(Rated R, to be on the safe side)

by Delta Story
(July 2008)

Written especially for the VAMB Chakotayfest in memory of our wonderful Pongo. Special thanks to Camryn and Gilly for use of some of their wonderful fiddles! Additional pictures are screen caps from Trekker Treats and TrekCore.

~*~

Never piss off a pregnant Klingon, especially one who has just worked a double shift.

B'Elanna groaned, propping herself against the wall as soon as the doors swooshed open to the Paris/Torres quarters. During the last seventeen hours, she had headed up efforts to repair the shield polarities, stabilize the thermal regulators on decks seven and eight, and broken up altercations between Seven and four of her engineering crew - in four different incidents.

Her swollen feet were about to rip apart the seams of her boots, her back was killing her from a certain unborn infant pressing against already stressed muscles, and her head was about to explode with fatigue. And now she found her husband sitting on their sofa, feet up and drinking a beer, watching that damned television set! This was the last straw. With what little energy that remained, she stormed towards the poor, hapless man.

Her growl exited low, guttural, and primal. Her victim turned towards her, his eyes wide and body frozen with sudden fear. "B'Elanna - I didn't expect you so soon!" Tom finally managed to eke out.

"What do you mean - 'so soon'?" she hissed, hitting him on the shoulder so hard that he dropped his beer. "And now look what you've done!" she screamed as the liquid spilled on the sofa and floor. "Tom, you said that you would have dinner ready for me when I got finished and I buzzed you at least thirty minutes ago telling you when I'd be through."

She grabbed the remote control for the ancient entertainment device and flicked it off. "I don't know why I ever built this for you - all you do when you're not working is watch that damn thing!"

Tom reached out to her, trying to pull her close in an attempt to soothe her. "Shhh... shhh... I know you've had a tough day - I'll get right on dinner... after I do this." Tom's medical training had taught him a few useful things - he found the spot in her lower back that was tense from the pressure of the baby and gently began to massage it.

B-Elanna responded in kind and sighed with a bit of relief; leaning against his chest. "Don't try any of that alchemy on me that the EMH has taught you. I've had an awful day and I deserve a good temper tantrum."

"Ah, but my sweet little irate mom-to-be, what I'm watching just might be the cure you need for your rough day. Something tells me that it will make any thoughts of killing your dearly beloved husband a thing of the past." Tom eased a pillow behind her back and, with a bit of effort, tugged at her boots. "Come on, let's get you settled down and then you can watch this little show while I fix us something to eat."

But B'Elanna still wasn't about to be coddled into pleasantness and pulled away from him, preferring to yank off the boots herself. "Tom Paris, you should know by now that I'm immune to your charming gimmicks."

She tossed the boots to the side with a huff and then caught a glance of the frozen picture on the television screen. "What's that picture of Chakotay doing on our TV set? It looks like an old picture of him - probably from the first year or so of our time here in the Delta Quadrant." The mysterious image of her former Maquis captain, dressed in clothing that reminded her of their days together in the rebel unit, quelled her self-pitying tirade.

Tom's eyes twinkled in response to her curiosity. "Ah ha - I knew that you'd be interested!" He leaned in close to her, eager to divulge his latest coup of shipboard gossip. "This, my lovely bride, is a holo-album that Harry found in the a mass of files waiting to be deleted from the databanks. As you know, the Captain ordered all of us to do a bit of housekeeping and get rid of anything personal that we didn't think we needed anymore. Well, someone decided that the contents of this album weren't necessary and buried it among all the rest of the non-essential intra-ship messages, Neelix' non-watched holo-programs, the doc's lectures"

"Enough of the whys," B'Elanna groused, grabbing the remote control from her husband. "What else is in this so-called album? Who made it?"

Tom placed his hand over hers before she could activate the program. "That's almost more interesting than the album itself. Harry and I did a bit of hacking on the coding of the program and found out that none other than our good captain put together its contents! And I think you'll agree, once you've seen this, that something we've all suspected really was happening all along on Voyager, off and on. I think that current events helped in her decision to get rid of the program. She's titled it 'XO-Alpha'."

