|DISCLAIMER : I write for my own pleasure---not financial gain or glory. The characters within belong to Paramount. I own none of them--just this little tale. Every now and then even the most disciplined must take time to relax and enjoy---so I borrowed these people and took them out to play.|
sat on the couch in her ready room--reports, reports, reports---no end
to the reports. It was late and they had been working for hours,
she couldn't even see well enough to read anymore.
"OK--enough. My eyes are giving out." She sat up rubbing her eyes. "Want some coffee?'
"Kathryn it's so late---why don't we have tea?" He hoped to sleep at some point tonight.
"OK--tea it is." She replicated the tea and returned to sit beside him. "Break time--fifteen minutes with no work--put down the padd."
"Agreed." He smiled showing her those dimples. "So, has Paris got Fair Haven running yet?"
"Parts." She truned away, a slight blush showing on her cheeks.
"Kathryn, nothing wrong in having a little fun." He turned her face back to him. "How is Michael?"
"Chakotay---this is crazy." She tried to turn away again, but he didn't let her.
"Nothing crazy about it. You enjoy his company. Why shouldn't you have a little fun?"
"It's not real---HE'S not real!" Her face and neck were getting redder.
"So---I told you--it never stopped me." He couldn't help the grin--she looked so cute with pink cheeks.
"Seriously, do you have a lot of holographic----friends?"
"Friends?' He laughed out loud. "Friends none--except the doctor." He looked at her seriously. "Lovers---well- a few."
"Come on Kathryn---that's what you want to know--isn't it?" Do I ever have sex with a hologram? Yes."
"I didn't mean--I wasn't prying---I just..." Her blush was full force now.
"Kathryn, as you well know---I haven't had a very good track record with flesh and blood women since we've been stuck here. You know--the Cardassian disguised as a Bajoran, who spied on me and used me, you and the crew for her own purposes---the blond doctor, who used me to reconnect to a collective mind, the cute little blond who wiped away all out memories---and let's not forget the redhead, who stole my heart and--well---. So --yes I have had holographic lovers---it's far less complicated."
"I don't know---he's just photons and force fields..."
"Fully functional photons and force fields---what's the difference--flesh and blood--photons and force fields---look I was not cut out to be a monk--at least they're warm photons. Seventy years is a long time---you're only human, no matter how hard you try not to be.
"God is that what it's all coming down to ---sex?" She shook her head and turned away again.
"Isn't it? Isn't sex the one thing you have denied youself consistently for the past six years. Protocol and command structure...You won't allow your self to have sex with a member of your crew---so Michael is the only logical answer."
"I would hope I'm seeking more than just sex."
"If you say so---I think it's all you're missing. Look, you seek out what ever makes you happy. That is what this is really all about. You need to relax and enjoy something--someone--whatever or whoever that might be. Just think about it---nothing to be ashamed of ---remember that--OK?" He picked up a padd off the table and began to read, watching her out of the corner of his eye.
She was thinking, she had that far away look--kind of dreamy, kind of sad. If he had to bet he would say she was lamenting her life passing by while she stood by upholding starfleet principles and adhering to protocol. He wished he could change her mind--he'd tried--maybe Michael could. Michael--now that was something to think about ---or not--depending how he looked at it. She wouldn't let him love her---would she let Michael? Did he want to know if she did?
"Chakotay?" She was looking at him with concern, she had spoken to him---said his name three times without response. "Are you alright?"
"Huh?---yea, I'm fine---tired, I guess." He rubbed his hand over his face hoping she didn't ask what he was thinking about.
"Well maybe we should call it a night--it's late." She had that look - a question on the tip of her tongue, she didn't ask just got up and offered him a hand.
Together they left the ready room nodding to gamma shift as they crossed the bridge and entered the trubo lift. The short trip--two decks down--passed in silence. They walked the corridor to her door, she keyed in the code, turned and smiled---his smile-said good night and was gone. Michael couldn't walk her home---now why did he think that? He continued the few steps to his quarters.
She didn't raise the lights, just went straight through to the bedroom and began to undress. She thought about what he said---'all she was missing was sex.'---no he was wrong, she was missing a lot more than that---but could Michael provide it? Probably not---HE could--but she couldn't let him. She got into bed, tried to change her train of thought---if not it would be a long night. She rolled over and looked at the wall ---he was there --on the other side.
