The Morning After
A Part Of Your Life You Know Nothing About

By Polomare
October 2008 * 17,000 Words * Rated R or MA


Author’s Note: Please don’t mistake this story for any kind of an attempt at a serious analysis of their relationship. It’s Polomare Certified to be 99% Angst-Free.

Obligatory Content Warning: Many of you praised the PG-ness of my first story. This story gets a little bit . . . racier. Sorry, I tried to get J/C to behave, but those two are just impossible! You’ve been warned.

Homework: Before reading this, I strongly encourage you to read my first fic, A Part Of Your Life You Know Nothing About -because if you haven’t, much of this story won’t make sense, as it has some in-jokes based on plot points in my Shattered rewrite.

Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters, but I’m filing for custody on the grounds of neglect.

If you would like a large print version of this story, or you would like to choose a black or white background for the text, feel free to visit my fanfiction.net page: www.fanfiction.net/~polomare It's also a great place to leave anonymous feedback, if you don't want to email me directly :-)


Header Artwork By Ewige!
Magnificient Artwork By Ewige!


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Jump To Chapter . . .
Chapter 1 ~~~ Chapter 2 ~~~ Chapter 3 ~~~ Chapter 4 ~~~ Chapter 5


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The Morning After . . .


Tom Paris was having the time of his life. It was 1957 and he was behind the wheel of a real sweet ride. It was a vintage candy apple red Corvette convertible complete with blue flame decals and an aftermarket supercharger to boot. What could be better? He admired himself in the rearview mirror. He looked good in a black leather jacket, dark blue jeans and a white tee shirt. The desert wind in his hair and the hot chick with the movie star sunglasses in the passenger seat completed the fantasy. He was finally free to live out an early American dream and explore the seemingly never-ending blacktop of Route 66 with an auburn beauty at his side.

A weathered, dented sign at the side of the road caught Tom’s interest.

“Scenic Overlook, 500 ft” Tom sensed an opportunity.

“Whaddaya think, Kat? Should we park at the overlook?”

“Oh, Tom, I’d love to see the sunset!” she cooed.

He pulled off the asphalt and strategically parked the car cliffside to allow them the best possible view of the canyon. No sooner did he put the car in park and she was all over him. She tossed her sunglasses into the back seat and pressed her warm flesh to his face. What a groovy gal. Her lips were so soft and silky and her red lipstick . . . well, she was getting it all over his face, but hey, it was Kathryn’s lipstick so who cares?

A twinge of incongruity knocked on the back door of Tom Paris’ mind. Kathryn Janeway? He pulled back from her passions, breaking the kiss. He eyed her strangely. The red canyon walls washed away to a black streaking starfield and the fuzzy sweater and poodle skirt morphed into Starfleet command attire.

She addressed him with total innocence, “What’s wrong, Tom?”


Tom Paris was unconscious.

But even his subconscious knew something was very wrong with this picture.

He punched through the thick blanket of sleep that cocooned his mind. His body temperature quickly warmed as his blood pressure spiked. He must have gasped in a full cubic foot of air as he jolted awake. Tom tried to jump out of bed but the sheets thwarted him. He wrestled them for a moment, he thought he was free, but when he put his feet to the floor they tangled his legs and he crashed to the ground. Too much adrenaline was surging for him to feel the fall. He jumped to his feet as quick as a cat and adopted a defensive posture as he scanned the room.

Voyager. His quarters. Safe. Whew! But his relief was short lived when he realized there was a female figure curled in his bed. Still in a drunken fog and unduly influenced by what, only moments ago, his brain thought was reality he came to a scary conclusion. A very scary conclusion. Oh, No. I didn’t . . . We didn’t . . . Say it ain’t so! B'Elanna would kill him. Chakotay would kill him twice. Then B'Elanna would go back in time, bring him back to life, and kill him all over again. He gulped as he ever so carefully pinched the sheet between his fingers and gingerly pulled it down from the sleeping woman’s face. B’Elanna! His second sigh of massive relief in as many minutes. Reality fully replaced absurdity in his mind and he let out a hearty laugh. B'Elanna stirred and he slapped his hand over his mouth. She quieted again and he knew she was safely asleep. He flopped down on the foot of the bed, exhausted from his imaginary ordeal.

Wow, that was. . . eeesh, I don’t know what that was. He hadn’t had dreams like that in ages. He had never had dreams like that about the captain. Well . . . almost never. There was that week or two when he was recovering from his little foray into the world of infinite velocity and he had been faced with the knowledge that his altered self had abducted the captain, whisked her away to a swampy love nest and fathered offspring with her.

He waxed sentimental for an odd moment. Aw, I wonder how the little buggers are doing . . . Did they ever grow up, get good jobs? Did they settle down and have little lizard swamp babies of their own? Paris shook the thought out of his head. This was too serious to be joking about, even for him. And that’s saying something.

Reminiscent of a puppy scratching behind its ear, Tom vigorously scratched his scalp. I wonder what time it is. He padded softly into the bathroom and closed the door behind him. “Computer: Time”

O-Six Fifty Three Hours

“Yikes!” I’m due on the bridge in seven minutes!

As he tore through his morning routine, a foggy middle-of-the-night conversation he had with a grumpy B'Elanna came back to him. She had staggered in around 2 am.

“What are you doing getting in so late?”

Typical Klingon bite in her voice “Well, for some reason I still don’t fully understand,” she yanked off one of her boots and let it fall unceremoniously to the floor “our fearless Maquis leader decided tonight would be a good time to play a little game of ‘let’s burn out the deflector dish.’”

“That’s nice honey” He wasn’t really awake.

She threw her other boot at him “Tom! Are you listening to me?”

“WELL NOW I AM”

She continued her rant for the entire time it took her to undress. “Of course, it’s not that it’s something I can’t easily fix,” a thread of pride in her engineering abilities laced through her words “I always keep replicated deflector components readily available in storage for just such an eventuality . . . it’s that it took HOURS to process all the burned out components. They had to be decontaminated for chronoton radiation before they were safe to put in the recyclers.”

“Chronoton Radiation? Why were they contaminated with chronotons?”

“I don’t know! Chakotay wouldn’t give me anything! He ran off to Astrometrics to scan for temporal anomalies and left me and Vorik to clean up the mess he made.” Tom’s interest was piqued by the need for the temporal scans, he wanted to ask B'Elanna to elaborate, but she wouldn’t pause long enough to let him interrupt. “AND THEN! If that’s not enough, Captain Bat-Out-Of-Hell Janeway sends the order up to the bridge to burn the engines at Warp 10 negative for the rest of the night. The new deflector components should have been tested at warp one before that kind of flight. A phase variance at that speed would be critical. I had to watch the engines like a hawk to make sure the new components were playing nice. I mean, what’s her hurry? She was only in her quarters having dinner with Chakotay, and it’s like all the sudden she’s trying to make up for lost time . . .”

Tom looked down at this Klingon woman, feisty looking even in sleep, and smiled thankfully that he was lucky enough to be with her. He bent to flutter a kiss on her eyebrow. He knew she had the day off, but he set the computer to wake her in an hour just in case. She wouldn’t want to miss the senior officer’s briefing scheduled for o’ nine hundred that he read about in the morning ship’s status messages while he was getting ready. Hopefully, he would get more answers about yesterday’s brush with the chronometric anomaly at today’s briefing than he did out of B'Elanna. He looked back at her one more time as he scooted out the door for his shift on the bridge.


~o~


“Just how close do we get?” Hmm. I’m glad you asked . . .

Kathryn Janeway was having the time of her life. It was 2377 and she had just experienced a night of mind-blowing, body-racking, comet-displacing, star-shattering sex with her first officer. Chakotay had made good on his promise. He had indeed crawled all over her body and worshipped every inch of her. One by one, every single muscle and sinew in her body had individually contracted and relaxed at his touch. Muscles she didn’t even know she had jumped to awareness and begged for more. He had no problem obliging. It was seven years of restrained fantasies . . . seven years of speculation, curiosity, longing, desire. Keeping two predestined soul mates apart for so long can be dangerous. It all super-collided into a night of unrestrained screaming passion that would have undoubtedly killed any two lovers with weaker constitutions.

And so here she lay. The most content she has ever been. Bathed in the afterglow of surging hormones, cocooned by a generous pile of her Starfleet issue bedding, no longer asleep, but not yet willing to admit she was awake, lest she break the spell of total satisfaction that encompassed her. She was peripherally aware that Chakotay had left her side to get dressed and start the day. She found herself wanting to follow him, but the exertion of the night before had turned her muscles to jello and, although she couldn’t be certain, she suspected her skeletal structure may have turned to sponge.

A half second before she smelled the coffee, she sensed his presence. Somehow, she mustered the willpower to open a single dreamy eye. Her line of sight just barely cleared the sheet that lay across the bridge of her nose. She was rewarded with a vision of an Adonis in red and black standing at her bedside. Groomed to annoying perfection and way too bright-eyed for this time of the morning . . . at least, she noted, he had the sense to bring her coffee.

“Good morning.”

His deep voice sent a jolt of excitement down her spine as vibrant memories of body-arching ecstasy from the night before erupted in her mind. The sheet may have covered her face, but it did not hide her smile from him.

“I assume you slept well.” he said it rather smugly.

Janeway knew her voice would be raspy, so she tried to keep it low as she tugged the sheet down from her face. “And just what are you doing looking so perfectly primped and proper this early in the day?” It immediately occurred to her that she really had no idea what time it was. Perhaps she had overslept. She gathered the sheet around her collarbone and propped herself up on one arm. “What time is it?”

Chakotay detected the note of duty in her voice and rolled his eyes. “It’s quarter to seven. Relax. No one expects the captain to be in her chair even one minute before o’ eight hundred.”

Relieved by the news she hadn’t overslept and feeling suddenly coy, she issued a teasing objection. “But no one expects the first officer to be in his chair one moment before o’ eight hundred, either.” She shot him a suggestive smile.

Chakotay pinched his earlobe between thumb and forefinger as he returned the smile. “Ah, well, some people are expecting a report to be filed on last night’s encounter with the chronometric anomaly. I really should get it written before alpha shift starts.”

Janeway sat the rest of the way up, crossed her legs and sat her bare butt on her feet. “You can’t possibly think the captain would be mad if you turned that report in late?” she countered.

Chakotay followed her lead. “Well I suspect the captain may not have any objections, but now the chief of security, on the other hand, he may question my dereliction of duty.”

