NEW YEAR’S GAMES

(PG-13)

by Delta Story

January 2002


Disclaimers et al: Okay, okay – all the usual: not for profit, all for fun. But it’s a doggone shame when we have to go back into time to have some fun and make it come out happy; sigh! Also… on a personal note… I’m the one in our household who gets wrapped up in football… hee,hee!


This story takes place sometime during the middle of season 6 on Voyager

~*~

“Enter,” Kathryn Janeway muttered, not even bothering to look up from her PADD at the person requesting admission to the inner sanctum of her ready room.

The doors of the office area opened and a stormy whirlwind in the form of B’Elanna Torres proceeded to immediately suck the captain’s attention into her tempestuous wake. Her eyes were blazing with the anger she was attempting to sequester; very little professional stance remained in her demeanor.

Janeway quickly moved out of her chair and practically ran to the other side of her desk in an attempt to placate her chief engineer… and to put herself between the woman’s rising temper and any physical outlashes that might destroy anything breakable within her reach.

“B’Elanna…” she said, reaching out to the younger woman.

Torres shrugged off any comforting touch, shaking her head vehemently. “Before I go any farther, let me say that I know that I’m the reason for everything that’s going wrong…”

Janeway tried to lead the outraged engineer towards a chair. “Why do you say that?” she asked, purposefully lowering her voice into a softer tone.

“It’s all because of that… that… instrument of addiction I gave him!” She plopped into the side chair by the desk, crossing her arms defiantly and snorting back contemptuous tears of anger.

Janeway pulled a smaller chair around and sat close by. “What do you mean, B’Elanna? What ‘instrument’?”

“That… that television set I gave him! Not only has it taken over all of Tom’s free time, but now he’s pulled just about every one of the human males on board into its black hole!” She paused for a breath and started a litany of names. “Harry… Ayala… Mulchaey… Carey…”

Janeway’s face twisted in confusion. “Whatever are you talking about, B’Elanna?”

The dark younger woman shot out. “Oh, please, Captain; don’t tell me you haven’t noticed anything. Even Commander Chakotay is involved…”

“In WHAT?” Janeway practically spat out, finally losing her patience.

B’Elanna jumped up and started to pace. “They’re always late. And when they are on duty, they always find a way to get involved in discussions which have very little to do with work. And… and… well, as for anything socially, forget it!” Her words flamed with the vehemence behind them. “I might as well be another lump of asteroid debris that should be avoided for all he seems to notice lately.”

Janeway followed in B’Elanna’s tracks, stopping as the other woman’s words picked at pictures in her mind. Her hand flew to her face as she became more pensive. B’Elanna was right; it did seem as if every male… well, human male… aboard Voyager appeared preoccupied in recent days… entrapped in some strange mystical form of male bonding. “Hmmm… now that you mention it – Chakotay has opted out of several of our dinner meetings as of late… and Tuvok has commented on Harry’s unusual lack of concentration – most unusual for Harry…”

B’Elanna turned quickly. “And it’s all because of me… and that television set!”

“All right; you’ve said that. But just what is it that seems to have… er… enchanted these men so much on this ‘villainous’ device?”

B’Elanna picked up a paperweight from off Janeway’s desk, rolling it around in her hand. Janeway almost grabbed it from her, afraid that in the engineer’s currant state of mind it might become a dangerous projectile. But she just kept squeezing the irregular surface of the piece of bromidite, allowing her anger to be taken out on the undeserving fossilized piece. “It’s something that Tom calls ‘football’. It seems that it was a very popular sport in the United States back in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. “

“’Football,’” Janeway muttered. “I think I remember hearing something about it…”

“Apparently it was a rather violent contact sport, played mainly by males,” B’Elanna continued. “For the most part, it was played on outdoor fields only certain months of the year… although later in its history, most of the games were played on fake fields that were enclosed under massive domes which held tens of thousands of spectators.”

“And they were televised mainly on the weekends all over the country… “ Janeway continued, nodding her head in agreement as she recalled some more about the game. “If memory serves me, there were championship games that provided the basis for boisterous social gatherings…”

“That’s it!” exclaimed B’Elanna, clunking down the paperweight with more force than she meant to, as Janeway cringed at possible damage to her desk. “And Tom seems to be re-creating those social times! He’s inviting ‘the guys’ over to watch vids of these games all the time. Why, he’s even slipped back into some of his old bad habits of running betting pools around the outcomes of the games!”

