Summary:After weeks of attacks by DQ aliens, an exhausted Captain drops a bombshell.
Fic101 prompt: Thought.
I have now written a sequel (prequel/back story) to this. It is called A Better Way Home and can be found in the Adult Stories section of this site.
Disclaimer: CBS/Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.
Raucous laughter drifted up the corridors of deck two. The senior staff, minus Tuvok – who was on bridge duty – were seated around a table in the dimly lit mess hall. They’d retired there after another busy day of repairs and overhauls. Chakotay had suggested to Kathryn that it might be a good idea to hold the day’s debriefings in a more relaxed atmosphere and allow the overworked senior staff to let off a bit of steam.
They’d been on constant tactical alert for weeks now – ever since encountering the warlike Mor’usk Monocracy. However, earlier today had marked Voyager’s passage from their space. They were at last within safe borders and traversing the friendly territory of the Arlimarn.
Being on constant yellow alert for over two months had worn them all ragged and tonight had been the first opportunity they’d had in weeks to just relax and recoup. It was a relief to breathe easy for a change and not be under the relentless pressure of waiting for a surprise attack or hostile weapons fire. The Mor’usk had been tactically and technologically inferior, but what they lacked in fire power they made up for in tenacity and sheer bloody mindedness. Voyager had suffered extensive damage and although they’d been making running repairs, there was still much to be done, but for now, the warp core was back online and shields were operational, so the captain had called a break.
They were all enjoying the down time and Tom had just regaled the company with the story of how, several days before, he’d found B’Elanna asleep in one of the Jeffries tubes with a buzzing hyperspanner in one hand and a relay in the other. She’d literally fallen asleep in the middle of repairing the broken system. They’d all roared with laughter when Tom told them that he’d only found her by following the reverberating rattle of her snore.
B’Elanna glared at him indignantly and looked ready to leap across the table and disembowel him. “I do not snore!”
He wasn’t intimidated… much. “Oh, yes you do. I’ll record it next time. It was so loud the bulkheads were vibrating.” He turned to the captain. “We should check for microfractures.”
B’Elanna gave him a withering look. “Ha, ha. Well I’m not the only one. I’ve heard you rattle a few viewports on occasion.”
“I have a deviated septum. I can’t help it.”
“I could have that fixed in a minute, Mr Paris, if you’d care to bring yourself down to sickbay,” The Doctor suggested helpfully.
“Thanks, Doc, but I’ll survive.”
“Ah, but will your wife?” The Doctor shot back with his usual candour.
Kathryn was laughing and looked at Chakotay. He was shaking his head and chuckling. “Sounds to me like you two deserve each other.”
“Thanks so much, old man.” B’Elanna rolled her eyes.
Kathryn was having a wonderful time. She was completely exhausted of course, not having slept more than two or three hours a night since the encounters with the Mor’usk had begun, but she was so relieved to have survived yet another run in with a Delta Quadrant bully that she let her guard down. So far down, in fact, that she spoke without thinking.
Chakotay was still chuckling at the antics of Tom and B’Elanna, and she gave him a playful slap on the arm. “You can talk. Half our drawers rattle out of the cupboards and most of the covers are missing off our bed in the mornings, thanks to your thunderous gourd sawing.”
Everyone jolted to a standstill and from the combined gasps of all those present, it seemed as if all the air had been sucked out of the room. Kathryn, immediately realised what she’d said and sat rigid, in shocked silence.
Chakotay didn’t dare breathe.
His eyes met B’Elanna’s across the table and she stared at him open mouthed for a moment and then she let out a loud guffaw. “I knew it.” She turned to Tom. “Didn’t I tell you? That’s a month’s worth of rations you owe me.”
Tom glared at B’Elanna and gave his head a sharp shake. Then they turned and watched in wonder as a deep blush crept up their captain’s neck and spread across her cheeks.
The Doctor was looking back and forth between his commanding officers. Neelix was smiling broadly. Seven blinked twice and Harry just sat there, his eyes as big a saucers.
Kathryn’s eyes darted around the table. “I…. The Commander and I are…. We….” She looked at Chakotay for support.
He shrugged his shoulders. “This is your baby, Kathryn.”
Neelix leapt forward. “You’re having a baby? Oh this is wonderful. Congratul….”
“No! Neelix. No.” Kathryn yelped and shook her head vehemently. “No, definitely not. It’s just an expression.” She turned to Chakotay. “Thank you so much. Big help.”
He gave her an apologetic grin. “Sorry.”
Kathryn rubbed her hand over her face then looked around at the faces of her staff. They were all smiling kindly and she realised that she wasn’t only looking at her senior officers, but at her friends. Her face softened and she smiled. As she did so, she could feel the tension leave Chakotay’s body and he leant towards her slightly.
She took a deep breath and sought Chakotay’s hand under the table. Finding it, she held on tight. She’d known this day would come eventually and in a way was glad that she’d been the one to spill the beans. They’d been so careful for so long that it had become almost second nature, but it had been bound to happen. A slip up was inevitable. But as she looked at the familiar faces of her bridge crew she realised that it wasn’t such a disaster. In fact it would be nice to be able to relax a little around the senior staff and to not worry quite so much about how many times they touched, or accidentally say the wrong thing. To be honest, it would simply be a relief to not be on constant alert.