Janeway pursed her lips into a sexy pout. She squinted her eyes slightly. “Ah yes, Tooovock.” she drawled thoughtfully.

Damn. Only she could make that Vulcan’s name sound sexy. Chakotay felt some of his composure slipping away. Kathryn stood up on her knees in bed so they were the same height. She abandoned all modesty and let the sheets fall to the floor. He couldn’t help but scan the length of her naked body. Chakotay found the need to hold his breath.

“Just tell him . . .” she reached for his perfectly pressed uniform “that you were busy . . .” she clenched the material into a wrinkled ball “with a very important first contact situation.” She pulled his body towards hers with surprising strength and planted her lips on his. She dove into him. Probing, searching, drinking him in. Revisiting discoveries made the night before, she sapped his strength and weakened his knees. He whimpered for mercy into her mouth. He could not get aroused again, he had work to do. Seriously. Besides, it was really hard not to spill the coffee he was now holding a protective arm’s length away. When she was done swimming in his soul, she peeled away from him. Breathless and somewhat disoriented, he could only open his eyes half way. He was promptly rewarded with the sight of Kathryn’s lovely cream white thighs forming an oh-so-inviting v shape up to her . . . he bit his lower lip to stifle a groan. He came to realize that if he didn’t leave immediately, neither of them would make it to the bridge before noon.

She freed him from his temporary paralysis by assuming an air of playful royalty. “You may go.” She waved him off nonchalantly. Speechless, he pivoted away from her on one foot. Her tone turned to one of deadly intent. “But leave the coffee.” He swallowed hard as he pushed the mug blindly into her hand and then strode determinedly out of her bedroom. Externally, he was silent. Internally, OH YEAH.


Chakotay thought his power of coherent thought would return once he reached the corridor, but really his problems were only just beginning. Harry Kim trotted up behind him.

“Good morning, Commander,” annoyingly eager, “and how are you and Captain Janeway today?”

Harry had seen him exit the captain’s quarters. It was really early in the morning for him to be doing that. Did he suspect something? What did he mean by how are you and the captain doing today? Chakotay panicked. “We were playing Kadis-kot.” he blurted.

Harry raised an eyebrow at him. He looked at his wrist with a flourish, as if to read the time on an old Earth timepiece. “At seven in the morning? That must have been some game. I just assumed you were delivering your report on the anomaly that damaged the deflector dish last night.”

Yes. Chakotay thought to himself dryly. That would have made more sense.

They reached the turbolift together. Chakotay hesitated. He really didn’t feel like sharing a lift with Harry after that uncomfortable little exchange.

“Commander?” Harry questioned.

“I forgot a PADD I need in my quarters. You go ahead. I’ll see you on the bridge, Ensign.”

“Aye, Sir.”

As soon as Chakotay was certain the turbolift system had whisked Harry safely away, he returned to the entry doors and called for another lift. As he entered, he chided himself for his stupid excuse for being in the captain’s quarters. Clearly, his night with Kathryn was affecting his thought processes. He needed to get a hold of himself. There was, after all, a ship that needed running. He had to get to his office and sit down and concentrate on filing his report, or he really would have some explaining to do to Tuvok.

“Ah yes, Tooovock” Kathryn’s overwhelming sensuality involuntarily jumped to the forefront of his mind again. What a night. She had been quiet at first, timid in response to his advances . . . but then he found just the right spot and her carefully constructed walls of propriety came crashing down and she crumpled into a heaving pile of desire. I always knew she was a screamer, he thought with a wicked smile. She had indeed screamed his name. That is, in between her babbling requests that he do profane things to her.

He shook his head in disbelief. Part of him still couldn’t believe that was Kathryn Janeway in his arms last night. Captain Janeway. The woman he had learned to worship from afar . . . to look, but don’t touch . . . was now his. His Kathryn. Now that was going to take some getting used to.

It’s funny. He had spent many a sleepless hour over the last years of his life fantasizing about what a night with Kathryn would be like. Never once had it occurred to him to imagine what the morning after would be like.

It still hadn’t sunk in. He was only beginning to process what it all meant, for him, for her, for them.

For the millionth time over the last five years, he thought back to New Earth with a twinge of regret. One would have thought that after consummating their relationship that regret would leave him. But no, it was still there. Think of all the time we’ve lost. The devil on his shoulder whispered a familiar mantra in his ear; You should have bent her over your workbench while you had the chance. But now, it was chanted with a different motivation. Had they become lovers then, had they satisfied those first hungry pangs of desire early on, surely, all these years later the relationship would have matured to a much more stable one. He undoubtedly would have asked her to marry him by now. Maybe, just maybe, he might have even made her feel secure enough to consider having a child with him . . .

And speaking of children . . . there was the crew to consider. What to do about them? Should they tell them? Keep it a secret? For how long? Any more mistakes like the one he just made with Harry and it really wouldn’t be their choice. He knew the crew half-suspected they were an item when they returned from New Earth, and that belief persisted for a long time . . . but now, all this time later . . . how would the crew-

He was startled out of his reverie by the opening hiss of the turbolift doors. He found himself face to face with a confused Tom Paris.

“Commander? Don’t tell me the turbolifts are the only place left on this ship to get a little peace and quiet?”

Chakotay looked past Tom into the corridor, he was still on Deck 3. I forgot to tell the computer where to take me. He had been sitting still all this time. Chakotay shook his head despondently. And that’s mistake number two. In light of the miserable cover story he gave Harry, he decided honesty was the best approach this time. He elicited a self-deprecating laugh from himself. “I guess I forgot to tell the computer where to take me. I’m a little out of it this morning.”

“It’s ok, big guy.” Tom was enjoying this a little too much. “I’ll help you out.” He patted Chakotay on the shoulder as he entered to stand next to him. “Kompuder . . .” Tom spoke with an enthusiasm normally reserved for addressing a kindergarten class on a field trip “take us to Deck One!”

Chakotay had rare opportunity to employ the Janeway Death Glare. This was one of those times.


~o~


Chakotay wasn’t the only one having trouble getting used to the new status of their relationship. Janeway was appraising herself critically in her bathroom mirror. Chakotay had made her look at herself in a way she hadn’t in a very long time. She was sick of her hair. It wouldn’t do what she wanted. It was practical, but it wasn’t sexy. And for the first time since she found herself in the Delta Quadrant, she really wanted to be sexy. She found herself rummaging for her dermal regenerator, not really knowing what she was planning. She was almost disappointed she found it. Now she would have to make a decision. She turned sideways to check the length of her hair in the mirror. She knew dermal regenerators could be recalibrated to stimulate hair follicles. She absent mindedly clicked the device on and off a couple of times, the glowing tip reflecting in the mirror. She mused to herself, Hmm . . .

Janeway fussed with her ponytail as she walked down the corridor. It had taken her nearly an hour to get ready for bridge duty this morning. The reason she had abandoned more elaborate hairstyles for the simpler one came rushing back. She had tried to tame her now longer hair with ten different styles. The bun? Too Victorian. Besides, it spilled down around her face every time the inertial dampers went off line. Pulled back in a twist? Too Seven of Nine. Enough said. Long, loose and wavy? Too Klingon. And there was that unfortunate problem of it standing on end when she stood too near the warp core. How did B’Elanna keep hers flat? A braid? Too farm girl. She resigned herself to her old standby, the pony tail. She poofed it up around her hairline so it framed her face nicely and secured it with a natural shell clip Chakotay had made her on New Earth. She reached behind her head and traced its edges fondly. She hadn’t had the opportunity to wear it in a long time.

She entered a turbolift. “Bridge.” Then she thought better of it. She had a few more minutes before her shift officially began. She decided to go down and get a status report from Engineering in person. They had, after all, installed a new deflector dish in record time last night. Her top-notch Engineering team deserved a few personal pats on the back at least. “Computer, belay that. Engineering.” No sooner had she issued the command and the comm system sprang to life.

“Tuvok to Chakotay.”

Huh? Was she hearing things? Or was the comm system malfunctioning? Janeway looked down at the commbadge on her chest. She had to fish it out from under the bookcase this morning. She was a little annoyed about that. Seeing as how Chakotay was the one who had ripped off both their commbadges in the heat of the moment and threw them across the room, the least he could have . . . uh oh. She immediately cupped her hand over the commbadge, not that it would have made any difference. She whispered a fierce command, “Computer, close comm channel!” The computer issued its compliance chime. She tried to think of what to do next. “Computer, locate Commander Chakotay.”

“Commander Chakotay is in turbolift gamma seven.”

Janeway rolled her eyes. She was in turbolift gamma seven. “Ooookaay... Let’s try this: Computer, locate Captain Janeway.”

“Captain Janeway is in Commander Chakotay’s office.”

“Like hell she is!”

“Please restate the question.”

“Oh, never mind! Just take me to Deck 1, and hurry!”

“Unable to comply. Security override Tuvok One One Pi Alpha.”

The turbolift slammed to a halt with little warning and the doors flew open with more urgency than usual. As promised, there was Tuvok, accompanied by his crack security team. Andrews and Ayala had their phasers drawn. Tuvok had his tricorder open and was regarding the situation with suspicion. Janeway’s mouth fell open in shock. She didn’t know what to say.

“Captain, you’ve altered your hairstyle.”

“And that’s worthy of a security alert?!” she blurted.

“In and of itself, no.” He scanned her one last time and seemed satisfied with the results. He closed his tricorder. “But an attempt to contact Commander Chakotay was defeated at the source. It was cause for concern. He may have been subdued by an intruder.”

Well here’s to Vulcan efficiency. She tried to identify some captainly complaint she could address him with. It was an over-reaction. A waste of human resources. But, alas, she was feeling generous today. “Mr. Tuvok . . .” Ayala and Andrews finally had the sense to stand down as she stepped out of the turbolift. “You are undoubtedly the best Chief of Security any Starfleet captain could hope to have. I know my ship is safe in your hands. Thank you for that.” Tuvok was somewhat taken aback by her unexpected warmness towards him. “But rest assured, this does not require your attention. Commander Chakotay is fine. It was a comm system malfunction. One which I was on my way to repair myself.”

Tuvok had always struggled to interpret human behavior, but after years of serving with Kathryn Janeway, he felt he was pretty good at reading her. The emphasis she put on her last sentence coupled with the look she gave him, told him he should let the matter drop, despite the fact he knew it wasn’t a comm system malfunction. “Very well, Captain.”