Tom leaned forward and turned off the set, much to B'Elanna's chagrin. "I want you to experience from the very beginning, so I've turned things off to let them recycle - ya gotta do that with this old set. Now - let's turn it back on using the 'On/Off' in the right of the set itself. Now, hit 'Play' with the remote and sit back to be amazed and maybe even a bit shocked. I think you'll agree that Captain Janeway must have had a micro-holoimager hidden inside her commbadge to get some of these pictures, while others - well, I'll let you decide for yourself"



Click to play XO-Alpha



You could have heard a black hole hiss as B’Elanna and Tom watched the series of pictures appear and fade on the ancient cathode tube. Once… twice… three times the stream of images marched in front of them before B’Elanna grabbed the remote and hit ‘stop’.

Her dark Klingon eyes glistened with excitement as her speech resumed breathlessly. “So you… you don’t suppose… do you think that the captain took all those pictures? Even those that… that…”

“You mean the ‘artful’ ones?” Tom finished for her. “Yes, I think she did. In fact, I’ll bet our all-so-taciturn first officer delighted in striking some of those poses for her! Looks like I should have kept that pool going long after I decided that there wasn’t anything going on between them.”

“And that song – do you think she added that, too?” B’Elanna’s earlier problems were as far in the past as the Kazon.

Tom became reflective. “You know, I think she did. I remember a time a couple of years ago when she wanted to listen to some different music and I pulled out some of my files from the twentieth century and gave her a listing. Guess she liked some of them and made her own files. Never thought she would turn out to like such schmaltz… or like to see a certain someone preening like a Mr. Universe!”

B’Elanna blushed at the thought of their first officer in nothing but his bronze buff… not that a few years back, she wouldn’t have minded seeing him like that – in the flesh, so to speak. “Tom, we can’t keep this – both the captain and Chakotay would die if they knew we had it. You’ve got to get rid of it… now!”

“Aw, come on, B’Elanna – where’s your sense of adventure? She obviously didn’t want it anymore; why else would it have been among all the stuff being recycled?”

“She’s pissed, you numbskull – she’s trying to rid herself of anything remotely connected to him,” B’Elanna emphasized by thumping him soundly. “Okay, so we think they might have had something going on for awhile, but you’ve seen how they practically go out of their way to avoid one another lately. Why, I don’t think I’ve seen her within six feet of him for weeks, much less getting close enough to pat him on the chest the way she used to do.”

Tom’s eyes narrowed and focused into the air, as if trying to look back in time. “Yeah, I think you’re right. In fact, most of the time, it’s downright chilly on the bridge or the briefing room when they’re there at the same time. And there have been some stories going around…”

“You mean about Chakotay and Seven?” B’Elanna interrupted, her eyes wide and waiting for a bit of gossip. “I’ve heard that, too.”

“Well, I got confirmation from the doc that they have been getting together. But he says that it’s just another phase of Seven’s experimentation with ‘discovering her humanity’.”

B’Elanna grunted and crossed her arms across her swollen belly, her face darkening with anger and frustration. “Leave it to the Borg bimbo to be the one to mess things up. That little innocent act of hers is enough to drive anyone crazy – just ask me… I’ve had it up to my ridges with that woman just today! It’s no wonder the captain is on a private warpath and Chakotay is keeping as much distance from her as possible.”

The woman’s rising ire didn’t escape her husband who shook his head. “B’Elanna, I don’t want you to get involved in something that you don’t know anything about. It’s strictly among the three of them. Besides, we have other things to worry about,” he answered softly while encircling her firm gravid roundness with his hands.

“Now who doesn’t have a sense of adventure,” B’Elanna smirked. “Look… I’ve probably known Chakotay longer than anyone else on this ship and I say that whatever this… relationship… is that he’s involved in with Seven is the result of a man who has given up on the love of his life. Go back and look at those pictures, Tom… then tell me that there isn’t something that tells you he would follow the captain to the end of eternity. I don’t know what happened between them but I still think they have deep feelings for each other.”

“Yeah – the captain wants to throw him out the airlock along with all the rest of her mementos of their time together.”

