Rating : PG-13
Disclaimer : Paramount owns the names, but the story is mine :)
“Done.” Captain Janeway dusted off her uniform and looked across at her chief engineer, a smile tugging at her lips.
“That should do it alright. Next time anyone tries an unauthorised shuttle launch, they’re in for a nasty surprise,” B’Elanna agreed sagely. She watched as her Captain got to her feet and strove to stretch some of the kinks out of her tired muscles.
“Ouch!” She laughed. “I’ve got knots on my knots.”
B’Elanna crossed her arms and leant back against one of the engineering consoles. “Don’t look at me, last time I tried to give Tom a massage he ended up in sickbay. I don’t want another lecture from the Doc, that’s for sure.”
“I get the message! No back rubs for me.” She rolled her neck some more. “You know something B’Elanna? I haven’t had this much fun in years. That voice command protocol was a stroke of genius … what did I say?” She noticed that the engineer was eyeing her sceptically.
“You don’t get out much do you? If you think this is exciting wait ‘til you hear my plans for seat restraints.”
“So you’re telling me this isn’t the highlight of your week? If you have something more exciting in mind I’m open to suggestions, by the way. And I don’t mean seat restraints or inoculating gel packs, either.”
“Good. Neelix has a new holodeck program running. I’ve been dying to see it. If we hurry we can get in an hour or so before Chell gets to run his ‘Bolian Bonanza’ program.”
“Neelix, you say? Tell me, does it involve a bevy of near naked young women with big breasts and stilettos? Because if it does you can count me out.”
“No, not at all.” B’Elanna leaned forward conspiratorially. “It’s a swimming pool.”
“A swimming pool! What a wonderful idea! I haven’t had a good swim…”
“In years!” finished B’Elanna, “I know! And there’s more. I’m told it has an ocean view, sunshine, fresh sea air, and absolutely no mindless floozies.”
“Forgive me if this sounds too good to be true. Still, I can’t
say no to the chance of a swim, it’s just what the Doctor ordered!
I’ll need to replicate a swimsuit and freshen up. Let’s call it 1800
Some twenty minutes later the pair met up again outside holodeck one. B’Elanna smiled at the sight of her commanding officer in swimsuit and wrap, wearing a floppy sun hat and clutching an oversized beach towel.
“Did you meet anyone on the way down?”
“Just the infamous Chell.” Janeway grinned and waved an expressive arm. “He turned an interesting shade of purple, or maybe you’d call it mauve.”
“Ah, I think I’ve seen that colour. It’s more like a puce if you ask me. Are we going in?” She waited for the Captain’s nod and stepped forward to activate the doors.
They continued with the friendly banter as they approached the pool but the magnificent ocean view robbed them of speech. They could see a wide expanse of azure water, sparkling beneath an evening sun. The gentle breezes carried the scent of the sea up to them and they could just make out the sound of distant breakers as they crashed against the rocky coastline.
“My apologies, Mr Neelix,” Kathryn murmured appreciatively. “This goes beyond all expectation.”
Something in the water caught B’Elanna’s eye. It was Voyager’s First Officer, Commander Chakotay, sliding beneath the water’s surface. In one fluid movement he slid out of the water and up onto the pools pebbled edge. B’Elanna’s appreciation of the view increased as she watched the water sliding off his big golden body. She cast a sly glance at her Captain, but saw no discernible response from her. You’d have to be dead from the neck down not to respond to that kind of stimulus, thought Torres, but she kept the observation to herself.
“Hey! Nice speedos Chakotay!”
“Getting a good look Torres?” he laughed, his dimples flashing into existence as he ran his hands through his dark, wet hair. Some of it had fallen down across his forehead giving him a boyish look, which B’Elanna couldn’t resist.
“No complaints here, old man,” she smiled back as she walked over to him. “How’s the water?”
“It doesn’t get much better than this.” Chakotay’s eyes followed Captain Janeway as she shed her wrap and sun-hat and spread her towel out across a deck chair.
Torres frowned. What was it with these two? What had happened to all the laughter and light-hearted flirtation that had marked their early years aboard Voyager? There was a time when Janeway could barely keep her hands off her dashing XO. Now they were strictly business, on and off duty. Such a waste. Had the process been a gradual one or was there a specific incident that had killed the potential romance she had seen blossoming between the two of them? Who cares anyway? It’s none of your business Torres. Just do your job and be happy that you have Tom and not all this dreadful angst.
“You know, B’Elanna, if you don’t stop staring at me like that I am going to start to get ideas about you.”
“Bite me,” she snarled, playfully. Chakotay sat back and laughed, his feet splashing in the cool water.
“What’s so amusing, you two?” The laughter died as they turned to see Kathryn Janeway standing before them, hands on hips.
“Seems B’Elanna’s had enough of her pretty blonde fly-boy and wants to try some Maquis action.”
B’Elanna snorted and gave him a playful punch on the arm as she took a seat next to him. “Just keeping my options open, Captain.”
“Enough! I’m here for the water, not the entertainment. You two can flirt all you want, I’m swimming.” With this she dropped into the water and swam away to the opposite side of the pool.
“Well, it’s time I was going, B’Elanna. Enjoy the water, I’ll see you around.”
“Yeah, bye Chakotay.”
