Disclaimer:  All the characters in this story are the property of Paramount.  The warped little story is mine.




First place winner in jellybeans

Rated PG

“Janeway to Chakotay”

“Chakotay here, Captain.”  The words were no sooner out of his mouth then, he realized he had forgotten about their dinner plans.  “Kathryn, I’m sorry.  I meant to call you..”

“Are you canceling on me, Chakotay?”  She held her voice steady but he could still hear her disappointment.

“I’m sorry.  Something’s come up.”  He hesitated.  “Are you alone, Kathryn?”

“Yes, I’m in my quarters.  Why?”

“Deck eleven.”  She heard him order the lift.  “I’m on my way to see B’Elanna.”

“Is something wrong in engineering?”

“No.  Well, actually the only thing wrong in engineering is that B’Elanna is there.”

“I don’t mean to sound snide, but isn’t that where she belongs?”

“Yes, but not 24/7.”

“What’s wrong that she is spending so much time there?”

“I’m not sure, but what ever it is, it's not an engineering problem.  Tom asked me to talk with her.”

“Oh?  Tom asked you?  This is serious.”

“I hope not, but I know he wouldn’t come to me if he weren't worried.”  The lift door opened with a faint swish.  “I’m here.  OK if I stop by when I’m finished, if its not too late?”

“Yes, I’ll be anxious to know she’s all right.”

“All right, I’ll see you later.  Chakotay out.”

Chakotay glanced quickly around engineering; it was quiet.  Carey was at his console, looking miserable; no one else was in sight.

“Joe.”  Chakotay strolled across the room.

“Commander.”  Joe barely took his eyes off the console.

“I’m looking for…”

“Over there.”  Joe nodded toward the other side of the room.  “Terrorizing innocent ensigns at the moment, I believe."

“Well, with any luck I can take her off your hands.”

“Not likely, but you are welcome to try.”

“That bad?”

“Worse.”  Joe checked to make sure she wasn’t listening.  “She’s been hell for a week or more.  Nothing is good enough.  No one can do anything right.  Says she has to do everything herself!”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Yeah, you do that.”  Joe shook his head.  “Good luck.”

Chakotay made his way over to where B’Elanna was muttering and grumbling to herself having just scared off two of her people.

“Evening, Lieutenant.”

“Commander.”  She didn’t look up.

“How are you this evening?”

“Busy.”  She grabbed a tool bag and brushed past him.

“I see that, but aren’t you supposed to be off duty?”

“Yeah, and if I had one competent person in this whole damned department….”  She growled when he touched her arm to stop her from walking away. “Look, I’m busy.  If you need something ask Carey, maybe he can help you.”  B'Elanna yanked her arm away and lifted herself into a jeffries tube.

“I came here to see you.”  He followed her in.

“Well, you’ve seen me.  Now, I have work to do.”  She crawled deeper and he followed.

“I’ll help you.”

“Don’t bother.”

“No bother.”  He continued to follow her deeper into the bowels of the ship.

Chakotay crawled silently, behind the grumbling engineer for a good ten minutes.  He nearly collided with her when she stopped short and ripped the plating off the bulkhead.  B’Elanna let go a sting of Klingon curses as the plating skinned her finger drawing blood.

“Let me see that.”  He reached for her hand but she yanked it away, sucking the blood off her finger.

“It’s nothing, just a scratch.”   She examined the finger and went right back to work.  “Here, hold this.  If you must follow me around you might as well be useful.”

“B’Elanna, anyone in engineering could have done this for you.”

“Not a one of them knows their ass from their elbow anymore.” She snarled.

“Mind telling me just how they all got so stupid?”

“Hand me that spanner.”  She held her hand out and he place the spanner against her palm.

“B’Elanna, you didn’t answer me.”

“They’re just stupid.  How the hell do I know how they got that way?”  She yanked on a bundle of wires and sparks started to fly.  “Shit!”

Chakotay sat back against the side of the tube and watched her work.  Even in this state, she was the best damned engineer he had ever seen.  Her movements were fluid and sure.  It didn’t matter that there was no real problem here, except the one she caused, just watching her work was a pleasure.  After turning off the shower of sparks, she fixed the wire, replaced a relay, took readings, adjusted this and that, fiddled, scanned and slammed the plating back against the wall.

“OK.”  She slumped against the wall.  “You won’t go away, so you had better tell me what the hell you’re doing here.”

“I came to find out what’s going on with you.”