“And there’s a fine line between passionate love and bitter disappointment,” B’Elanna continued. With effort, she shifted her body in order to give her husband a good ‘now you listen to me’ stare. “If the doctor is right – that this is just ‘phase’ Seven’s development – then I think we had better clue Chakotay in and get him back in sync with the captain before it’s too late.”

Tom pulled back defensively. “Hey – how are we to know that the captain wasn’t the one to break things off? It could have been that way…”

“Because I’m a woman and I know,” B’Elanna seethed. “Her throwing away such treasured memories is the desperate action of a woman scorned.” She hoisted herself off the sofa. “And I’m not going to sit here and let Captain Janeway and Chakotay throw away the best thing that ever happened to either of them. – especially not involving that mechanized blonde.”

Tom walked to her, trying to calm her escalading temper. “So – do you have a plan, Ms. Chief Engineer?”

The dark scowl on B’Elanna’s face brightened into a feral smile. “I will in a moment – I’m not married to the devious Tom Paris for nothing!”

Her mood was infectious and Tom quickly succumbed to the temptation. “Uh, oh. I can tell we’ll both probably be getting into trouble for this…”

“Probably so,” B’Elanna grinned back. “But I promise it will be worth it.”

~*~

“Remember – you invite the captain and I’ll take Chakotay,” B’Elanna reminded Tom the following morning as they went their ways to the duties of the day. “It should be fairly simple – we’re only asking them to dinner.”

“Without knowing that the other will be there,” Tom grimaced. “Yeah; no problem there – just a woman scorned and a man ignored… simple little situation.”

B’Elanna grabbed her handsome helmsman husband and pulled him down for a Klingon kiss to remind him of just why he married her. “Have a bit of faith, my dear loDnal. We have proof that those two had something going not so long ago and we aren’t going to let some conniving automaton botch up a twosome that is meant to be.”

Tom shook his head. “And I say that you’ve been reading too many of those damned Klingon romance novels. Here’s hoping that the ice of the atmosphere when they see one another kills us before either of them can beam us onto a Malon freighter.”

B’Elanna thumped him on the arm. “It’s going to work, Tom. A little wine, a little pasta primavera ala Paris and chocolate mousse for dessert… they’ll be okay. What’s with this pessimistic mood from you all of a sudden? I thought I was the doom and gloom partner in this marriage.”

“I don’t know – just a funny feeling,” he shivered. “Maybe you’re rubbing off on me.”

Another thumping from B’Elanna and they went their ways.

~*~

“So… any problems talking with Chakotay?” Tom asked as he set the table for their matchmaking dinner party.

“Nope,” B’Elanna called over her shoulder as she straightened the sofa pillows and whisked away some dust from the end table. “Caught him in the mess hall this noon and said that we wanted to practice our married hosting skills on him. In fact, he seemed rather relieved to come over… maybe it gave him an excuse to not have to be available for you-know-who. How about you?”

“Smooth as silk. She called me into her ready room to discuss our chances of navigating some wormholes Harry picked up on long range sensors. She wandered into a bit of small talk, asking me how things were going with your being so close to deliver and I managed to segue it into inviting her over, saying it might be the last chance for her to visit us with any guarantee of peace and quiet – she readily accepted.”

“”Oh, thanks for reminding me of that!” B’Elanna groaned.

Tom went over to her, taking her into as close embrace as their soon-to-be child would allow. “Aw, you know I’ll be right here to help, sweetie.”

“Yeah, but I’d like to see you try to give birth to a ridge-browed child,” B’Elanna growled. She shook her head as if to erase even the thought of what was to come. “Why don’t you get some wine opened and I’ll finish up the stuffed mushroom appetizers – they’ll be here any minute.”

Horror suddenly spread over her face. “You don’t suppose they’ll arrive at the same time, do you? Maybe even be in the same turbolift… they’re both pretty prompt.”

“Nope, don’t think so,” Tom gleamed knowingly. “I arranged with Harry for a power glitch in Captain Janeway’s quarters five minutes before she is due here. Seems her door won’t open, even with a captain’s override code.”

