December 2008 * 945 Words * Rated PG or T
Disclaimer: Paramount, seriously?
Disclaimer: Paramount, seriously?
Chakotay studied this Starfleet captain intently from across the dinner table. He tried to appear casual, but his mind raced with conjecture. Why'd they send this tiny, delicate little woman after me? What makes her so special? What's her hidden talent? What made Starfleet Command decide she was best equipped for the mission? He knew little of her background, only that she had made a name for herself as a science officer and was the daughter of a prominent admiral. Sure, her ship was impressive, but she was brand new to command. He had successfully dodged retrieval attempts by several of Starfleet's more seasoned bounty hunters. Had they not both been swept into this godforsaken quadrant, there was the very real possibility she not only would have failed to capture him, but he probably would have turned around and relieved her of this shiny new ship as well. It certainly would have made a nice addition to the Maquis fleet.
Her behavior belied no ulterior motive beyond what she stated when she had invited him to dinner in the first place. She wanted to get to know her new first officer outside the formality of the bridge. She treated him as he knew all Starfleet captains were trained to treat diplomatic guests. A tastefully decorated dinner table. A light meal. No wine. Spartan quarters revealed nothing of a personal nature. He wondered if she simply lacked family mementos, or if she put them away before he arrived so she could protect herself from accidentally revealing any intimate information.
"Oh, NO!" The sudden, acute grief in her voice tore him away from his musings. Chakotay was surprised by her unexpected leap up from the table. The distinct smell of burned protein wafted towards him. Concerned there was a fire, he immediately joined her by the replicator. He wasn't certain just exactly what was smoking on the platter before him, but he was certain he wasn't going to be eating any of it.
"You glorified toaster!" she muttered under her breath. He looked at her askance. Chakotay noted how her embarrassment softened her professional exterior. "This replicator and I haven't exactly been on the best of terms." she explained timidly.
"This has happened before?" Without waiting for an answer, he ran a quick diagnostic of the replicator. It was functioning perfectly. The captain had failed to program the preparation parameters correctly.
Now he was really beginning to question her competency. Maybe this had been Starfleet's plan all along. Starve him to death in the Delta Quadrant. Saves the cost of a trial and incarceration.
"Commander! Please, sit. You're off duty. I'll exhaust the fumes and have this cleaned up in a jiffy. Please relax."
At her insistence, he returned to his seat. It occurred to him he was missing his cloth napkin. It had been in his lap. It must have fallen to the floor, forgotten, when he jumped up from his chair. He scanned the carpet around him. Nothing to his left, nothing to his right. It was nowhere to be seen. He eyed the heavy folds of the table cloth. He tugged the edge of the table cloth up a few inches, still nothing. But he must have kicked it further under the table, where else could it be? He looked up to see if the captain was aware. Luckily, she was still busy with the cleanup. He bent at the waist and threw the table cloth over his head. Ah ha!
Determined not to make a noise that would alert her to his current predicament, he stretched his torso as far as he could without groaning at the effort. It took a full commitment on his part, but he was just barely able to pinch the napkin between his outstretched fingertips. As he retreated, a dark spot in her far corner of the table caught his eye. Its shape was unmistakable against the glass underside of the furniture. A phaser.
Chakotay straightened upright stiffly. He rolled his eyes to the left in serious thought. Interesting. He worked his jaw from side to side. She thinks I'm dangerous. A satisfied smile spread slowly across his face. And yet, she invited me to a private dinner in her quarters anyway.
A brief fantasy flashed through his mind. He relished the idea of making a threatening move towards her, just to test how quickly she could go for the phaser. But he only indulged for a moment. Nah, that could make the rest of the trip a little bit awkward.
The revelation intrigued him. This woman, this captain . . . Janeway . . . is obviously confident that she can take care of herself. Now, here's someone I can relate to. Starfleet's not stupid. If they thought this officer was a fair match for him in battle, then obviously she must be. He decided he was going to enjoy getting to know what made this woman tick.
She returned to the table with triumph. A pristine, newly prepared entrée in hand. "Well, smoky atmosphere notwithstanding, are you enjoying dinner so far?"
He looked up into her deceptively innocent eyes. For the first time since he met her, he noticed their color. His answer was sincere.