Janeway looked askance at B’Elanna. “Oh, really? And does he know the outcomes of these games beforehand? As if resurrecting the betting weren’t bad enough…”

B’Elanna sighed, the steam from her storm having dissipated somewhat. She sat back down into the chair, only to hop up again as she realized that she was in her captain’s ready room and should be more professional. “Oh, I’m sorry, Captain; I should not have sat without…”

“No, no; please… at ease, Lieutenant. I think that the discussion of this subject… and our reactions… should be, shall we say, ‘off the record’.”

“Thank you, Captain,” B’Elanna sighed.

Janeway assumed her previous seated position, as both women became lost in a rare silence, analyzing the predicament before them. Finally Janeway spoke. “It isn’t that they have become derelict in their duties…”

“No, but their minds are definitely elsewhere. I’m sure glad we’re not on alert or anything…”

Janeway shook her head, a smirk curling across her lips. “Yes, thank God for that! But… I’m sure that they would er… um… ‘sober up’ quickly enough if that were the case…”

B’Elanna did not share Janeway’s lighter tone. “Well, there is a crisis, as far as I’m concerned. Can’t they remember that there are other people on this ship who do appreciate their company? All I’m asking for is a little bit of ‘down’ time… going back to being ‘Tom and B’Elanna’ rather than ‘Tom and the guys’. If he wants to ‘be a couple’, then he should put some effort into it.”

The older woman really couldn’t prevent a small twitter of amusement. “Well, it seems like all of this is rather personal now; I haven’t heard any other complaints…”

B’Elanna looked up. “That’s because everyone else is afraid to come to you. Okay; except Seven; but she doesn’t deserve… er, I mean… require any human contact…” She started ticking off names on her fingers. “Just ask Susan Nicolleti… the Delaney twins… Ensign Kyoto… just ask them when the last time was that any human males approached them about holodeck time or velocity games… or even dinner dates!”

Again the older woman appeared introspective. “Now that you mention it… I am seeing fewer and fewer men in the mess hall… or even in the ship’s corridors.”

“And the Doc says that the only visits he’s had in the sickbay lately from males is to complain about eye strain. As a matter of fact, I think our EMH is even becoming enamored of this whole business.”

Janeway sighed. “B’Elanna, I can understand your frustration here. But, as long as their duties don’t suffer any…”

“They are late sometimes,” she chimed in.

“Yes… but so are the rest of us. Until this truly hampers the functioning of the ship… and, let’s face it… they are happy…”

“Captain, this isn’t like you! Of course they’re happy! But what about the rest of us on the ship? Although the Vulcan and Bajoran males could care less, they even seem to be getting a little bit ticked off now. “

“Hmmm. You’re right; and that really isn’t fair.” Janeway got up and went behind her desk. “Any suggestions for how we solve this… um… problem?”

B’Elanna shook her head. “Unfortunately, I don’t.” She thought a moment. “Maybe… if we asked some of the other female officers…”

“Sort of a brainstorming session?” asked the captain.

“Yeah,” B’Elanna answered candidly.

“Good idea, Lieutenant. Set up a meeting; let’s see what we can work out.”

~*~

Shortly at the conclusion of alpha shift, a procession of human females made its way across the bridge into Voyager’s briefing room. The all-male beta shift staffing the bridge silently questioned each other, watching the parade with great curiosity. They had seen Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Torres enter earlier, but neither woman had said anything about what was to transpire within the confines of the room. Soon, the doors repeatedly opened, allowing Ensign Anita Lang, the Delaney twins, Lieutenants Kim Kyoto and Francine Gallagher, Sam Wildman and finally Ensign Lisa Harper to enter. As the doors made a final swoosh behind her, a chilling silence flooded the bridge.

On the other side of the doors, the room quickly warmed with the excitement of the clandestine gathering. Except for the setting and the Starfleet uniforms, it might have been a gathering of a mystical coven, so electric was the air of anticipation.