She watched him gather his things and leave. You had to hand it to Kathryn Janeway; she sure knew how to kill a good conversation. Shrugging, she tossed off her sandals and sarong and slid into the water.
After their swim the two women stopped to admire the scenery once more before they left.
“Out with it, B’Elanna, you’ve been in a foul mood since the Commander left.”
“How do you do it?”
“I don’t follow you. How do I do what exactly?”
“How do you just switch off like that? We had a good time in engineering, so I know that you aren’t in a bad mood. Yet you meet Chakotay and all of a sudden it’s like, I don’t know…, it’s like you lose the spark or something. I mean, Captain (she’s going to throw me in the brig sooner or later anyway) that here is this absolutely stunning man, barely dressed, water cascading over those gorgeous biceps and you don’t even blink. You’re not part Vulcan are you?”
“Vulcan! Damn! I really would like to stay and discuss this B’Elanna but I’m supposed to be starting my meditation sessions with Tuvok this evening. I’ve barely got time to change and eat as it is. We’ll do this again sometime, I promise. Bye!”
B’Elanna stared as the holodeck doors closed behind Captain Janeway.
“Chicken,” she muttered.
“Is something the matter, Captain?” Voyager’s Vulcan Security Officer, Tuvok sat cross-legged on the floor opposite her. He was wearing some sort of Vulcan meditation get-up in a very fetching shade of purple. Captain Janeway was also out of uniform. She wore a pair of loose fitting black pants and a nondescript green shirt.
“Am I that obvious, Tuvok?” She quirked an entirely Janeway eyebrow at him and smiled.
“You are only ‘that obvious’ to a Vulcan, and one that knows you as well as I.”
“Well, that certainly narrows the field! Just give me a moment to get my thoughts in order, then I am all yours, Tuvok.” B’Elanna’s words had troubled her more than she would care to admit, but this was neither the time nor the place to dwell on them. Forcing her mind back to the present, she glanced about her, noting the candles, incense and Vulcan statuary. Why was it, she wondered, that in order to meditate correctly one needed all these cheesy trappings; the candlelight, mystical symbols, and the weird smell? She couldn’t see the logic in it. It must come from the same mentality, which insisted that in order to gain enlightenment the true supplicant must eschew all things pertaining to material pleasures. Why was transcendence only to be found in a cold damp cave on some remote mountain range where the only food source was some faithful devotee who visited with hot soup on Thursdays? Surely it was all a matter of mental control?
Tuvok was content to allow her time to compose her thoughts and settle down to the business at hand. It had been her suggestion that he teach her some meditation techniques for relaxation and clarity of thought. He believed her suggestion to have merit but was not going to force her to proceed if she now found herself unwilling to do so.
“Captain, if I might make a suggestion? If you prefer not to proceed with the meditation, I believe that the same results could better be achieved through a mindmeld.”
“And have Captain Sulu throw me in the brig again? Just kidding! But I am curious about your suggestion, Tuvok. Aren’t mindmelds supposed to be extremely, what’s the word… ‘intimate’, ‘distasteful’, ‘dangerous’?”
“Indeed, it is by no means the recommended course of action. As I have discovered, there can be unforseen consequences which may prove uncomfortable.”
“You have a talent for understatement my friend.”
“Your point being that my mindmeld with crewman Suder resulted in my nearly becoming a homicidal maniac. I fail to see what is so amusing, Captain.”
“Pardon me. Please continue.”
“In that instance, Suder’s mind was excessively disturbed and presented me with powerful imagery that was entirely without logic. I experienced some difficulty sublimating those more primitive urges to do with death and anarchy. This is unlikely to be the case with you, Captain. Your mind is a carefully controlled, finely tuned and not unimpressive piece of equipment. Through our previous mindmeld I am equipped with what you might like to refer to as a map of your mind, both conscious and subconscious. The worst we can expect from another such meld is a recurrence of the discomfort I experienced as a result of your feelings for Commander Chakotay.
Kathryn Janeway had been sitting in a half-daze, focusing on the undulating play of light and shadow cast by the candle’s flame but Tuvok’s last words awoke her with a start. She lifted her head and blinked her eyes.
“What did you just say?”
“I was discussing the possibility of negative results due to a Vulcan mindmeld …”
“No, no, no. You mentioned Commander Chakotay?”
“Indeed. My exact words were, ‘the worst we can expect from another mindmeld is a recurrence of the discomfort I experienced previously regarding your feelings for Commander Chakotay’.”
“What exactly do you mean ‘my feelings for Commander Chakotay’? Tuvok, the Commander is just a good friend. He is a source of strength and support and I respect him a lot but I get the feeling that you mean something more than this. You, of all people should understand that my relationship with Chakotay is a purely Platonic one. As the Captain of a Federation Starship I simply don’t have the time to pursue an intimate relationship and it is most certainly against ‘fleet protocol to become involved with an officer serving beneath me, particularly on board the same vessel. I have a responsibility to set an example for my crew, to uphold starfleet regulations in a clear and unequivocal manner.”
“Which is precisely why I aided you in sublimating your human procreative needs.”
“You what? My human what?”
“The urge to reproduce is a very strong one in your species, as it can be in mine. When I refer to your procreative requirements, I include an entire range of physiological, mental, emotional and social triggers and responses that can impel a human towards reproduction of the species.”