Janeway turned to re-enter the turbolift. “Gentlemen, you may return to your stations.” The last thing Janeway saw as the turbolift doors closed was Andrews and Ayala sharing a look behind Tuvok’s back.

Janeway leaned heavily on the turbolift wall and exhaled deeply. I knew it. She thought to herself. This is why fraternizing among command staff is discouraged on starships. She could picture the Starfleet regulation in her mind’s eye:

“Paragraph 471, subsection 12. At no time shall a first officer rip his captain’s commbadge off in the heat of passion.” Janeway made herself laugh. “This is why we have rules, people!” she said aloud as she slapped her hands together. That just made her laugh harder. The turbolift doors opened to reveal deck one and she tried to pull herself together. Luckily, no one was around to see her little break from sanity.

She strode past the bridge doors and chimed Chakotay’s office. No answer. She let herself in. No Chakotay. Hmm. He must be on the bridge already. Trading their commbadges just got a lot trickier.


~o~


The bridge looked weird from this angle. Tom Paris had rare reason to stand, let alone sit at Tactical station. Tom reviewed in his mind how he ended up at this wholly inappropriate post. Tuvok had taken off with Andrews and Ayala to address some mini-crisis on Deck 2. That left him alone on the bridge with Harry who was only too eager to tell Tom the story of a strange encounter he had with Chakotay that morning. Tom was about to reply with the story of his own odd run-in with the commander when Chakotay’s entrance via the deck 1 corridor put the kibosh on their conversation. Chakotay asked why they were so short staffed and then, in a brilliant display of command prowess, he ordered Tom to cover tactical while he took the helm himself. An odd choice, Tom thought, considering the man couldn’t even seem to drive a turbolift this morning.

Tom drummed his fingers on the security console in boredom. The bridge was so quiet, even he wasn’t brave enough to break the silence. Tuvok, ever diligent, had of course remembered to engage the password lockout on his station, so he couldn’t even explore the chief of security’s vast database. What few command prompts he could see were in Vulcan anyway. One icon was decidedly larger than the others and was just begging to be pushed. Tom couldn’t help but reach for it. I wonder what this one does.

“You are relieved, Lieutenant.” Tom twitched. Darn Vulcan snuck up behind him again. He wasn’t going to hang around long enough to complain about it. “Aye, sir” He made his escape in the direction of Harry’s station with larger strides than usual. It was unfortunate he didn’t foresee Captain Janeway’s entrance to the bridge.

She appeared suddenly in his path. Tom’s eyes flew wide and he slammed to a halt mid-stride. “Neeeyaaah!” Tom didn’t recognize the sound that left his own mouth. He shot both his shaking index fingers at her as if to accuse her of something.

Janeway was not amused. Her countenance turned from one of jovial greeting to annoyance. “Well, good morning to you too, Mr. Paris.”

That’s the same hairstyle she had in my dream. I haven’t seen her wear her hair like that in years! Freaky. He became immediately aware of his awkward posture and straightened his arms to his sides. He gave her what he hoped was a gracious smile and fanned his hand out to his right to invite her to pass. “Sorry captain, you, ah... startled me.”

Harry shot him a look that clearly said what’s wrong with you? Tom waved him off. He decided the best course of action was to find his helm chair, sit down and shut up for the rest of the morning.


Ok, so the new hairstyle’s O for two, Janeway decided. No matter. She didn’t care what Paris or anyone else thought. There was only one man on board whose reaction mattered to her, and for the moment, he was playing aloof. She knew he knew she was on the bridge, but he had yet to acknowledge her presence. Her first officer was doing a very good job of pretending to be buried in a report on a PADD. Pretending, she was certain, because she could see from her position behind him, that he was holding the PADD upside down. She walked with deliberate slowness down the steps to the command deck.

When ignoring her any longer would have been suspicious in and of itself, Chakotay shot his planned casual glance in her direction. He did an involuntary double take and his quick glance turned into a look that lingered over her. Aha. Gotcha. Now that’s the reaction she was going for. She turned unnecessarily towards the engineering station as if to check on something, she was really just making sure he got a good look. When she was satisfied that he had seen all that she wanted him to see, she glided towards her chair and slid into it with a comfortable sigh.

“Reviving old . . . habits?” he asked. The PADD perched in between his thumb and forefinger had long been forgotten.

She had the capricious desire to whisper dirty things in his ear, but the bridge was far too quiet for her to get away with it. Her voice remained convincingly level. “Well, you know I got to thinking this morning. Over the years we’ve been in the Delta Quadrant, I came to give up on certain things, believing the effort wasn’t worth the reward. I now know I was wrong.” He was watching her with such a dreamy, far off look in his eyes, Janeway wondered if he was actually listening to her words. “Besides,” she said with a wry smile, “long hair is so much more . . .” she paused to stretch her neck out of her collar and roll her head lazily to one side “versatile.”

Chakotay’s fingers went limp and the PADD escaped his hand and flew to the floor with a smack as loud as the crack of a whip. Every eye on the bridge snapped to their location. Well whaddya know, Janeway’s eyes twinkled with amusement, he was listening to me.

Tom, like everyone else on the bridge, had directed his attention to the source of the broken silence. He had turned his chair around in time to see Chakotay leaning over to pick a PADD up off the floor and clear his throat before muttering a rather sheepish “Sorry, everyone.”

Voyager’s first officer was definitely out of sorts this morning. Tom stole a surreptitious look at Janeway. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but there was something different about her too. And it wasn’t just the hair. Tom wondered if he should be worried. Alien influence? Alternate timeline? There was that chronometric anomaly last night. Or maybe the command team was high on some alien pharmaceutical. Maybe they were sleeping together. Yeah, right. Tom snickered to himself. I think we can safely rule that out.

Janeway caught him staring at her. She addressed him casually “What’s wrong, Tom?”

Tom let loose a scream that was, thankfully, contained inside his head. Dream flashback! DREAM FLASHBACK!!!

“Nut-” Tom’s voice cracked and then he lost it completely. He swallowed hard. “Nothing, captain.” He promptly spun his chair back to where it belonged. Just what the heck happened on this ship last night?

Janeway shot Chakotay a questioning glance. He raised a finger at her, indicating he wanted her to wait for a moment. Using his PADD to type out a message, he then passed it to her discretely. She looked down at it in her lap.

Tom may know something.

She mouthed the words silently back at him “Know something?”

He motioned for the PADD, she passed it back to him.

In Engineering, just before I initiated the warp pulse, you sent Tom to the upper level to secure the Kazon weapons in the storage locker, remember?

It took Janeway a moment to absorb what this meant. A fuzzy, chronometric particle induced memory of that first daring kiss that started it all seeped into her mind. A barely audible “Oh” escaped her lips.

With typical stealth, Tuvok appeared suddenly in front of her command chair. “Captain.”

Startled, Janeway flipped the PADD against her stomach. “Yes, Tuvok.”

“I just wanted to inform you that several crew members, all of whom Commander Chakotay indicated in his report were recipients of the Doctor’s chronometric particle infused serum, have begun to report memories of alternate timelines. I am curious captain, are you experiencing such memories as well?”

“Ah . . .” Janeway looked to Chakotay for help. He was seeking refuge in yet another upside down PADD. “. . . yes?” She sounded unsure of her own answer.

“Fascinating. I expect you will have some important insights into our encounter with the anomaly that you will no doubt want to address at this morning’s briefing.”

“Ah, well, it’s all still a little . . . fuzzy.”

“Nevertheless, I would appreciate any further information you can provide about the incident. Considering the importance of the encounter, I am sorry to say that Commander Chakotay’s report was surprisingly lacking in detail.”

Janeway turned to her counterpart with mock aggravation. “Is this true, commander? And after all that time I gave you to work on that report!” She slapped the PADD down on her knee with punishing emphasis.

Tuvok raised a disparaging eyebrow. He never understood the human phenomenon of feigned anger. It serves no logical purpose. “Yes, well, as Chief of Security, I expect a full report on last night’s activities from you both. The future safety of the ship could depend upon it.”

And with that, he left them both with their mouths hanging open.

Tom absent-mindedly lifted his hand to his neck and rubbed. Chronometric Particle Infused Serum. Where have I heard that before? A flashbulb went off in his mind. He was seized by the image of Captain Janeway holding a hypospray to his neck. Another dream? No. They were . . . where were they? The mess hall . . . The helm controls blurred out of focus as Tom attempted to probe the deepest recesses of his mind for answers.

“What about you, Lieutenant?” Janeway jerked him back from his state of deep reflection.

His back stiffened to attention, but he didn’t turn around. “Ma’am?”

“Any visits to alternate timelines lately? Any strange memories that seem out of place . . . disjointed? You know, stuff that never actually happened?” Her voice developed a sharp edge during that last sentence. He could feel her burning a hole in his back. Slowly, cautiously, he rotated his chair around to face the command deck. He was disturbed to discover he was the subject of intense focus from them both. “Well . . . now that you mention it . . . yeah, actually.” Their attention on him only increased further, they both leaned forward in their chairs. Tom shrunk in the face of their scrutiny. He looked at Janeway, then at Chakotay, then back to Janeway.

“Seska.” Harry chimed in from across the bridge. “I remember Seska. In Engineering.”

Harry’s declaration broke the spell and the tension Tom sensed, be it real or imaginary, evaporated.

Janeway turned in her seat. “Yes, Harry, that’s right. Engineering was experiencing the time when Seska had taken over Voyager. You were instrumental in helping us subdue her so we could restore the shattered timeline.”

Harry basked in the glow of his captain’s praise. Tom let out the breath he had been holding. He was just happy the focus was no longer on him.

The briefing room doors opened unexpectedly and B'Elanna’s head popped out. “Ah, isn’t there a meeting of the senior staff scheduled for 9?” Everyone looked at B'Elanna. No one said anything. “Well, we’re all waiting.” she prompted with an annoyed twitch in her neck.

“Ah, yes. Right you are B’Elanna.” Janeway sprung out of her chair with more motivation than usual. “Sorry, I guess time just got away from us.”


~o~


Voyager’s captain was a little embarrassed to find The Doctor, Seven of Nine and Neelix seated and waiting patiently in silence for the rest of the senior staff’s arrival. She stood at her place at the head of the table while everyone got situated. Chakotay sat to her left, Tuvok to her right. Harry and Tom filed in behind him. Janeway noted that B'Elanna was swirling coffee in her cup menacingly as she stared Tom down. Was B'Elanna just peeved that they were late? Or was it something else?