Janeway stood for some introductory remarks. She cleared her throat, somewhat unnerved by the un-Starfleet like premise of their meeting. “I really don’t know how to begin this session,” she said, stumbling somewhat on her words. “As I am not privy to the problems some of you people are facing because of this… television situation… and the sudden, all consuming interest your male counterparts have with the current popularity of these football games…”

“With all due respect, Captain,” broke in Susan Nicoletti, “while we appreciate your offer to ‘help’ us, there is no way that you can understand the um… social hardships… this has caused.” She swallowed before proceeding. “It would be… different… if you had… if you were… um… involved with one of these… um… men.”

Janeway held up her hand. “No offense taken, Susan. But I am concerned when it comes to something that seems to be causing difficulty in personal relationships aboard Voyager. After all, we are a rather ‘closed’ society, and something minor can have severe repercussions. Now, while I realize that this situation is one of a rather… delicate – and personal – nature for some of you, it does seem to be one with some commonality and that’s why I thought it would be best for us to discuss it together.” She looked over at Nicoletti. “And… even if my personal life may seem rather… um… sterile (a few twitters of stifled giggles surfaced with this comment) to many of you, let me tell you that I am not completely ignorant of the need for physical companionship. I truly understand your problem and that’s why I’ve offered my services in any way… short of deriving ‘the boys’ of their television time altogether – that might cause more problems than any of us can imagine!”

A wave of murmurs flowed across the room as the women agreed with her on this point – cutting off the entire activity would be social suicide. No, any action they took had to be more insidious… more discrete.

Megan Delaney raised her hand and Janeway acknowledged that she had the floor. “I remember a story from ancient Greece… it think it was. All of the men were determined to kill off each other in a war, so the women banded together and vowed to withhold any… um… “ she blushed as she looked at the captain, “they just said ‘no’ to any sex.”

Again, soft sounds of delight nervously twittered around the table. “Oh, please,” the captain said. “I know that you are normal human females, with normal emotions and desires…”

Megan gulped. “Er… yes, we are, Captain.” She seemed relieved for their commanding officer’s acknowledgement and well… at least, no disapproval. “Anyway, I was thinking…”

“Are all of the men included in this new-found ‘tribe’ involved in such a way that this sort of action would work aboard this ship?” A dozen pairs of eyes darted back and forth. “While my knowledge of ‘pairings’ might be limited, I have reason to believe that Mr. Carey and Lt. Chapman are being faithful to their wives back on Earth.” Her eyes scanned the room for anyone who showed signs of anything otherwise. “And I don’t think that Mr. Kim is um… involved.” She quickly looked around when she heard a nervous cough in response to this statement, but couldn’t pinpoint its source. “As for Commander Chakotay…”

Susan Nicoletti interrupted. “Yes… okay… you are correct, Captain. No need to go any further. We catch your drift and understand that this would be a rather… um… incomplete… way to go.”

Janeway stared at the brunette woman who had so quickly brought closure to the subject; did Susan know something that she didn’t about her first officer? A dark bitter surge arose unsummoned within her for some reason. “Do you have a suggestion, Susan?” she finally asked.

“Well, I was thinking that maybe we women could ask Tom to teach us something about this game. Then, we could at least be a little bit more knowledgeable about our ‘rival’. If he’s so into it, I’m sure he’d be willing to share his ‘expertise’ on the subject.”

B’Elanna’s face became dark and seething. “NO! I don’t want him to be drawn into this any more than he is right now! Besides… it would take us too long to learn all the crazy rules and things. Plus… well... I just don’t think it would very ‘ladylike’; this is not a gentle game!”

It took a great deal of energy for all the others to keep from bursting out in laughter with such words coming from the most pugilistic female aboard.

From the far end of the table, Sam Wildman (who really wondered why she was here; after all, she was married!) entered the discussion. Samantha, quiet, conservative, mousy Sam. “If I might…” she spoke tentatively, as the group turned towards her. “I have an idea that just might cause some sort of a change – well, a distraction, if you will.” Nods urged her to continue.

“Most of you know that I have four brothers… and no sisters. Well, my brothers were really into this game of football… yes, it is still played in some areas on Earth, particularly the southern part of the United States where I come from. Anyway, I learned quite a bit about the game from them – I could be the one to teach you something, if you’d like – and I learned that it was really an annual ritualistic competition to pick one champion team from among all the teams playing.” She looked around, and saw that her audience was suddenly rapt with their attention.