Seven was watching all this with a slight frown and she spoke to no one in particular. “So the speculation about your relationship is true?” She gave a small nod and smiled. “Good.”
Kathryn turned to Seven. “What speculation?”
Tom was madly kicking Seven under the table and she turned to him. “Lieutenant, why is your foot continuously impacting with my shin? Would you please desist?”
He rolled his eyes.
B’Elanna turned to him with a smirk. “Yes, why is your foot continuously impacting with her shin?”
Tom gave her a scathing look. “You’re not helping, B’E.” He then looked at the Captain apologetically. “It’s been a long time, Captain, but there used to be a lot of talk about you and the Commander early in the voyage. However, no one has placed a bet in years.” He turned to his wife. “Have they, B’E?”
B’Elanna turned to the Captain. “No. Tom’s right, Captain. But….” She nudged Tom. “The ones that are on the books still stand, so you owe me a month’s rations.”
Harry was staring wide-eyed. He looked stunned. It was a bit like finding out your parents have sex. He spoke quietly. “How long?”
Kathryn turned to him. “I beg your pardon?”
He blushed and swallowed. It hadn’t been his intention to speak out loud and now his voice had deserted him. Seven very helpfully spoke for him. “Ensign Kim asked ‘how long?’. I am assuming he is referring to the duration of your sexual relationship and not the length of the Commander’s…..”
“Yes, thank you, Seven.” Kathryn leapt in at that point. Several sets of shocked eyes zoomed in on Seven and B’Elanna snorted again. Kathryn had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. “I understand what Harry is asking.” Kathryn squeezed Chakotay’s hand tight and he squeezed hers in return.
He was having trouble keeping a straight face and Kathryn sensed his mirth and turned to him. “Commander, perhaps you would like to enlighten our audience?”
That wiped the smile from his face and he raised his eyebrows and mouthed. ‘Me?’
He nodded. “Okay.” And he looked around at the gathered staff. They were all looking at him expectantly. He looked back at Kathryn and tried to read her expression. He wasn’t sure what she wanted him to do. Did she want him to lie or…. Oh, what the hell. He decided their friends deserved the truth. Even though, by the look of him, it might very well be the death of Harry.
Here goes. “We’ve been together since the day after we met here in the Delta Quadrant.”
There was a heartbeat’s silence and then the whole group erupted. There was a cacophony of questions and exclamations of disbelief.
“Seven years! Kahless!”
“How did you…?”
“Holy shit, that long…”
“I can’t believe it!”
Kathryn sat back with her arms folded and waited for the uproar to subside. She cast a sideways glance at Chakotay. He shrugged and gave her a half smile. She rolled her eyes and her mouth twitched into a smile.
She noticed Seven looking at her with a puzzled frown. Kathryn thought seriously about not enquiring, but felt compelled to ask the young woman what was on her mind. Leaning forward with her arms on the table she called them to order. “Alright everyone. Settle down.”
It took a moment but slowly they all quieted and looked towards her. “We’ll answer all your questions as best we can.” She turned her gaze towards the young Borg woman. “Seven, you look puzzled. What’s the problem?” Seven opened her mouth to speak, but Kathryn held up her hand, remembering her last comment. “Before you say anything, please remember where we are. I’m sure the Doctor has covered ‘appropriate topics for conversation in mixed company’ in your lessons.”
Seven closed her mouth and sat back in her seat. Kathryn dreaded to think what that question had been. No doubt Seven would approach her later but at least she now had time to prepare for what, no doubt, would be a curly one.
Neelix was wriggling on his seat so Kathryn turned to him. “Neelix, you seem to have something on your mind. Would you like to share it with the group?”
“Yes, well Captain, can I just start by saying how happy I am for you and the Commander. I wish I had known and we could have celebrated anniversaries and …”
“Yes, Neelix. Did you have a question?” Kathryn cut him off, thinking to herself that he was about to list off all the reasons why they hadn’t wanted their relationship to become common knowledge.
“Why did you keep it a secret?” Neelix looked around the table trying to gauge whether that had been an acceptable question. No one seemed upset, so he looked back at the Captain.
“Hold that thought everyone.” Tom held up his hand. “I think this requires some lubrication. Back in a minute.” He leapt out of his chair and strode over to the replicator. He came back to the table carrying a couple of bottles of wine. Neelix saw what he had and scurried into the kitchen to gather some glasses and a bowl of nuts. Once they were all settled again with their refreshments, Tom raised his glass. “To the Captain and the Commander.” They all raised their glasses and sipped.
There was a moment of awkward silence and then B’Elanna piped up again. “OK. Spill. We’re dying to know here.”