“Nothing is going on with me.  I’m just busy and I don’t have time to chat.  In case you missed it earlier, I have a department full of morons and a ship to take care of.”

“And a husband who hasn’t seen you or heard a civil word from you for weeks.”

“That P’ahtk!  Did Tom send you here?”

“He expressed concern, I came because you are my friend and because I’m the only person on this ship stupid enough to take on a raging Klingon.”

“So it was Tom.”

“I told you he’s concerned, but so am I.”

“Well, thank you but don’t be.  I’m fine.”  She started to pack up her tools, slamming each into the case.  “Everyone around me is stupid, my husband is a p’ahtk, my best friend is trying to smother me and my body is expanding at an alarming rate making my job that much harder and my life…” She threw the spanner against the wall. “My life is just peachy!” She flung the entire case against the wall.

“Good, then maybe you will take a minute to satisfy my mother hen instincts and stop wasting my time and yours.”  Chakotay picked up the tools carefully placing each of them back in the case.  “ You know, I stood up Kathryn to come here.”

“Who the hell needed you here?!  I didn’t ask for your help.”  She joined him in cleaning up her mess growling as she tossed the tools in the case.  “Kahless, it’s not like it was a real date or anything.”  B’Elanna regretted the words as soon as she blurted them out, but it was too late.  She glanced sideways at him. “I’m sorry.”  She slumped down against the wall again.

“It’s OK.  You’re right.”  He leaned back next to her, kicking the tools aside.  “I can’t even get the woman to consent to a date, so what the hell do I know about your lifestyle.”

“Chak, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean that.  I’m just so --- I don’t know, maybe this whole marriage thing was a big mistake.”  She pulled a small plastic bag out from under her tools and examined the colorful contents.

“So you’re going to do what?”

“I don’t know, but I have to do something.”

“Stop being stupid, that’s what you have to do.”  It startled her when he slammed his hand down on the deck.  “You have a great department, a husband who loves you and a baby on the way— a life style I would kill for and will probably never have!  So it has a few bumps and you are going to what?!  Throw it all away?!”  He was yelling and she could only stare at him. “Why? What is so wrong with it? Tell me that, B’Elanna.”

“I can’t do this, OK—that’s why!  I..” She was yelling back now but her expression told him it was only to keep herself from crying.

“Bullshit!

“I can’t.  Tom can.  He’s good at this stuff.  He knows how to take care of people and let people take care of him, sometimes.”  She tossed the bag in the air and caught it again. “He knows about babies!  I – I know about engines—that’s all.  I just can’t do this.”

“You can’t or you won’t?  Oh, this is almost funny.”  He gave her a sarcastic laugh.

“I’m glad you are amused. My life is shit and you’re amused by it.  Wonderful.”  B’Elanna took something out of the bag and popped it into her mouth. “Great friend!”

“Tell me you don’t see the humor in this.  I give up my plans to sit in this hot tunnel with my friend the fierce Klingon warrior, who has a great life she is ready to chuck ‘cause she’s scared!”

“I’m not scared!”

“Yes, you are!”  He grabbed her shoulders and glared into her eyes.  “You are afraid Tom will be a better parent than you, so you are willing to throw it all away just because you are scared.”

“He will be—he already is!  I don’t know how to do this.  I’m lousy with kids.”

“So you’ll learn.  We all have to learn—hell even you had to learn about engines.  You had to learn all this new technology.”  He waved his hands in the air.  “B’Elanna the people on this ship all depend on you and you never let them down. The baby will depend on you even more and that’s scary but it’s not anything you can’t do. ”

“I don’t think I can.”

“I know you can, so does Tom.  You’re scared and that’s OK.  You know as well as I do that a person who is never afraid is a dangerous person.”

“It’s hot in here.  Can we go now?”

“Nope, not till you admit you’re scared.”

“It’ll be a cold day in hell….”

“Well, the change in temperature would be nice.”  He wiped the sweat off his face, smirking as he leaned back against the wall.

“You’re not funny.” She rested her head against the wall.

“Just admit you’re scared and we can go.”

“It’s stupid to be scared of a baby.”

“Maybe.”  He watched her out of the corner of his eye.  “Maybe it’s just human to be afraid of what you don’t know.”  He saw the human side of his friend recognize the truth; the Klingon side jumped to over come it.

“OK, OK, maybe what you say is true, but..”

“I know, if I ever tell anyone you admitted to being scared you will rip the heart out of my chest and eat it raw.”  He smiled and she returned it.  Popping a purple thing in her mouth, she handed him the plastic bag.