“These games were played at two levels – one was professional, where the players were paid… and paid too well, as I remember. The other group was made up of teams of younger men who were still in university and who played for their different schools… colleges. Sometimes, it seemed that the football teams for these schools were more important than the scholastic studies that went on at the institutions. The competition at the college level was less organized than it was at the professional level, and each year, at the close of the ‘season’ for the sport, there were several so-called championship games held, in venues called ‘bowls’ (even though they were really large athletic stadiums.) To further complicate this entire idiotic scenario, several of the ‘bowl’ games were played on the same day, so that if you wanted to watch all of them, you had to stay in front of your television for over twelve hours at a time!”

A collective gasp punctuated her story – there was historical precedence for the actions of the men on Voyager!

“These games went on for days. Most were held around Earth’s New Year’s Day – some, one or two days before; several on New Year’s Day, and more on the day or two following the holiday.

“Now there seemed to be only one thing that the men would take time out from all their football games for… and that was a celebration on New Year’s Eve. Many times, there were big parties and festivities to commemorate the passing of the old year and the arrival of the new one.”

Laughing, Jenny Delaney interrupted. “And, as I recall… the rate of births was always the highest for the year nine months after these holidays…” Janeway shot a look at her to keep such comments to herself.

But Samantha laughed. “You’re right, Jenny! And… while I’m not advocating a population explosion on Voyager, perhaps we could use some of these tactics of our female ancestors to shake up the interest of our men folk a bit…”

“What exactly are you suggesting, Sam?” the captain asked sternly.

“Good old fashioned female flirtation, Captain. Flaunting our assets, if you will. A nice romantic party, with candlelight, wine, good music for slow dancing…”

B’Elanna snorted. “Oh, yeah; the guys would drop their football games and pizza and beer for all that…”

“ …with all of us dressed in the most seductive clothing we can come up with,” Sam continued, her eyes twinkling, daring the captain to interrupt. “And… if my calculations are correct, our stardate in three days will coincide with the date for New Year’s Eve back on Earth. I suggest we plan a party, ladies – a big party. Then, we approach those tunnel-visioned males in our finest garb and darethem not to follow us. If I know my male hormones, they’ll not only follow… but by evening’s end, it won’t be football games they’ll be wanting.”

Kathryn Janeway looked at Sam with an expression of utter awe. This was the quiet, non-demonstrative officer she knew as Samantha Wildman… suggesting such a conniving female ploy? However, from the excited murmurs that she heard around her, she knew that Sam might have struck a resonant chord among the assembled women. “And just how do we go about this… scheme?” she queried.

Sam leaned forward conspiratorially. “Well, I happen to know of a program that Neelix worked on along with Jamie Mulchaey. It was based on Risa…” Whoops of delight rang out from the rest of the group… except for the captain. Samantha looked at the older woman before continuing. “It isn’t all that risqué, Captain,” she stated. “It merely uses the planet as a backdrop. We can add the details we want and eliminate…er… other things! I’m sure that Neelix would be more than happy to provide food and drink for us.”

“Just where are we going to find the replicator rations to ‘fuel’ such a celebration?” Janeway asked. “We don’t exactly have an excess of energy for such a frivolous diversion.” Suddenly, there were offers galore to supply replicator credits to help set up the celebration, with pledges to find more from the other women on board.

“I know that just about every woman would be more than happy to contribute in order to get the men away from their ‘games’,” Megan said, seeming to speak for all of them.

The captain still wasn’t convinced. “All right; you seem to have solved part of the problem. However, let me remind you that none of us came aboard with anything in our wardrobes for something of this nature.”

Kim Kyoto laughed softly then blushed. “Maybe not for you, Captain. But… in over five years of being away from… uh… ‘normal’ life, most of us have… um… added more civilian clothing to our closets. After all, we have visited some rather unusual places and have been able to do some private bartering and trading… you yourself encouraged this a few times. I’ve got some rather interesting clothing alternatives and with a little work, I can make them even more so.” The young woman’s face was now ablaze, realizing that she had said too much.

“Mmmm,” Janeway demurred. “All right, ladies; permission granted for… uh… Operation Persuasion.” Cheers rang up around the table. “However, you are on your own; I’m not going to get involved in these any of these shenanigans.” She arose, signaling the close of any more input on her part. “I authorize you to have this… party… in 48 hours, barring any ship-wide emergencies.” Her statement on non-participation quieted the inhabitants in the room.