“Won’t that put her in a bad mood when she arrives?” B’Elanna asked.

“Not if I buzz her and tell her we’re running a bit late before it all happens,” he smiled, reaching for his commbadge to begin the delaying tactic, assuming his best apologetic voice as he told her of the delay at their end. “So don’t worry about being late, Captain – I’m sure that your door problem will be resolved soon,” he concluded. “We aren’t going anywhere.”

“Smooth, Paris – real smooth,” B’Elanna smirked, placing the tray of mushrooms on the table beside the uncorked wine and glasses. “Now if only the rest of your little plan will work…”

My plan?” laughed Tom. “Suddenly it’s my plan?”

B’Elanna rested her hands on her stomach and smiled benignly. “Yes – who would ever believe that a sweet mother-to-be would be so conniving?”

“You’re not going to be able to hide behind that excuse much longer, Torres,” Tom retorted. He was about to give her one last kiss when the chimes rang. “Ah, saved by the bell,” he said as he went to greet their first guest.

The doors swooped open, framing the broad figure of Chakotay. He noted rising blushes on both his hosts’ faces. “Am I interrupting something?” he asked with a smile.

“N… No, you’re right on time,” B’Elanna answered, lumbering over to the table. “We were just putting out some appetizers – mushrooms stuffed with artichokes and spinach.”

“One of my favorites – thanks, B’Elanna” Chakotay said, following Tom into the room.

B’Elanna smiled wanly and rubbed the small of her back; neither man missed the gesture.

“Are you sure this isn’t too much for you?” Chakotay asked, going over to her.

“I’m fine,” she said waving him off. “I’ll just sit down for a little while…”

Tom grabbed a glass from the table and filled it with a dark red liquid. “Here, honey – have some qwazenberry juice. Chakotay and I can finish things up before… ow!”

A swift kick from B’Elanna cut him off before he said too much. “Sorry,” she apologized with a smirk. “The baby moved.”

“Right,” he glared back at her. “Just take it easy, sweetie.”

Chakotay coughed gently. “I am an imposition tonight – let’s do this some other time.”

“No!” Tom and B’Elanna chimed out in unison, a bit too quickly and definitely too emphatically.

Chakotay’s eyes darkened. “Now I know there’s something…”

Breep. The door buzzer announced their second guest.

Before Chakotay could say anything more, Tom trotted to the door. “Captain! Glad to see that you solved your problem and make it here okay.”

“It doesn’t take much to get someone to beam you out of your quarters when you’re the captain,” she grinned. “It’s nice of you and B’Elanna to invite me.” She looked beyond Tom, to find B’Elanna but the space between Tom and his seated wife was blocked by Chakotay.

Janeway’s eyes narrowed and her tone changed, adding a sudden chill to the atmosphere. “Commander – I didn’t expect to find you here.”

“Nor I you,” Chakotay responded, tossing a dark look back at B’Elanna and then to Tom.

“Uh… sorry; guess we forgot to tell each of you that we’d invited the other.” He forced a broad smile and continued cheerfully. “But it’s been a long time since we’ve done something like this together and we thought that we should… unh… do it one more time… before the baby comes. God knows when we’d have the time then!” He chortled nervously and a thin layer of cold sweat shone on his high forehead.

“That’s right,” B’Elanna joined in, struggling to her feet. “Tom – why don’t you pour some wine for our guests?”

Tom quickly followed her suggestions as she trudged over to the table and picked up the tray of mushrooms to offer to the captain and Chakotay.

“I hear that you got another lengthy communication from Starfleet again today,” Tom blurted out, desperate to get some kind of conversation going and try to thaw out the icy silence of their guests.

“Wh…what?” Janeway asked as if to rid herself of a thick cobweb. “Oh… yes! Yes, we did hear from them again. I guess you heard that from B’Elanna. It seems that our number one aboard expert on the MIDAS array, Seven, has been unavailable quite a bit lately.” She tossed a sharp silent glare in the direction of Chakotay. “Much like you, Commander.” Her words came out as piercing as her look. She took a deep gulp from the glass of red wine Tom had placed in her hand.