“Let me get this straight. You say that you ‘aided’ me in ‘sublimating’ these human responses?” Somewhere, deep down in the very core of her being, a still, small spark of anger was beginning to burn.
“I could see that you were struggling with your feelings for the Commander. The wish that you could control your emotional and physical responses to him was very clear to me. The only logical course of action was to assist you in sublimating this powerful and often painful attraction. Accordingly I constructed a barrier behind which we stored your unacceptable emotions. It was a remarkably successful procedure with hardly any side-affects.”
Kathryn Janeway made fish faces at her Security Officer. Unbidden the words of Dr Leonard McCoy came to her mind, ‘why you green blooded, pointy-eared, son of a …’.The implications of what he had just confessed to her were staggering. She did remember a time when her attraction for her First Officer had been a force to be reckoned with. She recalled the very first sight of him in his Maquis leathers, the deceptively soft voice, the almost tender way he had responded to her overtures of friendship and most of all the way her heart had fluttered when he had smiled at her. But all that seemed so distant now, so long ago. She had congratulated herself on her self-control. What an awesome figurehead she made for her crew. Naturally she had had the right to criticise Tom and B’Elanna for their less than discreet courtship practises. She was Joan of Arc personified, a shining example of virtue and moral fortitude. Janeway the pure.
“You do not appear to be pleased with this news.”
“Pleased,” she whispered, suddenly hoarse. “Tuvok, I should have you thrown in the brig for this. It’s inconceivable. What else did you ‘fix’ whilst you were rummaging around in my brain, spring-cleaning my messy human emotions? Did you find anything else about me that didn’t take your fancy? How about my memories, could they use a little fine-tuning? My God Tuvok! I just don’t know what to say. Tell me this is all a dream , a nightmare…”
“Please calm yourself, Captain. I shall prepare some tea. Please take a seat and attempt to steady your breathing.” When he returned with the tea and had extinguished the candles, Kathryn Janeway had regained some small measure of control. She was still shaking.
“Now that you are feeling calm once more I will attempt to address your concerns. Firstly then, what I did was not against your wishes. I would never presume to do anything that you yourself did not expressly desire. It was clear to me at the time that you needed my help in this matter. Secondly, I must reassure you that there are no other secret modifications you are as yet unaware of. Your thoughts, memories and emotions did not revolt or offend me and I have no desire to change you in any way. Lastly, I can see that tonight’s unexpected revelations have shocked and upset you, which I deeply regret. I confess to not expecting such a strong, negative reaction from you, and do not pretend to understand it. However, if it be your wish I can reverse the effects of our previous mindmeld and restore to you what has been suppressed these last few years.”
“Let me explain something to you Tuvok. I have taken no small amount of pride in the idea that I have been able to maintain some pretty exulted standards of moral behaviour. Now you are telling me that I have been living a lie. Perhaps only a lie of omission, but a lie nonetheless. I have not succeeded in mastering my needs, there really has been no noble victory over the human libido. It’s all been a sham. Anyone could have done it.”
She leant forward, resting her pale face between her hands. It was going to take her a long time to come to terms with her discovery. She felt that she had been robbed of the opportunity to do things her way and there was also a sickening sense of violation, as though part of her had been stolen or tainted in some way. How far had this meld coloured and shaped her actions whilst in the Delta Quadrant? How much of it had been her as opposed to being a result of Vulcan mental engineering? Would the real Kathryn Janeway please step forward?
Eventually she looked up into the face of her old friend and mentor. There was no comfort to be found there any more, only an emptiness. Curiously, now that she knew, she could almost feel the void within herself, that place where the warmth, the irreverence, the joy, and the humour used to be.
“I want it back, Tuvok. You’ve got to put it back; all of it.”
“It is possible to reverse the procedure. However, I recommend that it be done slowly. You will require counselling and meditation sessions. For many years you have not required the skills necessary to manage these emotions. It will take time and patience to once again familiarise yourself with …”
“Now, Tuvok. Just do it.”
Tuvok lifted an eyebrow.
“That’s an order, Tuvok. Restore me to the way I was before that cursed mindmeld and I’ll handle the rest. And if you have any further ideas about ‘fixing’ my impulsiveness or irrationality you can forget them now. I want my humanity back, my old self returned and I want it now, not in some carefully organised fortnightly instalment plan. Do I make myself clear?”
Tuvok would have liked to insist on having the meld monitored by the
ship’s EMH, but he knew that the Captain was in no mood to prevaricate,
and an order was an order. He was beginning to understand the tremendous
error of judgement he had made. If Captain Janeway were to lodge
a formal complaint, he would have a serious case to answer to if ever he
returned to Vulcan. Moreover he valued Kathryn Janeway’s friendship
and deeply regretted any action that jeopardised this. Gently positioning
his fingertips against her cheekbones and temple he began the ritual of
the mindmeld. “My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts
An hour later Captain Janeway was headed back to her quarters. It was strange but she didn’t feel any different. There may have been a little more of a spring to her steps, a general lightness of being perhaps, but nothing else that she could put her finger on. She was no longer angry with Tuvok. During the mindmeld, she had shared with him his genuine feelings of guilt and remorse. He would punish himself, until it was no longer logical to do so, that is. And maybe, just maybe, she had over-reacted and made too much of a fuss over the whole business. It was most probably just a few random indecent thoughts he had found floating about and tucked away neatly somewhere where they needn’t bother her any longer. She giggled, wondering just what kind of random naughty thoughts regarding her First Officer Tuvok had encountered. Hopefully not the fantasy in the turbolift.
