the same whether she did her geometry or not, so why couldn't she just go play with Flotter?
She kicked the table, hurting her foot, and tried to hide the tears welling up in her eyes.
"Naomi, may I sit here?"
Wide-eyed, she stared up at the captain and nodded rapidly. Did the captain know she wasn't doing her lessons? Her heart pounded.
The captain sat down and took a sip of her coffee. "What do you have there?"
"Geometry," she answered in a small voice.
The captain smiled. She didn't look angry. Naomi let herself relax just a little bit. When the captain reached for the padd, she held it out to her.
The poor child looked terrified of her. Kathryn smiled in what she hoped was a reassuring manner and made a mental note to spend more time with Naomi. She wanted the little girl to be comfortable with her.
Her experience with children was limited to occassionally terrorizing her younger sister as a child, an activity which to Phoebe's relief hadn't really held her interest.
She looked at the padd and realized that Naomi's terror might have less to do with facing the captain and more to do with being caught daydreaming. None of the geometry problems on the padd were solved.
"When I was your age I did my math lessons with my father," she said. "Would you like me to help you with yours?"
"Yes ma'am," Naomi said. "If you don't have to be on the bridge."
"I think Commander Chakotay can take care of things for a little while." She handed back the padd. "Look at the first problem. Can you tell me what kind of triangle that is?"
Naomi barely glanced at the padd, and in a shaky voice chose an answer at random. "Isosceles?" She bit her lip and stared at the table.
She was right, but it was pretty clear that she didn't know why. Kathryn picked up a napkin and folded it carefully. "What about this triangle?"
This time Naomi studied the triangle. "Scalene."
"Good, can you tell me why?"
They spent some time discussing the three kinds of triangles. Kathryn remembered having trouble with the same lesson as a child. Equilateral triangles made perfect sense, but keeping track of which triangle was an isosceles and which was a scalene was a little trickier. The names were hard to remember and rather illogical. Naomi was a bright child, however, and could soon identify all of the shapes that Kathryn could devise with her napkin.
"Now back to that problem. If you add up the degrees of all three angles, how many degrees will there be?"
"One hundred eighty."
"Good. So how do you figure out the problem?"
"I take one hundred eighty and subtract the angles that I do know!" Naomi grinned. "So the third angle is 85 degrees!"
"Excellent!" Kathryn smiled broadly. "What's the next problem?"
"It's a scalene triangle." Naomi showed her the problem. "I'm supposed to circle the obtuse angle but I don't remember what that means."
"I'll tell you how I remember," Kathryn said, lowering her voice. "Obtuse angles eat too much so they get fat."
Naomi giggled, then looked guilty. "That's not nice."
"It isn't," Kathryn agreed, keeping her voice low and conspiratorial. "But now you'll never forget. Besides, it's an angle. I don't think it has feelings to hurt."
Chakotay paused in the doorway and watched Kathryn with the little girl. She'd make a wonderful mother someday, if fate ever gave them a chance. He wondered if Kathryn wanted children. He knew so much about her, and yet this was a mystery. It wasn't something he'd dare ask. The question, once asked, would hint at too much, and like Pandora's Box, its contents couldn't be hidden away once loose.
Protocol was a necessary constraint on their lives. While he looked forward to the day when he and Kathryn could have a romantic relationship, he was far from miserable now. Their friendship was more fulfilling than any of his previous romances. Someday they would have to discuss the possibility of children, but not today.
He certainly didn't want to dwell on any serious subjects now. Kathryn looked happier and more relaxed than he'd seen her in weeks, and he loved to see her happy. She looked up and smiled broadly at him, waving him over to join her, and he did so eagerly.
"Good afternoon, ladies." He smiled at Naomi. "I hope the captain isn't working you too hard, Naomi."
The little girl giggled. Kathryn gave him an affectionate punch in the arm. "We saved all the hard work for you, Commander."
He looked at Naomi's padd. "Did you tell her why acute angles are cuter?"
Their shared laughter filled him with joy, and they all bent over the next problem together.
Kathryn explained not just how, but exactly why the Pythagorean Theorem worked, and Chakotay admired the simplicity of her explanation. For a moment he wished his geometry teacher had been more like Kathryn. Then he realized that if his teacher had looked anything like Kathryn, he wouldn't have learned any math at all.
Samantha Wildman found her daughter in the mess hall, giggling with the commanding officers over some baffling private joke about the attractiveness of angles. "I hope she hasn't been any trouble, Captain."
"Of course not, Ensign. We've been having a wonderful time."
"The captain was helping me with my homework," Naomi said. "She's a really good teacher and she's real funny too."
"Did you say thank you?"
"Thank you Captain. Thank you Commander." Naomi gave them each a hug.
Samantha thanked them both as well, thrilled to be saved the effort of remembering which was the isosceles triangle. She never had been able to keep that straight.
Kathryn watched Chakotay as the little girl followed her mother out of the mess hall. She could see in his eyes that he wanted children. It was something she had to consider, if they were out here too many more years. As long as she allowed protocol to keep them apart, she put his happiness, and hers, on hold. To do that indefinitely would be cruel enough, but to deprive him of ever having children was too much. At some point, she'd have to push him to move on.
She swallowed hard, trying not to let the painful thought ruin what had been a perfect afternoon.
"Kathryn." The warmth of his hand surrounded hers and it was impossible to dwell on anything unpleasant. "Will you have dinner with me tonight?"
She grinned. "I'd like that. Just don't feed me any more of that chocolate mousse. I want to be a cute angle."
They both exploded in laughter, causing the few crewmembers in the room to glance up from their meals.
"Kathryn," he said. "You'll always be an acute angle to me."
This transformative work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. Euclidean geometry was never copyrighted. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, January 2004.