I left my quarters feeling as though I was not quite awake yet. What I needed was another cup of coffee and maybe some breakfast before heading to Engineering. Unfortunately what I had got was an early morning meeting with Chakotay to discuss yesterday's test results. I braced myself outside the door to his quarters, vaguely wondering why we were meeting here rather that in his office. There probably wasn't a specific reason - certainly not beyond him wanting to be difficult. He had been in the worst mood for the last couple of days - and yesterday's foul up had certainly not helped.

But, when I rang the door chime for admittance and stepped into his quarters, the tense, edgey man of yesterday and the day before yesterday (not to mention the day before that) was nowhere to be seen. In his place was a relaxed, smiling creature, 'well, what do you,' I thought to myself, 'the aliens who took Chakotay and replaced him with someone in a really bad mood have sent us our Chakotay back again. Either that or he's sorted out whatever was getting to him.'

'Morning B'Elanna, I'm sorry to drag you out so early - do you want to grab a coffee and some breakfast on me while I finish reading the logs?' Better and better. There was no way I was going to turn down the possibility of a meal on someone else's rations, I've been eating in my quarters a lot recently.

I was just taking my first bite of a croissant, waiting for my coffee to materialise when there was this, sound, for want of a better word, behind me. I turned, it wasn't, it couldn't be, but yet,

'Are you humming?'

'Sorry, what?' He looked up from his terminal.

'I said were you just humming?'

'Oh,' he smiled distractedly and scrubbed his hand across his face, 'I guess so - was it terrible?'

'Not exactly - it's just,' I paused, wondering how wise it would be to proceed.

'What?' he prompted.

'You've been like a bear with a sore head for the last few days.'

'Oh, that,' he looked a little abashed.

'Someone tell you that already?' he had that look.

'You could say that. I had a few personal problems that needed to be sorted out. I'm sorry I was in a bad mood.'

'You should be.' I was intrigued, personal problems? 'So, things are better now? Sorted out? I'm starting to wonder if I'm spending too much time with Tom, caught his curiousity about other people's relationships.

'Well - more or less.' I had been planning to tease him some more, ask him if his spirit guide had been the one to kick some sense into him, but I never got that far. Before I even opened my mouth the door to his bedroom opened and the Captain, THE CAPTAIN! breezed out, fully dressed, not a hair out of place, with a cup of coffee in her hand.

'Morning B'Elanna.' I tried to speak, but no words came, I just watched, stunned as Kathryn Janeway crossed to Chakotay and dropped a kiss onto the top of his head and said, 'I've got to go, thanks for breakfast, I'll see you later.' Her arms were around him, like she didn't want to let go, like she didn't want to leave him.

'Mm,' he tilted his head back, pressed his lips briefly to hers, 'have a good day.'

'You to,' she was on her way again, delivering a 'bye B'Elanna,' from the door before she left. Chakotay's face had softened briefly into a smile - as the door slid shut behind her the smile was smoothed away, although it didn't quite leave his eyes.

'All right,' he said, snapping into business mode. 'What went wrong yesterday?'

'Oh no,' I shook my head and sat down opposite him, 'there's no way you're going to pull a stunt like that and then just suddenly switch to talk about the sims. What the hell was that all about?' He grinned back at me, far too smug to live.

'What do you think it was about?'

'If you want people to find out about the two of you you could have just told Neelix, or either of the Delaney's, or Tom for that matter.'

'We aren't ready to make a public announcement - we'd like people to just work it out as normally as possible, by seeing us together off duty. Last night when I arranged to meet you this morning I didn't expect Kathryn to be here, I could have cancelled our meeting,'

'Why didn't you?'

'We didn't see any point in lying, or pretending that this isn't happening, but we're still taking things slowly.' I could see the sense in that, I know a bit about how it feels to be watched and gossiped about. It must be worse when you are the Captain and First Officer - too much scrutiny.

'So, if this is all so wonderful why have you been impossible to be around for the last few days?'

'A disagreement,' his face darkened briefly at the memory and then, unbidden the smile surfaced again. 'She wanted to keep this a secret, to do more than be discrete, to avoid anyone finding out by not spending the whole night together, not being seen together off duty. I couldn't live like that, or not for very long.' That I believed, we'd all watched him falling in love with her over the last four years, there wasn't much hope that he would be able to hide an actual relationship.

The significance of the Captain's presence in his quarters this morning hit me all over again. 'She came round to your way of thinking I see?'

'She is, amazing. It wasn't easy for her, I don't think she's completely resolved her doubts, we just have to prove to her that she's done the right thing. That's why I was so glad it was you this morning, we need a friend?' Someone in our corner?'

'Chakotay, you've got that - and more, both of you.' It needed to be said, he had earned my friendship and faith a thousand times over - and so had Janeway. I wanted him to know that I realised just how much I owed the woman who had just left. 'If there's anything you need to, ease the passage, you only have to ask.'

'Thank you,' he nodded once and then said, 'so the sims,' but I wasn't quite finished yet - I had to tease him a little more, I might never get another opportunity like this,

'I knew you'd get over your lousey taste in women eventually.'

The End