Alpha shift started as always, the Captain was on the bridge before anyone else. Tuvok was next followed by Commander Chakotay, both barely settled in when the lift opened and out spilled the very jovial balance of alpha shift. Their happy chatter, interrupted only long enough to bid the Command team good morning and take over their respective stations, continued in a light hearted manner.
"So Mr. Paris, what is it that has you in such a good mood today?" The Captain inquired
"Had a great night, Captain---B'Elanna and I..."
"I'm not sure I want to hear the rest Mr. Paris." She laughed, his good mood infectious.
"Captain---I'm shocked!" Now the entire bridge laughed---Tom Paris shocked--no way. "I was going to say we---B'Elanna and I--along with Harry and a friend of yours had a wonderful rings tournament at Sullivan's. By the way, Michael was asking for you."
"I see, so Fair Haven is up and running again?" The Captain tried to keep her voice even but she couldn't hide the blush in her cheeks.
"In top form---if I do say so myself." He turned slightly to see her as he spoke--caught the blush and turned back. "We were able to save most of it and thanks to Harry and B'E we recreated the rest---almost perfectly."
"Captain, there is gonna be party at the pub tonight---hope you can come?" Harry was pleased with their work and proud of his part in it---wanted to show it off.
"Sounds good. Captain, why don't we get those reports finished early today so we can attend?" Chakotay smiled as her blush deepened. "We could use a break,"
"I'll be in my ready room." She glared at him still trying to keep her color down--unsuccessfully. "When you're ready we can get started." She rose and crossed to the door with a purposeful stride.
"Right behind you, Captain." He shrugged his shoulders at Paris and Kim who gave him questioning looks. "Mr. Tuvok, you have the bridge." He followed the Captain into her ready room, allowing the doors to close before speaking. "Kathryn, are you OK?"
"I'm fine---gods what is with this obsession with Michael Sullivan?" She turned toward him a cross between embarrassment and fury showing on her beet red face.
"There is no obsession---Tom and Harry worked hard and are happy with the results and they thought they did something that would make you happy." He walked over and put his hand on her arm. "Kathryn---I think you're the only one with a problem here."
"Maybe you're right--maybe it's me." She shook her head, placing her hand over his. "It makes me very uncomfortable whenever someone brings him up." She laughed. "Not to mention that I blush like a school girl."
"Love will do that."
"Gods Chakotay---don't make it worse . I do not love Michael Sullivan. He's not even real for gods sake." She walked over and pounced down on the couch.
"What then?" He sat beside her.
"I don't know---I do enjoy Michael---maybe it's all too public."
"When I enjoy a holonovel--no one cares--when you--well-no one knows about or probably cares what you do on the holodeck or with whom---it just seems everyone is interested in my 'relationship'--if you call it that--with Michael. I feel like we're the center of attention."
"Kathryn,--you're the Captain--you're naturally the center of attention around here." He took hold of her hands. "Everyone is interested in you and everyone wants you to be happy."
"You're right, of course. That's why I've never allowed us-er-er myself--to--let my guard down. I guess I was wrong to believe I could do it now."
"No. You have a right to some happiness--don't let a little discomfort stop you. It will die down and things will go back to normal." He picked up the padd he had last night. "Now let's get some work done so we can go the the pub tonight."
"Well, the reports have to be done---Michael or no Michael." She started her review with the top of the pile.
They worked all morning and straight through lunch and managed to completely clear the Captain's desk an hour before the end of Alpha shift. Using mugs of replicated coffee they toasted their accomplishment.
"If I wanted to see you blush again---I'd say you worked very hard today to insure some time off tonight."
"And you would be correct---but as I recall I wasn't the only one--so is there someone in Fair Haven who appeals to you?" She willed herself not to blush.
"NO---well to be honest--yes, sometimes there is someone in Fair Haven who appeals to me and I think I can be happy as long as she is." He tried to look innocent but his eyes gave him away.
"Chakotay---what am I going to do with you?"
"That was a rhetorical question---right?" She laughed out loud when he said this and it warmed his heart. He loved to hear her laugh.
"Do you have plans for dinner before this party?"
"Not unless that was an invitaiton.. If so I accept---in fact I'll cook." He gave her the irristable dimples.
"Now how can I say no to those dimples?" She touched his face.
"Well that's one."
"One point in my favor---Michael doesn't have dimples." He smiled even harder---if that were possible.
"Chakotay---If I didn't know better---I would
swear you were jealous." She gave him a playful push. "Come
on let's get out of here." She got up and headed for the door.
"He does have the cutest brogue."
