Rated R

by Delta Story

September 2008

~ A Ficlet for VAMB's Fall Fling ~


"Neelix, I'm sorry, I really thought they were Kathryn's, but I won't tell a soul about your um…fetish!" Chakotay jerked his hand back, recognizing the pudgy hand of the little Talaxian underneath his own palm and fingers, as each of them reached for the same container on the counter.

From within the shadows of the galley area, Neelix emerged in surprise. “Commander! I didn’t expect to see you here at this time of the night. Are you hungry? Can I get you something to eat?” he rattled off in his usual response to someone making a late-night visit to the mess hall.

An awkward momentary pause hung in the air until Neelix's face registered the meaning of Chakotay’s words; his speckled skin suddenly took on the look of a red alert signal. The Talaxian’s cheeks puffed out in an embarrassed huff. “And… fetish? Whatever do you mean? And why does the captain think that these are hers?” he added, in reference to the contents of the container on the counter.

Chakotay cleared his throat, now clearly uncomfortable himself that he had spoken without thinking, the thought of Kathryn waiting for him prompting him to speak out of character to Neelix. He hurried to try to cover up his error. “Uh… well, I know she was with you planet-side today when you found these in that open air market and I just assumed that… well, that at least a part of them were hers.”

“But why would you think of these as a fetish?” Neelix continued to push, his eyes narrowing, an impish grin starting to spread across his face, indicating to Chakotay that it was too late to try any more backpedaling “They’re nothing more than a lovely fruit we found today. The captain said they reminded her of an orchard of them on her family farm in Indiana back on Earth and that there were many things you could do with them. Why, it was even she who provided me with a recipe for something called cherry cobbler, something that she thought many of the crew might enjoy. That’s why I’m here now – to get ready to make some for tomorrow’s meals. Whatever could you mean about these delightful sweet things being a ‘fetish’?”

A deep flush darkened Chakotay’s face. “Sorry, Neelix; I misspoke. Guess it’s been a long day and I didn’t know what I was saying. And the cherry cobbler sounds delicious – I can hardly wait to taste it!”

Neelix began sorting the cherries, checking each one for ripeness. But it was obvious that he wasn’t through razzing his friend. “Now… what do you suppose the captain can do with these lovely things? We both know that she can’t cook worth a defused photon torpedo.” His face lit up with a sudden idea. “Aha! She’s going to use some cherry juice to make some natural dyes for her painting!”

Chakotay shifted impatiently. “No, not exactly. But she is waiting for me to come back with some of them.”

Neelix’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “She asked you to get some of them? At this time of night?” A twitter of a laugh broke the tension. “Oh, I understand now – a late night snack as you finish reviewing reports. Tsk, tsk – you and she are always hard at work, aren’t you?”

Relief flooded over Chakotay’s face. “Yes – you saw right through me, Neelix! Now, please… how about some of those cherries?” he pleaded one more time.

“Certainly, Commander – since you’re asking so nicely.” Neelix reached for a small container and scooped up a handful of the cherries to place in it.

Chakotay’s large hand stopped that of the smaller man. “No, let me select them, will you, Neelix? I promise I won’t take many of them.”

Neelix stepped back, spreading his arms wide in invitation. “Be my guest. But you might want to get some of those I’ve separated already – I’m sure they’re the sweetest.”

“Uh… that’s okay, Neelix,” Chakotay answered, studiously picking through the tub of fresh fruit. “I know the kind she needs…er… wants.”

Neelix watched attentively in silence as Chakotay made his selections. “Um… Commander, all those you are choosing have stems on them; do you realize that?”

“Yes, I do,” Chakotay answered nonchalantly. “That’s the way we… er… she likes them. She likes to er… um… play with the stems. Ah, yes – one can do amazing things with those stems, things you’ll never see in the mess hall or on talent night.” Again his mind wandered to thoughts elsewhere on the ship, alone with a certain senior officer. “Did you know that she can tie more than a dozen different kinds of knots in a cherry stem… with her tongue? And that she can suck a cherry into her…”

“Commander?” Neelix asked in horror, as thoughts he should never have thought obviously flashed across his brain.

It was Chakotay’s turn to look up in dismay. “Damn – I’ve said too much again, haven’t I? Not a word of this, Neelix, or I swear I’ll put you on a diet of Rigelian blood worms for the rest of the voyage.”

Neelix held up his hand in a pledge. “Oh, no, nary a word, Commander – ever! I promise on my parents’ honor. It’s just that…”

Chakotay’s glare pierced the night air, his response equally as sharp. “What?”

Neelix leaned into him, trying to stifle a giggle. “Should I keep her away from the cherry cobbler tomorrow?”

A diabolical leer overtook Chakotay’s face as he turned to leave with his container of treasures. “Oh, I think that Captain Janeway will have had quite enough of cherries for awhile after tonight. Let’s just say that by tomorrow, she will be well plucked!”

~ The End ~

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