Disclaimer: Paramount owns the names but the story is mine.
Author’s Note: No dedications this time. Just thanks to all the
readers and writers who still care, or who still ‘give a fat rat’s clacker’
as they say this side of the world. Any other Aussie JCers out there,
drop me a line and say ‘hi’ please! Or anyone else for that matter…..
Commander Chakotay stood at ease, hands held loosely behind his back and waited for Captain Janeway to address him. He hoped the interview would soon be over so that he could return to the planet below and resume his work on the archaeological dig he had instigated. Indications were that the ruins below might well provide another link with his space-faring ancestors.
“Commander,” snapped Janeway abruptly coming to a decision. “Take a seat.” Leaning forward she picked up a padd and flung it onto the desk in front of him. “Would you care to explain this to me?”
Chakotay looked into her eyes as he picked up the padd, trying to judge her mood, and wondering where this conversation was headed. She wasn’t happy, but that was nothing unusual. Kathryn Janeway had become increasingly snappy of late.
His eyes widened as he scanned the contents of the data padd. It was a standard starfleet permission form and it appeared to be in order. Permission to become sexually involved with a female of another species, requested by ships first officer Chakotay, and authorised by the medic on duty, Tom Paris. Only thing was, he couldn’t remember ever having submitted such a form. Then he recalled the furtive glance from the lieutenant as he had requested Chakotay to sign off on the latest round of ship’s medical supplies. So that’s what he’d been up to. Funny Paris, very damned funny, thought Chakotay. He smiled in spite of himself. Well, he’d pulled a few pranks in his day too and he could take a joke. And payback was a bitch.
“What the hell are you grinning at Chakotay? Is there something here you find amusing, because if there is I’d like you to share it with me.”
Something in the Captain’s tone set his teeth on edge. Surely she hadn’t taken this thing seriously? Didn’t she know him well enough by now to see that this was not his style? And what if he had submitted the form? How was that any of her business?
He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry.” He lost the dimples and returned the padd to the desk. “If you’ll just authorise this, I’ll be on my way.” Let her think the worst.
Janeway shook her head in disbelief. “You, Chakotay, are not leaving this office until I give you permission to do so. Before I do that, however, I need you to clarify some details for me.”
“Oh. Did I miss something?” He reached for the padd but she snatched it away and waved it at him angrily; two bright spots of red staining her cheeks.
“The form is not the issue.”
“No? Then what is? As far as I know Captain, this is a standard starfleet request. If you’re aware of some protocol I’m in breach of, I’d like to hear it.” He kept his voice deliberately soft and his tone neutral.
“Chakotay, this isn’t like you.”
He nodded and sat back a little, making himself comfortable. True Kathryn, go on.
“In what way?”
Chakotay couldn’t recall seeing his Captain this flustered before. There was nothing wrong with the request, nothing that Janeway could officially object to. If she had an objection it therefor stood to reason that it was a personal one. Could it be that she was jealous?
“What I mean to say is that I had no idea that you had become involved with someone on Zagallis Prime. You told me you were mapping the ruins there. Please, tell me about her.”
“There’s nothing to tell.” Stick to the truth.
“It says here that’s she’s seventeen years old.”
He shrugged. “They mature early on Zagallis.”
“Oh, I just bet they do.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Forget I said it. Just how far have you become involved with this girl Chakotay?”
He watched Kathryn chew at her bottom lip, realising that she was afraid of what his answer might reveal.
“You mean what base I’ve gotten to?”
“Are you in love with her?”
“Do I love …,” he picked up the padd and scrolled through the data there, “ Zalli?”
“Well, I guess that answers that question.” Kathryn dropped her head, pinching the bridge of her nose with the fingers of her left hand. When she raised her chin again the look of vulnerability on her face made him catch his breath. Suddenly this wasn’t funny any more. Chakotay did battle with an unexpected wave of guilt. He opened his mouth to say something, wanting to tell her the truth, reassure her that he hadn’t changed, that it wasn’t like him to want a meaningless sexual encounter with some passing alien babe, but she waved him to silence.
“Chakotay, I’m not blind. I realise that you’re a man. That you have ….needs.” She was blushing. Gods, she’s beautiful when she blushes.... He liked the idea of Kathryn contemplating his needs.
“That I do, Captain.”
“Please…Chakotay….call me Kathryn. I’m not talking to you now as your Captain, but as your friend. This isn’t like you. I don’t mean to keep repeating myself, but it just isn’t. I don’t see you as the type to use a meaningless sexual encounter to relieve yourself of..of..whatever desires or urges you may be experiencing. Frankly Chakotay, it scares me.
