(PG-13)

by Delta Story

February 1998


Sleep was still heavy in her eyes and body and mind as Kathryn Janeway heard the *tweep* at her door, signaling her from semi-sombulance to demi-wakefulness. Reflexively, she answered, "Just a moment." Then, in a lower voice she requested, "Lights;" and the artificial illumination brought her into another "day".

She grabbed the robe laying at the foot of her bed, and summoned her body to alertness as she quickly walked towards the door. She took several deep breaths, licked her dry lips, and reached up to her hair, to smooth away the tangles of slumber. All of these motions took her mere seconds; she invited her visitor to enter.

"Come," she chimed, securely tying the soft sash of her pink satin robe.

The doors remained closed.

"Open," she requested of the entry panels.

The doorway opened... to no one. She took a few steps towards and then through the entrance, only to find a deserted hall... save for a tray on the floor to the left of her door... a tray from which she now discerned the aroma of... coffee! Real, honest-to-goodness, non-replicated coffee! There on the tray sat a gleaming silver pot, steam escaping from its interior treasure, and filling the air with one of her favorite fragrances. She leaned over and picked up the tray, again looking down the abandoned hall and calling to any one who might be there.

"Hello? Who's there?" she asked, feeling a little uncomfortable with the echo of silence that bounced back to her. With a slight shiver and a shrug of her shoulders, she turned and reentered her suite.

She carried the full tray over to a table. Not only was there the welcoming pot of coffee, but also a beautiful covered container of floral porcelain about six inches wide, unlike anything she had ever remembered seeing on Voyager. She slowly removed the lid, and saw a plate of golden brown, flaky pastries, thickly filled with cherries and apples. The captain reached towards them, and felt their warmth... and smelled their sweet, spicy scent.

The temptation was too great. She immediately poured some of the delectable brew, sat down, and indulged herself with a decadence that she had long forgotten. The first sip of the coffee started her transport; biting into the cherry pastry whisked her along Only then, now sufficiently awake and alert, did she see a white corner peeking out from underneath the pastry server. She moved the dish, and a small white card appeared. Picking it up and opening it, she was greeted by two computer-printed words:

"Good Morning!"

Kathryn's mind was now wide awake. Who... why... what was going on? To her horror, she half-thought, half-spoke out loud, *Q, this better not be any of your doing!*

She sighed, but decided that she was *not* going to waste any of the treat that set before her, no matter who was responsible for it. And then she finished it -- to the last drop and the final crumb.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Captain on the bridge," called out the young ensign as Janeway made her initial duty appearance of the day.

"At ease, Ensign," she smiled at the young man, making her way to her console.

The rest of the crew was already in place, reviewing logs, setting and calibrating instruments and generally engrossed in all the early-shift chores. Janeway swung up onto the raised platform where the command chairs were positioned. Just as she started to seat herself, she noticed a small package on the cushion of her seat. Its contents were wrapped in a glossy, bright pink paper, and the paper was held in place with silver ribbon. She looked at it with surprise, but did not pick it up.

"What's this? Does anyone know anything about this package?"

Tuvok answered her immediately. "Captain, I was the first of our shift here. It was in place already. I asked Lt. Banneck, who had the con during gamma shift, if he had put it there. He said that it had... just appeared; it seemed to be transported to its place." The Vulcan security officer cleared his throat. "I have taken the liberty of scanning its contents; they are harmless. It appears to be... a book," he stated.

"A book?" she queried, glancing up with an incredulous look. "Does anyone else have anything to add to this?" she continued, as she started opening the mysterious package. Her eyes scanned the other residents of the bridge, and in a sudden cacophony of voices, their many responses giving her no answers. Before the paper was completely off of the book, Janeway glimpsed at the volume. It was an old book, probably a couple of hundred years old. Its title was even older, and she felt the blood of a blush rushing to her face as she read it: "Sonnets to the Portuguese", by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It was one of her favorite selections of poems! Protruding from between the cover and the frontispiece, she saw the corner of another white card. She deftly pulled it out, and, in the same computerized lettering as she had seen before, she read the inscribed words:

"Beautiful words for a beautiful woman."

Once more, the tale-tell flush crept up throughout her face. She felt several pairs of eyes on her, most notably those of Tom Paris -- the one person whom she did *not* want to see her current emotional state.

"Captain... are you all right?" he asked.

"Yes... I'm fine," she recountered, breathing deeply to compose herself. "I'm fine." She quickly put the card back into the book and gently refolded the paper around the tome, placing it on the floor beside her chair. Janeway turned to Chakotay, whom she knew was earlier watching with the others as she opened the parcel, but who was now studying position data scrolling across his screen.

