Summary: Written for the Vamb 2010 Ficlet/Drabble exchange. My recipient was Cheshire and she gave me the fun line of “They didn’t teach that at the Academy.” as a prompt that could go anywhere in the story. Thanks, hon.
Thanks to Kim J for the beta.
Disclaimer: CBS/Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.
B’Elanna and Chakotay stood side by side in the deserted town square of Oldios. The absent local inhabitants were all sensibly indoors avoiding the midday heat that relentlessly beat down from the twin suns blazing overhead. There was nowhere for the Voyager officers to escape the searing temperatures except to huddle in the shadow of the newly erected statue that rose – in its five-metre glory – from the middle of the village fountain.
With their eyes riveted to the massive stone structure and brows creased in puzzled frowns, B’Elanna and Chakotay leaned back to study the towering effigies. Their gazes slowly travelled upwards from the perfectly rendered toes to the eerily recognisable heads. With shocked surprise, their eyes widened in unison.
While B’Elanna fought to contain her laughter, Chakotay made strangled hiccoughing noises in a futile effort to mask his horror.
He looked as though he was about to collapse into a babbling heap and, not for the first time, B’Elanna wished she’d paid better attention to Tuvok and his meditation techniques. A healthy dose of Vulcan emotional control would come in handy right about now.
Of course, that sort of control wasn’t something B’Elanna was ever likely to master but there were often times in the Delta Quadrant when being able to maintain a rigid poker face would have been of monumental value.
This was definitely one of those times.
It was almost impossible to look at Chakotay without laughing.
From horrified, he’d moved on to livid, and was now well on his way towards being homicidal. It seemed as though the only thing standing between him and an interstellar incident was Voyager’s engineer. She’d become the flesh and blood equivalent of the Neutral Zone.
And they didn’t teach that at the Academy – more’s the pity.
He groaned, “Oh God! Tell me that’s not…”
B’Elanna could only nod; the reality of what she was seeing taking its time to seep into her stupefied brain.
Her head snapped towards him and she swallowed the snort of laughter that threatened to erupt. “Yes, Chakotay.”
“Do you see what I see?”
“Umm, what do you see?” Skirting around the subject seemed like the safest course of action and she figured that by refusing to acknowledge what was clearly in front of her, she might escape with sensibilities intact.
“Can you see that and… who it is?”
She grimaced before she could stop herself, and then reluctantly nodded before her eyes were drawn like magnets back to the fountain and its magnificent ‘adornment’. “Yes, I can see it.”
“What in God’s name possessed them to do that?”
Aware that the Captain was probably the one responsible, B’Elanna wasn’t going within a light-year of answering that question and kept her mouth firmly shut in hope that it was merely rhetorical. She did, however glance sideways for a brief moment.
Kahless, she wished she had a holocamera with her. The look on Chakotay’s face had to be seen to be believed.
She was glad she wasn’t one of the security team – being on the receiving end of one of Tuvok’s interminable lectures on protocol was enough to sap one’s will to live – it was a cruel and unusual punishment. At the pre-mission briefing, it had been drummed into the team that there were to be no unruly incidents, blunders or controversies whilst the Captain was negotiating with the Oldions. Those warnings had obviously gone unheeded.
But pity for her unfortunate crewmates aside; this was one of the funniest things B’Elanna had ever seen and she wouldn’t have missed it for the all the dilithium in the Delta Quadrant.
They’d known that something was amiss when Ayala contacted the Bridge for his scheduled security update. He stuttered and spluttered through the away team’s report, informing Chakotay that the Captain was unavailable to speak to him before abruptly closing the connection.
Instantly on alert, Chakotay had caught B’Elanna’s eye from across the Bridge, and ordered her to accompany him planet-side to investigate the ‘unmentionable’ problem.
What had greeted them was the last thing either of them could have imagined and staring once more at the magnificent sculpture, B’Elanna tried to avert her gaze but it was impossible. It was like a shuttle wreck and she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the unmistakeable nude form of Kathryn Janeway in the guise of the Roman goddess Venus; her body draped languorously and adoringly over an equally nude – not to mention impressively endowed – representation of Chakotay as the god of war, Mars.
It was an impressive piece of artwork but her friend and former captain was distinctly unimpressed, and she watched as a ruddy flush of angry embarrassment steadily worked its way up his neck.
Desperate to put a positive spin on this disaster, B’Elanna felt that it wasn’t so bad and perhaps he should try to see the funny side of the situation.
It could have been worse. At least it was reasonably tasteful – in the classical style of Earth’s Renaissance period – but noting his thunderous brow, B’Elanna decided that discretion was the better part of valour and held her tongue. She had a feeling it would be some time before he was ready to share a hearty chuckle over this incident.
Then suddenly, like a bad punchline, insult was added to injury when water suddenly began to spurt from small jets around the rim of the pool. They doused the iridescent stone until it shimmered and glistened like bare flesh in the sunlight.
It was a mesmerising sight.
Chakotay groaned again.
As the water trickled over the deliciously defined pectoral muscles and abdomen of the Mars figure, and ran down the lean back and rounded buttocks of Venus, B’Elanna felt compelled to say something to break the deadly silence.
She gritted her teeth and muttered, “It’s not a regular first contact but at least they’re not shooting at us.”
Chakotay didn’t answer and B’Elanna turned to see why.
Swallowing yet another guffaw, she found him staring awestruck at the statue. The water was cascading over both figures but his gaze was riveted to the small rivulets trickling over Venus’s womanly attributes. His expression was something to behold and B’Elanna couldn’t wait until Janeway appeared. The confrontation was bound to be spectacular and she wished that Tom were there to witness it; this was too good not to share.