She stopped dead in her tracks. The fantasy in the turbolift? Now where the hell had that one come from? It seemed new to her and yet also strangely familiar. As familiar as an old holoimage , and comfortable as an old armchair. She closed her eyes and allowed the dream to wash over her. How could she have forgotten it? There were those dark hands pushing insistently up beneath her uniform jacket, his bulging thigh rammed between her legs, those beautiful almost feminine lips of his crushing down against her own, robbing her of breath and reason. She groaned as wave after wave of delicious passion swept through her body. And jumped as a warm hand came down on her shoulder.
“Is something the matter, Captain?”
“Yes.” He smiled and took his hand away from her shoulder. She missed his touch almost immediately. “You seem distracted, is anything wrong?”
She could feel her face colouring. What did she think she was doing, standing in the middle of a ship’s corridor fantasising about her XO? Well, she surmised, she may not feel any different but she certainly was acting differently. She had to pull herself together. She had assured Tuvok that she was more than capable of handling the situation and she was going to do just that come hell or high water, or a spectacularly attractive set of dimples. She was not yet ready to face the possibility that she no longer wanted to control herself, that without the Vulcan mind-set, her humanity was free to re-establish itself.
Reaching up, she placed her hand palm down against Chakotay’s chest and smiled. “I’m fine, Chakotay, thanks for asking.”
He looked down curiously at the hand resting on his chest and she grew self-conscious and withdrew it. What was so strange about her touching him? She touched the crew all the time didn’t she? She was just a touchy-feely type of girl. Chakotay looked away and cleared his throat. “I was just on my way to the mess hall for some dinner, you’re welcome to join me if you’d like.”
She examined the idea and found that she liked it. There had barely
been time for a snack before her appointment with Tuvok and she was feeling
rather light-headed. “I’d like that very much! Lead on MacDuff!”
She was still pondering the meal they had shared in the mess hall that night as the pair crawled through one of the many ships Jeffries tubes the following morning. It had taken nothing short of a stroke of genius to organise the Commander and Captain of Voyager into one of these tubes simultaneously, as it were, but she’d managed it. The crew seemed none the wiser. She even found their lack of suspicion vaguely insulting although she did catch the look of disapproval Tuvok cast her. Let him believe the worst, the situation was under control. She ceased all forward motion abruptly causing Commander Chakotay to crawl head long into her backside.
“Oh, sorry Commander!” She was profoundly grateful that he couldn’t see the ridiculous grin on her face.
“My fault, Captain. Er, do you suppose you could give me a little warning before you stop next time, just in case I’m not looking again?”
“I don’t know Chakotay. That’s the third time this morning. If I didn’t know better I would say you’re doing it on purpose.” She stifled a giggle. She had the mildly outraged Captain’s voice down perfect.
When he didn’t reply she continued on until they reached the correct access port. The meal had been delicious. Once again Neelix had outdone himself, this time in the kitchen. When Chakotay had questioned her lavish praise of the happy Talaxian she had explained that someone with her culinary expertise quite simply had no right to criticise a man who prepared well over three hundred meals daily. Even if they were all a variation on the familiar Leola Root theme. Yes, she had enjoyed the food but the conversation had left a lot to be desired. The idea had been to draw him out, provoke the occasional smile, and perhaps even the odd flirtation. He obviously had no trouble flirting with B’Elanna in the holodeck earlier that day. Surely a little harmless flirtation wasn’t against the rules?
The experiment had proven a spectacular failure. Instead of the response she had hoped for, Chakotay had remained curiously withdrawn and aloof, and had not responded to any of her overtures of friendship. Could it be that he no longer considered her a friend? Had their relationship finally come to this, that they could no longer share a quiet dinner and a laugh? The thought was not a happy one, particularly in light of the wonderfully vivid dreams she had experienced last night. The turbolift fantasy now paled into insignificance next to the turgid eroticism of the Jeffries tube….Which brought her thoughts sharply back to the present.
“Phew! I’d forgotten how hot it can get down here with the environmental controls off line. Do you have any objections to my removing my jacket?”
Chakotay mumbled an unintelligible reply.
“I’m afraid I can’t make out what you’re saying back there, Chakotay. Come sit up here beside me. That’s better. Blast! I do believe this zip is stuck. Give us a hand with it would you?” She watched with satisfaction as he undid her jacket’s zipper.
“Oh, excuse me,” she added as she clumsily pushed her cleavage into his face whilst removing her top. “Well that certainly was a bit awkward! Just as well we’re all mature adults here!” Yes, she had the situation completely under control. No need to worry at all. Hmmm.
“Mind if I ask you a question, Chakotay?”
“Why is it that you insist on calling me ‘Captain’ all the time? Have I done something wrong?” His further silence provoked another attack of self-doubt. “I … I’m just trying to understand, that’s all. Please don’t feel this is a criticism. You are quite simply the best First Officer I have ever served with. What I am trying to say,” she cast him an encouraging smile, “ is that I thought for a while there was a connection between us; that we meant something to each other. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
He nodded slowly, although without meeting her eyes. “There was something like that once…”
“Was?” Oh Lord, Kathryn, don’t cry, not now.
