I never thought it would come to this...
by Jinny W
Summary: one of two stories written in belated response to the 42 minutes of woe that was "Spirit Folk". In which the Captain is observed to be behaving rather strangely, and Chakotay is distressed by her choice of dresses. Dedicated to the pond folk who are encouraging my lighter side to come out and play :-)
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the lot, especially the whole ludicrous Fair Haven scenario and the holographic sex toy - sorry Michael the Irish boyfriend - that no self respecting writer of fanfic would dare invent or lay claim to.
Chakotay turned at the sound of B'Elanna's voice. She strode down the corridor towards him. He slowed until she reached his side, then they continued to walk along together.
"The holodeck, I think."
"I was running a diagnostic on the power systems this morning and I kept finding a blip."
"An anomaly. Something that shouldn't be there. I eventually figured out it was a power drain."
"From the holodeck."
"That's part of it." B'Elanna snorted. "It's Tom's stupid Irish program that's doing it. Even though the Captain closed the open door policy on the holodecks, that program still gets a lot more use than others. Way too much actually, if you ask me."
Chakotay thought it best to keep his opinion on that subject private, considering that they made B'Elanna's objections seem like mild disapproval by comparison. As they reached the turbolifts, Chakotay stopped and turned to face her.
"And this is causing the power drain? Why aren't you reporting this to the Captain?"
"Normally I would have. But there's something a little unusual going on."
She looked to her left and right before speaking, as though afraid someone would be eavesdropping behind her.
"The holodeck is only part of the problem. The other power drain has been deliberately redirected. To the Captain's quarters."
"The Captain's .... Are you sure?"
"I'm positive." B'Elanna crossed her arms across her chest. "I checked it three times to make sure."
"Why would the Captain be redirecting power?"
"I have no idea. But if it was anyone else there would be questions asked." She leaned towards him conspiratorially. "Chakotay, this would be illegal. Well, you know what I mean," she gestured with one hand. "Unauthorized. Except it's the Captain, so she could authorize it if she wanted to. Not that she has done anything official," she went on. "She's obviously just snuck in to the system and done some reprogramming without telling anyone. As if I wouldn't notice that the ..."
"B'Elanna." Chakotay held up a hand to interrupt her tirade. "Are you absolutely positive about this?"
"I'll look into it."
"Good. Because if this keeps up, we'll have more on our hands than a cranky Chief Engineer. It'll overload the power relays before too long. The conduits to personal quarters just aren't designed to carry this amount of stress."
Chakotay nodded and stepped into the lift. As the doors closed behind him, he could hear B'Elanna cursing as she stalked back down the corridor.
"Of all the thoughtless ... Kahless! Messing with my systems..."
He sighed. It was going to be one of those days.
Rather than go straight back to the bridge as he had intended, Chakotay decided to leave Tuvok in charge for a little longer and stop by the Captain's quarters. Perhaps he could nose around and see what was going on without having to ask any awkward questions.
"Don't do too much damage, Tuvok," he added, as he informed the second officer of his intended tardiness.
"Commander, I assure you I have no intention of causing any damage at all," the disembodied voice replied.
"Damn humourless Vulcans," he muttered, stepping up to Kathryn's door.
On the bridge, Tuvok tried to pretend that his acute Vulcan hearing had not caught that last remark.
Kathryn responded immediately to the door chime. The doors slid open and Chakotay stepped inside. He stopped short, sniffing the air. What was that smell? Could it be smoke?
Kathryn poked her head around the corner from the bedroom.
"Oh, it's you Commander. Hello. Have a seat, I won't be long. I'm just getting changed."
As her head disappeared back around the corner, Chakotay sighed the sigh of a frustrated man, and tried valiantly to ignore the images that remark had conjured up in his under-sexed mind.
"Have you been cooking pot roast again, Kathryn?" he asked, peering around the room for evidence of charred meal remains.
"No," her voice floated out from the other room. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, nothing. It's just that I thought I could smell - "
He broke off as he sighted the replicator. Was it his imagination, or was it bigger than he remembered? How could it be bigger? And what was that box jury-rigged to the wall beside it? Some sort of power-boosting source?
Before he could investigate further Kathryn emerged from her boudoir. He took one look at her clothing and gasped. She was wearing what was possibly one of the most hideous dresses he had ever seen. It was a dark orange, made of some sort of heavy checked material, girdled at the waist with a green sash bearing a large belt buckle formed from Celtic looped patterns. Her hair, which was now growing back to a length suitable for him to imagine running his fingers through once more, was pulled back tightly into an unflattering bun.
"Well, what do you think? " She spiraled around, smiling at him coquettishly with her dull unglossed lips.
How could such a beautiful woman make herself look so drab? he thought.
"It's ... lovely," he said instead.
"I'm on my way to the holodeck," she said.
To see that imaginary boyfriend of yours, he thought nastily.
"Was there something you wanted?"
"No. Yes. Actually," he glanced hastily around the room. "I was wondering if I could borrow - " he fumbled for inspiration - " that novel you were telling me about the other week. The one about the farmer and the woman who wanted to teach pigs to read..."