“I can see that the two of you are physiologically compatible, but have
you considered the repercussions of proceeding with this? What of
her culture? What if Zalli’s relatives decide that you are honour
bound to marry her? And what of her feelings? What of your
feelings? Can you really become physically involved with someone
and walk away? You don’t strike me as the type. No, I can see you falling
for her and wanting to stay. And I don’t think Voyager can afford
to lose her first officer. I don’t think I can.
“Surely, there must be another way Chakotay? Someone on this ship…?”
He raised his eyebrows in astonishment. “You want me to have sex with one of the crew?”
“Yes…no….yes….Oh, damn, I’m not sure what I mean.”
“I can see that.” He smothered a grin.
Kathryn Janeway stood abruptly and walked across the room to stand and stare out at the starfield beyond, her back to Chakotay. Quietly, Chakotay got to his feet and moved to stand beside her, waiting for her to gather her thoughts whilst sorting through his own. He had to put a stop to this soon before Kathryn said something she’d regret, but he was momentarily lost for words.
When she finally spoke, her voice was so soft he had to strain to make out her words.
“Perhaps I could help you.”
He blinked. “Cap…Kathryn? What was that you just said?”
She turned to face him, searching his dark eyes, trying to read his thoughts. Her lips quirked into a hesitant, deprecating smile. “Oh, I realise that there are younger, prettier women aboard, and you could certainly pick and choose….but if you were concerned about regulations, or about the rank situation…”
“Whoa! Kathryn, please, before you go on, there’s something I have to tell you.”
The look of pain on Kathryn’s face blindsided him for a moment and he dropped his head and drew a deep breath. “Kathryn, there is no Zalli on the planet below. I never had any intention of indulging in any sort of friendly fire. The entire permission form is a prank. I’m sorry. I know I should have said something sooner, but I really did think that you’d catch on sooner than….that is, I assumed you knew me better than that. I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry?” The colour hand drained from Kathryn Janeway’s face, a look of horror taking its place. “A prank? Who? Ah…Paris…Am I right?”
Chakotay nodded and contemplated making an undignified bolt for the door. He almost felt sorry for Tom; this little prank of his was going to cost him big time. As expected, the Captain once again turned resolutely away from him, giving him a view of her back. He heard her snort and then make a noise that sounded suspiciously like a chuckle. Could that be right?
When she looked back over her shoulder at her contrite first officer she was grinning.
“Relax Commander.” She shook her head. “I must be losing my touch. You’re right, I should have seen that one a mile off. Damn he’s good!”
“So….. you’re not angry?”
“No, well… perhaps miffed.”
“Because for a while there I could have sworn that you were jealous.”
“Whatever do you mean Chakotay?”
“Don’t try that innocent look with me, Kathryn.” He waggled a finger at her. “You thought I was going to have an affair with this, this ‘Zalli’ person and you couldn’t stand it, could you?”
Once again Kathryn surprised him with a giggle. She shrugged and continued coyly, “ I don’t know what you’re talking about. Really, the size of your ego is quite astounding.”
“Hmmm, my ego is it? So, let me get this straight… you weren’t just offering to have sex with me?”
“Oh, for pity’s sake Commander!” She laughed, “I really don’t know where you get these ideas of yours…”
The wild grin Chakotay had been fighting to keep down finally broke through. Who could resist Kathryn Janeway in such an unexpectedly playful mood?
“Alright, alright. You win! Again. Permission to leave now, while I still have a shred of self-respect left intact?”
“Granted. Just remember, Commander, if there is any payback in the offing I expect to be given a piece of the action.” Kathryn followed him to the doors, still smiling, and turned to take a seat behind her desk once more. She looked up when she realised that the commander had not yet left the ready room.
Not knowing for the life of him what it was that was compelling him
to speak, Chakotay leaned forward and locked eyes with his Captain.
“For the record, Kathryn, the prettiest girl on this ship…it’s you. And I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have in my bed, or in my heart. Perhaps you’d like to remember that next time you catch any rumours about me. There never will be anyone else for me.”
Returning to the bridge, Chakotay took a seat. He should have regretted his words to Kathryn Janeway, but couldn’t. This was one secret that had been kept long enough.
A short time later the ready room doors hissed open and the Captain moved to take her seat beside him. She was carrying a padd in her hand which she proceeded to pass over to him. The move appeared casual but he noticed that her hand shook slightly as he took the padd from her.
“Permission granted,” she murmured, noting the way Tom Paris shifted
nervously at the helm. Chakotay scrolled down through the data once
more and sucked in a sharp breath as he noted the changes she had made
to the form. The name ‘Zalli’ had been deleted. In its place
appeared the words ‘Kathryn Janeway’. Still in daze he scrolled to the
bottom of the text message and read the Captain’s final recommendation:
Regarding the unresolved issue of payback, meet me in Sandrines 2100 hours
tonight, and don’t forget to place your bets Commander….
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