"Commander, do you know anything about this... gift?" she asked seriously.

He looked at her, his eyes matching hers in their solemnity. "I only know that it was here when I arrived; sorry!" And he went back to his concentration of the figures displayed on his monitor.

She continued to look at him, as he appeared deep into the thoughts of duty. She shook her head, as if to erase an unwanted idea, and set about on her daily rounds.

Content with the status reports from the bridge stations, Janeway announced, "I need to find some information for Lt. Torres regarding a supplemental force field to contain the dilithium we brought aboard yesterday. I'll be in my ready room. Mr. Chakotay, you have the con."

"Yes, Captain," he responded obediently, as she quickly walked towards her office.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The doors to Janeway's inner sanctum closed behind her. She wanted some more coffee, but knew that any that she replicated could never match the earlier treat that had surprised her. Reluctantly, she decided to forego any more, and sighed as she sat down at her desk, starting to ask the computer for the force field information. She glanced around the room, waiting for the computer to comply with her request. Her eyes abruptly stopped when her sight came to rest at a table in the corner. Its usual coffee service was not there; in its place was a large crystal urn. The container was overflowing with the bending stems of at least three dozen deep pink tulips...

She uttered a shallow gasp. Pink tulips... absolutely her most favorite flower! She had fallen in love with them the time she spent an April holiday in Amsterdam; she could never have enough of them. Where had they come from? Again, who...? The only person she had ever remembered mentioning her fondness of the flowers to was Kes. In some strange way, was Kes behind all of these surprises? Her eyes began to fill with tears, remembering her dear friend...

Kathryn forgot her chore, and walked over to the bouquet. She tenderly cupped the overflowing blooms in her hand, drinking in the richness of their color and the exquisite positioning of the flowers. It was like... a Dutch Master's painting! The arrangement completely took over the table, and transported her spirits to thoughts of sunlight and color and vibrancy... thousands of light years away, to another time, another place.

The white edge of a card quickly returned her to the present. It was underneath the vase, hidden by the curtain of color of the flowers. She slowly pulled it out from underneath the heavy glass container and opened it. The anonymous printed lines read:

"Only you surpass the loveliness of the lilies of the field."

She closed the card, knowing that she should be upset at the presumptuousness of whoever was playing this little *game*. But, she thought, it is so nice... that someone cares. It had been so long... but who? She hit her comm badge.

"Mr. Kim, would you please come into my ready room?" her voice inquired.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry Kim looked up in surprise at hearing his captain's voice.

"Uh.... yes; right away, Captain," he answered.

Chakotay heard the request and answer, and turned to face the young man as he started his short trip to her private room.

"Uh... Commander, the Captain wants to see me," he said to the bridge's senior officer.

"Yes, Mr. Kim; I heard. Please attend to her."

Harry buzzed his arrival at her door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Ah, Mr. Kim. Please, come in and have a seat," Janeway said as the doors closed behind him. She was still standing by the flower-laden table, the card in her hands.

"Captain," he greeted her, remaining standing. His eyes widened as he saw the huge bouquet. "Uh... nice flowers, Captain. What's the occasion?"

"That's what I would like to know, Harry. I want you to do a little detective work for me."

"Well...uh,... sure, Captain. What is it?"

"I'm sure you saw the package on my seat this morning; now, these flowers. And, there was something... earlier in my quarters. Each gift also has come with a card," she said as she waved the one that had come with the flowers through the air. She started pacing.

"Harry, I think all of the items have been... um... *delivered* by site-to-site transport within the ship. Can you search the transport logs and find out where all of them originated and who did the transporting?"

"Sure; that shouldn't be too difficult," he responded with a promising smile.

"Good," she affirmed, a glimmer in her eyes. "I want to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible."

Harry took his leave and returned to the bridge to begin his inquiry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Within thirty minutes, Harry buzzed Captain Janeway.

"Captain, I have some information, but not an answer," the young ensign told her.

"Explain, Ensign. Better yet, come back into my office."

"Yes, ma'am," he answered, again notifying bridge command of the captain's request.

Once behind the protection of her doors, he stammered his findings to her.

"Captain... ma'am... um... the transports are occurring from sites within the ship, but there seems to be some sort of security lock on points of origin, and a cloaking file hiding the identity of whoever has been making the transfers. I've tried several overrides, and even asked Commander Tuvok to help, but we can't seem to break through the coding. Do you want me to continue searching?"