Chakotay’s face tightened. “I’m available whenever you need me, Captain – just ask.” He followed her action and swigged at his wine.

“Just like you are for someone else,” Janeway continued in her suddenly personal tirade.

“That’s not true, Kathryn, and you have no right to control my time when I work on projects outside of my duty hours.”

“Commander, now you’re out of line. You are of command rank and you are ‘on duty’ at all times,” she countered, her face flushed with yet more wine and her rising temper. “As for your ‘project’… by the way, is that what people are calling it now?” She finished off her wine and thrust her empty glass towards Tom. A nod of her head indicated that she wanted more.

“Uh… Captain… do you really think that… so soon…” Tom managed to squeak.

A Janeway glare silenced him. “Mr. Paris, you invited the commander and me tonight and I’m sorry you and B’Elanna are having to witness this bit of… altercation. But I’m sure you have known for awhile that we… we don’t exactly get along personally anymore.”

Chakotay inched towards her and took her elbow. “And just why is that, Kathryn? I can’t remember that I did anything to jeopardize our… um… friendship.”

Janeway jerked her arm away from Chakotay and he retreated a couple of steps but he continued. “You’re the one who decided to isolate yourself and barely speak to me these past few weeks. Any time I tried to find out why, you ran away – always somewhere to be, someone else to talk with, jobs to be done. A man can take only so much. If you knew that you wouldn’t be able to see us work out together, why did you finally tell me five months ago ‘To hell with protocol’ and allow me into your life?”

Allow you into my life? Ha – that’s an understatement! Chakotay, you know that you have been my life for years. But we both knew that Voyager and getting back to Earth had to take precedence over our personal feelings. It’s just that… that… we were getting so close the end of the journey and I didn’t want to lose you. But then I did.”

Lose me? Why? To what… to whom?” Chakotay’s pained and puzzled expression indicated that he was genuinely oblivious to what she was trying to say.

“To whom? To whom? Don’t play coy, Chakotay – that isn’t you.” Every fiber of Janeway’s being seethed with pent-up fury. A static energy zapped through the room as their verbal assault continued.

Chakotay’s face froze then sagged in dismay as he realized what she was talking about. “Are you referring to my counseling sessions with Seven? Is that what has you upset, Kathryn?”

“Oh, so now you’re calling it ‘counseling’, hmm?” Janeway filled her wine glass a third time, her hands shaking either from her emotional outburst or the effects of the two previous glasses of wine – or a combination of the two. She slugged back several gulps from the goblet as he tried to answer her.

“Yes, counseling,” Chakotay continued. “Or life tutoring, whatever you want to call it. The doctor called me in to help him, as it seems that after Seven’s disastrous earlier attempts at socializing have alienated her from most of the rest of the crew. He suggested to me that since we seem to be close to arriving back in the Alpha Quadrant that maybe I could accelerate his ‘lessons’ for him.”

Janeway still wasn’t satisfied with his explanation and she lit into him like a wounded targ, albeit one that had had a bit much to drink. “And jush… jush what all did these ‘lesshons’ include? None of them were actually ‘soshializing’ with other members of the crew…”

“It wasn’t what you think, Kathryn. They were no more than any other counseling sessions I’ve had with other crew members over the years.” Chakotay started to go to her, but his expression told Tom and B’Elanna that he was concerned that in her current state, that she might lash out and hurt any of them.

The wine glass in her hand began to tip precariously as her body weaved unsteadily. Tom jumped to her side and took the half-filled goblet from her and again attempted to diffuse her rising temper. “Uh… Captain, how about some dinner to counteract all the wine you’ve had?”

Janeway turned to him, losing her footing a bit as she did so. “Dinner? Oh, yesh… dinner. Now… where was I?”

The usually staid, sober captain of Voyager took two wobbly steps before her legs gave way and crumpled into a drunken tumble. Fortunately, Chakotay was behind her and grabbed her under her arms before she could fall to the floor.