“Tuvok to Captain Janeway.” Damn it!
“Janeway here. Go ahead Tuvok.”
“We have encountered a lone trading vessel. Its owner, Captain Hablak, wishes to come aboard to negotiate a ‘mutually beneficial exchange’.”
“Well, that certainly sounds like it has potential. The Commander and I are almost done here. Let the good Captain know that I shan’t keep him waiting too long. Janeway out.”
Kathryn Janeway was glad of the interruption after all. Her Jeffries tube romp had gone sour and having something else to focus on would help her bite back the dull ache that had settled over her heart.
“We’ll continue this conversation later Chakotay. Don’t think for a minute that I am prepared to accept the loss of our friendship, it means too much to me. You mean too much to me. I want you to think about what I’ve said today because I am prepared to do whatever it takes to fix things between us. Will you do that for me?”
“Of course, but Kathryn …”
“That’s more like it! You know that’s the first time you’ve used
my name in months. Thank-you. And now, Chakotay, I think we’re
due on the bridge.”
Ambassador Neelix was duly delegated to greet Captain Hablak and give him the official ships tour. He was also authorised to initiate any trade arrangements that he believed to be fair and equitable. Neelix was a natural ambassador, bubbling over with good will as he was, but his real talents lay in the ancient art of bartering. He was a natural born haggler. It was, of course, the Captain who had the final say in the matter but she was absolutely serious when she told Neelix that she had every faith in him. He was worth his weight in latinum and she knew it.
“There is another small matter I wish to present for your consideration Captain.”
“What is it Neelix?”
“A party, tonight, in celebration.”
What’s to celebrate, she thought. “ What sort of party did you have in mind?”
“Well, it’s a sort of a welcome aboard Voyager for Captain Hablak, and a celebration of a successful trade.”
“What happens if we don’t come to an understanding with this trading vessel, Neelix?”
“Oh, why in that case, I’ll have to think up a different excuse for a party!”
She laughed in spite of herself. “Well, it’s not as if you didn’t have enough on your plate already. But if it will make you happy Mr Neelix, feel free to have your party.”
“You won’t regret it Captain!”
“See that I don’t.”
Captain Janeway struggled to curb her automatic gag reflex. “What exactly did you say this was Mr Neelix?”
“An offal surprise, Captain.”
“It certainly is,” she agreed whole-heartedly.
“Impressive isn’t it? I’ve been researching an old Earth delicacy known as pate, the blended offal of a small fowl or young animal, then you add to that some cream or fat….”
“Oh look! Here’s B’Elanna. I have something urgent to discuss with her Neelix. It’s an engineering matter. Please keep up the good work.”
B’Elanna grinned, noticing the Captain’s none too subtle attempt to escape the little Talaxian chef. She was surprised to see that the Captain had dressed up for the occasion and looked ravishing. Had Kathryn been moved by their pool side discussion of the day before? Things were looking up.
“A word of warning, B’Elanna. If Neelix offers you an ‘offal surprise’, run for the hills!”
The two women shared a laugh.
“Kathryn, you look incredible! Wait ‘til Chakotay gets a look at you in that dress! Oh … damn. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest..”
“It’s alright, B’Elanna. Relax. You’re quite right, I’m counting on Chakotay liking this thing.” She indicated her knee-length dress with spaghetti straps. “Does the colour work?”
“I don’t believe what I’m hearing. And of course the colour works, that shade of blue really suits you.” B’Elanna was having difficulty keeping her voice from attracting attention so she took Kathryn Janeway by the arm and guided her to a more discreet corner of the function room. “I think it’s time for that talk you promised me! Now spill it Kathryn, what’s going on?”
Kathryn took a deep breath to steady her nerves. It was so tempting to share her feelings with her friend but she had to be certain what it was those feelings were. Yes, she could acknowledge that there was an attraction there for her First Officer; a damned powerful one. And she was aware of the desire to provoke a response from him. She knew he wasn’t made of ice. Sooner or later something had to give and she intended giving the process a bit of a shove in the right direction. But what could she possibly hope to achieve by this?
“Oh, B’Elanna! I think I’m in love!” Damn! It was happening more and more often, this ability of her body to override her brain.
“Yes!” B’Elanna screamed, and then glanced around to see if anyone had noticed. She pulled Kathryn into an impulsive hug.
“I hope I’m interrupting something.” Tom Paris had arrived. “You two ladies are getting awfully chummy of late, do you know that? If I didn’t know better I’d say I was about to become redundant.”
“That’s right, fly-boy. Why don’t you try your luck with Commander Chakotay?”
“Gee thanks B’Elanna. What do you say Captain? Think I have a chance with the Commander?”
Kathryn snorted. “The pair of you would certainly make a handsome couple, Tom. Just don’t ask me to perform the wedding ceremony.”
“Speak of the devil,” murmured B’Elanna, “looks like Chakotay’s arrived. Would you mind very much if Tom and I had a dance?”
“Not at all, B’Elanna. I should probably be circulating; after all it is supposed to be some sort of diplomatic function. Has anyone actually seen this Captain Hablak?”