She was sitting behind her desk. She leaned back in her chair and released a deep sigh. "No, Harry; that will be all. I'm sure that the perpetrator will make himself known eventually. I guess there really is no harm in it. Except that someone is going through an awful lot of replicator rations!" She smiled a secret smirk. "Thank you for your trouble, Harry. Dismissed."

And Harry Kim, more puzzled than ever, returned to his post.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The figures were ready for Torres, but Janeway wanted to oversee their implementation herself. She notified B'Elanna that she had some ideas about the force field, and would like to come down to engineering herself to talk with the staff.

"Of course, Captain," responded the chief engineer, in an unusually cheerful tone. "We'll be waiting for you."

Janeway exited her ready room, and crossed the bridge on her way to the turbolift to go to deck . While crossing the room, she announced her destination.

"I should be back within the hour," she told them, as she entered the lift.

The doors closed with their usual "whoosh". She closed her eyes momentarily, only to open them quickly... as strains of music softly filled the confines of the lift. The delicate sounds of a harp and a guitar were playing "Spring" from "The Four Seasons" by the composer from Earth's Old Renaissance, Antonio Vivaldi. It had been years since she had heard the piece of music, and never interpreted so... sensually than by these two instruments. She manually halted the turbolift, just so she could enjoy the haunting sounds.

She leaned back against the wall of the compartment, caught up for several minutes in the lilting harmonies of the music. Then... she saw it. Tucked in behind the rail opposite her, she saw the familiar sight of another white card. She took the two necessary steps to cross the stall to secure it, opening the folded paper as she picked it up. The black print read:

"If music be the food of love, play on..."

The mysterious transporter had struck again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It was mid-afternoon. The work in engineering had gone fairly smoothly, with no major glitches in getting the force field set up. B'Elanna was satisfied that it would work, and Kathryn Janeway made her way back to the bridge. She was somewhat disappointed that there was no "elevator music" to accompany her back.

The senior officer had just finished going over a request from Seven for an expanded duty roster for astrometrics, now that they were headed into an area of heavy asteroid activity. She buzzed the former Borg woman on her comm badge.

"Yes, Captain?"

"I have looked at your figures for your request, Seven, but I'm unfamiliar with the procedures you mentioned. Could you enlighten me further regarding the laser-polarized xenon technique?"

"Certainly. But I can explain it better by showing you. Can you come to astrometrics?"

"On my way," Janeway signaled, as she trudged out of her office, mumbled her destination as she crossed the bridge and entered the lift.

And once more, the music filled the space. This time, it was a flute and organatild, sweetly playing melodies from ancient Orion. *Lovely...* she thought, again transported by the mesmerizing music.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Seven was waiting for Captain Janeway, prepared to show her the laser technique being used to obtain magnetic resonance images of the asteroid field. The hyperpolarization of the gas was producing much clearer images than they had obtained before. The captain was obviously impressed.

Seven looked at Janeway, debating whether she should bother the captain with her discovery of a short time earlier. Finally, she decided that the strange occurrence should be reported, as the captain *was* here.

"Captain, there is a... peculiar item that I found just a while ago," the young woman said seriously. She led Janeway to a corner of the room, where a small work table was located. On it, there was a medium sized transport container, to which was attached... a white card, simply addressed to KJ. Are these letters not your initials?" Seven asked.

Janeway swallowed, wondering what this was now. "Yes, they are." She looked up at Seven, and issued a slight giggle, shaking her head. "I've been getting... strange gifts today," she nervously explained to the younger woman.

Seven seemed somewhat bewildered. "From whom are you receiving them?" she asked.

"That's the problem... I don't know." Janeway tenuously opened the card, upon which was inscribed:

"The blue of your eyes is almost impossible to rival, but this just might.
It reminds me of you -- please wear it tonight."

She looked at Seven, who had read the note over her shoulder and who now looked at the captain with a puzzled expression.

"Why would anything blue remind someone of you, Captain?"

Kathryn Janeway felt the flush of her face as she was unfastening the metal closures on the container, remembering a blue dress... in another time and place. She raised the lid, and there, inside, was a sea of periwinkle blue, shimmering with flecks of golden highlights. She slowly pulled the gossamer fabric up and out of the box, and it floated into the form of a dress that would have come from her dreams: simple, tasteful... and elegant. The fitted bodice had a low scooped neckline, long narrow sleeves. The skirt flared from its snug waist into a wide circle of flowing fabric. It was if the skies of a late summer afternoon had been caught up in its cloth.

Kathryn's gasp was over taken by Seven's surprising comment.

"It's... it's beautiful, Captain. Although I cannot see much function to its design, but I do find it quite pleasing to the eye. I am certain that you will find it more than satisfactory."