“It seems our captain had a bit too much too drink,” he smiled at a dumbfounded Tom and B’Elanna as he hoisted her upright and draped one of her limp arms around his neck and he secured his grip around her waist. “I’m sorry about all of this unpleasantness,” he continued apologetically. “We should not have let our personal differences interfere with what I’m sure you had hoped would be a lovely evening.”

Tom jumped over to the other side of their unconscious captain. “How about we put her on the sofa… or on our bed and we can have our dinner.”

“I think I should just get her back to her quarters, Tom,” Chakotay answered. “I’m sure that she’ll be embarrassed to tears when she realizes what a scene we had in front of you.”

“So there really wasn’t anything going on between you and Seven?” B’Elanna asked before Chakotay could leave.

“Why has everyone jumped to this conclusion?” Chakotay retorted. “Ask Seven yourself – she’ll tell you that all we were doing was going over Earth customs and what all she might expect when we return and how she should react. I’ve been trying to teach her how to respond with patience and graciousness rather than her usual bluntness. Okay, so it might have involved some physical interaction but it was nothing more than showing her how to respond to hugs and that sort of thing.”

Janeway’s inert form, even though she was small, began weighing down on him. “Now – can we go?”

B’Elanna’s blush was bright enough for both her and Tom. “Yes… of course. And… we’re sorry, Chakotay.”

“For what?” he asked, as he reached for his commbadge.

“For… for trying to get you two back together again,” Tom responded sheepishly.

“So that’s what this was all about,” Chakotay grinned, shifting the sleeping woman in his arms. “I should have expected that that you two knew. But not to worry – the evening is young and I think our captain just might have some second thoughts when she’s feeling a bit better. In the meantime, I don’t think she would like to have anyone else see her in this condition.” Chakotay hit his commbadge. “Computer, two to beam to Captain Janeway’s quarters.”

A curtain of light enveloped the command twosome and they disappeared from sight.

“Well, I think that went pretty well, all things considered…don’t you?” Tom beamed, putting his arm around B’Elanna.

B’Elanna glared at him.

~*~

Chakotay gently laid Kathryn down on her bed. Damn, she was beautiful, even in her current state. ‘Current state’, he smiled as he took off her shoes and eased her out of the soft blue sweater and navy slacks she’d worn that evening. He couldn’t ever remember seeing her so inebriated. And so quickly – only a couple glasses of wine! But, knowing her, she probably hadn’t eaten much that day, and in the mood she had been in, it went straight to her head.

But what had gotten into her? Why had she thought that he had ‘dumped’ her and hooked up with Seven? Sometimes he wondered, for someone as bright and astute as she was, how she could misread people at times. In that way, perhaps she and Seven were more alike than he realized: Seven had been brainwashed by The Collective and Kathryn was directly wired to Starfleet, with no room for divergence. Maybe that’s why Kathryn seemed to be so jealous of Seven – because they were so much alike in that respect.

Kathryn stirred in her sleep, eliciting a slight moan. She shifted, rolling onto her side and drawing her legs up, almost fetal in position. He brushed her hair back from her face and she stirred again but still didn’t wake up.

‘I really should alert the EMH and have him give her a detox injection,’ Chakotay thought. ‘But then again, maybe she should have a bit of payback for her transgressions of the evening. She’s got to learn to take responsibility for her emotional outbursts.’ Yes, he would let her sleep it off; but he’d stay there to watch over her. Oh, yes… he knew that he wouldn’t get off easy for denying her a quick fix, but she had to learn.

He peeled back the bedcovers and managed to get her underneath them – no point to letting her get chilled on top of everything else. She mumbled something as he pulled the sheet and blanket over her but he couldn’t make out the words. Satisfied that she was all right, he slipped out into the living area to call up dinner that he’d missed – using Kathryn’s replicator and rations… served her right!

Chakotay stood in front of the replicator for a moment, trying to decide what he would like. Remembering that he’d passed up some of Tom’s specialty, he decided that would taste good. “Computer, one plate of Paris pasta primavera.” Within seconds, a plate heaped with the steaming dish materialized. He picked it up and turned, seeing the living area more clearly than when he arrived.