"Mr.Tuvok, the Commander and I will be in our quarters, you have the bridge. " She realized how that sounded and turned to face Tom. "Mr. Paris" She waited for him to look at her.
"Yes Captain" He had that smirk on his face.
"Just to clarify---I will be in my quarters and the Commander will be in his."
"Aye Captain." He still smirked at her.
"And Mr. Paris, tell your--friend-I will be at the party---I would say at about 2100 hours." She watched his expression change and glanced at the smile on Harry's face before turning and stepping into the lift.
She stepped on the lift letting the doors close without turning around. As they swished closed they burst into peals of laughter.
"You got Paris with that one---He may actually have been speechless."
"Gotta keep him guessing." She winked and turned to face the door.
"Dinner at 1900?" He followed her down the corridor and watched her key in her code.
"Good, I'll be there." She hesitated then seemed to decide. "I'll dress after dinner---that dress would take up too much of you quarters anyway."
"Whatever you want." He smiled and touched her arm so that she turned. "Kathryn---wear something--otherwise I can't guarantee we'll make the party."
"Have you been spending time withTom?" She moved inside her door. "You are incorrigible." She let the door close between them.
She took a long hot bath and tried to convince herself there was nothing wrong with a friendship with Michael--'friendship' wasn't really all she wanted and she knew it. Chakotay was right---there was nothing wrong with it---simple--no strings-sex. Gods! She liked Michael--enjoyed his company--now that she had made a few small changes--they got along well--he was fun--spirits, she didn't have much fun in her life. There was of course, Chakotay---no don't go there. She wondered what his 'friends' were like---did he talk to them---were they pretty--educated-sexy---Blond!? None of your business-Kathryn. Still she wondered. Were they modern woman or did he prefer less independent, more submissive types---who would he choose if he could create her? It was an interesting thought---purely a scientific type interest--she told herself--just curious about what makes her first officer tick. YEA OK! You can't even make yourself believe that one---guess he isn't the only jealous one.
She finally gave up on reheating the water, wrapped herself in a towel, grabbed what was left of her bottle of wine and headed for the bedroom to dress. She gazed at her gown hanging next to her dressing table---long flowing skirt, high neckline, long sleeves---nothing revealing there. She decided on modern under her nineteenth century formal. She selected a black lace demi bra and matching bikini panties--not what Michael would expect ot find under the very conservative dress----exactly what Chakotay would expect. Putting these on, she slipped into a black satin knee length robe and began to pin up her hair. It occured to her Chakotay would hate her hair up---Michael loved it. She poured another glass of wine and applied her makeup.
She surveyed herself in the mirror. Black satin for dinner in Chakotay's quarters---more formal much more conservative for a party --in public---with Michael. What was she doing ----comparing them? Why?---playing on against the other? Ridiculous---one was her first officer, the other wasn't even real---too much wine. She gave a spray of perfume and went to his quarters.
"Come in" She heard him yell at her chime.
The door swished open and she entered. Candles, wine---gods more wine--music--dinner smelled great. She wandered over to the viewport---she could never share this with Michael--he knew nothing of space travel--way beyond anything imaginable in his time. He came up behind her and handed her a glass of wine. Taking it she let a laugh escape.
"Care to share the joke?"
"Nothing really---just another glass of wine---probably had too many already."
"Synthehol, I hope."
"Yes, but it feels real." She turned wide eyed. "It does---it feels real."
"Yes, it does---that's what I've been trying to tell you." He smiled and led her over to the couch to sit.
"OK, so I'll give you that one." She drew a line in the air. "One for the big Guy."
"Now who's taking a line from Paris?" He sat next to her. "Paris would like this outfit---he'd have a great time with you in black satin on my couch---Michael however, I don't think he would understand." He smiled as she blushed . "This is getting way too easy."
"Enjoying yourself?" She gave him a punch in the arm. "Is this a new game---see who can make the Captain blush the deepest?"
"I'm sorry." He laughed "I'll stop---you just look so damn cute with pink cheeks."
"OK you've had your fun---now you better feed me before I drink more of this and..."
"Kathryn? You're even pinker than before--before you do what?"
"Just feed me." She gave a self conscious laugh.
They had wine with dinner and coffee afterwards, but one more wine before getting ready for the party. Kathryn left to finish dressing taking her glass with her and instructing him to bring the bottle over when he was ready. He had never seen her drink this much--even synthehol. He dressed and took the rest of the wine to her quarters.