Janeway turned to her. "Seven, I am truly embarrassed. It isn't right for me to be given such... a *personal* gift. I really don't know what to say or do."

Seven looked at her with great seriousness. "Wear it. I'm sure that whoever gave it to you will find you."

A contented smile crept across the captain's face. "Do you really think so, Seven?"

"Yes," came her short but concise reply.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Janeway returned to the bridge, the closed transport container under her arm. If she noticed every pair of eyes on the bridge looking at her, she ignored them. She placed the metal box beside her chair and finished out the shift without a mention of the container.

As the period of duty drew to a close, she rose to go to her ready room for a final time. Chakotay was preparing to leave the bridge, and turned to her.

"Captain, you seem to have acquired some additional baggage during the course of the day. Would you like me to get someone to help you take them to your quarters for you?"

She turned towards him. "That would be very thoughtful, Commander. Yes... yes. Please ask Crewman Ackers to come by in about oh... about thirty minutes or so.

"Done," he said to her with a wink and a wave as he left the bridge.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Safe in the privacy of her ready room, the inner woman in Kathryn Janeway surfaced. She raced to open the transport box, removing the luminous gown. With silent reverence, she draped it over her chair, mesmerized by its beauty. Pulling herself out of her reverie, she quickly took off her uniform, shedding her boots as well. She slipped in-between the liquid layers of fabric, drowning in the luxury of a real dress, murmuring with delight as its silkiness caressed her skin.

There was no mirror in the office, so she went over to the long window opening onto the dark vastness outside. It was enough for her to see her reflection in the tempered glass... and she let out a small gasp at the image that came back to her. The dress fit to perfection, gliding over the curves of her upper body, clinging to her slim waist, and flowing in long waves down to her lower calves. This seemed impossible; who would know her so well that a garment of this type could be constructed?

Her mind was recounting the series of events that had transpired throughout the day. Coffee... her favorite poems... music that she adored... flowers that charmed... and now, a dress that brought back fond memories. A sense of tranquil serenity washed over her.

Suddenly, her glazed eyes became alert and fully open, breaking her trance-like state. Of course... why hadn't she thought of that earlier? Was she so inundated in her own conceit that she hadn't noticed the clues? The room brightened with the knowing smile that rapidly overtook her face. She started humming one of the Orion tunes that had serenaded her earlier as she lovingly took off the dress, replacing it tenderly in its box and donning her confining uniform.

Just as she finished putting on her boots, there was a buzz at her door. She invited crewman Ackers in, and the two of them made quite a parade of taking the flowers, the book and its wrappings, and the transport case with its enclosed treasure across the bridge and on their journeys to her quarters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kathryn thanked the young woman for her help, urging her to leave without answering any of the dozens of questions she knew must be going through the crewman's mind. Perhaps she should have said something... *that's how rumors get started,* she thought.

But... there was much to do!

Her first step was to contact the doctor. She needed to borrow something from him for a short time; could he bring a certain instrument to her quarters as soon as possible?

"Of course, Captain. Is there something I can do for you? Why are you in need of this type of analysis?" the EMH questioned, in his ever-curious manner.

"Oh, it's just a little experiment I'm doing. I think I can handle it. But, thank you for offering," she answered with as straight a face as she could muster. Yes, this little idea would probably work...

The doctor was alerting her to his presence almost before she expected. She opened the door, took the scanning device from him, and hurriedly thanked him. He was left in mid-sentence as the door closed on his inquisitive countenance.

Kathryn Janeway had lined up all of her mysterious gifts. Using the doctor's device, she carefully scanned all of their surfaces, then downloaded the gathered information into her computer. She called up some selected files, and cross-referenced them with her recently acquired data. Yes... there it was! Her face beamed with delight, as the information provided bore out her hypothesis. She then enthusiastically entered several commands; gleefully thinking *two can play this little game!* However, before issuing the directive to dispatch the final order, she wanted to be completely ready.

A quick shower... fingers through her hair to shake off the fatigue of the day... a splash of skin refreshener... a few dabs of makeup... and then to her closet to search for suitable shoes... no, she decided; no shoes --- barefoot! Yes; she would go barefoot... The cloud of blue of the dress was the last thing she put on.

A final check in her mirror satisfied her that she presented an acceptable appearance. *No, damn it; a 'great' appearance,* she nodded with self-satisfied smugness at her small, taunt figure.

She picked up her comm badge, taking a deep breath. Was she really ready to do this? Well, it was either her way... or his. He had had the upper hand up to this point; but, after all, she *was* the captain, wasn't she? From now on, it was *her* way!