“On behalf of those of us who were tardy, I apologize to those of you who weren’t.” Janeway draped her arm across the top of her chair and appraised them all with a confident smile. “Now, who wants to get started?”

Chakotay envied how she took command of the room with such ease. She definitely wasn’t experiencing the kind of mental lapses he had been all morning. He tried to stifle a sigh. The idea of asking her to marry him crept into his mind again. She was so independent. She’d probably scoff at the very notion. He didn’t think she needed him the way he needed her.

B'Elanna took advantage of the silence. “I’ll go, captain.”

Janeway nodded approvingly in her direction and then took her seat.

“Well, as many of you know, the deflector dish was irreparably damaged by an energy discharge from the chronometric anomaly we encountered yesterday and had to be entirely rebuilt. I’m happy to report that this turned out to be not such a bad thing.”

“Oh?” Janeway urged her to continue.

“Not that I was in the mood to replace the deflector dish last night, but it gave me the opportunity to integrate newly replicated components that are superior to what we had been using.”

B'Elanna indicated that their attention should be directed towards the LCARS screen on the back wall. She called up an exploded diagram of Voyager’s deflector dish. “The addition of a zeolite lattice to the face of the deflector dish increases its anti-particle resonance by 50 ohms. This decreases the sub-warp ten turbulence we encounter when traveling at maximum velocity by about 15%.” B'Elanna’s diagram turned to animation of Voyager traveling through space. A representation of Voyager’s current particle displacing abilities was overlaid on its previous. “In short, less particle turbulence means less shear stress on the hull and increased ability to maintain maximum warp. And perhaps more importantly for some -” B'Elanna gave Tom that look again. “a smoother ride for those of us who have trouble sleeping.” The grit in her voice with which she addressed Tom completely disappeared when she turned back to the captain. She was instantly polite and professional. “Did you notice, captain, how smooth the ride was last night? I mean, considering we were traveling at warp 9.975.”

Janeway scratched her cheek self-consciously. She promised herself she wouldn’t look at Chakotay. Too late. Her eyes had a mind of their own and they flicked in his direction anyway. His knowing gaze met hers. She looked at him just long enough to see the beginnings of an inappropriate smile rounding the corners of his mouth. He raised a curled fist to hide it from the others. “I . . . slept very soundly last night, Lieutenant, thank you.”

The look they shared was not lost on Tom, but he didn’t have time to process it right now. He was more concerned about the venom coming from his wife. “What?” he mouthed across the table at her.

“Oh, you know what!” she hissed through clenched teeth.

Tom really didn’t know.

“As always B’Elanna, I can’t fault your department. Engineering continues to exceed all expectations. I was impressed with the simple fact that you managed a total replacement of the deflector dish so quickly, but to now learn you not only repaired, but upgraded it . . . well I tip my hat to you. Good job. Be sure to convey my gratitude to the rest of your team.”

B'Elanna acknowledged the courtesy. “I will, captain.”


Janeway turned to the doctor sitting next to her chief engineer. He seemed to be bursting with something to say. “What about you Doctor? Any medical concerns you want to address?”

“Well, not to belittle Lt. Torres’ accomplishments, but I’m pleased to report that, in yet another feat of medical brilliance- that will not doubt linger in obscurity for untold years- the chronometric particle infused serum I developed, albeit my earlier self, developed, not only allowed recipients to successfully navigate between temporal barriers, but also restored Commander Chakotay’s temporally segregated body back to a singular time frame; apparently has no deleterious effects..."

Janeway’s mind drifted. She wondered if the Doctor’s grammatical subroutines were malfunctioning. Was it possible for a hologram to produce the longest run-on sentence ever documented in a human language?

“. . . unless you count some pesky memories of alternate timelines some crewmen have reported experiencing . . .”

This caught her attention. It reminded her that she needed to find out what, if anything, Paris knew. “Yes Doctor,” she interrupted him. “Tell us about that. When did you first learn that some people had these memories?”

The Doctor turned to his favorite protégée sitting on his left. “It was Seven who clued me in actually.” He yielded the floor to her and she spoke up.

“Upon emerging from my alcove this morning I was immediately aware I had too many memories from stardate 50984.3.”

This intrigued Ensign Kim. “Too many? How do you have too many memories?”

Seven turned to him. “Borg memories are cataloged by time index. Every second of every day a drone experiences is a separate file. I have duplicate time indices for several hours on the day we were trapped in fluidic space. When I explored those memories I discovered I spent the time interacting with crewmembers from different points in the ship’s history, all with the goal of restoring Voyager to temporal alignment. Had I not disposed of a nuisance individual who was blocking our attempts to re-integrate Engineering, we might all still be trapped by the anomaly’s effects.” It wasn’t said with ego. It was Borg fact.

Harry smiled with a new understanding. More facts about the day were coming back to him. “Ah, yes. You mean Seska. I remember . . ."

Janeway monitored the conversation silently. She looked at Tom. She noted Chakotay was doing the same. Tom was remaining unhelpfully quiet. She couldn’t tell what he remembered. She knew asking him point blank in front of the rest of the group wouldn’t yield useful results.

Tom couldn’t help but squirm under the gaze of the three people on the ship- no, make that in the galaxy, that he was most afraid of. Janeway looked like she was attempting to employ some kind of Vulcan mind control on him. Chakotay was cracking his knuckles with silent malice. Tom nervously shifted his view to B'Elanna. He had seen that look before. It was the “I’m going to rip off your arm and beat you with it” look. Tom gulped. He was starting to feel really sorry for himself. I wonder if Starfleet will ever find my body.

Neelix piped up. “I know I’m always the last one on the ship to be told when we encounter a space dwelling beast hell-bent on destroying us all,” he tossed a disarming smile around the table, “but does anyone care to explain to me just what this anomaly was? And for that matter, just what, exactly, did it do to the ship?”

No one volunteered. Tuvok was annoyed that Voyager’s first officer didn’t speak up. He was, after all, the crewmember who had the most interaction with the phenomenon and would therefore seem to have the most to share. He decided Chakotay needed prompting. “Perhaps Commander, your first hand experience with the anomaly leaves you best equipped to answer Mr. Neelix’s question.”

Chakotay took a deep breath in preparation for his answer. “Well, Neelix, it’s a long story . . .”


Janeway followed Chakotay’s narrative with her full attention, as if she had no knowledge of the events he was describing. Viewing it in the third person, as it were, she saw his actions in a deeper and more meaningful light. How many times has this man saved me? In the obvious and in the subtle, in the grand gesture and in the anonymous kindness, he made every day of her life in the Delta Quadrant just a little bit easier.

“. . . It was then that I realized,” Chakotay continued “that regardless of my newfound superhuman ability to move between time frames,” Chakotay threw an appreciative nod in the Doctor’s direction “if I was going to put the ship back together, I needed help. So I recruited the captain . . .”

“Have sickbay run a full analysis. For all I know this is poison and Mr. Chakotay was sent to assassinate me.” The memory made her click her tongue in a self-scolding way. I can’t believe I ever thought that about him. But just when was it that she first knew she could trust him with her life? When did he go from being the Maquis criminal she was only too happy to serve up to Starfleet Command for trial, to being her friend? And so much more. My close friend, my advisor, my protector, my soul mate, my . . . She paused her train of thought. Even inside her head, the word echoed with a resonance that had profound implications. My lover.

Was it when she made him her first officer? No. She didn’t entirely trust him then. It was a political move. Two crews are better than one. They needed each other to survive. What had Tuvok called it? “A marriage of inconvenience.” She smiled at the memory of their conversation that first week in the Delta Quadrant.

“Do you trust him?” Tuvok was analyzing her decision in a typical Vulcan attempt to understand the logic of it. She replied as honestly as she could. “Trust that he’s loyal to this crew and will faithfully protect anyone under his command? Yes. Trust that he’s loyal to me? No.”

Chakotay had called her on it. A couple of months into their journey during a tennis match on the holodeck, he invited her to dinner in his quarters. Their weekly business dinners had become routine by that time. She felt the intimacy of them was important for establishing a repoire with her new first officer. But they had always been in her quarters. Never his.

She bounced the ball on the tennis court more times than was necessary for her to establish her serve. Her hesitation at replying to his request was becoming dangerously close to awkward.

“If it’ll make you feel any better,” he flashed her a downright devilish smile. “. . . I’ll tape a phaser to the underside of my dining table next to your seat.”

She was in mid swing when he said it. She had never missed the ball by so much. “You know about that?” The color drained from her face. “Wh- how?”

“A few weeks ago” He stretched the racket behind his head coyly. “I dropped my napkin while you were fussing at the replicator. When I bent under the tablecloth to pick it up, I saw your little ‘insurance policy.’ Pointed in my direction I might add.”

She squinted her eyes at him. He didn’t seem mad. Turned-on was more like it. He was nice enough not to rub her embarrassment in her face, now she would have to accept his invitation.

She tried to muster girlish innocence. “It was on stun.” she said in her defense.

“Yeah, right, sure, whatever you say.”


Janeway snapped back to the present, but she brought a goofy grin with her. Chakotay saw her smile and it caused a break in his speech pattern. She realized why and went instantly stonefaced. She quickly scanned the room and was relieved to see that no one seemed to catch her little trip to La-La Land.

Chakotay recovered well enough to wrap up his report without anyone noticing. “So, when astrometric sensors confirmed there were no temporal anomalies, I knew we had been successful.”

Neelix had taken to leaning forward on the table during Chakotay’s story. He flopped back against his chair as if he were exhausted. “Wow!” he exclaimed “That’s amazing, commander!” He leaned forward eagerly again. “And to think if it hadn’t been for the chrono-whatsits serum reminding people what happened, no one would even know about your heroic actions. Well, I think this calls for a party!”

Harry seemed to like that idea. The Doctor rolled his eyes. Tuvok was, well, Tuvok. “Mr. Neelix’s celebratory intentions notwithstanding, I must point out your narrative raises several serious concerns regarding adherence to the Temporal Prime Directive.”

Chakotay opened his hands in a defenseless gesture. He was formulating a response, but the captain beat him to it.