He entered his override and walked in, calling out to her as he did. She was just finishing up and came out of her room working the many tiny buttons on the dress.
"I could help you fasten your dress."
"Thank you---but it buttons down the front, I can reach them." She swatted him.
"I would still be glad to help." He watched her struggle with the small buttons, which she fastened all the way to the high scoop of the neck. "You missed one."
He reached out and poked a finger into the open space between her breasts, watching as she turned crimson and caught her breath at the touch of skin to skin. She looked at him wide eyed for one second, then laughed and stepped back, buttoning the last one.
"Well, we better get going." She turned away.
"Yes ma'am." She couldn't see his smirk behind her.
On holodeck two was the quaint town of Fair Haven. They entered and crossed over to the pub, which was filled with laughter and music. Chakotay placed his hand on the small of her back as they made their way to the bar. A young crewman got up and offered the Captain his seat and Michael appeared almost instantly.
"Katie---it's good to see you." His smile reached his eyes, he put his hand over hers and she was right, he had a great brogue. "What can I get you?"
"Michael--it's nice to be back." Chakotay couldn't see her face but he imagined the sparkle in her eyes. "I've had some wine---so I better stick with that." She turned and her eyes were sparkling. "Chakotay, what will you have?" Before he could answer she continued. "Michael, you remember my friend Chakotay?"
"Sure the fellow from the ship--isn't it?" Although he smiled, Chakotay thought he was less than pleased to see him. "What'll it be?"
"I'll have a beer and you can send it over to
that table." He motioned to where B'Elanna and Tom were seated. "I
see some people I need to speak to." He turned to Kathryn.
"Have fun---I'll see you around
It wasn't long before Michael had found himself a replacement behind the bar. He and 'Katie' took a seat in the corner and bursts of laughter could be heard coming form their direction. The band started playing and soon after Michael was whirling her across the floor. The dancing went on for hours and they didn't miss one.
Finally taking a break, Michael went to get drinks and Kathryn wandered over to their table.
"Well if it isn't the lovely 'Katie O'Claire'." Tom greeted her with his best brogue. "Having a good time?"
"Yes, but a wee bit out of breath." She fanned herself with her hand. "Warm in here?"
"A little" B'Elanna smild "I never knew you were a dancer--I mean six years and all we ever saw was a few slow dances and the swan---this ---well this in nothing short of amazing."
"You should try it---it's great fun." They all looked at one another, no one answered. "Come on now don't tell me you can't do this---I've seen you all dance."
"Well to be honest I think it's a little differnt than anything we're used to." B'Elanna finally offered.
"And a bit too strenuous for my taste." Tom added.
"Please---you are all younger than me---if I can do it." She rolled her eyes. "Don't tell me my crew is that out of shape. Perhaps we will have to institute some regular physical training."
"Well since you put it that way---I think I could learn." Harry jumped in.
"Sounds good to me--any time you want to teach us--right Tom?" B'Elanna kicked Tom under the table.
"Yea--great---I'd love too." He rubbed his shin. "Anything but Tuvok's physical fitness program."
"And you, Chakotay---willing to learn?" She gave him a challenging smile.
"If you can do it, it can't be all that bad." He challenged her back. "If you can teach---I can learn."
"You're on then--we'll set something up."
"Katie, your wine." Michael returned and handed her a glass. "What's she up to? I know that look--she's scheming isn't she?" He looked around the table, everyone smiled and nodded. "What are you up to lass?"
"These people aren't enjoying the music--not as much as they should--so I told them we would teach them these dance steps."
"WE is it?" He shook his head and looked around the table. "Is she always this bossy or is it just me?"
"She does have a tendency to give orders." Tom was unable to keep a straight face as he said it.
"Well, Katie love, no lessions tonight---I have something to show you." He took her arm. "Good night, I'm sure our Katie will arrange for your lessons." He waited, somewhat impatiently for her to say her good byes.
Chakotay watched them leave the pub---B'Elanna watched Chakotay. After a few minutes he excused himself and left the holodeck. This was good for her---he had to keep reminding himself. Michael wasn't real--it somehow didn't matter and it certainly didn't make it any easier.
The computer sounded his alarm, but he wasn't really sleeping, hadn't slept well most of the night. He showered and got ready to go to breakfast, concidered hailing Kathryn, but decided to go to her quarters instead. He rang the chime twice and got no answer. He wondered if he should override the lock when a voice from behind him startled him.