“He and Neelix were in engineering earlier, but he didn’t seem very interested. He looked to be more interested in getting some lunch. Let’s hope he didn’t eat too much. I would hate for him to have spoiled his appetite, especially with all this creative cookery going begging.”
“Go have your dance, you two. Let me worry about the food.”
As she mingled with the assorted crewmembers in attendance, she kept an eye out for her First Officer. He appeared to be engrossed in a conversation with Mike Ayala and Joe Carey and showed no signs of having noticed her presence. She felt the slight keenly; he had always made it his first priority to see to her comfort and support her in the task of entertaining guests at a function like this one. She knew that she wasn’t imagining it, he was avoiding her. But not for long. Not if she could help it. Squaring her bare shoulders she headed for the three men.
As she got closer she could make out some of their conversation.
“So,” Chakotay was saying, “ I said to him, ‘no Neelix, you don’t mean mouse-watering, you mean mouth-watering’.” He waited for the laughter to die down. “And then he says ‘no, that’s not what I meant at all’.” More laughter ensued. Kathryn was almost painfully aware of the heavy beating of her heart. What she wouldn’t give to have him smile at her like that! His smile lit up his entire face. When the realisation came it was like a revelation, I would do anything to have him love me, to be the cause of his happiness.
“Hello Chakotay.” He jumped as she patted him on the back. “Joe, Mike would you excuse the Commander and I for a moment? I’m in the mood for a dance.”
Chakotay shook his head, the smile fading from his lips. He began to back away but Kathryn took hold of his arm and pulled him towards her. Lowering her voice to a whisper, her eyes pleading, she said, “ please, Chakotay, don’t make me order you.”
He ducked his head, acknowledging her words and led her out to the dance floor.
Despite his initial reluctance, he danced well, and held her almost tenderly as they moved together in time to the music. Kathryn Janeway’s head spun at the nearness of him. His scent, his warmth, and the feel of his heart beating against her open palm overwhelmed her senses. She pushed her luck by moving in closer and resting her head against his chest and then slipping her arms around his waist. If she was making a spectacle of herself she didn’t care. All that mattered was this sudden, all-consuming physical connection. He hadn’t pulled away either. In fact, she could feel him beginning to relax; could almost feel the tension draining away. She smiled as she felt him sigh and rest his cheek against her hair. It felt so good.
So much for having a conversation, she thought wryly. Still, their bodies seemed to be having no trouble communicating. He could avoid her all he wanted but his body was telling her a different story, and hers was responding. Oh how it was responding! She revelled in the sensation of his body moving with hers in time to the rhythm of the music.
Just then the lights began to flicker and there was an almost imperceptible hum as Voyager went to yellow alert.
“Ensign Kim to Captain Janeway.”
“Go ahead Harry.” She took a step back and motioned for the music to be terminated.
“Captain Hablak has just powered up the Sacajewa and has activated the shuttle bay doors. I’m attempting to lock it down now but…”
“Don’t bother Ensign. Let him go.”
“Trust me Harry. I know what I’m doing.”
“The shuttle craft has left the ship.”
“Acknowledged. Computer engage emergency shuttle protocol 47 Alpha.”
The computer responded automatically. “Shuttle protocol 47 Alpha confirmed. Stand by. Shuttle engines have been disabled. Transporting shuttle occupants to the brig now.”
“Good. Did you get that Harry?”
“Aye Captain. Captain, that was brilliant!”
“High praise Harry! Now lock a tractor beam on the Sacajewa and return her to the shuttle bay.”
Captain Janeway flashed B’Elanna Torres a wink. “Can we cook or can we cook?”
She turned back to Chakotay only to catch sight of his back as he attempted to flee the room. Throwing caution to the wind she called after him and saw the sea of humanity between them part and go still. The silence was deafening. Chakotay had stopped at her call and then slowly turned to face her.
“I hadn’t realised our dance was over Chakotay.” She tilted her head to the side as she spoke, her eyes once again pleading with him not to make a fool of her. If she had been expecting any gallantry she was sorely disappointed. “Then I suggest you ask someone else.”
“In that case, Commander, you are to report to the brig and commence the interrogation of Mr Hablak. There will be a meeting of all senior staff at 0900 hours tomorrow and I will expect a complete report on the matter to be presented by you at that time. Do I make myself clear?”
“Good. Now get out of here.” Coward, she added silently.
The crew made a valiant attempt to pretend nothing unusual had occurred
between the two senior officers, but the Captain left early anyway, feeling
It transpired that Captain Hablak had been attempting to make off with Mr Neelix’s entire supply of Leola Root. The little shuttlecraft had been literally packed to the roof with the stuff. Hablak had been so impressed with the taste, texture and versatility of the humble root he had been overcome with greed.
Captain Janeway had been surprisingly sympathetic and suggested a more equitable arrangement might be agreed upon. Luckily the desperate trader had an enormous quantity of high-grade dilithium crystal which he had no use for.
Neelix was naturally saddened by the loss of his precious supplies but was willing to put the good of the ship above his own interests. B’Elanna was overjoyed with the new crystals and Janeway had been glad of the opportunity to test her new emergency shuttle theft procedures. All in all it had been a good result for everyone concerned. If only the timing had been better.