“Mr. Tuvok, I was there.” Janeway wasn’t going to let her Chief Security Officer dig too deep. Not this time. “Believe me when I say I can attest to Commander Chakotay’s insistence that we not corrupt the timeline any more than was absolutely necessary. He was a model of Starfleet regulation. He followed Starfleet protocols and upheld the Temporal Prime Directive as best he could. Which, I might add, was pretty difficult considering the circumstances. And let’s not forget he risked his life to save all of ours.” Janeway was becoming dangerously sentimental. She sensed it, but the floodgates had opened and there was nothing she could do to stem the tide. “I want the record to show that from the day I made Chakotay my first husband he has performed his duties with all the integrity and valor deserving of a Starfleet uniform.” There. Now hopefully that would nip in the bud any more attempts by Tuvok to nitpick him apart. She looked at the Vulcan to try to gauge his response. He was unexpectedly speechless. As was the rest of the table. Janeway sensed a mood change. Her eyes roamed the group. It wasn’t just a mood change. Faces were pale. Bodies were unnaturally still. Were they breathing? She began to wonder if there was a heavily armored alien vessel just outside the viewport behind her poised to blow them all to smithereens. What? What’d I say? She scanned her brain for the words that last left her mouth. Her ears caught up to her own voice. Oh Dear God. A wave of hot embarrassment washed over her from head to toe. She felt suddenly faint and had to adopt a white-knuckle grip on the table to maintain her posture. What I’d give for a couple of Borg cubes right about now. Janeway looked down at the table, hoping that when she looked back up her forced smile would appear genuine. “Ok, I think we all know what I meant to say was . . .” she desperately, desperately clawed through the speech center of her brain looking for the words that would erase her Freudian slip as gracefully as possible.

Tuvok may not be one to laugh at a good joke, but he was capable of detecting what emotional species would consider a humorous situation. Captain Janeway’s struggle to regain her composure presented him with a rare opportunity to participate in a bonding moment with the human members of the senior staff, something that could only improve the function of their working relationships. “Captain,” Tuvok’s eyes circumnavigated the table, taking care to make eye contact with each individual to make sure he had their full attention. “I think I can safely say I reflect the sentiments of everyone here when I express my sincere hope that Commander Chakotay would be your last husband.”

A few hissing breaths escaped from her senior staff. They were cautious enough not to burst into full blown laughter, but it was clearly percolating just beneath the surface. She propped her forehead in the L made by the thumb and forefinger of her left hand. Partially for support and partially to block her view of Chakotay, whom she knew was grinning wildly. “Tuvok.” she willed her facial muscles to relax, but a twisted smile was in control. “Were you making a joke?”

He regarded her cooly, but there was a glint of perverse Vulcan amusement in his eyes. He would deny it of course. “I was merely expressing my wishes for a continued harmonious relationship between Voyager’s commanding officers. If you choose to interpret my comment as humorous, that is your prerogative.”

B'Elanna felt the tension was as good as broken. She came to Janeway’s defense with a bombshell that would distract them all. “That’s ok, Captain. You’re not the only one to put their foot in their mouth this morning.” Her Klingon hair flew around her shoulders as she whirled on Tom. “Maybe you would like to share with the rest of the group why you were whispering the captain’s name in your sleep last night.”

“B'ELANNA!” Tom was horrified. His eyes darted around the room with bird-like nervousness. He stressed the words “No I didn’t!” but his denial wasn’t believable.

“AND! And . . . If that’s not enough, you were making kissy noises!”

That did it. Viral laughter infected the group like the Arcadian Flu. Nothing could salvage the briefing now. Harry and Neelix burst into simultaneous fits of laughter so intense they were both fighting back tears. They pointed at each other across the table in mutual appreciation of the situation. Even Seven seemed amused at this little development. The Doctor feigned disdain. “Oh, Mr. Paris, now really.”

Chakotay reached across the table to peel the hand of the woman he loved away from her face so he could give her an understanding look that was at once comforting. Her own suppressed laughter bubbled forth, she was grateful for B'Elanna’s little revelation, shocker though it may be . . . Once again, Janeway lamented the lack of a counselor on board. Lt. Paris and I may need to sit down and have a little talk.

Tom gave his best friend a grumpy look of warning. Even as he did so, a red-faced smile was tugging the corners of the helmsman’s lips. Harry smacked the back of his chair. “Oh, come on! It’s funny.”

Janeway decided it was time to pull herself together and address them as their captain. “Well, clearly,” she didn’t have their full attention. “CLEARLY,” she had to say it twice; Harry was still laughing in Tom’s direction so he didn’t hear her. The ensign circled his chair to face her when he realized she was trying to regain control of the room. One look at his captain and his face quickly sobered along with everyone else’s. “...people who were inoculated with the chronometric serum are experiencing some lingering effects from their time travel.” She gave The Doctor a look that said agree with me. “Confusion, delirium, trouble . . . speaking. Isn’t that right, Doctor?”

The Doctor opened his mouth to reply, but didn’t get the chance, Janeway had already decided what his answer would be. She launched into a rapid-fire monologue. “I’m ordering time off for everyone who received an inoculation. Obviously, we all need to rest up from our ordeal. Chakotay, see to it. Re-arrange the duty roster to make sure all affected crewmen get 48 hours off duty. Insist that they participate in stress-free recreation. Well I think we covered everything we needed to here today. If there are no more concerns? No? Good!” Not that there was time for anyone to interject, and they could certainly take a hint. “Dis-” she had never seen a group of people jump up from a table so quickly. “...missed.”

Chakotay made a move to leave with them. “Not you.” she scolded.

Janeway and Chakotay watched as the entire senior staff attempted to vacate the room at once and they bunched at the door. A few shuffled feet and some nervous pardons later, they all managed to find their way out.

Chakotay folded his hands contritely across his lap and dipped his chin almost to his chest. He didn’t know whether to enjoy the moment or be frightened for his life. Well, we managed to keep that quiet for all of an hour and 47 minutes.

“Oh, shut up.” she snapped.

“I didn’t say anything.” he defended himself.

“No, but you were thinking it!”

Chakotay made a few gasping sounds of disagreement, but then gave up.

“And you can take your stupid commbadge back while you’re at it.” She clicked it off her uniform and pitched it at him. He had to scramble to catch it as it slid off his body. “Huh?” He was clearly confused. She indicated towards the commbadge he was wearing. He plucked it off his chest and flipped it over. He had to squint at the micro-engraving on the back.

U.S.S. Voyager JANEWAY

Realization dawned. “Oh...”

“Yes, ‘oh’” it was a sardonic echo.

They stared each other down. Her eyes seared into him. He tried to keep his facial expression neutral, but he cracked. A wide smile split his face and a laugh burst out of him.

She groused “I don’t think it’s funny.”

“I think it’s very funny.” He could tell she was still bristling with embarrassment from her little gaffe, so he decided to address that first. “Besides,” He tried to adopt a conciliatory tone, “no one noticed.” That made her guffaw so loudly they probably heard her on the bridge. He rushed to correct, “No one cares.

She slumped back into her chair, looking like a chastised schoolgirl. “It’s unseemly.”

“What is? That we’re seeing each other? What’s wrong with that?”

A tingle of unbidden excitement tickled the back of her neck. She found his word choice amusing. We’re doing a lot more than ‘seeing’ each other. But she made a conscious decision to keep her demeanor serious. They needed to discuss this. She spoke so quietly. “You know what’s wrong with it.”

Chakotay thought he saw a flash of playful desire in her eyes for a moment, but like a whiff of smoke, it was gone in an instant. Even so, the forlorn tone of her voice was unexpected. He tried to guide her back to a lighter mood. “C’mon, you heard Tuvok, everyone thinks we make a great couple.” His eyes twinkled with the news.

“Tuvok!” she issued a sound of disgust. “He’s been living with humans too long.”

Chakotay scooted his chair closer to hers so it would be harder for her to avoid his gaze. “Perhaps he has. His once pure-Vulcan personality may have been tainted by a primitive sense of humor, but clearly he’s as logical as ever.”

Her softening blue eyes told him it was safe to continue. “You know he’s right, Kathryn. There isn’t a single person on this ship that would resent us being together. The crew doesn’t just accept it, they expect it. Hell, Tom Paris has had a pool going since New Earth. The only ones on the ship not in on it are those who think we’ve been closet lovers all along.”

The full ramifications of what it meant to be involved with her first officer rushed at her. “Well that’s all very cute that our friends can have so much fun gambling on our sex life, but . . .” her voice faltered “there are bigger issues at stake-” she choked up and couldn’t continue.

Kathryn was in pain. Chakotay didn’t understand the source of her grief, but his reaction was immediate just the same. “Hey” he moved for her hand and wrapped his thumb and fingers around her pinky. It was the perfect gesture. A show of support with out being smothering. “Talk to me.”

With patented Janeway determination, she forced the unwanted emotion down her throat and her gaze turned steely once more. “I’m no longer afraid we won’t make it home.” She looked him full on in the face for the first time in many minutes. “I’m afraid that we will.”

He thought he was prepared for anything she could throw at him. He had clever retorts available for any argument she could make against their being together forever. But this really floored him. Sorrow punched his heart. “Why?”


~o~


Five humanoids and one hologram, all of whom really should have known better, were loitering inexcusably around Tuvok’s station on the bridge. Tuvok tried not to be personally offended by their collective behavior, but the encroachment on his personal space was unacceptable, and their devious intentions were obvious. “Ensign Kim!” Harry snapped to attention. He had been slouching with his ear positioned suspiciously close to the briefing room doors. “Those doors are composed of 30 mm duratanium alloy. If your intention is to eavesdrop on the captain and the first officer’s conversation, I am afraid you will be wholly unsuccessful.”

Harry shared a look with Neelix, who was every bit as guilty as he was. They both straightened up, but neither made an attempt to defend themselves. “Well,” Harry was just a touch indignant “what do you think they’re talking about in there?”

Tom jumped at the opportunity to gang up on the chief security officer. “Yeah, Tuvok. Tell us what you think is going on. What do you know that we don’t?”

“No doubt, I know a great many things outside of your knowledge, but I can think of nothing to share that is pertinent to our immediate situation.”

B'Elanna joined the information gathering session. “I think he does know something. Why else would he have made that little quip about Janeway’s ‘last husband’?” B'Elanna nodded encouragingly at the rest of the group. “If any of us tried to pull a joke like that on the captain, we’d be floating outside an airlock. But,” B'Elanna folded her arms smugly as she turned to Tuvok “she let you get away with it. Interesting.”