Cradling her wine in both her hands, Kathryn cast her mind back to those first tumultuous days in the Delta Quadrant. She’d lost a third of her crew, they were stranded 70,000 light years from home, the ship was badly damaged and in desperate need of repair. She’d already made an enemy of the Kazon and to top it all off, she’d fallen in love with the man she’d been sent to capture. None of these things were supposed to have happened, but falling in love with the Maquis captain had to have topped the list of ‘Don’t dos’. She was a Starfleet captain. A woman engaged to be married, and she would never have believed it could be like that. Like a bolt of lightening. He’d stood in front of her when he, Tuvok and Ayala had beamed over from the Maquis vessel and their connection had been like a living, breathing thing. She’d laid her hand on his chest to stop him from lunging at Tom Paris, and that had been that.
With that touch, she’d lost her heart and she later found out, that so had he. After the array had been destroyed and they’d set course for the Alpha Quadrant, she’d called him to her ready room. He’d gladly taken the position of First Officer and both had tried to ignore the pull, but less than twenty four hours later they were in bed together and they’d known that this was it. True love. And they’d been together ever since.
“Captain?” She was daydreaming and there were expectant faces wanting to know.
“Ah, sorry. Umm, well, we kept it a secret at first because it seemed so insane. We were supposed to be sworn enemies. I’d been sent to apprehend Chakotay…” She turned to him and her brow twitched as she smiled. “Not the other way round.” She turned back to her audience. “You’ve all forgotten, but things were very tense between the two crews in the beginning. B’Elanna, can you imagine what your reaction would have been?”
B’Elanna opened her mouth to disagree, then stopped and gave an embarrassed smile. Kathryn nodded. “Hmmm… see what I mean? We were concerned that it could undermine the command structure and to be honest, I worried about a mutiny. If the Maquis were aware, they could have used me as a weapon against Chakotay, if, God forbid, they’d wanted to take over the ship. And visa versa in regard to the Starfleet crew. It was really just too dangerous to let it be known. Life was rather precarious in those first few months.”
They all looked at each other. It was hard to remember a time when they hadn’t all been friends and crewmates, but there was a slow nodded acceptance of the Captain’s words. Those had been different times back then. B’Elanna looked at Tom and remembered how she’d hated that smarmy upstart Lieutenant Paris. Not to mention her antipathy towards the Captain. She’d resented her for a long time. Initially her dislike had stemmed from her actions with the Caretaker and for stranding them out here. But then memories of her time at Starfleet academy resurfaced and her anger was directed at Janeway as an authority figure. How things had changed. She now looked at the Captain as a mother figure almost, but certainly as a mentor as well as a friend. B’Elanna looked around the table and could see everyone delving into their memories and coming to much the same conclusion as she. Keeping the command team’s relationship a secret had been their only option.
Tom leant forward. “I still can’t believe we never figured it out. I mean, we knew you were attracted to one another. That was blatantly obvious, but we all thought you wouldn’t break regulations. You certainly had me fooled.” Tom looked around the table and everyone nodded.
Kathryn smiled. “Yes, well we did have some help in the early days. Kes knew and she helped deflect a lot of unwanted attention. By the time Kes left, everyone had been lulled into believing that we were very close friends, but that I wouldn’t allow a relationship.” She turned to Chakotay. “I’ve always wondered why I was the one painted as the bad guy in that. Poor heartsick you and big mean me. Why was that, Commander?”
He laughed. “If I remember we tossed a coin. You lost.”
“Oh, now I remember.” She blushed.
“I suppose we don’t get to hear about that, do we?”
“No, Mr Paris, you do not.”
B’Elanna looked at her crewmates. “Well, I for one am thrilled to know that you’ve been happy together all these years. I can stop feeling sorry for you now.” She glared at Chakotay.
He shrugged. “I’m sorry that we misled you, but we didn’t have much choice. And…” He turned to Kathryn. “It’s probably a good idea to keep this just amongst the Senior staff for the moment.”
Kathryn nodded. “It’s not that we don’t trust the crew with the knowledge. It’s just that as far as Starfleet are concerned it might put the Maquis in jeopardy when we get home. If I’m to represent them, I need to appear impartial. I won’t lie, but with any luck they won’t ask the right questions and I won’t have to.”
Chakotay gave her a warm smile. “But we won’t be back in the Alpha quadrant for a good few years yet. It may not even matter to them by then. We’ll just have to see how things pan out.”
Kathryn looked at her friends. “Is everyone okay with that?”
There were nods and agreements all round. “Thank you all. Now, I’d like another glass of that wine, Mr Paris?”
“Aye, Captain.” He winked at her and she grinned as he reached across and refilled her glass.
Chakotay smiled and then looked across the table. Harry was still looking a little squeamish. “Harry, are you going to be alright?”
Harry jolted upright in his seat, almost coming to attention. “Uh, yes, thanks, sorry, I’ll be fine. It was just a … surprise.”
Tom stared at his friend then gave him a gentle shove. “At ease, Ensign, before you sprain something.”
Harry rolled his eyes and his shoulders slumped. He looked at his friends and grinned. Raising his glass towards Kathryn and Chakotay he proposed a toast. “To snoring, pleasant surprises and parade rest.” They all clinked their glasses together and drank to the health and happiness of their intrepid leaders.
And the sound of their laughter drifted up the corridor of deck two.