Spellbound, Chakotay stood there for several minutes, his eyes glued to the glistening breasts of his naked ‘Venus’, his thoughts miles away from trade negotiations and Oldios.
The poor man was terminally smitten and B’Elanna felt she should say something before Janeway arrived and caught him leering. But what did one say that would be considered an appropriate conversation starter under the circumstances? The very apparent attributes of both individuals were so gloriously and unashamedly evident that they were impossible to ignore and with that thought, a cavalcade of double entendres and innuendos tumbled through her mind. And although tempted, she was pretty sure that Chakotay would not appreciate the humour.
Another couple of excruciating minutes of silence followed before B’Elanna couldn’t stand it any longer and said the first thing that came into her head.
Chakotay jolted and gawped at her. “What!?”
“The spear, it’s long… and very pointy.”
He turned back towards the fountain, dumbstruck.
Now on a roll, she kept going. “The helmet’s very dashing too.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Torres?”
She was about to elaborate on the plumed helmet – basically the only thing the Chakotay figure was wearing – and how well the spear it was holding suited him, when they were interrupted.
Kathryn Janeway was making her way towards them.
Chakotay almost turned inside out with embarrassment.
Their captain appeared completely unperturbed by the enormous naked versions of herself and her first officer looming overhead and nodded a cheery greeting. “Commander, Lieutenant. Welcome to Oldios.”
B’Elanna had to bite the inside of her cheek to stop herself from smirking.
She turned to her captain and was delighted to see a glint of mischievous humour in Janeway’s eyes.
With a matching spark of amusement, B’Elanna returned the greeting. “Good afternoon, Captain. The scenery is quite unique.”
Chakotay turned towards Janeway, his cheeks ablaze. He was trying very hard to smile but it looked more like a pained grimace. “Kathryn.”
Her eyes shifted from his to the statue behind him.
B’Elanna had the feeling that Chakotay was trying to pretend it wasn’t there, but five metres of fleshy nakedness was rather hard to overlook.
Never one to prevaricate, Kathryn Janeway took the bull by the horns and marched up to his side. “So, what do you think, Commander? Are Canova and Botticelli spinning in their graves?”
He took a deep breath and reluctantly turned to face the fountain. “They just might be. I know I would be.” He huffed a quiet laugh.
He seemed to be relaxing a little now that he’d seen that Janeway wasn’t upset or uncomfortable.
B’Elanna had the feeling that their captain was taking this very much in her stride and, if she wasn’t mistaken, enjoying herself immensely.
Inhaling slowly, Chakotay asked the obvious question. “I don’t see any other statues that resemble this style. Where did they get the idea from?”
It was Janeway’s turn to look a little chastened. “Well, I suppose I’m at fault.”
Chakotay gave her a deadpan look, although he did try to sound surprised. He wasn’t entirely successful. “Really?”
The sarcasm wasn’t lost on Janeway and she shot a small sneer in his direction before she continued. “At our initial meeting, the Prime Minister noticed the antiques in my Ready Room. Apparently, he considers himself something of a connoisseur of all things culturally erudite and arty. When he enquired as to their origins, I showed him some illustrations of Earth’s antiquities, and he became enamoured with the Renaissance period.” She glanced up at the sculptures. “If nothing else, the Oldions are a quick study. Within an hour, he had his artists scouring the database for examples and before I knew what was happening, you and I had become their unwitting models. I have a feeling it’s a great honour.”
“Undoubtedly.” Chakotay’s lip curled wryly. “I know a five metre naked statue of me in a fountain on an unknown planet in the Delta Quadrant was just what I had in mind for a cultural exchange.”
Her face broke into a beaming smile. “Oh, it’s not so bad. Personally, I think you look very heroic.”
“That’s not heroic, Kathryn, that’s buck-naked.”
She shrugged. “I suggested a fig leaf but the Oldions were all for authenticity.”
B’Elanna had been silent up until now, happy just to watch the interaction between her captain and first officer, but she couldn’t help herself and blurted, “Is that what they call it?”
Janeway chuckled and winked. “For want of a better word.”
Chakotay rolled his eyes as his mouth softened into a smile. “What is Starfleet going to say when they read about this? Poor Tuvok is going to have a coronary when he realises how many subsections of the Prime Directive have been violated.”
Kathryn shrugged. “He’ll get over it.”
“Maybe, but I don’t know if I will.”
“You’ll manage, you always do.”
He turned towards Janeway and gave her a knowing smile. “True; I should be used to this sort of thing by now.”
B’Elanna smiled as she watched Janeway loop her arm through Chakotay’s and tug him towards the buildings behind them. “Come on, Commander; I’ll introduce you to the gentlemen who immortalised us and you can give them your critique.” She glanced back at the fountain before meeting his gaze. “I don’t know about you, but being a demigod isn’t such a bad thing. I could certainly get used to it.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
They were almost out of earshot but B’Elanna could have sworn she heard Janeway say, “Oh, and I think I’m going to ask for a copy for my quarters.”
The last thing she heard was Chakotay’s incredulous; “Kathryn?” followed by Janeway’s husky laugh.
Grinning broadly, B’Elanna decided that like the statue, there was a lot more to her commanding officers and their relationship than met the eye but she still wished she’d brought a holocamera – who would ever believe her?
With that in mind, she grinned as she tapped her combadge. “Torres to Paris. Have I got something to show you….”