(PG)
April 2011
by Delta Story


Written for VAMB’s Spring Fling 2011 Drabble/Ficlette Exchange

First line of the story submitted by the very talented elem -- thanks for such wonderful inspiration!



Brilliant! Where the hell did he expect her to conceal it?

But Kathryn knew she couldn’t hide this secret from the crew any more than she knew Chakotay wouldn’t want her to hide it. Besides, she knew that its existence would be all too evident by the wide grin that seemed to be permanently emblazoned across her face.

Neither she nor Chakotay expected it to happen, but like most of the best things in life, it did just that. Out of the blue, when they were on Kraxmalf negotiating permission to travel through the space of the Delta Quadrant species, it just… happened. They simultaneously felt the unmistakable physical attraction and when their eyes met, no words were necessary – but they knew!

Six years had passed on their long journey. Kathryn long had given up thinking that anything like this was possible. Yet she knew that if someone on Voyager would be her collaborator in such an experience, there was no doubt that it would be Chakotay: sweet, wonderful, understanding and sensitive Chakotay. In fact, he had made the first move that led her… them… down this road of commitment and now there was no turning back.

She knew that she would have some explaining to do to the entire crew, although, truth be told, many of them had long known of this secret longing of hers. Oh, there would be a few who would need convincing: the EMH would be ambivalent; Tuvok would question the spontaneity of her decision; Seven would not be able to understand the necessity of such a complication on Voyager. And perhaps a few of the crew would feel a twinge of jealously, supposing that their needs would be supplanted by this new source of her attention. Others she knew would not be able to contain their delight. She already could imagine the gleam and happiness in the eyes of people like Harry and Tom and perhaps even B’Elanna. And Naomi would be ecstatic!

Chakotay had promised her that he would be right there to help her. Although her quarters would certainly be the logical place for most of the activity, his quarters were always available, too. And they would probably be making a lot of use of the holodecks. He even had mentioned the possibility of having Tom or Tuvok design some new holodeck programs especially suited to their needs.

Also on the plus side would be the undeniable psychological benefits. Although Kathryn was loath to admit it, she was prone to depression and erratic mood swings – what Starfleet captain wouldn’t be in her position? Look at what being lost in the Delta Quadrant had done to poor Rudy Ransom! No, this would definitely be a calming influence on her, even though it would be changing her life.

“Ready to call for a beam up to Voyager?” The sound of Chakotay’s voice shook Kathryn out of her reverie. “Ready to face the music?”

Her trademark crooked grin skewered Janeway’s face. “This is all your fault, you know.”

Chakotay’s face feigned a shocked expression. “My fault? Kathryn, I’m appalled! You were the first one to say that you were in love. Yes – I remember it exactly. You sighed and then looked at me and said ‘Chakotay, I’m in love.’ ”

“But you led me right into it. You can’t deny that,” she retorted.

Chakotay’s eyes twinkled. “I guess not. I’ll admit that I played on your weakness of the moment. And yes – I followed suite in saying that there was definitely love on my part, too.”

Kathryn sighed, taking a deep breath. “Well, what’s done is done; it’s too late for us to turn back now. We’d better contact the transporter officer and get this over with.”

Chakotay put his arm around her waist as he hit his commbadge. “Mr. Harper, three to beam up.”

“Aye, Commander,” came the reply, followed by an aborted question. “Thr….?”

Figures sparked and shimmered into being on the transporter pad. A shocked Ensign Harper gasped as the impact of Chakotay’s request registered on his face.

Janeway clamored off the platform. “I know you expected only two of us, Ensign, but we’ve brought someone back with us.” Two dark eyes gleamed out from a quivering mass of brown, black and white fluff cradled in the comfort of her arms. "We would like you to meet Voyager’s new crew member.”

As if on cue, the load in Kathryn’s arms began squirming and she nuzzled the wiggling bundle and whispered. “Now, now – it’s all right, sweetie. This is Ensign Harper and he’s our friend.”

Harper regained his senses and words tumbled from his mouth. “It’s a dog! Captain, you have a dog!” The young man, now smiling with glee, scurried towards Janeway and the small animal.

“Indeed it is, Mr. Harper,” Chakotay affirmed. “It seems as if the Kraxmalvian prime minister’s family pet just happened to have had a litter of pups eight weeks ago and they were looking for ‘good homes’. Now, we all know how Kathryn… er… the captain is about dogs. Once she saw the five little guys, she was smitten.”