B’Elanna took the initiative of speaking. “But, Captain… we would at least like to have your presence at the party,” she nodded to the others, who concurred with their own nods. “Please don’t count yourself out…”

Janeway turned, her mouth tweaked into her signature smirk. “Well, I don’t have as much at stake or a male companion to um… ‘win back’… but… well; we’ll see.” She proceeded to leave the room and allow the younger women to continue with their planning.

~*~

Over the next two days, things continued as normal aboard the ship – shifts came and went… and a large part of the male population remained completely unaware of anything that went on besides watching the football games on Tom Paris’s television. Over the past three weeks, they had watched games from over a twenty year period… and used up many of their replicator credits for such delectables that Tom called ‘junk food’ – potato chips, beef jerky, nachos – and of, course, good old syntheholic beer.

Meanwhile, their female counterparts were likewise engrossed in activities of their own. Neelix and his crew had jumped at the occasion of being able to provide for a celebration as was suggested. He even delved into some of his Earth historic files and found recipes for galas such as this. The party clothes that Kim had mentioned came out from their hidden corners of closets, to be freshened and prepared for wear. The women gathered for communal sessions of trying new hair styles and applying cosmetics that had been unused for long periods of time. An air of excitement grew, although it had yet to find its way into Tom Paris’ quarters.

An unlikely person approached Captain Janeway to inquire about her own preparations. The Captain was in astrometrics reviewing a starchart for an upcoming system that they were approaching. She and Seven were discussing the best routes to use to bypass an area of plasma storms in the area when the blonde woman turned to her commander.

“Captain, are you attending the social function that is to be held tonight?”

Janeway looked up, surprised that Seven knew anything about the ‘project’. “Why, I haven’t really decided yet. Are you… are you going?”

“I have been invited. Ensign Wildman suggested that my presence might make the evening… more pleasurable… for the doctor,” she said.

Janeway’s eyes lit up with interest. She had heard stories about Seven and the EMH; could they be true? She nodded with a smile. “I think that would be… nice, Seven.”

The Borg/human continued. “I was told that we are to wear clothing other than our duty attire. I have a couple of gowns that the Doctor provided for me… for other ‘social’ times. Do have anything, Captain?”

Janeway blushed. She had very little in the way of clothing that would comply with what her friends were proscribing as de rigueur for the evening. “I have a few things that should do for the occasion.”

Seven looked at her askance. “I understand that the purpose of the evening is to… entice… the males aboard away from the activities that Mr. Paris has been providing for them.”

“Yes…”

“Which male do you wish to entice, Captain?”

Janeway’s face became hot and enflamed. “I am not going to the party with that goal!”

“But you will be participating, will you not?” Seven continued.

“Seven I am the captain. It is not appropriate for me to ‘entice’ any male. After all, none of them is of my rank…”

The younger woman still was not satisfied. “Do you not need companionship?” she asked.

“Companionship, yes. But not in the way some of the others are thinking of.”

“Mmmm,” Seven nodded in agreement. “I think I understand. However…”

Janeway was becoming irritated. “No ‘howevers’, Seven; let’s just leave it at that.” She rapidly changed the subject. “When do you think we will be approaching the first plasma storm?”

“Not for another 37.4 hours, Captain.”

“Good. We should be ready by then.” Janeway turned to leave.

“I shall see you at the party,” Seven said in conclusion.

Janeway sighed. “Yes… at the party.”

~*~

Alpha shift ended. The plan called for the women to appear, one by one, at Tom’s quarters, dressed and groomed and ready for the party. One by one, they would lure the men away to the holodeck which would be ready for the festivities.

Janeway arrived at her quarters, somewhat disturbed by Seven’s questions and prodding. Was she really so out of touch with life that she couldn’t socialize comfortably with her crew? All right, so she was somewhat aloof when it came to anything that smacked of a sexual side to her; but, after all, she was the captain… and they were on a journey of who knew how long? It… just… wasn’t… right. Oh, there had been a couple of flirtations along the way on some of the planets they had visited. But those were ‘ship-in-the-night’ types of things. And there had been a couple of times when she realized that her first officer seemed to harbor some sort of feelings for her; but those, too, had been sublimated – both of them knew that such a relationship was out of the question. It had come very close three years ago, back on New Earth. Still… there were times… when their eyes seemed to look at only each other… She shook her head. This was only foolishness, allowing herself to drift off into forbidden realms.

