By Diane McCartin

Rating: PG 13

Disclaimer: Paramount owns the show and all therein.. I don’t know who owns the photo, and I don’t care to. A clearer case of artistic licence gone crazy I couldn’t imagine.

Author’s Note: A response to Sally’s challenge to write a JC fic about THAT photo…you know the one…


The ready-room’s doors opened and closed again. Kathryn Janeway didn’t look up immediately but carried on reading her report, deliberately keeping her visitor waiting. When she eventually looked up it was with a smile that failed to reach her eyes.

Tom Paris shifted nervously.

"Mister Paris….Tom…. You’re here." She paused again. "Good."

Tom nodded and stood still, keeping further signs of weakness under wraps. What was that Dad used to say? Never reveal too much too soon, son. Good advice.

"I have a problem, Tom. And since the crew of Voyager is one big family, and a problem shared is a problem halved… You really have no idea why I called you here, do you Tom?"

"No, Ma’am. None at all."


The room was silent as the pair watched and waited, gauging each other’s reactions like two opponents across a pool table.

"About tonight."

"Ah." Tonight was Voyager’s scheduled Velocity championship. The bout of the century. Captain versus commander. Janeway V Chakotay for the Voyager cup. And the commander was in fine form, Tom knew. He should do, he was the unofficial bookmaker for the match. Odds were in Chakotay’s favour.

"Yes – ‘ah’, as you say." Tom had bet on the captain. For the simple reason, the captain never loses.

She was watching him again, her eyes rife with speculation.

"Can I trust you to be discreet, ensign?" She began by reminding him that the re-instatement of his rank may well depend on the discretion he was infamous for not displaying. His mouth quirked into a small self-deprecating smile. He gave a short, sharp nod. Kathryn beamed at him like a happy school-marm.

"When you were at the Academy, did you ever hear the rumour about Kirk’s solution to the Kobayashi Maru?"

Tom’s eyes widened. Everyone had heard that one. James T kirk had reprogrammed the no-win scenario so that the odds were stacked in his favour. His actions had set the benchmark for lateral thinking for decades. It was something every ‘fleet captain learned very early on; if you can’t win, you change the rules. What was it that his captain was implying?

Tom cleared his throat. "You’re playing Commander Chakotay tonight. And most of the crew are laying odds on him winning."

"But he’s not going to. Because – because, I’m the captain, and the captain always wins."

"You could always order him to…"

"No." She cut him off with the wave of a hand. "Where’s the fun in that…the challenge? No, I need some leverage, and I think that you’re the man to provide it for me."


"Exactly. Something that may be used to illustrate to my opponent, more clearly you understand, the command structure of this vessel."

"Blackmail him, you mean," supplied Tom.

"Absolutely not. I’m surprised and shocked by your choice of words, ensign. As I said, I intend an illustration of Starfleet’s command structure. It is important for a ship’s captain to maintain an air of superiority, don’t you think? Can you help me?"

Tom nodded slowly and clasped his hands behind his back. He began to pace back and forth, in front the captain’s desk. Kathryn pushed her chair back and rested her feet on the desktop whilst she waited. She allowed herself a small grin, knowing that Chakotay would be sat in his command chair on the bridge wondering what the hell was going on.

Tom’s head snapped up and a wild grin lit up his boyish features. He chuckled and seeing he had his captain’s full attention, shook his head and said, "Nah – too cruel. No, I couldn’t do it."

Kathryn dropped her booted feet to the floor and fixed him with a pair of sparkling blue eyes. Tom met her curiosity head-on but shook his head again. "Nah…. He’d kill me."

"What? What is it?" It sure was fun keeping the captain on the edge of her seat like this. He grinned some more.


"Okay, okay. Keep your shirt on – Captain," he added, out of respect. "Can I use your terminal?"

With one deft flick, she spun her desktop screen to face him. "Be my guest."

Tom input a couple of simple commands and a couple of complex passwords and encryptions and as he worked a lock of fair hair drifted down across his forehead. Such a good boy, thought Kathryn Janeway, maternally.

Finally he looked up from the glowing screen, wincing slightly from the sight before him. "You didn’t get this from me. It has absolutely nothing to do with any holodeck adventure that may or may not have involved the Delaney sisters. In fact, I’ve never seen it. Ever. Understand?"

"Understood. And Tom – thank-you."

"For what?" Tom enquired as he backed towards the door with a pot plant in his hands. "It needed watering. That’s what you wanted me for. I’m right on it. Taking it to hydroponics immediately. It’s in good hands. Bye."

Kathryn eyed the back of her screen. What was it that she would see there? Did she really want to do this? Hell, yes!

She reached forward and turned the screen around to face her.

What she saw there took her breath away. "Oh, my," she said, blinking rapidly. "Oh dear."

She thought some more, only in slow motion as her brain tried to keep up with her eyes. No – it can’t be him. There must be some mistake. She leaned in closer, against all inclinations to move further away. And it was Chakotay alright. He was standing atop a descending escalator, clad only in a lamentably see-through brown shirt and not much else; unless you were to take into account a pair of appallingly unflattering white underpants that cried out matching brown stains here. She shuddered.

What had he been thinking of? Were those really his pants draped around his ankles? She couldn’t seem to stop shaking her head. And worse, the image wouldn’t go away. Even when she closed her eyes, it remained, forever imprinted against her retina. He must have been out of his mind. Was he drunk? Was it a dare? Did she really want to know?

One thing was for sure, she was never going to look at her first officer the same way again. Ever. An idea was beginning to take shape in her mind. For the first time in almost four years in the Delta quadrant, she no longer fancied her first officer. She was almost entirely under-whelmed by him. The picture was that bad. Worse.

And he would never need to know that she had seen it. It would be her secret. Hers and Tom’s. And possibly the Delaneys, she amended. He may well win tonight’s trifling game of Velocity, but there was one battle he was never going to win. Working quickly she downloaded the image to her personal computer, captain’s eyes only.

Now every time she found her hormones being taken hostage by a pair of passionate velvety-black eyes, a brilliant white smile or a heart-stopping set of matching dimples, she would picture him in his underwear. It was like an instant cold shower. Next time he casually leant over her to study a report and she felt that warm breath against the skin of her neck and cheek, she would dash back to her quarters and grab a handful of smelly old-man y-fronts.

Suddenly seventy years in the Delta Quadrant didn’t seem quite so long…




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