The Voyager Festival of Love, part two
by Jinny W
Disclaimer: see part one
"Oh no, computer, stop playback". Kathryn winced as the saccharine tune cut off in mid platitude. "These lyrics are awful", she muttered to herself. "I've never heard so many clichés strung together before."
Of course that wasn't quite true. She had after all attended years worth of Starfleet functions and was subjected to some appalling speeches during that time. Kathryn sighed and wriggled irritably in her usually comfortable ready room chair. She thought if she searched through the computer database she might be able to come up with some interesting older romantic songs to suggest to the doctor. So far the endeavour had been more painful than enlightening. She pressed another button on her padd and the list continued scrolling. After a few minutes reading she ordered the computer to play another song. The music began, a slow and steady beat, and a haunting female voice started to sing.
"One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
two can be as bad as one
it's the loneliest number since the number one."
Kathryn leaned her head back against her chair and sighed. This was more like it.
" 'No' is the saddest experience you'll ever know
yes, it's the saddest experience you'll ever know
Because one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
one is the loneliest number that you'll ever know
It's just no good anymore since you went away
I spend my time making rhymes of yesterday-"
"Come in", she called out over the music as the door chime trilled.
Chakotay strode in, then halted as he took in the sight before him. His Captain was sitting with her chair pushed back, feet firmly planted on the desk. Next to the terminal her ever present coffee mug was surrounded by a clutter of padds, and what appeared to be the crumbling remains of a large block of chocolate.
"Having fun?" he called out over the music.
She grinned at him. "Computer, lower volume. Yes, I am actually. Well, mostly," she amended.
Kathryn stood and walked around her desk. "I've been trying to choose songs to give to the doctor. It's been harder than I thought."
"This one is nice and cheerful", he commented wryly.
She met his smile with one of her own. "I know. I like it. Depression seems to go with the crew's mood of the past day or so, don't you think?"
Chakotay's grin grew even broader. "You wouldn't be referring to the shambles of poetry night, now, would you?"
Kathryn chortled. "That's a very polite way of putting it. I thought Tuvok was going to explode at one point."
Chakotay laughed and the padd he was carrying slipped from his fingers to the floor. Still giggling, Kathryn bent to retrieve it.
"Thanks", he said. As she handed it back to him their hands brushed together. She jumped a little at the sensation of his warm skin grazing against her own. Their eyes met and for a moment she felt he was watching her intently. Then he looked quickly down at the padd. She tried to push the irrational thought away.
"So, are you ready to work on our program now?"
Chakotay shook his head. "No. That's what I wanted to see you about. I've got something else I want to take care of first." She noticed that his eyes flickered away nervously at the words "something else".
"We still have a lot of work to do though", she objected.
"How about later tonight?"
"What about Tom's film night?"
Chakotay shrugged. "I'm happy to miss it if you are."
She thought quickly about that. Knowing Tom the selections would be "action adventure" films, with a little formulaic romance thrown in afterwards. She really would prefer just to spend that time with Chakotay.
"Okay. I'll see you later."
Kathryn sighed again as the doors hissed shut behind him. She looked down at her hand, as though she could still feel the warmth of his fingers pressing against hers.
"This is ridiculous", she whispered. "You're imagining things Kath. You're letting this week get to you." But even as the words passed her lips, her eyes were drawn to the flowers sitting on her desk, and to the small card nestled beside the vase. The neat handwriting proclaimed, "I'm enjoying this Festival much more than I thought I would, if only because of the time I'm spending with you."
It had to be Chakotay, she thought. But he didn't even glance at the flowers. She shrugged and turned to pick up another padd of romantic songs. He was obviously a much better liar than she had given him credit for.
The chief engineer jumped like a rabbit, then spun around.
"Don't sneak up on me like that," she said.
"I didn't sneak", Tom protested, "you were just involved in whatever it is that you're programming there. What is it, by the way?"
B'Elanna tried to nonchalantly move in front of the replicator. "Oh nothing", she lied, "just a little snack."
"Smells good. What is it? Fudge?"
"No." B'Elanna didn't move, although Tom was still trying to peer over her shoulder.
"What are you trying to hide?"
"I'm not hiding anything."
"Yes you are".
"No I'm not," she insisted.
