Disclaimer: All the characters are owned by Paramount – all the fun is added by me!
 
 

Rated G

Second place in Be MIne
 

“Commander.”  The Captain’s voice carried into the lift just as the door was about to close.

“Computer, halt lift; open door.”  Chakotay ordered quickly when he saw the Captain hurrying in his direction.  “Captain?”  He smiled as the door opened again.

“Glad I caught you.”  The Captain stepped into the lift, pausing a moment when she found Tom and Harry in there also. “Evening, gentlemen.” She nodded to the others.

“Captain.”  They responded in unison.

Kathryn turned and faced the door offering no more conversation.  Harry glanced sideways at Tom; Tom shrugged. If Chakotay gave her behavior a second thought, it didn’t show.  The lift stopped at deck three and the Captain and Commander exited.

“Chakotay, see you in twenty minutes.”  Harry called out as the door slid closed.

“Was there something you wanted, Captain?”  Chakotay had waited until they were alone to question her.

“No.”  She snapped, then her expression softened and she smiled.  “I was just going to ask you to come in for coffee, but you have plans.”

“I’m just playing hoverball with Harry; I could cancel.”  He offered.

“No.  It’s no big deal.”  She patted his arm then turned to key in her code.  “Have fun, see you in the morning.”  With a smile, she vanished behind her door.

Chakotay stared at the closed door.  She seemed all right but he felt she hadn’t been quite herself lately and it concerned him.  Maybe he should cancel. – no, that might make her angry.  She didn’t want him limiting himself by spending all his off time with her.  He chuckled at that thought- there was no one else he would rather spend it with, but to please her he would keep his hoverball date.  He shook his head and went to change.

Kathryn let the door close behind her then leaned back against it.  What had she expected?  She told him to get a life and he had.  He was still her friend but he wasn’t her lap dog after all; she had no right to expect him to jump whenever she snapped.  A cold wave of loneliness threatened to engulf her.

~~~^^^~~~

Chakotay spotted her immediately, when he entered the messhall. Kathryn sat at her usual table, padd in one hand coffee in the other.   Noticing there was no tray and no food on the table he put a little extra on his plate, added a chocolate muffin and her second cup of coffee before he joined her.

“May I join you, Kathryn?” 

“Good morning.”  She smiled and waved him into the seat across from her. 

“I thought you looked ready for this.”  Chakotay passed her a fresh, hot cup of coffee.

“Ahh, thank you.  Perfect timing.”  She set down her padd.  “How was the hoverball game?”

“Good, I beat him, but ..”  He chuckled.  “I can’t count on that much longer.”

“Why not?”

“He’s good and he’s half my age.” 

“Yes, well you outrank him so...”  She laughed and rolled her eyes.

“Nice, pull rank on the court?”

“If you have to.” 

They were laughing together. Kathryn was picking at the food on his plate and had torn the muffin in half, keeping the ‘bigger half’ for herself; things were normal.  Chakotay chided himself on his worrying; she was fine this morning.  The conversation flowed easily; he loved the sparkle in her eyes when she laughed like this. 

“Chakotay, how about dinner?”  She concentrated on wiping the muffin crumbs off the table as they prepared to leave.

“Sounds good.”  He piled their dishes on the tray.

Kathryn waited by the door while Chakotay took the dishes to the recycler.  He cleared off the tray, dodged a few crewmen and was almost there when Tom brushed past her.

“Hey, Big Guy, B’E said dinner at 1800 hours- don’t be late.” 

Chakotay turned to answer him but he was gone.  Turning back, he saw an odd look on Kathryn’s face before she covered it with the captain’s mask and slipped out the door.

“I—I’m sorry, I forgot.”  Chakotay caught up with Kathryn at the lift.

“No problem.  We’ll do it another time.”  She stepped into the lift.  “Bridge.”

“Why don’t you come with me?”

“I don’t think so.  You know how nervous people get with the captain around.”

“This isn’t people; it’s B’Ella and Tom.  They got over that years ago.”

“Thank you, but..”  She shook her head.  “I’d rather not.”

“All right, but tomorrow night.  My rations, OK?” 

“I, well, actually tomorrow wouldn’t be good.”  Kathryn fought down the rising color in her cheeks. The lift stopped at deck one.  “We’ll find a time later. OK?”

“Yea, sure.” He waited for her to exit the lift but she motioned for him to go ahead.

“You take the bridge, I’ll be in my readyroom.”

Kathryn stared at the stack of padds awaiting her attention on her desk.  What had she been thinking when she told him she was busy?  He must know she was lying.  God, when had this gotten so out of control.  All she wanted to do was have dinner and spent a bit of time with her best friend and …. Oh, Kathryn, who do you think you are fooling?  You want more than that and you know it—now you just have to get him to understand that!  But after all this time, how?