The Captain was alone in her readyroom. It had been a long day, but a profitable one, and she had earned a coffee break. Truth be told she was glad the day had been a hectic one, it had stopped her from dwelling on the events of the previous evening. Chakotay’s rejection had hurt, especially coming as it did in such a public place. The Voyager gossip mill was in full swing too. She had interrupted several whispered conversations already, but there was nothing she could do about that.
She had arranged to share a meal with B’Elanna that night, on the proviso
that Tom made himself scarce. He had been more than willing to do
so having no desire get caught in the middle of some serious girl’s talk,
and of course his betting pool was running rife. If he had any worries
at all they revolved around B’Elanna’s involvement. She was
letting herself get too involved and sooner or later something was bound
“Let me in Chakotay!” B’Elanna thumped at the unresponsive door angrily.
She charged into his quarters as soon as they had opened and confronted the Commander as he sat at his desk.
“What’s going on, Torres?”
“Klingon diplomacy, that’s what,” she snarled, snatching the PADD from his hand and hurling it across the room. Chakotay’s eyes narrowed.
“Sure it’s not Maquis diplomacy?”
“Have I broken your nose yet? Then ‘no’ it’s not Maquis diplomacy.”
“You make a good point. So what’s this all about?”
“Don’t give me that crap Chakotay. You know what it’s about, what it’s always about; you and Kathryn. Kahless I’m sick to death of the two of you. First it’s you mooning around after her like some pathetic lovesick puppy. No sooner does she decide that she’s made a mistake and wants you after all, then ‘dabo’, it’s you who’s no longer interested! You’re driving me insane! I’ve just had Kathryn in my quarters for the past two hours, pouring her heart out to me. Which is funny considering that it’s usually you with the sob story. What the hell’s wrong with you Chakotay? Are you crazy? You’ve been behaving like a pig …”
“That’s quite enough Torres. Look, this is really none of your business. It’s a personal matter between the Captain and myself.”
“Think again, big guy. I’ve told you. This is the way Klingons handle romantic tension, which means I’m not leaving here until the problem’s fixed, and right now I don’t care how private you think it is. So start talking Chakotay. What is it? Are you impotent? Involved with someone else maybe? Do you have a sexually transmitted disease? I know; you’ve come from an alternative universe! Or is it that you just don’t care for her any more? Out with it.”
“If you must know,” he waited for her to nod, “ Tuvok warned me off. Apparently Kathryn’s been involved in some intense counselling sessions with him and he believes that she is emotionally unstable. Right now she’s vulnerable and experiencing some powerful new feelings which are making her react in an odd way. I can’t allow myself to take advantage of her.”
“I beg you pardon?”
“Open your eyes Chakotay! You’ve been wrapped up in your own little world for so long now that you can’t see what’s been staring you in the face. Right now I’d say she’s more Kathryn Janeway than she has been in years. This last week’s behaviour hasn’t been off at all. It’s been one hundred percent genuine Janeway; the one we started this journey with almost seven years ago. She’s gotten back all those things we’ve been missing about her; the joy, the fire, the enthusiasm, the heart.”
He shook his head slowly and moved away from the desk to look his old friend in the eyes. “I don’t know B’Elanna. Spirits woman, you can’t know how much I want to believe you. I’ve been through hell these last few days. That morning in the Jeffries tube nearly killed me.”
B’Elanna allowed a quick smile to flicker across her face. “Who are you going to trust, Chakotay? It’s me or the Vulcan, your choice.”
He scratched his chin. “Well, I don’t know …” Then he ducked the punch he knew was coming and grinned. “Some fierce Klingon you are!”
“Go to her Chakotay. She loves you. Forget Tuvok. What the hell would a Vulcan know about love? Are you ready to turn your back on her, and break her heart? Because if you do, don’t expect any second chances.”
“You could be right, B’Elanna. I’ll talk to her, I promise.”
“Talk? What is it with you humans? She doesn’t want your words and I don’t think you need hers either. Just promise me one thing? Let me know how it turns out?”
“Deal. I’ll catch you later.”
“Tomorrow will do just fine Chakotay. In the afternoon, OK?
Where is that blasted coffeepot? Kathryn Janeway was on her hands and knees, searching Neelix's darkened kitchen for the pot of coffee Neelix usually left out for her. She had to come to the sad conclusion that he had forgotten her nightly treat when she heard a noise. Someone was in the messhall. She stiffened and remained silent, not wanting to meet anyone.
“Computer, locate Captain Janeway.” It was Chakotay.
“Captain Janeway is in the messhall.” Silence.
Being careful not to make a noise, she removed her comm badge and placed it in a conspicuous spot on the counter and backed away into the pantry. Chakotay was the last person she wanted a confrontation with right now. She had a serious headache coming on and just wanted to get another coffee to soothe her nerves. Making herself comfortable on a bag of something fairly firm and mercifully dry, she waited for an indication that he had found her badge and gone.
“Out of rations again, Kathryn?” A soft voice from the doorway made her jump. She glanced up to see him leaning against the doorway, his arms folded across his chest.
“I should have known you weren’t going to be fooled by the old comm badge on the counter trick.” He chuckled and shook his head.
“You’ll have to change your perfume if you want that one to work. Now, do you want to explain why it is that you’re hiding from me? I’ve been tracking you now for the last half an hour.”