As she entered her quarters, she saw the light on her monitor signaling to her that a message awaited. She requested lighting as she walked over to the desk and swung the monitor around, opening the message. It was from Seven:

    “Captain Janeway –

    I have taken the initiative of requesting the Doctor to replicate a gown for you for the party tonight. He has proven efficient and beneficial in doing so for my wardrobe. Since red is my favorite color, as well as being the Starfleet color of choice for command positions, I suggested that he construct a garment of this color for you. By the time you read this message, he should have transported it to your quarters. I hope you find it appropriate for this evening’s festivities.

    Best regards, Seven of Nine”

Janeway chuckled at the message. Seven? Prompting her social skills? This had to be a first!

She looked around but saw nothing. Then, she saw a glimpse of red from her sleeping area. She rounded the corner through the door leading to the area. There, on her bed, was a diaphanous creation of red chiffon.

She held up the dress. It was a simple creation, sleeveless with a low-cut bodice. The dress was designed to skim the body then flare out around the thighs into layers of the thin material. A long scarf of the same material lay beside the dress, presumably to offer some modesty by draping it around her neck. ‘Not bad,’ she thought, trying to imagine the conversation between the EMH and his protégée in ‘designing’ the outfit. She sighed, wondering if she dared to wear such a dress.

She hit her commbadge. “Captain Janeway to Seven…”

“Yes, Captain?”

“I have… um… found the dress you… uh… had the Doctor design…”

“Is it to your liking, Captain?”

“It’s… lovely, Seven. But I really don’t think that it’s appropriate…”

“I understand that this is the type of dress that others will be wearing,” said Seven.

“Yes, but I am not ‘others’.”

“Captain, you are a very attractive woman and I think that the dress will certainly be appropriate. The Doctor worked hard on making sure that it would be just right.”

Janeway sighed. “And we wouldn’t want to insult the doctor’s… er… artistic endeavors… would we?”

“No, we would not. Oh…and you’re welcome, Captain.”

The older woman blushed. “Er… yes… thank you, Seven. See you later.”

With the communication completed, Janeway slumped onto the bed, pulling the scarf through her fingers. The material did have a wonderful feel to it… soft and smooth and seductive…

~*~

One by one the women of Voyager dropped by Tom Paris’s quarters, each one demurely covered with a long dark shawl. One by one each woman, once admitted, sidled up to her chosen companion, gently taking his hand in hers and easing him away from the larger group. One by one each woman slowly let go of her hold on the concealing covering and let it fall to her feet. And one by one each male suddenly became aware of something… someone… other than the dancing pixels on the television screen. It had been a very long time since so much feminine pulchritude had been revealed aboard Voyager, and the men succumbed to the lure of long-slumbering sensations and feelings. A slow but steady stream of couples made their way to the welcoming scene within holodeck one.

~*~

For the first time in several nights, Chakotay had not gone to Tom Paris’. To be honest, he wasn’t interested in the teams competing in the games Tom was showing today. Like many of his ancestors, he recoiled from the usage of Native American names for their sports teams and tonight Tom was showing the a vid of the Florida State University, whose team was known as the Seminoles… and he was most uncomfortable with the name. So, in his own quiet way, he chose to boycott the session. Instead, he had gone to his ready room to catch up on long-neglected paperwork. He shook his head, silently thanking the spirits that Kathryn hadn’t nagged him about his tardiness with reports, so unlike him. It had been a long time since he had become so obsessed with such an activity as he had with these football games. Did the captain even know what was going on? Surely she had noticed the changed behavior of so many of her crew.

But he was caught up now. Maybe that particular game was over; maybe Tom could be persuaded to show one by that California team, University of Southern California. Now that school always seemed to have good and interesting teams! Yes; maybe he would go by… just for a little while.

As he approached Tom’s quarters, he saw Harry Kim with each of his arms interlocked through that of a Delaney twin… and each Delaney twin was dressed in clinging fabric that would tempt even Tuvok! Harry was obviously taken with both women and seemed in a daze. The women were laughing and giddy; they were practically falling into Harry.