~~~^^^~~~

Things didn’t change much in the next few weeks.  Chakotay had some how managed to get himself involved in a hoverball tournament and the only time Kathryn and Chakotay had together was a couple of truly working dinners where they managed to complete this years crew evaluations. 

When alpha shift ended, the Captain rushed out of her ready room and squeezed into the lift with the rest of them.

“Captain, anxious to quit today?  Must be something special.”  Tom teased.

“Actually there is a beach on the holodeck with my name on it, Mr. Paris.”  The lift stopped at deck three and they all exited.  “I just need to change.”

The Captain hurried to her door and keyed in the code.  The others took their time.

“Commander.”  Kathryn called as he passed.

“Yes, Captain.”

“Care to join me?” 

“Sorry, Kathryn, but I have an appointment with Crewman Snell in twenty minutes.  Maybe next time.”

“Sure.”  Kathryn smiled and slipped into her quarters.

“Did I just hear that right?”

“That I have an appointment with Melissa Snell?  Don’t go getting any ideas, Paris.”

“Yea, I heard that part- big deal.”

“What then?”

“If I’m not mistaken, the Captain just ask you on a date and you turned her down.”

“She asked me to share her holodeck time.  We do it all the time it gives us both a chance to relax more often if we share our time.”

“Yea, Harry and I do the same thing, but he never asks me to walk on the beach with him—kinda romantic don’t you think?”

“Paris, you have been trying this for years. Kathryn and I are friends and that’s all.”  Chakotay tried not to be angry; he knew Tom meant well.

“Sorry, it’s just that she seems different lately.”

“No harm. I have to go; I have a meeting, remember?  See you later.”  Chakotay keyed in his code.

“Yea.”  Tom shook his head and walked away.

~~~^^^~~~

“I’m telling you guys, she is trying to make a change and he just won’t see it.”  Tom sat in their quarters trying to enlist the help of Harry and B’Elanna.

“I’m telling you to leave them alone!”  B’Elanna warned.

“B’E, he told you himself she was acting funny.  Did he say she asked him to dinner the night we had him over?”

“Yes, but he asked her to come with him and she wouldn’t.  If she really wanted to be with him she would have come when he asked.”

“Maybe not.  She can share him with us anytime.”  Tom turned to Harry for help.  “You’ve seen it, too.  Tell her.”

“You know I don’t want to get involved in his schemes.”  Harry pointed toward Tom and B’Elanna nodded in agreement. Harry continued.  “OK, I had a hoverball match with Chakotay and like Tom said, the Captain was acting funny so I asked him later.  He said she asked him in for coffee but he couldn’t go—no big deal.”

“So?”

“So she keeps inviting him places and he can’t go.  I think she is missing him and …”

“And as always you are reading too much into it and Chak will get hurt if you keep it up.”

“OK, how about we leave it up to her?”

“Good idea, but why don’t I believe you?”

“Cause he has a plan to help leave it up to her, of course.” Harry rolled his eyes.

“This is it..”

“SEE?” Harry laughed

“What is it this time?”  B’Elanna has learned long ago it was better to at least know his plans.

“Only a party.  I want to have a couples only Valentine’s Day Party.  If she asks him, we’ll know and maybe he will too.”

“Sounds harmless.”  B’Elanna looked at Harry; he shrugged. “And all you are going to do is organize this and leave the rest up to them—right?”

“Promise.”

~~~^^^~~~

Kathryn had procrastinated way too long.  Tom’s party was tonight and she still hadn’t had the courage to ask Chakotay to go with her.  She knew he was busy trying to keep Tom in line with this, but he hadn’t asked her either.  Well, no more excuses. 

“Computer, locate Commander Chakotay.”

“COMMANDER CHAKOTAY IS ON DECK TWO- THE MESSHALL.”

A moment of doubt almost caused her to change her mind.  What if he had asked someone else? He had been socially busy lately, but not with any real dates.  At least none she had heard of.  Kathryn drew herself up and marched out of the readyroom.  She found Chakotay, in the chaos that was the messhall, overseeing the team that was eagerly pasting hearts and cupids to the bulkhead.

“Chakotay, about this party..”  She watched as Tom and Harry chased one another around the room with tiny bows and arrows, like two year olds.

“Captain, I promise I won’t let Paris get out of hand.”  He winced when he saw what she was watching.