"Oh yes." She looked around helplessly at the pile of padds scattered across the room. "I'm afraid I can't remember where I put it. I could get it for you later if you like. I'm in a hurry."
Late for your date with photon boy are you? he thought.
"If you don't mind, I could stay and look for it. I'll let myself out." He tried to rearrange his facial expression to convey the appropriate "really looking forward to reading about those pigs" expression.
Kathryn lifted her skirts and sashayed towards the door. As they slid open, she pirouetted to face him. "Don't go rummaging in my bedroom, will you?" she said, waggling a girlish finger.
Actually I was looking for a nice new whalebone girdle, he thought, biting his lip to restrain himself.
He smiled ruefully and shook his head instead. Once Kathryn left her quarters he headed straight for the replicator.
"What on earth have you done, Kathryn? " he said aloud, peering over her modifications.
He slapped his chest.
"Chakotay to B'Elanna."
"I've got something here that I think you should come and look at. Meet me in the Captain's quarters, ASAP".
"Is she there?"
"Of course not."
"I'll be right there."
"I don't believe it."
B'Elanna lowered her tricorder and stepped back from the replicator. "If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would have thought you were joking. "
"What is it? "
"She's reconfigured the power distribution circuits completely. This monstrosity -" she tapped the offending box with the end of a hypospanner - "is a sophisticated kind of power transfer unit. It's stealing energy from the rest of the ship's systems, and pumping it through to the replicator. That way the Captain can replicate whatever she wants without using her rations."
"Why would she do that?" Chakotay said.
"Beats me. But I'm surprised I only noticed the problem this morning. This thing has been siphoning power for the past month at least. It must be programmed to obscure the transfer by sending false readings back to the main computer."
She frowned and peered more closely at the box.
"I'm surprised it hasn't overloaded the conduits in here and caused an explosion."
"I thought I smelt smoke when I came in earlier," Chakotay offered.
B'Elanna sniffed disdainfully. "Well then. She's probably already caused an accident and is trying to cover it up."
She turned to face Chakotay.
"But why would she be doing this? What is she doing that requires her to replicate so much of something? If she wanted more rations, she could always just challenge Tom to a few games of pool. He's still delusional enough to think that he'll get the better of her one day. Why would she need to do this illicitly when ..."
She trailed off at the look on Chakotay's face. "What? What is it?"
He pursed his lips as realization began to dawn.
"Holodeck costumes," he said simply.
"Costumes?" she repeated.
He nodded. "You said yourself that the Fair Haven program is being drastically overused. And I've seen evidence that Kathryn has been replicating new outfits every time she goes there." He shuddered at the thought of what she had been wearing last weekend. And he had thought the orange number this morning was bad.
"You'll have to tell her to stop."
"You're the first officer."
"You're the one who noticed the power problem."
B'Elanna snorted. "Chicken!"
"Damn right I am," Chakotay said. "Kathryn has been obsessed with that program. I swear she spends more time in there than she does doing most other things. You saw how she reacted when you wanted to shut it down before. I don't want to be the one who has to try to pry her away from Fair Haven."
Not to mention that grubby woman-stealing poetry-spouting ring-throwing holographic barman, he added silently.
"Someone has to tell her," B'Elanna insisted.
Chakotay thought for a minute. "Why don't we just disconnect all of this -" he gestured to the re-jigged replicator - "and hide the extra parts. You can keep monitoring this relay to make sure she doesn't do it again. She'll probably realise that we found out what she was up to, and fixed the problem without confronting her. Maybe she'll be too embarrassed even to bring it up," he concluded hopefully.
B'Elanna shrugged. "It's your neck on the line."
He nodded. "Get to it. "
We're saving Kathryn from herself, he thought to himself, justifying the decision. Not to mention putting a stop to travesties of fashion. How can such a potentially stylish woman have no idea how to dress herself out of uniform?
He shook his head, pondering the problem, and left B'Elanna to her work.
If Kathryn noticed the changes to her replicator she made no comment. Chakotay suspected at some stage during the next bridge shift that she was throwing him dirty looks out of the corner of her eye, but every time he turned to face her she appeared innocently absorbed in an Astrometrics report.
Everything is all right then, he thought with relief. Perhaps she'll come to her senses after all. Perhaps the dresses will be the first step away from her addiction. Perhaps she'll realise that she doesn't need to seek her pleasure from a man who is undoubtedly only shooting photon blanks. Perhaps she'll need to find herself a real man. And I am the closest to her in rank, after all, he thought.
He mused blissfully on the possibilities for the next few hours of his shift.
The pleasant daydreaming was not, however, to last. Half an hour before he was due to leave the bridge a message from the doctor appeared on the terminal next to his chair. It was marked "Urgent: for the attention of Commander Chakotay ONLY".
Chakotay threw a sidelong glance at the Captain, who appeared now to be engrossed in reading a report from Stellar Cartography. (Having been forced to read many reports from Stellar Cartography in the past, Chakotay was sure she was only pretending.) With a curious sense of dread Chakotay pushed the button to bring up the doctor's message.
Commander. It appears we have a problem. Please don't report this to the Captain, but come to see me in sickbay at your earliest convenience. My mobile emitter has gone missing, and I think I know where it is. Signed, the Doctor.
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