"It's definitely chocolate," he said, stepping back slightly and sniffing the air. "Is it cake? No wait - it's brownies."
"Can't a woman have a snack without being interrogated?"
"Since when do you like brownies?"
B'Elanna sighed. This would go on until she admitted the truth, so she decided to provide an abridged version of it instead.
"I'm making some brownies as one of the gifts. But I can't tell you from who, or who its for."
Tom frowned. "I thought you were just the delivery girl? Why do you have to make them as well?"
B'Elanna thought quickly. "They have to be fresh," she said innocently. "I just didn't want to tell you because you'd try and weasel out of me who they're meant for, that's all".
"I don't weasel."
"Yes you do. You've been weaseling all week. I've had a hard time keeping all these secrets from you, and it's only Wednesday. I have two days to go still."
"Maybe it would just be easier if you told me", he suggested.
"And have you tell half the ship? I don't think so. No", she shook her head, "I'm sticking this one out."
"B'Elanna! I'm shocked." Tom stuck his bottom lip out in a mock pout. She crossed her arms and regarded him silently. "All right, I'm not to be trusted with relationship secrets", he admitted. "But this suspense is killing me."
"Then pretend you don't know anything about it at all", B'Elanna offered.
"Can I just guess instead?"
She sighed and prepared to package up the brownies for delivery.
"I know Ensign Bates really likes brownies. But she's really picky about making her own." He watched B'Elanna as she carefully sealed up the brownies and then began wrapping them in tissue paper. "The only other person I can think of", he said, eyeing her closely, "is the Captain".
B'Elanna's back stiffened slightly but she didn't say anything.
"Gotcha", Tom crowed. "They're for her, aren't they? I bet those pink flowers were yesterday too, and the coffee beans the other day."
"Don't you have anything better to do? Shouldn't you be making some last minute preparations for the film night, or something?"
"Ah ha! You didn't deny it. I'm right, aren't I?"
B'Elanna turned to him, hands on hips. "Would you just quit?"
"I like to know these things as a matter of principle. And besides, I consider the Captain a friend, of sorts. I like to know what's going on in her life."
B'Elanna snorted. "You mean you like to scoop the betting pools."
"That too", he admitted. "So, you're not denying they're for her. Now I just have to figure out who they're from. That shouldn't be too hard."
B'Elanna ground her teeth and turned back to her task. "I'd say there's really only one person on the ship who it could be." Tom went on. "Someone who's had his eye on the Captain since day one. Someone who's name starts with a C-"
"Stop it", B'Elanna snapped, putting the wrapped up brownies into her basket of gifts. "It isn't Chakotay, all right?" She turned around and glared at him fiercely. "So don't say a word to anyone."
Tom stared at her for a moment. "You know, I actually believe you. But who else could it be?"
B'Elanna bit her lip, considering what to say. She shook her head and picked up the basket. "Just leave it alone Tom. Trust me."
Tom whistled to himself as the doors slid behind her. "So", he muttered, "B'Elanna's the one doing the scheming this time. Interesting..."
"Captain", the doctor greeted her with his usual curt nod. "A pleasure to see you, as always. What can I do for you?"
"I just wanted to drop this off", she said, handing him a padd, "and I was in the area, so I thought I'd do it in person." She nodded to Tom Paris, who was working on a medical diagnostic console in the background.
"I don't recognise these," the doctor said.
"No", she said, "you wouldn't, they're mostly old songs."
Kathryn smiled. "I was trawling through the database yesterday playing music that was popular in its day." She screwed her nose up at the memory. "Some of it just seemed awful to me. And there seemed to be a disproportionate number of people with little musical talent who reached a popular audience. But I suppose it went with the times."
The doctor nodded. "There are few songs that really stand the test of time, captain."
"Well, it wasn't made easier by the fact that we lost a lot of records in the Third World War."
Tom giggled. "Nice pun, Captain."
They both turned to him. "Excuse me?" Kathryn asked in genuine confusion.
The doctor rolled his eyes. "I believe Mr. Paris is showing off his twentieth century trivia knowledge again. At one stage musical recordings were made on large circular disks which where referred to as 'records'. Hence his mirth at your comment about 'records' being lost," he finished dryly.
"I see", Kathryn said. "Very amusing, Mr. Paris."