“Yeah. OK, so this baby scares the hell out of me.”  She gave him a threatening look.  “What if I screw this up?”

“You won’t.”  He examined the colorful contents of the bag she had handed him.

“It’s not like an engine – engines I can fix.  If I mess up the baby thing…”

“You won’t and if something goes wrong or you need some help, Tom will be there.”  He looked directly into her frightened eyes.  “We will all be right here with you.  No one on this ship is going to let anything happen to your baby.  Understand?” She nodded and smiled a little.  “So, what the hell is this?”  He shook the bag in the air.

“One of Tom’s little ‘comfort’ things.”  She rolled her eyes.  “He tucks little things in my bags – surprises.  These are jellybeans.  Tom says each color gives you something different. Like red for love and green for happiness and purple for courage.  Actually, they’re not bad, try one.”

“I don’t know.”  He held up the bag and inspected the contents again.

“Don’t be scared.  It’s only candy, you big p’ahtk.”  She pushed at his shoulder.  “Try the purple ones, they’re good.  Taste like gagh.”

“Hummm, maybe I’ll try red.”  He fished one out and dropped it in his mouth, nodding his approval.

"So, you think its OK?  I can really do this?"  She was uncharacteristically lacking confidence.  She even allowed him to lean her against his side when he put his arm around her.

"Of course you can.  You'll be a great mother and Tom, well, he’ll be OK too." He laughed when she punched him for that last remark.  "Besides, I'll be here too.  I can't let anything happen to my godchild."

They sat together silently until the heat became too much then they made their way back to engineering.

"Guess I owe these guys an apology for the way I've been."  B'Elanna looked at her crew, all silently looking very busy.

"They'll get over it."

"Yeah, first I think I need to talk to Tom."

"Good idea."  He put his arm around her again and started toward the lift.  "Let's get out of here."

"Hey, Carey."  She paused in front of his console.

"Yes, Sir?"

"Have a good night."  She smiled as they continued to the lift.  "Chak, thanks."

"That's what I'm here for." He stepped into the lift behind her  "Deck Three."

"Maybe it’s not too late for you to stop and see the Captain."

"No. I told her I would stop by when we were through."

"Here."  She tossed him the jellybeans.  "Use these as a peace offering."

"Thanks."  Chakotay chuckled, grabbing the flying beans.  "You going to be OK?"

"Yeah, maybe not always but that's what friends are for -- right?"  He nodded as they stepped off the lift.  "Good cause I'm going to need all the help I can get.  Now I have to go kiss up to that p'ahtk I'm married to."

"B'Ella, I'd start by finding another term of endearment."  He chuckled as she waved him off and started down the corridor.

"Hey, Chak?"  She turned and walked back to him.  "Did you ever ask her?"

"What?"

"Did you ever come right out and ask her what she wants?  How she feels? --Not what she can do or feels she has to do.  Ask her, if she were free to do whatever she wanted-- could do anything at all, would she choose you if the choice were hers?"

"I don't think I can do that, put her --or me-- on the spot like that."

"Why not? Sure it's putting yourself out there and maybe she won't answer, but if she does than you'll know where you stand.  If she says yes, you have something to hang on to; if she says no then maybe you can move on."

"I don't know, B'Ella.  I'll think about it."  He turned her around toward home.  "Now, go talk to Tom."

"OK and you go talk to her."  She nodded her head toward the Captain's quarters.  "Isn't it funny how clearly we can see the answers to each other’s problems but never our own?"

"Guess that’s why we need each other.  Now go home."

"OK, but try the purple ones." She left him standing outside the Captain's door.

Chakotay rang the chime, tossing the small bag in the air while he waited.  It only took a second for the door to slide back, allowing him to enter.  Kathryn was already at the replicator ordering them some tea.

"That didn't take too long.  How did it go?  Is B'Elanna OK?"  She called over her shoulder to him.

"I think she will be.  You know B'Ella, she gets herself all emotionally twisted sometimes."  Chakotay sat across from her on the couch.  "She sent you these."  He handed Kathryn the bag.

"What are they?"

"Jellybeans.  It’s a Tom thing.  Try one.  They're good, but B'Ella says the purple taste like gagh."

"Well, then maybe I'll just try red." She raised an eyebrow and fished through the bag.

"Good idea. Would you toss me a purple one?"  She looked at him peculiarly, but passed it to him anyway and watched as he swallowed it.  "Kathryn," He turned and took her hand.  "can I ask you something?"
 

The End.

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