“Yes, well. “Kathryn laughed.  “I can see that you have them well in hand.”

“I will, trust me.”

“Oh I do!”  She stepped closer to avoid being run over by Harry as he escaped Tom’s arrow.  “Them, well..?”

“It will be fine, Kathryn.”

“Yes, I’m sure.” She rolled her eyes.

“Did you need something, Kathryn, or did you just come here to harass me?”

“I didn’t think I needed to need something to come and see you.  But yes, I did want something.”

“I didn’t mean it like that.  What did you want?”

“The party.”  She took a deep breath.  “Will you go to the party with me?”

“Hey, Chief.”  Paris stood in front of them, his arrow pointed in their direction. He winked as he aimed first at the Captain then at Chakotay. “What do you think?”

“I think if you don’t stop behaving like a two year old –this party is off.”

“Man.”  Paris sat down and put the arrow on the table.  “OK, Daddy, I’ll behave.”

“Kathryn?”  Chakotay turned back to Kathryn when she placed her hand on his arm.  “I’m sorry, you were saying something?”

“I asked if you would go to the party with me.” 

Tom aimed the arrow again. 

“Tom, knock it off.” Chakotay's patience was wearing thin.

“Chakotay?”

“Oh, Sorry.”  He really didn’t understand the big deal; they always attended these functions together.  “Yea, sure.” 

Chakotay raced over to steady Sam on the wobbly ladder she was using to hang the streamers.  Kathryn shook her head, backing away in an effort to avoid Tom’s laugther and his arrow.

“OK, guess I’ll see you later.”  She said out loud to no one within hearing range and left the mess hall.

“Chief.”  Tom slapped Chakotay on the back.  “Are you really this stupid?”

“Tom, I have taken all I can today, so if you have a point please make it.”

“She did it again and you just blew her off.”

“What the hell are you talking about?  Who did what?”

“The Captain.”

“What about her?”

“She just asked you out on a date and you blew her off.”

“Tom, we always go to these things together.”

“OK.  I’ll give you that, but does she usually ask you to go with her?”

“Well, no.  Usually we just do. Why?”

“Read this.”  He pushed the big red invitation into Chakotay’s hand.”

“It’s the invitation to the party; I’ve seen this.”

“Yea, but did you read it?”

“It says.” Chakotay read the words out loud. “Valentine’s dance.  Bring the one you love. Couples only dinner dance.  No date, no admittance.  So?”

“So, the Captain hates these silly parties of mine.”

“True.” 

“And she would use almost any excuse not to attend.”

“Yes.”

“And she not only volunteered to go to this one, but she asked you to go with her!”

“Shit!  You think?”

“Yea, I think!  I think the woman has been trying to have a date with you for weeks and you are so stuck in your damn routine that you can’t even see it.”

“Paris, if you’re wrong….”

“And if I’m right?”

“Shit.” Chakotay stepped into the corridor and slapped his comm. badge.  “Chakotay to Janeway.”

“Yes, Commander?”

“Er, Kathryn, I have to ask you something.  Can I come and see you?”

“Well, I’m a little occupied right now.  Can’t you ask over the link?” Kathryn didn’t even try to hide the sound of the splashing water.

“Yes, I suppose—wait..”  He looked around to be sure no one was listening.  A few crewmen were too close so he stepped into the lift.  “Computer, seal lift doors.”

“Chakotay, what are you doing?”  Kathryn laughed at the mental picture of Chakotay looking for privacy in the bedlam that was the messhall. 

“Getting some privacy.”

“Oh, is this a personal question?”

“Sort of.  Anyway this way if you laugh at me, no one else needs to know.”  Chakotay was very nervous.  The sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach kept telling him Paris had set him up again.

“Chakotay?  Are you still there?”  Kathryn splashed a little just to add to his obvious discomfort.

“Yes. Kathryn…?”

“Yes?”

“Kathryn, did you just ask me on a date?  A real date?”

“I thought I was clear, but, well, the invitation did say couples only.  Everyone attending must have a date.   Will you be mine?”

“It also said to bring the one you love.”

“I don’t have a problem with that.”  Kathryn held her breath.  “Do you?”  Chakotay didn’t respond.  “Are you still there?”

“Yes.”

“Yes you are there or yes you have a problem with that?”

“No—I mean—I’m here and no, I don’t have a problem with that at all.”

“Good, then I’ll see you at 1900 hours.”  Kathryn rested her head against the wall behind her and let out her breath. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Chakotay.”

“Yes, it is now. Chakotay out.”

The End.

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