The circumstances had been unusual.
Actually, that was the understatement of the century.
These circumstances had made unusual seem as routine as breathing.
Sure, he'd thought about the captain before. She was a good-looking woman. He'd often thought about what she was really like. What would happen if those auburn locks were ever taken down?
But these circumstances had been different.
He'd gone too fast. And suddenly he was everywhere at once. And then his DNA was messed up. And then he'd taken her along, and her DNA had gotten messed up, too. They'd shot forward on the evolutionary scale.
And then, it seemed, they'd hit the end of their collective tether, or had hit some sort of a barrier, and had been shot back. They'd overshot their normal states. They'd ended up on a planet and they had regressed to, eventually, an amphibious form. They had been on the threshold of something unexpected and had, instead, regressed to something familiar.
And that was when it had started.
But she remembered, and wondered – where had the others gone to? She recalled far more offspring than the ones who'd been found with them.
Everything had gone so much faster than normal. And being fruitful, and multiplying, were the only things that they had done. But she hadn't just laid a few eggs.
There had been other means, as if they were all being tried on for size. There were leathery eggs, placed inside a carefully-dug pit and then covered with soft, warm sand kicked by clawed back legs. There were more gelatinous eggs, transparent, that had been laid and fertilized underwater, and had drifted away on the currents and tides. There were others, lighter than air, that had blown on the breeze and been scattered to the four winds, much like dandelion seeds. There had been hard-shelled eggs, laid in a nest of twigs and mud. And there had even been live births.
Her pregnancies – or her egg incubations – had not taken long. They should have taken weeks or months. Instead, they had taken hours. And then they would be raring to go again.
They had lost the gift of language while they were in that form, but it was unnecessary. It was chemical pheromones that had done all the talking.
They summoned her, or him, and they would couple with fierceness and an urgency that could not be expressed in words. It was frenzied and intense, burning in their bodies and fusing their psyches.
Kathryn Janeway was startled out of a sound sleep. It had been months since the transwarp incident with helmsman Tom Paris. But her body and her subconscious and her memory had conspired to conjure up a dream, and it had reminded her.
Affected and troubled, she made her way to the Mess and, even though it was the middle of the night, got herself a coffee.
She was not alone.
"I, uh, I know this is weird but, uh, I had a dream about, uh, about ..."
"About you and me, in that swamp?"
"How did you know?"
"It's why I'm here. It jolted me up. I assume you had the same reaction."
"I did, Captain. I'm sorry about what happened, about all of it."
"There's no need to apologize again, Tom. We've already discussed this."
"I, I know." Tom Paris looked at her, grateful that they were alone. "It's just; I didn't expect it would continue to affect me. And I had no idea it would affect you, too. If I had only known, I would have spared you."
"What I recall of that time is that I was more than willing. But I have a question for you, Mister Paris."
"Do you think there were more offspring than Tuvok found? Because I seem to recall that there were more," mused the captain, "a lot more."
"I remember," Tom replied slowly, "we, uh, everything was really fast."
"Incredibly efficient," he agreed, "We'd just, uh, and then you'd, uh ..."
"I don't suppose there are any good ways to talk about this."
"Why now, Captain? Why do you think we dreamt of it? And both of us, on the same night, and probably at the same time, if I had to guess?"
"Maybe it's some sort of biological rhythm."
"I'll investigate." He got up. "I think I can go back to sleep now."
At least one of them could. She watched him leave.
It was about eight hours later by the time Tom had a theory. But they had waited until after their shift to discuss the matter. He consulted a PADD as they walked along a corridor.
"Well?" inquired the captain.
"I think you were right about it being a rhythm. See, I investigated about that planet. And I think, for this time of their year, its satellite hits its perigee. If my calculations are right, then it'll do that four or five times during a standard Earth year."
"So we're being reminded, is that it?"
"I think we briefly went into season. If we were still there, it would last a lot longer, and be more intense, I'm guessing."
"And then we would have," admitted the captain, "done what came naturally."
"Exactly. I, uh, you're my captain and I have nothing but respect for you," Tom blurted out, "but I can't help feeling that we should commemorate it all somehow."
"I'm not suggesting reenacting anything that went on down there. Instead, I just, well, I think we should remember them – however many of them there might truly be."
"It's a bit late for this particular season," Captain Janeway pointed out.
"I know, but we have a second chance next time, right? I just think they, they shouldn't be forgotten. We have a family together. It may make no sense otherwise, but that doesn't mean they don't exist."
Kathryn thought for a moment. "You're right."
In about ten and a quarter weeks, they were both roused from sound sleeps by fitful dreams of strange, primal encounters and found each other in the Mess again.
Once Kathryn saw Tom she commanded the nearest replicator, "Create Janeway Encrypted Product, code name Alpha Omega Amphibian."
The device spat out two mugs, with a fanciful design of salamanders. They were filled and steaming, with cocoa powder on their rims. She brought them over to a table. "A drink for the season."
"Here's to a second chance to remember," Tom replied, lifting his mug and, together, they drank. "White Russians?"
"Actually, this drink is called a Siberian. It's four parts milk, two parts coffee liqueur, one part vodka and one part real vanilla extract. The mug is rimmed with vanilla extract and bitter cocoa powder."
"I bet somebody special taught you how to make these."
"Yes," she admitted.
And even after he had married another, and she had become an Admiral, they still drank Siberians every ten and a half weeks or so, and remembered their odd bond and their even odder family.
And on the surface of an unknown planet deep in the Delta Quadrant, their descendants changed, mutated and evolved at their own frenetic pace, and evolution had second chances, fifth chances, millionth chances and on and on, a near-infinite species of chances.