Tuvok had no desire to continue this conversation. “Engaging in hyperbole about the captain’s actions or paranoid conjecture about my motivation for any comments I made during the briefing is an inefficient use of your time. I would strongly encourage all of you to return to your respective stations.”

“Nah ah, not so fast, Tuvok. You heard the captain.” Tom mirrored his wife’s smug stance. “She gave us all the day off. We have absolutely nothing better to do than engage in . . . paranoid hyperbole . . .” Tom squinted his eyes shut and pressed his fingertips to his forehead. He made a pained sound.

It didn‘t escape The Doctor’s notice. “Mr. Paris, are you experiencing some physical discomfort?”

“No . . . I just wish . . .” Another flashbulb went off in Paris’ mind. There was something about the notion of eavesdropping on Chakotay with the captain that stirred a profound sense of déjà vu inside him. It was really annoying.

“Lieutenant Paris?” The doctor prompted him to continue.

“I just wish I knew what this memory is that’s been lingering on the edge of my mind all morning. Now that I know about the chronometric particle infused serum I was given, at least now I know why. I just wish I knew what.” Tom seemed to recover from his attack of the 50 foot memory. “Isn’t there anything you can give me, Doc? You know, to help me remember.”

Tuvok really wanted his workspace back. Trying once again to clear the area, he spoke before the Doctor could reply. “Perhaps the captain was correct about the level of stress the inoculated have experienced. You should retire to your quarters and rest, Mr. Paris. The memory you seek will return when your brain is capable of processing the information.”

Much to Tuvok’s dismay, the suggestion did not have the desired effect of dispersing the group. Instead, Seven of Nine felt the need to offer some Borg assistance. “It might be possible to modify nanoprobes to rewire any sections of Lieutenant Paris’ brain that are congested with chronometric particles. They might be able to recover the memory or memories that is causing Lieutenant Paris distress.”

The Doctor and Seven debated the efficacy of such a treatment. Tom tried to block them out. He didn’t need any Borg technology swimming in his brain . . . he could figure it out for himself . . . he almost had it . . . he could smell the Kazon sweat on his hands when he raised them to his face. He pressed his palms to his eye sockets. He pressed too hard. White electricity shot across his field of vision. Kazon. Weapons Locker. Engineering. “OH!” Tom backhanded B'Elanna across the shoulder in surprise. “He kissed her.”

“Hey!” Typical Klingon reflex ensued. Torres made a fist and side-punched him in the collarbone.

Tom gasped. “B'Elanna! Why’d you hit me?”

“You hit me first!”

“Not that hard!” Tom rubbed his neck pitifully. “Why do you always have to go for the collarbone?”

B'Elanna’s visage immediately softened. “Wait a minute. What did you say?”


~o~


Chakotay had to let Kathryn’s words sink in for a moment. When he was sure he heard her correctly, his response was adamant. “That’s ridiculous.”

“No it’s not. It’s exactly what will happen.” Janeway stared at the surface of the table, forehead in her hands, fingers laced through her hair. “Don’t you see? It devalues my testimony. My objectivity will be questioned. Favorable crew evaluations of you or any of the former Maquis on board will be suspect.” She pulled her hands out of her hair to point at the table with conviction. “Your single biggest asset towards achieving your freedom upon our return to the Alpha Quadrant was the untainted endorsement of your commanding officer. Now I can’t even give you that.”

For the first time since he’d felt an attraction to this woman, he was now finally able to wrap his brain around the entire reason why their relationship had moved at such a snail’s pace. Fiercely devoted to her crew, her entire crew, Maquis among them, and committed to what was right, she would fight at any cost to life or limb or happiness to defend what was good in the world. Ironically, she would have made a fine Maquis.

“I may only be an acting Starfleet officer, but on behalf of Starfleet Command, I’m offended.”

“What?” confusion deflated her further.

“Do you really think they would make such a simplistic assessment of our situation? Do you really think they are going to discount what you have to say, backed up by thousands of logs, hundreds of crew reports, the testimony of your chief security officer, your chief operations officer . . . even Neelix is a great witness, as he’s perfectly impartial . . .” exasperation gave way to teasing. “Do you really think they are going to write all that off because they’ve concluded that you’ve been taken hostage by the hypnotic charms of a devilish Maquis?”

Well when you put it like that. The effort it took to suppress the small smile that was threatening to creep up her lips was making her brow wrinkle. “Let’s get one thing straight.” She waved a pointing finger at him weakly. “I kidnapped you, not the other way around.”

He laughed genuinely. “Believe me, I’ve never forgotten.” He toyed with the two commbadges on the table. Straightening them, pushing them together. Pushing one higher and then following with the other. “And neither will Starfleet. They don’t pick just anyone to captain their starships. They know you have more integrity than that. Come what may for the former Maquis, I don’t think Starfleet’s decision on how to handle us will be affected by any perceived relationship between you and I.”

Kathryn bit the inside of her cheek. She wanted to believe him, she really did. “I just can’t get past the appearance of impropriety. It’s like you said, people think we’ve been closet lovers all along.”

He didn’t have an immediate answer for that. Slouching sideways in his chair, his eyes followed her commbadge as he lifted it above his head. He appraised it in the light like a jeweler studying a gemstone. He froze in place. It suddenly dawned on him how appropriate it was that they wore each other’s commbadges to duty this morning. The solution to their problem hit him like a discharge from a plasma conduit. His arm fell to his lap. Excitement motivated him. “Then let’s make it proper.”

She was taken aback by the emotion in his voice and scary intensity of his gaze. “What do you mean?”

He crouched down in front of her chair. “Marry me.”

What? A string of unintelligible word fragments hiccupped out of her. Then a laughing “Oh ho, oh boy. You’ve gone mad!” She tried to spin her chair away from him, but he grabbed her knees and spun her right back.

“Think about it! It’s perfect. If we make a public commitment to each other, Starfleet will regard our relationship for what it is. A mature, healthy bond between two people whose love for each other has grown over seven years. It eliminates any notion of a tawdry, cheap affair. And if you don’t want the crew gossiping about us, that's the perfect way to eliminate that too. Everybody knows what an old married couple is doing after hours, and frankly nobody cares. But if we go skulking around the ship, pretending like there is nothing between us, you know speculation will be rampant.”

Taking a moment to digest his logic, she gave him a sideways look. “Old married couple? Is that how you see us?”

“Well, I . . .” he scrambled to explain “I didn’t mean you were old or I was old, or we were old together. I meant old as opposed to new, not old as opposed to young.” His eyes begged for forgiveness.

She gave it to him in the form of a glimmer of hope for a yes. “Oh, even if I wanted to marry you,” she shook her head discouragingly “who would perform the ceremony? I’m the captain. What am I going to do, marry myself?” She slapped her hands down on the armrests of her chair. “Ok, that sounded even weirder out loud than it did inside my head.”

“Tuvok is qualified. But if you don’t want a Vulcan wedding, I’m sure we can find an accommodating minister on a welcoming planet somewhere.” He shifted his position so he was on one knee. “How ‘bout it Kathryn Janeway?” He held the commbadge out to her as if it were a ring. “Will you marry me?”

She looked down at the commbadge and then back up at him. She adopted a deadpan tone. “Is that the only way I’m going to get my commbadge back?”

He grinned mischievously. “Yes”

“I can replicate more, you know.”

“I’ll steal them all.”

She enjoyed the mental image of him running around the ship, swiping commbadges and hoarding them in a hidden pile somewhere. She allowed herself a little giggle, but it was quickly contradicted by the tears that came to her eyes. She could only whisper, “Oh, Chakotay.” She laid her hands on either side of his neck and pulled his head towards her. She buried her face in his hair. She paused for a moment, startled by the asphyxiating power of the memories his hair on her face stirred. It was only last night, but in some ways, it felt like a lifetime ago. She interlaced her fingers behind his neck and kissed his scalp. She knew her words would hurt, but “We can’t” left her lips before she could censor herself.

Kathryn felt his neck stiffen and knew at once the disappointment she had caused. It was her turn to try to lighten the mood. She whispered in his ear “Just because we’re not married doesn’t mean we can’t be together.” His grip on her knees tightened. She tried to ignore it. “We can try that sneaking around the ship thing. We can be discrete.” She pulled back slightly so she could look at him. Abandoning the whispering tone, she tried to joke, “It’s not like we’re Tom & B’Elanna.”

He turned to her. She was a little surprised to see his eyes did not convey despair as much as they did desire. “You really want to go that route?” Rather indiscreetly, he ran his thumb along the inner length of her thigh.

Uh oh. I shouldn’t have suggested that. She was oddly hypnotized by his gaze. Her thighs tightened involuntarily. Her fingers dug into the back of his neck. Say something.

“You know the problem with that . . .” He rose over her slowly. His hands were on her hips, her waist. He slid them behind the small of her back. She hung from him limply as he hugged her out of the chair. She could see a vein bulging in his neck. That same vein that bulged when he strained into her last night. His strength never ceases to impress her, he had her on her feet before she knew what he was doing. “is that we are going to find it very difficult to pretend there is nothing between us.” He backed her into the conference table. Unable to tear her eyes off of him, she reached blindly behind her, feeling for the furniture to get her bearings. “Do you know how hard it’s going to be having to avoid each other’s gazes? Having to fight off touching each other? Being overly distant with each other in front of the crew?”

“I’m sure . . .” words were not coming easily for Kathryn Janeway “we can...”

Chakotay pressed his flat palms against the underside of her buttocks and lifted. He slid her easily onto the table. He pushed his legs in between her knees and snugged her body against his. Her desire to protest was diluted by early twinges of arousal. She was afraid he’d kiss her. Right here, in the briefing room. Instead he went for that spot on her neck. The spot. The spot behind her ear that made her groan his name and that she now recognized was the doorway to pleasure she never knew she was capable of feeling. “Chakotay!” she meant to say it with an admonishing tone, but it didn’t quite come out that way. “We promised each other we’d keep this off the bridge.”

“This isn’t the bridge.” his voice vibrated through her.

“It’s deck one!” was all she could think to say.

“You didn’t specify.”

Smartass. She couldn’t keep her eyes open, let alone formulate an intelligent response. Normally, she wouldn’t be so easily paralyzed with arousal, but her body was still so raw and responsive from last night, he could turn her on like a switch. A feeling of vertigo concerned her. It took all her strength to snap her eyelids open. Ceiling. Why am I looking at ceiling? Damn him, he had laid her down on the table without her even realizing it.