Chakotay pulled into the shadows at the curve of the hall and watched the trio go by in the dimmed nighttime lighting. Just as he resumed his trip to the quarters, he heard the doors open again. This time, he saw Tom and B’Elanna exit. Tom couldn’t seem to take his eyes off B’Elanna, who was attired in some very non-Klingon clothing.

“Tom… B’Elanna!” he called out, briskly trotting towards them. “What’s going on?”

Tom shook his head, as if trying to clear his mind from some soporific spell. “Uh… oh… Commander! Did you come to… uh…” He seemed at a loss for words.

“Well, Chakotay; seems you haven’t gotten the word. The games have been called because of a party that we… um… that we women have set up. Want to come along?” B’Elanna purred while brushing her fingertips along Tom’s neck, eliciting a low growl from him.

“Party? Chakotay asked, bewildered. “No; I haven’t heard about any party. Should I have?”

B’Elanna chuckled. “I guess it all depends upon who you know. This is sort of a ‘girl-asks-the-guy’ kind of thing. Guess you don’t know anyone who would like to invite you,” she said slyly. “Too bad!”

Chakotay still didn’t understand. “What do you mean… that I can’t come on my own?”

“Not this time, Commander; I’m sorry,” quipped the engineer as she guided Tom along the corridor. “But then… maybe you can figure something out!” she winked back at him.

He shook his head. What the hell was going on? Did Kathryn know anything about this? She certainly hadn’t said anything to him about it. He started to hit his comm badge but suddenly thought better of the idea. He turned and ran to catch up with Tom and B’Elanna. “Hold up! B’Elanna, please fill me in on what’s going on!”

The younger couple stopped. “All right; but… you didn’t hear anything from me,” B’Elanna said, wagging her finger at him. Tom merely smiled, nuzzling her bare, muscular neck.

~*~

So that was it, Chakotay smiled, having heard all about the ‘revenge’ of the women, And yet, Kathryn didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Hmmm; maybe he could do something about that.

He entered his quarters and then spoke. “Computer, give me the location of Captain Janeway.”

“The Captain is in her quarters.”

“Is she working?” he asked.

“Unable to respond. She is in her sleeping area.”

“Is she asleep?”

“Negative. Her vital signs indicate that she is awake but sedentary.”

Chakotay smiled again. Maybe she just needed someone to go to the party with, he thought. But… it looked like all the women – who were ‘inviting’ the men – were dressed in attire that was… well, a little more alluring than what Starfleet uniforms offered. Maybe that’s what she needed – something to tempt her a little more.

He went to his closet, with its meager selection of clothes. Not much there. He had about a half-dozen casual shirts and trousers but nothing that matched the clothing he had seen on the women. Since he was going to be doing the ‘inviting’ this time, he wanted something special.

Then it dawned on him. In the early years aboard Voyager, he remembered that Kathryn seemed to have a ‘thing’ for Victorian novels; why, he remembered she even had a holodeck program for one of those monstrosities! Maybe he could dig through the holofiles and find out a little bit more about how these characters dressed.

“Computer,” he called out again as he began his search.

~*~

Thirty minutes and a month’s worth of replicator rations later, Chakotay looked at the image reflecting back at him from his mirror and grimaced a bit. He probably didn’t look anything like one of the heroes from the windswept moors of her holonovels, but, doggone it, he would elicit at least a grin from her for his feeble attempt, if nothing else. The shirts, with its voluminous extra-long sleeves seemed to engulf his arms. At least its full body more than covered his full torso. He tucked a little more of the shirt into the tight brown pants that hugged his muscular thighs and legs. Now… that part of him wasn’t too bad… yet… he thought, chortling at the way age was beginning to catch up with him. The mid-calf boots were a little snug, but in a secure way. He turned, shaking his head, and headed towards the door.

Just as he got to the door, he stopped short as a chilling wave hit him, a sudden shiver of insecurity. Should he go through with this? Would she laugh at him… demote him? Whatever in the cosmos was he doing? This was ludicrous! He looked like a refugee from some demented play. This wasn’t him…

He was just about ready to call it off when his commbadge buzzed.