She smiled in spite of herself. “You have? I wasn’t trying to give anyone the slip, Commander. I was having trouble sleeping and thought a tour of the ship might help settle my nerves.”
“And you thought a cup of coffee might help you sleep?”
“Actually, I’d given up on the sleep part. There’s a stack of reports and memos back in my quarters. I was going to take a look at them.”
“Ah. Could you use some company?”
“I didn’t think you’d be interested in maintenance schedules Chakotay, or in spending time alone with me.”
“Well, that’s where you’re wrong, Kathryn. I happen to adore maintenance schedules.”
They both laughed. Chakotay took the opportunity to move into the larder and pull up a tub of flour, so that he could sit beside her.
“Just what is it you want Chakotay?” The question was a loaded one.
Reaching forward he brushed a stray strand of hair away from her eyes. “I’ve just had a particularly nasty encounter with an angry chief engineer. She tells me that I’ve hurt your feelings and I’m under orders to sort things out between us.”
“I see.” She didn’t see at all. She hated the idea that he was only there because B’Elanna had made him come. On the other hand, she found his presence strangely comforting and she didn’t want him to leave. His voice was a balm to her shattered nerves.
“That didn’t come out right.” He looked down at his hands and fidgeted with a fingernail. “You said before that you valued our friendship, that you weren’t prepared to lose what we had together. Friendship is a wonderful thing, Kathryn. And I have found a measure of peace just in being by your side. But there have been times when I wanted more than that. It must have been pretty obvious to you; I’m not very good at hiding my feelings. And in all those years you never asked for more from me. It wasn’t easy to accept that, mainly because I had so much more that I wanted to give you, to share with you. I had hoped that in time we would grow closer, that if there was to be no fire, no passion, then we could still have a more mature relationship. I was wrong. If anything the years have seen us move further apart.”
Sensing the terrible effort it had cost him to speak these words, Kathryn took his hands in her own and gave him an encouraging squeeze. “Go on.”
“Three nights ago, Tuvok came to my quarters. He warned me that you would begin to exhibit some unusual behaviour as a result of a mindmeld the two of you had shared. Under no circumstances was I to take advantage of this.” He shrugged. “And he was right. The very next morning in the Jeffries tube … well, you did seem to be behaving differently.”
“And that’s the reason you were avoiding me?”
“What other reason could there possibly be?” Here he grinned impishly. “Actually, B’Elanna had some rather colourful theories of her own on the subject.”
Kathryn nodded, “I’ll bet she did!”
“What’s going on, Kathryn? B’E tells me to ignore what Tuvok said, but how can I? How could I live with myself if I were to take advantage of you when you most needed me to be strong? I won’t pretend it hasn’t been hard. It’s hurt like hell. And the worst part is that it was hurting you too. I was hurting you. Whatever happens, I’m sorry for that. I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”
“It seems to me we’ve both been behaving rather childishly. I should have come to you sooner and explained myself, but I just wasn’t thinking straight. Tuvok was telling you the truth about the mindmeld, in a way. What he didn’t say was that he had reversed the results of a previous meld, one that had taken place almost five years ago. At that time Tuvok wrongly assumed that I required his assistance in “sublimating my procreative instincts’, or some such thing. So he took all my feelings for you and locked them away, and then some. When I found out what had happened, earlier this week, I ordered him to reverse the procedure. He warned me that I would have trouble controlling myself but, quite frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to listen to him. And he did as he was told. It was either that or the brig as far as I was concerned.”
Chakotay made a choking noise and got to his feet, his head in his hands.
She watched him move away from her and understood his need to put some distance between them.
“I know what you’re thinking Chakotay. All those years wasted, gone. And there’s nothing we can do about it. I never knew what it was that I was missing. How could I? I can’t blame Tuvok either. He honestly thought he was doing me a favour. He must have sensed the battle I was having with my feelings for you. I was still engaged to Mark after all. And I had been sent to apprehend you for God’s sake. Not fall in love with you.” Kathryn Janeway stood up and stretched her legs, moving to stand in front of her First Officer. Taking his face in her hands she was surprised to feel tears there. He had been crying. Her breath caught in her throat and she pulled him into an embrace, wanting nothing more than to take away his pain, and hold him against her heart.
He sniffed and wiped an arm across his face. "All those years,” he began, hesitantly. “Kathryn, I don’t know what to say.”
“You could start by letting me know how you feel about me. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through or how you survived with so little love all these years. Believe me, I would more than understand if you can’t return my feelings for you now. If I had to…if there were no other way, I could manage with just your friendship.”
“Could you Kathryn?” She didn’t trust herself to reply, her voice was close to breaking. So she nodded her head instead.
“Really Kathryn? Just friends? Because I couldn’t. Not now; not knowing how you feel.”
“It’s true, we’ve lost some time and we’ll never have those years again. But Kathryn, we’ve got all our lives ahead of us now. Right now we’re both hurting and a little scared too. The important thing is that we love each other and in time we will heal. I know I can make you happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
“Did you just say you loved me?”
“Yes. I love you Kathryn Janeway.”
“I love you too, Chakotay.”
“Seems to me we had better do something about it then.”
“I’m open to suggestions.”
“Ever make love in a pantry?”
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