"I thought so."
"So how has the music collecting been going doctor?" Kathryn asked.
The doctor puffed out his chest. "Quite well, actually. I've had over five hundred submissions from the crew so far. We won't have time to play them all tomorrow night, but we should get though the most popular requests."
She nodded. "Good. Well, I'll leave you to it."
Tom put down his tool. "If you don't mind doc, I'll head off too. I have a few things to do, and my shift here's nearly done."
The doctor nodded his consent, and Tom and the Captain left sickbay together.
"So, Captain," he said as they entered the corridor. "Having a good week?"
"I am actually", she said, smiling. "In spite of poetry night."
Tom chuckled. "The less said about that the better."
"I didn't see you at my movie screening last night," he observed as they stepped into the turbolift.
"No. Chakotay and I were working on our holodeck program. For Harry's competition."
She pretended to ignore the smirk on his face.
"I see. How's it going?"
"Good, I think. I'm not much of a designer, but I'm enjoying it. It's not something I do often. Holodeck design, I mean," she added quickly.
"Uh-huh". He watched her out of the corner of his eye. "You know, B'Elanna has been rushed off her feet this week. I know she's a romantic at heart, so she doesn't really begrudge giving up her time for it. I guess she just didn't expect so much interest in the anonymous valentines as there has been."
"Is that so?" Kathryn said, refusing to take the bait.
"Well", he said, "this is my level. I look forward to seeing what you two have done together."
Tom managed to keep a straight face until the doors closed, then began laughing as he walked down the corridors to his quarters. Yep, there was definitely something going on between the Captain and Commander. Finally.
B'Elanna flushed involuntarily as she collided with the first officer, who happened to be passing her quarters just as she rushed out of them.
"Running late with deliveries today?" he said.
She hefted her basket and grimaced. "You could say that. The secret gifts have been getting more popular all week."
"People have certainly been getting into the spirit of this Festival", he observed.
"Some people," she replied.
Chakotay chose to ignore that comment. "I'm just on my way to see the Captain, to make sure she approves of some last minute changes I made to our program before I give it to Harry."
B'Elanna raised her eyebrows. "Oh. The romantic program. What's in it?"
"None of your business."
B'Elanna shrugged. "Fine. You've been spending enough time in there. It must be good."
Chakotay nodded. He wasn't about to admit that more than half of his holodeck time had gone towards creating a different holo-program, a much more personal romantic gesture that he planned to give Kathryn as a gift.
"Well", she continued, "I have to get going. Lonely hearts are waiting", she shot over her shoulder as she headed off down the corridor.
Chakotay shook his head. Who'd have guessed that the fiery Klingon woman would turn out to be such a romantic? Well, he wouldn't be needing her help. He began walking to the nearest turbolift, whistling blithely. Tomorrow would be a special day.
This time Kathryn was in her ready room when her present arrived. B'Elanna had finally decided to take advantage of the technology she had at hand. Hence the shimmering noise as Kathryn's latest gift materialized onto her ready room desk. Kathryn had to smile at the engineer's diligence. She had a sudden picture of B'Elanna hunched over a transporter console with her basket of gifts next to her, cursing in Klingon as she tried to beam each one to the correct location.
She leaned over and carefully opened the small box. Inside were a pair of delicately shaped silver earrings. She couldn't help catching her breath. All of the gifts so far this week had been thoughtful but for some reason jewellery felt much more intimate.
She grinned at the thought of Chakotay picking out these earrings - she was certain now that the gifts were coming from him. He had managed to avoid even hinting at them all week, but during the time they had spent together, his behaviour had hinted instead at his feelings for her. And so did the notes that had appeared with each gift. Kathryn sighed with satisfaction. If she hadn't agreed to help him with the holo-program, and been spending so much of her free time with him, she might not have been so affected.
She felt a bubble of anticipation forming deep in her stomach. The question now wasn't what to do, it was when to do it. Not tonight. They had finished their holo-program, so wouldn't be working on it again. The wedding was tomorrow afternoon, she didn't want anything to interrupt that. So perhaps sometime in-between the wedding and the Valentine's day party?
Later, when she was about to leave the room, her eyes caught a small chip that lay on the carpet. She bent down to retrieve it. A holodeck program? She frowned. Chakotay must have dropped it on his way to see Harry. But why had he not realised and come back for it? She shrugged and palmed the chip. She'd just give it to Harry herself on her way off the bridge.