"Computer, Janeway, program theta-chi 053; proceed."

The alto voice of the computer replied, "Executing now."

And then Kathryn Janeway disappeared into the molecular fog of an intra-ship transport.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chakotay was in his quarters, ready to relay yet another clandestine command in his day-long series of secret operations, when he sensed his body reacting to the slight disorientation of a transport beam. He had only enough time to look up with a bewildered expression and started to utter, "What the hel..." before he was transmuted.

Seconds later, with the same expression on his face, he found himself standing next to Kathryn Janeway, resplendent in the shimmering blue gown, her face relaxed with a wide grin.

"Good evening, Commander; so nice of you to join me. This *is* what you had planned, isn't it?" she asked with confident glee.

The first officer blinked with disbelief, scanning his surroundings and trying to compose himself.

They were standing on the wide verandah of a house on a steep cliff, overlooking turquoise waters forty meters below. The rhythmed cadence of towering waves breaking against the algae-covered rock walls far below were muffled by the resonance of a breeze, rustling through the canopy of leaves of the giant mahogany and ebony trees surrounding them. The deepening sky reflected an intense golden glow of a sun just having dipped below the horizon, with tiny stars from afar starting to twinkle their nocturnal presence. Four torches lit the verandah area, their warmth and fumes blending with the flower-fragrant humid air, enveloping the two people in heady intoxication.

Chakotay shook his head slightly, trying to assimilate the rapid progression of events. Here they were, just where *he* had planned for them to be; how could she have discovered it? It was all so well concealed...

"Kathryn... how did you... I... I mean, ... when... Im...?" Chakotay stumbled over his thoughts and words.

Her closed lips turned up into that wonderful little crooked grin of hers. She walked over to his frozen form and put her right hand on his chest, in the way only she could do... shivers ran through him with her touch. Her lips were only inches from his when she finally spoke.

"My dear Chakotay, you simply *must* learn not to leave your DNA lying around! As I recall, that's gotten you into trouble before," she said with a twinkle in her eyes.

"You see, I borrowed a DNA scanner from our beloved doctor, and I was able to detect the presence of your DNA on each of the items that you had so nicely prepared for me. Then, I put a further computerized search to look for residuals of your DNA in any of areas of dispatch of the mystery gifts. Strangely enough, your DNA pattern was present at all of the sites, and it seems that all of the transports had originated from orders by you. Finally, I locked onto this holodeck program, scheduled by you for activation at 1900 hours tonight."

She backed away a little, turning to one side and looking at him over her shoulder. "I must say, though, you did a marvelous job in your masquerade attempts. All that Maquis experience, I would presume?" she asked teasingly.

He began to laugh, lowering his head and shaking it. He glanced at her, over the edges of his brows, his eyes merry with her pride of discovery. His dimples deepened, as he started to speak.

"Kathryn... Kathryn... I should have known that with your determined tenacity that my covert maneuvers couldn't remain a secret. But, I guess that I had hoped that you would let me play it to its conclusion."

She turned to face him again. "So, Commander, just what *is* your conclusion? Are you saying that a transport to this lovely site isn't conclusion enough?" she asked coyly.

Now it was his turn to answer flirtatiously. He leaned nonchalantly against one of the posts on the verandah, folding his bare, muscular arms in front of himself. "Oh, I may have a few more things up my sleeve," he answered blithely.

She reached up to the short length of the sleeve of his off-duty garb. "But, Commander, this sleeve isn't that long," she said in a low voice.

"It's long enough for my plans," he said to her. "Come." He led her over to a white wicker table, and seated her in one of the two wide-backed chairs placed next to it. Standing beside her chair, he then commanded, "Computer, Chakotay extension, beta-0073." The table was suddenly covered with a deep coral cloth, upon which was a tray of bread, cheeses and fruits. Two crystal glasses were sitting beside a large silver bucket, frosted from the ice it held, which in turn surrounded a bottle of champagne.

"My final gift to you, Kathryn. I wanted you... us... to have some time together, away from duty; away from crew and problems. Just us for once. I hope you don't mind."

She arose from the chair and, as before, touched his chest with her hand. Then, she slid her hand up to his shoulder, and around his neck. Her other hand joined it. Pulling him close to her, she whispered huskily, "Commander, this isn't your final gift to me. That's yet to come." Kathryn pulled him down to her, her lips searching for and demanding his; his ardent response equaled her eager one. The fading light of the sunset wrapped around them, as their arms encircled each other.

It was then that they both knew... that their love games with each other were only beginning.



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