“Um… Commander?” Janeway’s voice asked with uncharacteristic timidity.

“Yes, Captain…” he answered.

“I… I… have a decision to make that I think you might be able to help me with. Um… could you… please… um… come to my quarters?”

“On my way,” he answered, leaving his quarters still attired like the holonovel hero and not realizing it until he was at her door. Damn, he thought. But it’s too late

The doors opened. Greeting him was not the captain, but Kathryn… Kathryn in a glorious red dress… Kathryn as he had never seen her before. She held the flowing form of a long scarf between her hands, pulling its length nervously through her fingers.

She gasped as she saw him, his burnished darkness radiant against the backdrop of the white shirt, the softness of its folds contrasting the lines of his face.

“Kathryn!”

“Chakotay!”

They responded in unison before dissolving into small nervous laughs.

“You called me?” he finally managed, his voice sotto with emotion.

“Yes,” she whispered huskily. “I… I… wanted to invite you to a party.”

“And I was going to invite you,” he whispered back.

“Um… this was supposed to be an event where the women invited guests,” she murmured.

“But you hadn’t invited me,” he continued. “So… I decided to invite you…” He looked at her, her face taking on a glow that he had only seen a couple of times before.

“I… I just didn’t know… if… I should or…” she stopped.

“Or what?”

“Or if there would be any reason for me to ask you…”

He took a couple of steps towards her, leaving the doors space to close. Their action pushed him even closer to her. The heat from their bodies warmed the space between them. “Why would you be afraid… to ask…”

“Because… because…”

“I’ve never really known you to be shy, Kathryn.”

“Well, I didn’t want… people to get… the wrong idea… if we appeared together at a party… like this one.” She turned and walked back into the room.

“You mean… that this was to be a ‘couples’ party…”

“Yes.. yes… something like that…” she nodded.

He walked over to her, daring to trace the curve of her bared shoulder with his fingertips.

“It looks as if you were ready to go to the party…”

“I… I hadn’t decided. I guess that’s why I buzzed you… to ask your opinion about whether it would be a good idea… for us… to show up together…”

“And?”

“I don’t know,” she said, shuddering hotly under his touch.

“You look lovely,” he said.

She smiled, looking at his ‘garb’. “And you do, too.” She ran her hand up one of the sleeves, shocked at the firmness of the arm hidden within its folds. “Wherever did you get this… idea?”

He chuckled, his dimples rivaling his eyes for brightness. “I’m afraid I ‘snooped’ into one of your holonovel programs. I thought… if this is the kind of thing that my captain likes…”

She smiled back. “Well, I must admit… it does make you look rather… romantic!” She touched the tip of his nose with her index finger. “Ah, yes; you do cut quite a romantic picture, my dear Chakotay!”

He cocked his head. “Oh… it’s ‘dear Chakotay’ now, eh?”

“Only in that shirt, Commander!” she smiled back.

“Well, you looked just plain… gorgeous,” he said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen you in such a beautiful dress.”

She pirouetted. “So… you like it, hmm? This was made…” she paused, taking in his scan of her. “This was made especially for the occasion by that well-renowned designer, our very own EMH.”

“I must remember to congratulate him on his exceptional talents.”

Kathryn smiled back. “I believe that he is at the party.”

Chakotay looked at her curiously.

“With Seven!” she laughed.

Chakotay rolled in glee. “Now that’s a custom-made match!”

“That’s exactly what I thought,” responded Kathryn.

Silence. An awkwardness.

“So… are we going to the party?” he asked.

“What is your advice, Commander?” she queried with great seriousness.

“I think that we… might be a little bit too much for the rest of the crew,” he responded.

“My feelings also,” she said. “But here we are… dressed in our party finest…”

“Are you suggesting something, Captain?”

“Only if you’ll stop calling me that and let me hear my name…”

“Would you like to have a party… but with just the two of us?” he whispered, daring to move within her private space.

“Perhaps that could be arranged,” she murmured, welcoming his increasing closeness.

“There’s just one thing, Kathryn…”

“What’s that?” she managed to say as his lips approached hers.

“Any refreshments will have to come out of your replicator credits; I used all mine up on this… shirt…”

“Who says we’ll need anything from the replicator?” she asked, pulling his lips down to hers.


~*~ FINIS ~*~