Kathryn obviously had been sorting through her personal belongings in preparation for their final leg of the journey before reaching Earth. For all her command talents and her always-tidy ready room, he knew that she wasn’t always the neatest person when it came to her own quarters. Tonight’s view verified that bit of knowledge, for there were storage bins all over, bundles and piles of clothing and knick-knacks gathered over the course of their almost seven-year journey, stacks of padds on a couple end tables and her desk, dried plants and flowers, a few books – it looked as if a plasma storm had ripped through the place. He’d been lucky he hadn’t tripped on any of it when he brought her in earlier.

Chakotay spotted the small table Kathryn used as her dining area. It, too, was littered with the bits and pieces of her life in the Delta Quadrant. He gingerly pushed a few items aside to make room for his plate and pulled back the lone chair at the table to sit down to his long-delayed dinner. The chair’s movement jostled a precarious stack of books, jarring a couple off the pile.

Chakotay was about to restack them when one small volume jumped out at him. It was a handmade album and the picture and title on its cover opened up a long-suppressed recollection from deep within and he knew he had to look at it. The title words read “Memories of New Earth”. He was surprised to note that his fingers trembled as he reached for it, but its call was mesmerizing and he knew he had to look at it.



Click to play



Chakotay thumbed through the album’s pages several times. Finally raising his eyes and surveying the other contents of the table, he wondered if these were items Kathryn was keeping or recycling. He noted several gifts from Delta Quadrant ‘friendlies’, a paper doll of a female Starfleet captain that Naomi had made for her, a box of data chips with personal messages from Earth – these had to be some of her ‘keeps’.

Things were so different on New Earth – she was so different… well, after awhile, when it looked like there was little hope of a rescue. But everything changed the moment they returned to Voyager… until, that is, about six months ago. It had happened shortly after he, Harry and Neelix had managed to rescue the rest of the crew who had been captured and drugged into believing that they lived and worked on the planet Quarra. While there, a softer, less driven side of Kathryn had emerged, similar to the one he saw and remembered from New Earth. Only now, on Quarra, the object of her affection was a Norvalian with whom she worked, Jaffen. Even after her memories had been restored, she remembered her time with him and for about a week after they left the system (and Jaffen), Chakotay wondered if she regretted leaving her newfound love behind.

Kathryn had never said why, but about a week later, she asked Chakotay to remain behind in the briefing room after a rare late-afternoon meeting with the senior staff. As the doors closed behind the last departing officer, she slowly sauntered towards him. Without a word, she smiled at him with that crooked little grin of hers, her blue eyes as clear and inviting as a sky in May. He remembered feeling a apprehensive tingle of warning and then downright shock when she reached up, encircled his neck with her pale hands and pulled him down towards her, kissing him deeply and thoroughly.

When they broke their embrace, he was stunned and asked her what that was all about. She told him that she recently had been reminded of what they had to give up almost five years earlier on New Earth and she wasn’t about to let it get away again; life was too short and precious – Starfleet rules and protocol be damned! She kissed him again and this time he returned the kiss with all the longing and desire that had been buried for so long.

“We must be discreet,” she had whispered into his ear.

“Absolutely,” he had answered softly. “Absolutely.”

Two hours later, they met in her quarters and began two months of uninhibited physical and emotional bliss.

Then a few weeks ago, everything came to a standstill. She was always ‘busy’ when he suggested they get together and she seemed to find ways to keep herself at a distance. He had asked her why the sudden change but either he got the silent treatment with a glare and a huff or something like, ‘You know!’

But he didn’t know and finally he just gave up trying to ask. He presumed that Kathryn had used him as a rebound object after the Jaffen affair, playing out her frustrations at having to leave Jaffen behind on Quarra. He felt used and violated, wondering if she had been thinking of Jaffen every time they made love.

Was it any wonder that when the doctor asked if Chakotay could work with Seven that he readily accepted? At least Seven seemed to appreciate what he was trying to do for her. She even had invited him to her quarters a couple of times for dinner and had a picnic planned for tomorrow. The ex-Borg had become more relaxed and open with their sessions and he knew that she was headed in the right direction.