“Do you realize how many dangerous rooms there are on this ship?” His hands were where they really shouldn’t be.

“What?” she barely breathed the word.

He cupped his hand behind her knee and lifted her leg. “Do you realize how many places we can never go into together alone?” He groped in between their bodies for her jacket zipper. “Your ready room for one. The armory. Deflector control.” He reached the end of the zipper and pulled her uniform open.

“Deflector control?” Now she was just babbling. “What’s in deflector control?”

“You, me, and a bulkhead.” Turning his attention to the other side of her neck, he grabbed her shirt collar in his teeth and ground over her slowly.

An orgasmic gasp rushed through her throat. Sweat. Flesh. Pressure. Rhythm. Release. Images of his all-consuming lovemaking from the night before assaulted her frontal cortex. She couldn’t control the bombardment. Sensory overload triggered a cascade of serotonin that flooded her brain and dictated her movements. She wrapped her raised leg around his body and clamped down. She wanted him so badly. His lips were so close to hers. She wanted his salt. She was literally salivating for it. She gripped the base of his skull and steered his head to her. He let go of her collar and it snapped back against her neck. She saw a single bead of the precious sweat she was seeking on his upper lip. She claimed it for her own. She sucked, tugged and pulled at his lip. He let his jaw go slack. He did not close the kiss. His agonizingly slow grinding motion stopped. She realized how hard he was in between her legs and she knew why.

He pulled back from her slightly. She could tell he was desperately trying to maintain control. His voice was low and shaky. “You see what I mean?”

Dangerous rooms indeed. Janeway rolled her eyes nervously over her head in the direction of the briefing room doors. They could open at any moment. Terror seized her. Anyone could walk in on them. “All right, you’ve made your point!” She reached behind his back and grabbed a fistful of his uniform jacket and lifted up on it as if to lift him off of her. Too bad she forgot to let go with her leg. Get off of me. He didn’t budge. Did I not say that out loud?

He traced a single, shaking finger across her moistened upper lip and then back across her lower. He looked at her with a worshipping reverence she had never seen in anyone’s eyes anywhere ever in her life. “Marry me.”

“Oh, Chakotay” She let the fingertips from her remaining hand slide down his jaw line. “It would be easier if we were anywhere else. On any other ship, in any other quadrant. . . at any other time-”

“But this is the quadrant life has assigned us. This is our ship. This is our time.”

The simple truth of it all hurt. Her eyes glassed with tears.

“Would you marry me if we were home right now?”

Yes. She tried to shake her head no, but she couldn’t deny him the truth. “Yes.”

“You’ve put your life on hold for almost seven years. It’s time you accept the fact that this is our life now. Who knows how many more years we’ll be out here? Stop holding the breath of your life. Exhale Kathryn. Breathe me in.”

There was a cruel circular logic to it all. Had they not been stranded in the Delta Quadrant together they never would have come to mean so much to each other. But it was that very stranding that demanded they stay apart. Or so she believed.

A file sat on a dusty shelf at the back of her mind that said they would marry someday. But when is someday? Tomorrow? A year from now? Ten years? The thought of life without him crushed the air out of her chest. The thought of life with him felt like the joyous fulfillment of ancient prophecy. How could that be? Maybe because it’s right. They were living under extraordinary circumstances. The heavy metal framework that housed the previously oh-so-important reasons for her refusal was breaking down into a pile of rust.

He wouldn’t relent until she gave him an answer. Evading the question was impossible. Telling him no would be a betrayal of her soul. That left only one option.

He looked at her questioningly. Afraid of her answer. And yet he knew all along.

“I will marry you.”

He exhaled. She inhaled. He pulled her into an upright position in the blink of an eye. There’s that breathtaking strength again. Blood rushed out of her head. She closed her eyes and titled her head downward slightly to combat the dizziness brought on by the momentary drop in blood pressure. She felt his fingers guide her lips to his and he shared a tender lingering kiss with her that said everything words just simply can’t.

He rested his tattooed temple against hers and their breathing synchronized. He spoke. “I know better than to say ‘you won’t regret it.’”

A quirky smile rounded her lips. She finished his thought. “Because you know I already do.”

He stepped to one side and offered her a gentleman’s hand to help her off the table. She wavered slightly when her feet found the floor. “Chakotay,” her voice was somewhat hoarse. “if we are going to make this work, there has to be a new rule.”

“Yes?”

“All of deck one-” she waved her hand drunkenly around the room “off limits!”


~o~


“Ok, let’s recap people.” Paris had them hanging on every word. He had turned the mystery of what was going on with Voyager’s commanding officers into a shipwide investigation that had all the scope of a military tribunal. The lieutenant pointed authoritatively at the LCARS screen behind Tuvok’s station that he had appropriated for his little drama. “0-Six Fifty Hours. Ensign Kim reports seeing Voyager’s first officer wandering blindly around deck three, mumbling incoherently about playing Kadis-Kot with the captain.”

“That’s-” Harry interrupted “not exactly how it happened.”

Tom ignored him. “O-Seven Hundred. Voyager’s Chief Helmsman- that would, of course, be me” he turned to grin at B'Elanna, as if he still needed to impress her with his title. She nodded with a mother’s approval, giving Tom the permission to continue. “-witnesses same first officer seemingly incapable of issuing basic voice commands to the turbolift.” Tom deepened the dramatic note to his voice. “Apparently unable to find his way off of deck 3 by himself, he had to be rescued.”

They all looked at him incredulously. Tom was afraid he was loosing his audience. “Oh, you don’t believe me, eh?” Tom added another entry to the displayed list he was building on the screen. “O-Eight Thirty. Moments after Janeway enters the bridge, Chakotay suffers a complete loss of motor control and drops-”

“Ok!” B'Elanna was becoming embarrassed by her husband’s antics. “We get the picture. So he’s a little goofy.” She shrugged her shoulders understandably. “Maybe he just didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night.”

“Ah, and the lovely chief engineer makes a valid point. The question is: Why is the other half of our illustrious command team goofy?”

“I wouldn’t say the captain is acting out of the ordinary.”

“Hello!” Tom couldn’t believe what B'Elanna just said. “Was I the only one at that briefing?”

Neelix cleared his throat. “I don’t know how the captain would feel about you referring to her as ‘goofy.’”

“Well,” The Doctor leaned towards Neelix and raised an all-knowing eyebrow. “we all know Mr. Paris likes to live dangerously.”

Seven of Nine recognized this activity as an inefficient use of her time and she desired that the lieutenant would make his point quickly. “Just what are you attempting to prove?”

Paris didn’t hear her. Distracted, instead, by something he saw over Tuvok’s shoulder.

The Vulcan had chosen to ignore their juvenile behavior and finish his incident report despite their presence. It was an unfortunate necessity. He couldn’t order them back to work, and he couldn’t order them to leave the bridge until the first officer handed out the replacement duty assignments. But Mr. Paris’ renewed proximity was enough to break his concentration. “Can I help you Lieutenant?”

“Tuvok . . .” Tom questioned thoughtfully. “Why did you dispatch a security team to intercept a turbolift on deck two at O-eight hundred this morning? According to your own tricorder readings, the only life sign in the turbolift was the captain’s. Did she call for help?”

The group tightened their circle ever-so-slightly around Tuvok to get a better look at what Tom was seeing. Now this could be interesting.

“No.”

Tom stared at him. “No . . . and?”

“No and nothing, Mr. Paris. If you are so interested in reading my daily security logs, you and anyone else who may be so inclined are more than welcome to download them from the ship’s library once I have filed them.”

“Aw, come on Tuvok! You can’t just leave us hanging. What was the big emergency?”

“There was no emergency. A comm link was severed unexpectedly and I went to investigate. Nothing more.”

“You were in the middle of talking to her and the comm link just cut out?”

“No. I hadn’t begun a conversation yet. I was attempting to contact Commander Chakotay and the comm signal was directed to the Captain’s location.”

Now even Harry was suspicious. “You dispatched armed personnel to investigate a comm system malfunction?”

“It wasn’t a comm system malfunction per se . . .” In a very rare moment, Tuvok was somewhat unsure of himself. He was questioning the wisdom of divulging anything more, but he knew Mr. Paris’ tenacity was a force to be reckoned with. In the interest of efficiency, Tuvok decided answering the question now could only save time later. “Captain Janeway was wearing Commander Chakotay’s commbadge, and I can only assume, he- hers.”

This puzzled the group. They mulled this over for a moment, then Neelix finally said what they were all thinking. “Why would they want to wear each other’s commbadges?”

A conclusion snapped into Harry’s mind. Kadis-kot my foot. “Maybe it wasn’t intentional. Maybe it was like . . . you know,” he lowered his voice to a conspiring whisper, “a wardrobe malfunction.”

Everyone looked at Harry. Blank looks slowly morphed into possible understanding.

The Doc was not one to let so ripe a moment go un-harvested. “Ah, and so we see yet another advantage of the holographic existence. . . ” he acted as though he was addressing them all in general, but his comment was clearly meant for Seven. He pointed proudly at his own commbadge as he turned to her. “Mine’s part of the package.”

Seven jutted her chin out and looked down her nose at his commbadge with apparent approval. This little tidbit of information seemed to intrigue her. “If two crewmembers were to engage in an illicit affair, it does seem the ability to instantaneously return to a fully clothed state would have its advantages.”

Seven’s words hung on the air for a moment.

B'Elanna blinked hard and shook her head stiffly “Well, now there’s an image I didn’t need.”

Ewww. The rest of the group silently agreed.

“WHAT IMAGE?”

They all spun around like a school of fish changing direction. There was the captain, standing in the briefing room doorway. Hands on her hips, not at all happy. Chakotay took up position immediately behind her in his trademark supportive pose, looking very much like he was trying to decide which one of them to kill first.

No one dare speak.

“Were you all eavesdropping?” she demanded.

Save for the steady blip-blip of Tuvok’s nonchalant operation of his console, the silence persisted. He looked oddly pleased at his work.

Janeway whirled on Harry, as he was closest to her. “Ensign?”

“No Ma’am!” he stuttered a little. “The- doors are too thick.”

Neelix and Tom both slapped their hands to their foreheads in sympathy for his stupidity.