Kathryn hummed to herself as she hefted the chip in one hand and the box containing her new earrings in the other. Tomorrow would be a special day, she thought.
"Commander!" Kathryn smiled. "I'm surprised to see you here. Come in. I thought the post-wedding drinks would still be going on."
Chakotay grinned back at her and stepped into her quarters. "No, I'm afraid not. Neelix wanted to start getting things ready for the party, so he kicked us all out. I think the happy couple were pleased to get away by themselves anyway. And we need time to pretty ourselves up too."
He glanced around him. Kathryn's quarters were in their usual state of busy disarray. This time however, several different dresses were draped colorfully over pieces of furniture.
"Can't decide what to wear?" he asked.
Kathryn shrugged and turned to clear a space on the couch, hiding her momentary blush. She had been looking for a special dress but was hardly going to admit that to him.
"Want some coffee?"
"No thanks. I want to grab a quick shower before the party. I just stopped by to give you this". Chakotay pulled his arms from where he'd been holding them behind his back, and held out a small box. She looked at him in astonishment. B'Elanna hadn't had time to deliver any gifts yet today, but still, she hadn't expected a personal delivery instead.
Chakotay's lips curved up at her expression, partly relieved that she was pleased. This was only half of her gift. He couldn't find the holo-program, despite a frantic search of his quarters and office this morning. He would have to search again quickly before the party, or slip off early to see if he could discover it before the end of the Festival.
"Happy Valentine's Day. Go on, open it."
Kathryn's finger's fumbled with the blue ribbon. She tugged it off, then slowly slipped the lid off the box. Curved up inside lay a necklace. She lifted it out and saw it bore a small star shaped pendant.
Chakotay was still watching her, his face uncertain. "Do you like it?" he asked.
"Yes, of course, I do," she said, holding the necklace so that it draped over her fingers. "It's beautiful. I'm just surprised that you gave it to me, that's all. Would you help me put it on?"
She turned around so that Chakotay stood behind her. He reached over her shoulder to take the pendant, then draped it around her neck.
"Hair", he said.
"What? Oh sorry." Kathryn reached up and pulled her hair out of the way.
"I'm glad you like it", he said, as he struggled with the clasp. "I was thinking of giving it to you as an anonymous gift. You know, like those valentines B'Elanna has been handing out all week long. But I saved it for today instead. I thought you'd like it better if you knew it was from me. I mean, that way", he finished, "it wouldn't be misconstrued."
Kathryn felt her stomach lurch. What? He didn't want to give her an anonymous valentine. He didn't want his gift misconstrued? She gulped, thankful that her back was towards him. What had she been thinking? More to the point, what had she been about to do? Make an enormous fool of herself, a voice in her head responded.
With that he finally slid the clasp into position.
"Kathryn?" he said.
"What?" she managed, trying to keep her voice steady.
"You can let your hair go now. It's done."
It was a prank, she thought, as she let her hair fall down. Someone was playing a joke on her, making her think she was getting gifts from Chakotay. Even though the cards were never signed, all the notes had led her to believe it. Who would be so cruel? One of the crew who thought it would make a good practical joke to fool the Captain? Well, it certainly looked like she was the fool here.
"Let me have a look then."
She turned around as Chakotay stepped back so that he could see the necklace properly.
"It suits you", he said, picking up the pendant, then letting it fall back against her uniform. "Maybe you could wear it tonight. If it matches what you're wearing, of course," he joked.
Kathryn was trying not to look up at him. She didn't want to meet his eyes right now, sure that if she did she would burst into tears.
"I-" she reached up to rub her face, then hastily added, "I'm sure it will."
To cover her expression she busied herself picking up the stray clothes. Chakotay watched her for a moment, perplexed by her odd reaction.
"Well, I should go anyway, if I want to get ready in time."
"Okay", she said, turning to him briefly. "I guess I'll see you there."
"Okay", he echoed, and threw a concerned glance at her back before he departed.
Kathryn sank down onto the couch and buried her face in her hands. Not such a special day after all, she thought, and despite her best intentions to the contrary, began to cry.
please go on to the conclusion of the story