A sudden blush burned his face as he toyed with the cooling food in front of him. Of course… that’s what had Kathryn upset! All of this with Seven – and the changes in the woman – could easily be mistaken for something more than a teacher-student relationship. Well, that was going to stop here and now. He would tell the EMH that he had done all he could and now Seven was the doctor’s protégée again.

A groan came from Kathryn’s bedroom area, jolting Chakotay out of his reverie. “Kathryn?” he called out.

“Mmmm,” came the mournful sound from her direction. “Is tha… is that you, Chakotay?”

“I’ll be right there,” he answered, stumbling over his own feet in a rapid attempt to get to the other room.

By the time he got there, she had swung herself out from the covers and sat on the edge of the bed, steadying herself by holding onto the edge. Her reddened eyes, which seemed to be having difficulty in focusing, stood out against her pale face.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” she groaned, shaking as she stood unsteadily to go to her bathroom.

Chakotay got to her and eased her into the side room just in time, as she rid herself of the vile liquid that had affected her. He held onto her until she had cleared herself and sat her down on the commode while he found a couple of washcloths and wet them with cold water.

“Feel better now?” he asked softly, cleaning her face with one cloth and placing the other on the back of her neck.

“No,” she answered truthfully. “I made a fool of myself tonight, didn’t I?”

“No more than any other human has done at least once or twice in life,” he smiled. He removed the washcloth and rinsed it again in cold water before replacing it.

“Why didn’t you get me to sick bay?” Janeway moaned more than asked.

“Because I thought this might be lesson to you never to drink three large goblets of red wine on an empty stomach again. Or to mistrust your first officer and best friend.”

Kathryn groaned again then shivered as she suddenly realized that all she had on were her bra and panties. “Did you get me this way?”

Chakotay knelt down in front of her and took her hands between his. “Nothing I haven’t seen before,” he grinned. “Although these particular ones look new to me…” He ran his fingers along the lace edges of her bra.

“Not now, Chakotay,” Kathryn croaked. “I don’t think I can even manage to move from her.”

He brushed her hair back from where it was plastered against her damp face and pulled her close to him, kissing her forehead. “Kathryn, I’m so sorry you got the wrong idea about Seven. It’s just that as you seemed to want to distance yourself from me, I got deeper and deeper into working with Seven.”

“And the more time you spent with her, the more I thought that you were ‘telling’ me that we were through. Quite a vicious little circle, wasn’t it?”

“Just for the record, I did ask you several times if you wanted to talk,” Chakotay managed in his own defense.

“And I thought the reason you wanted to ‘talk’ was to tell me about you and Seven.” Kathryn sniffed back some tears. “I figured that if I didn’t talk with you… if I never heard it from you… that there might be another chance for us.”

Chakotay eased her up and helped her walk back into the bedroom. “Then let’s make it happen… let’s take that chance we’ve been given.”

“So you forgive me?” she said, before slumping back onto the bed. “What a fool I’ve been – how am I ever going to face Tom and B’Elanna again?”

“Shhh,” he said, sitting down beside her. “I wasn’t much better. We’ll talk to them together – tomorrow, after all of us are feeling better.”

Kathryn grinned at him. “Does that mean you’re going to ask the EMH for a hypo of detox?”

Chakotay took her chin in his hand. “No, it doesn’t, my dear headstrong Kathryn – you’ve got to pay a bit more for your transgressions. But if you ask me nicely, I’ll make you a special brew of tea that will calm down any effects of demon drink.” “And after I’m feeling better?” she questioned coyly.

“We’ll just play it by ear… or hands… or mouth… or…”

The rest was lost in his kiss.

~*~


EPILOGUE


By the time Voyager arrived back in the alpha Quadrant, her captain had added a new video log to her off-the-record personal logs, containing images that would never be seen by curious crew members, a collection of ‘for your eyes only’ pictures to be shared only by herself and her first officer. However, it just so happens that the scriber of this little tale managed to find these files, piggy-backed onto a file of never-used recipes using leola root. Here they are, so you can see them now:



Click to play OX-Omega



Isn’t it nice when a story can end so happily?



~ THE END ~




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