“Oh, I see.” Saccharine dripped off her words. Janeway folded her arms sternly. She dispersed an angry glare evenly throughout the group. One by one, she took in all of their faces. Their expectant, hopeful, curious faces. There isn’t a single person on board who would resent us being together. Chakotay’s words came back to her and they had a softening effect. Her eyes came to rest on Tuvok. He granted her just the faintest acknowledgement. A respectful tilt of the head so slight, only her years of serving with him allowed her to perceive it. Even Tuvok thinks we make a great couple.

Her feet remained firmly planted, but she turned at the waist to look up at Chakotay. He smiled down at her with psychic understanding. “Well . . .” she took a deep breath “I suppose if we are going to tell them, now’s as good a time as any.”

People braced themselves. Eyes widened. Breathing paused.

“There’s really no reason for everyone to waste time eavesdropping . . .” Kathryn closed her eyes. She just needed to spit it out. If she delayed in any fashion, she knew she’d end up running from the bridge, unable to go through with it. “You’re all invited to the wedding.” She snapped her eyelids open, forcing herself to look them all in the eye. “But only if you’re good!” she tried to add playfully with a kidding wag of the finger.

“WEDDING?!” B'Elanna’s voice was the leader of the surprised chorus. She grabbed her captain stiffly by the shoulders. “You and Chakotay? . . . You’re getting married?!

“Yes, well . . .” Janeway squirmed under B'Elanna’s scrutiny. “Not immediately, of course, we have to-”

Janeway’s answer was cut off by B'Elanna’s squeal of delight and a suffocating Klingon hug.

Neelix moved to pat Chakotay firmly on the shoulder. “Congratulations, Commander!” Consummate diplomat though he was, Neelix had already mastered the Earth gesture of a congratulatory handshake. Chakotay took his hand gladly.

Tom turned to Harry, he just had to admit “Even I didn't see that coming.”

Harry replied, “I guess your days of whispering the captain’s name in your sleep are over, hehe.” Tom took an angry swipe at the back of Harry’s head. He missed, as the ensign skillfully ducked and then danced into a playful fighter’s pose.

B'Elanna suddenly broke her rolling hug with Kathryn and pushed her out at arm’s length. She appraised the captain with scandalous concern. She spoke in a mock whisper loud enough for the whole bridge to hear. “You’re not pregnant, are you?”

“B’Elanna!” Janeway ran her fingernails nervously through the hair behind her ear “No! Of course not-” Janeway looked down at her feet. She decided she deserved to have a little fun with the moment herself. “At least . . .” She turned her face warmly introspective, displaying a vulnerability few present had ever seen before. “I don’t think I’m pregnant.” She placed a hand on her stomach and caressed herself with all the tenderness of an expectant mother.

Chakotay was entranced by the vision before him. He didn’t notice the Doctor was conveniently positioned to take a few surreptitious scans of the captain from behind with his medical tricorder. The rest of the senior staff quickly figured out what he was doing, and the collective breath-holding began anew. Doc studied the readings for a long, torturous moment, then looked up to make eye contact with the group. He waved his free hand at the floor dismissively and shook his head in the negative.

At exactly the same moment, Kathryn threw her hands up in despair at how easy they all were to fool. “Oh, of course I’m not pregnant! Don’t be ridiculous.” The momentary spell of shock was broken. Everyone felt free to breathe easily again.

After a brief time-delay, the first officer caught on to what the Doctor was doing. He snatched the tricorder out of the surgeon’s hands and snapped it shut in his face. Chakotay shoved the tricorder into the hologram’s chest. “Keep your scans to yourself, Doctor.”

The warning was not lost on the EMH and he retreated impishly to cower behind Seven. The Doctor spoke low in Seven’s ear, so only she could hear. “They both have an unnatural aversion to medical equipment. They’re perfect for each other.”

Seven titled her head slightly in thought. “I have noticed male humanoids are often unjustifiably overprotective of their mates. If you continue to invade the captain’s privacy with covert medical scans of her uterus, and then proceed to convey those results to the crew, I don’t know that anyone can protect you from the commander’s ire.”

“Seven! I’m a Doctor, not a gossip columnist!”

Janeway was unaware of the scene behind her. Concerned, instead by Tuvok’s reaction. Or rather, lack thereof. Remember he’s Vulcan. Janeway reminded herself. This may not be disapproval, just stoicism. “Tuvok,” she tried to initiate an emotional connection to him. I hope we have your blessing. She wasn’t brave enough to phrase it that way out loud. “You’re awfully quiet.” Her dearest, oldest friend was unreadable in the face of the biggest news of her life. They had shared a mind meld together. Surely he understood the affection she had for Chakotay penetrated her soul and laced throughout her being. She desperately wished he’d express his opinion on the matter. She prompted him timidly, fearful that if she pushed for a reaction, it would be negative and that would just crush her. “I’m curious what your thoughts are.”

He looked up from his work and turned in her direction, displaying typical Vulcan countenance. “I assume you mean regarding your announcement of marriage to Commander Chakotay.”

Janeway nodded inside her head, but she wasn’t quite sure if the gesture made it to her exterior.

He remained quiet for what seemed to be an eternity of microseconds. A pall fell over the circle of officers, all of them sensing, as Janeway did, that Tuvok could quash the jovial mood with a single cold, unfeeling comment. “Oh, come on Tuvok.” Tom pleaded inside his head. “Be happy for them, just this once.”

“The only immediate thought that comes to mind . . .” Tuvok raised a quirky eyebrow. “is that it’s about time.”

Relief illuminated Janeway’s face and it spread throughout the group.

“Allow me to take this moment to offer you the following Vulcan blessing upon your marriage.” Tuvok stood and split his fingers in the familiar Vulcan salutation. “May you live long - and multiply.”

Everyone on the bridge expressed their agreement with applause.

Janeway knew Vulcans hate to be touched, but she just couldn’t help it. She wrapped an arm across his back and hugged him from the side. “You,” she pointed at his chest definitively “are going to give me away at my wedding!”

“I am honored.” Tuvok decided there had been enough celebrating. “But if I could turn your attention to the matter of running the ship. Do you all intend to complete your duty shifts today, or shall I send for replacements so you may take your recuperative time off?”

Running the ship. . . Right. Janeway tried to phase slowly back into command mode. “Well, it’s almost lunchtime now. No need to interrupt other people’s schedules to complete half a shift. I certainly feel up to finishing mine. How’s everyone else feel about that?”

“No objections, captain.” Harry stood at dutiful attention.

“I don’t have time to take time off, I’ve got a party to plan!” Neelix bounced ebulliently towards the turbolift. “An ENGAGEMENT party! Ah-” he looked suddenly worried. “I have to bake a cake. A huge cake!”

“It was my day off anyways . . .” B'Elanna looked around her to see if anyone else could appreciate the irony. No one cared. She sighed resignedly. “Neelix, hold that turbolift!”

Janeway looked questioningly at Paris. “Eh, I’ve got nothing better to do today.” he made his way toward the helm.

The captain smiled inwardly at the duty-mindedness of her crew. She clasped her hands and leaned her forearms on the edge of the security station and gazed upon her bridge. Chakotay sidled up beside her. “There, now see,” He bounced his hip playfully into hers. “Was telling them so bad?”

All she could manage was half of a scoffing laugh. “Terrifying”

He didn’t seem to believe her. “You sure didn’t sound terrified to me.” There was an odd note to his voice she had never heard before. He walked around to the front of the console and laid his outstretched arm parallel to the front of it. Chakotay studied her intently while his fingers drummed away. He looked like he was trying to figure something out, but the expression on his face was somewhere between chastising and accusatory. Why’s he looking at me like that?

“What?” she asked naively.

He set his jaw and shook his head slowly from side to side with what looked like disapproval. But the forced frown on his face disagreed with the smile in his eyes. “You don’t think you’re pregnant.” He relayed her words back to her with a dirty chuckle. “Yeah, right. We’ll see about that.”

Why you smug little . . . “Oh, I was kidding!” Janeway unglued herself from the console and made a beeline for her captain’s chair. “Get over yourself.” She tried to take her seat with as much dignity as possible. “Helm, what’s our course and speed?”

She ignored Chakotay as he sauntered past her chair with his arms folded innocently behind his back.

“Well, thanks to the deflector dish upgrades, the engines are still purring along at maximum warp. And unless I hear otherwise . . .” Tom turned to look back at his captain. “We’re on a straight course for the Alpha Quadrant. There’s nothing in our way for several thousand light years.”

“Steady as she goes, Tom.”

There was only a few seconds of silence when she heard a musing “Hmmm” come from her first officer’s chair. Janeway rolled her eyes. I’ve created a monster. She could tell by the playful mood he was in that he was just setting her up for more teasing. Chakotay developed an introspective posture. He leaned heavily on his armrest and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “You know the thought occurs to me . . .” he let the sentence hang on the air unfinished.

She rolled her head disdainfully in his direction. “Yes?” Pure morbid curiosity made her take the bait.

“Oh, no, it’s nothing.”

“Tell me.”

“It’s just that I didn’t realize when I interviewed for the position of your first officer all of those years ago . . . That I was also trying out for the position of your first husband.” He was really milking this for all it was worth. “If I had known, I would have shined my shoes.”

Paris choked back his own laughter. He had to bite his lower lip in half to keep quiet. They do realize I can hear them right?

“Chakotay . . . dear” she used the term with all the affection of a porcupine. Janeway zeroed in on him. “If you ever bring that up again,” she wrinkled her nose with confident assurance “you’ll be my late husband.”

Ouch. Good one. Paris was impressed. That was almost B'Elanna-esque. Only the viewscreen saw Tom’s broad smile. The brick of guilt that had been sitting on his shoulder all morning fell to the floor. The reasons for last night’s less-than-appropriate dream he had about the captain were starting to make sense . . . Well, in a weird, Rick Berman sort of way. Tom sighed contentedly. I can’t wait for the wedding.


FINIS!


Author’s Note Re: The Berman Reference
Remember Tom Paris is a vast storehouse of trivial, if not altogether accurate, 20th century history. Couple that with his affinity for all things Science Fiction (“B” movies in particular) and it stands to reason he could possibly be aware of Rick Berman’s signature style of ruining a perfectly good action adventure by pairing totally inappropriate couples with each other.


Footer Artwork By Ewige!
Magnificient Artwork By Ewige!


Bonus: Set The Table For Stun -a deleted scene from this fic


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