Janeway jabbed Chakotay in the ribs with her elbow. “Don’t give me any of that excuse, Commander. I saw how this little fellow took to you and followed you all around, glued to your heels. And you didn’t do anything to discourage his admiration.”

“But… but… a dog on Voyager?” Harper’s eyes grew wide with amazement and shock.

“Why not?” the captain smiled broadly. “We’ve taken on other passengers from the Delta Quadrant. And Mr. Chakotay has promised to help take care of him. I’m sure that Neelix, as our morale officer, will heartily welcome the newcomer. Besides, it’s a well-known fact that Jonathon Archer took his dog with him aboard the first starship Enterprise.”

It wasn’t necessary to sell the young ensign anymore. He was holding out his hand to the pup whose fat pink tongue licked away at the man’s fingers. “What’s his name?” Harper grinned, obviously smitten.

“We thought we would leave that up to the crew,” Chakotay said. “Maybe have a contest. What do you think?”

“Awesome!” grinned the smitten transporter officer. “Maybe the winner could have a shift or two off as a prize.”

“Sounds good to me,” Chakotay nodded. “Captain?”

Kathryn began to walk towards the door of the transporter room, still cradling her precious cargo. “You’re in charge of scheduling, Commander. But first we have to introduce our new crewman to the rest of the ship.”

Chakotay followed in Kathryn’s wake and, catching up with her as he motioned his head in the direction of Ashur Harper who already was busy at his communication monitor. He spoke his response in a low chortle. “I think that’s already being done. By the time we arrive on the bridge, the entire ship will know the news.”

=^=

Within two hours of his arrival on Voyager, the Kraxmalvian puppy had a name, courtesy of Chell. Who better than the jovial, roly-poly Bolian to come up with a name for the chubby little fluff ball that had immediately stolen the hearts of everyone? And what better name than one that meant “friendly and lovable”? So it was that Voyager’s newest crewmember came to be known as Elmo. Tom Paris added his usual postscript comment as to the name’s appropriateness by pointing out to the crew that Elmo had been the name of one of the most loved children’s characters of the early twenty-first century.





However, Elmo did not remain the cute little puppy for long. To the horror of Kathryn and Chakotay, he grew… and grew… and grew. They had seen Elmo’s mother, a lovely mid-size dog who weighed about fifteen kilos. The Kraxmalvian prime minister had conveniently forgotten to pass along the information that the sire of the litter was a Nobrellian golm retriever, more than twice the size of the far more-dainty dame who was a rhoban herder. Within eight months, Elmo weighed in at thirty-five kilos on the sickbay scale and proved to be a dominant presence on Voyager! But he also lived up (or was that down?) to his name – there probably wasn’t a friendlier canine in the quadrant!

In his early days, Elmo stayed close to Captain Janeway; her quarters ended up being his quarters. But Chakotay’s innate skills with animals quickly drew Elmo to seek equal time with the commander in his lodgings. Keeping tabs on the dog’s whereabouts led to a lot more contact between the two senior officers and soon they were spending as much time in each other’s quarters as Elmo was. Of course, one thing led to another, and well… certain other activities came to pass.

As the relationship of Janeway and Chakotay grew closer, Elmo decided that it was much more fun to leave the two of them alone and roam all over the halls, compartments and other quarters of Voyager. About the only places where he wasn’t welcomed were sickbay, for obvious reasons, and cargo bay two whenever Seven was regenerating – she had nightmares with the dog around. Perhaps that’s because Elmo’s favorite game was to play keep-away with a model Borg sphere that Icheb made especially for him.





As Voyager’s long journey wound down and there was the sudden reality that they would be making it back to the Alpha Quadrant long before they expected, Kathryn Janeway became fraught with the problem of how to explain to Starfleet about the open personal relationship she and her first officer had developed.

But Chakotay brushed off her concern with a laugh. “Oh, that’s not going to be a problem. I think the real trick will be in justifying Elmo.”

Janeway’s eyes danced mischievously with sudden inspiration. “I like how you think, Commander – we’ll present them with a diversion! That’s quite a tactical move.”

“You think that’s a good tactical maneuver? Let me show you another one,” Chakotay grinned, pulling her into his arms.


~ ARF! ~





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