"Looking for someone?" Kathryn was close behind him.
"Yes, you." He spun around to find her still in the dress she had worn the night before. "Just getting home?" He noticed the dress wasn't buttoned quite as high as it had been last night and her hair was falling down.
"Seems so." She stepped past him and keyed in her code, he could see her color rise. "Would you like some coffee?"
"Sure" He stepped inside and let the door close. "If Michael wouldn't mind."
"Very funny." She went toward the bathroom, calling back. "I'll have a coffee---you get whatever you want--I'll be right out." The door slid closed.
Sonic showeres were not her first choice, but they were quick and she was pressed for time. It took only about five minutes for her to emerge from the bathroom--hair down, wrapped in a terry cloth robe. She took a large gulp of coffee and disappeared into the bedroom, only to emerge in full uniform and gratefully accept a second cup of coffee.
"We still have time for breakfast, shall we?" He offered, not wanting to remain in her quarters---strange but it made him uncomfortable this morning.
"Sure" She recycled their cups and followed him out.
They made their breakfast selections, from the usual array of colorful items Nelix offered, grabbed more coffee and settled at a small table in the corner. B'Elanna watched them come in.
"Did you enjoy the party last night?" Kathryn studied his face.
"It was nice, you certainly seemed to have a good time." He schooled his features to show no emotion.
"Yes, it was fun---once you get the hang of it, the dancing is great fun---you'll see."
"Will I?' He smiled, it was nice to see her happy. "It seems to have done wonders for you---you haven't been this relaxed in a long time."
"I think it's more like exhausted than relaxed." She knew she left herself open as soon as she said it---she hoped he wouldn't push it.
"Well, if you didn't stay out all night, you might get some sleep." He watched her face and althought she blushed she wouldn't give in.
"Who said I didn't sleep?"
"No one---just thought Michael's snoring might keep you up."
"No, I don't recall any snoring." Her cheeks were flaming crimson and she avoided looking directly at him.
"Good morning--Captain nice color--would that be all that physical exertion?" Tom Paris interrupted their converation.
"Tom..." She raised her head to respond to him and was stopped dead when her eyes met Chakotay's
"Yes, Captain?" Tom tried to sound innocent, he wasn't sure what he stumbled into but he felt it was good.
"Aren't you due on the Bridge?" She tried to recover. "We all should go or we'll be late." She gathered her tray and left.
As she left she could hear Chakotay's chuckle and felt both their eyes on her. As she waited for the lift she heard foot steps behind her. Without turning around she knew it was Chakotay. The doors opened, he followed her inside.
"Bridge." She ordered evenly.
"Kathryn, you really are easy to fluster today." He smiled, but she wouldn't look at him. "Kathryn, we are only teasing--just having some fun."
"At the Captain's expense? That must be a punishable offense." She looked at him now the blush almost gone.
"I can't wait to read the official report---'My first officer teased me about staying out with my Irish bartender all night' ."
"Who, I might add, he encouraged me to see." She put her hands on her hips and gave him a real Janeway glare.
"To spend time with, Kathryn--to relax---certaily not to stay out all night and come home half dressed and all disheveled." He watched her glare softed into a grin.
"I will grant you my hair needed combing---but half dressed-- I don't think so." She retorted as the lift stopped.
"Those buttons didn't open themselves." He saw her color rise again as the door opened to reveal the Bridge.
"No they didn't." She turned and walked onto the bridge leaving him with his mouth open.
They passed another quiet day on the bridge, after lunch the Captain retired to her ready room where she spent the remainder of the day. After handing the bridge off to beta shift, Chakotay rang the chime.
"Come in Commander." She called from behind her desk.
"How did you know it was me?" He chuckled as he took the chair in front of her.
"Please, like clock work---it's time to tell me to knock off and get some dinner."
"That bad Huh?"
"Absolutely!" She laughed. "Do you have dinner plans?"
"No--I do have some extra rations--if you would care to join me?"
"Sounds good--I have to go see B'E first---about an hour, OK?'
"Sure, run along and I'll finish up here." She tapped her padd. "One hour--my quarters." She watched him leave. What was she gonna do? The more time she spent with Michael, the more she wondered about Chakotay--It wasn't supposed to work this way.
Getting nothing done, she decided to leave and change for dinner. She programmed the replicator and set out to change. She toyed with the idea of taking a bath--god it would feel good---but there wasn't time and greeting her first officer in a towel, fresh from a bath was tempting, but not advisable, besides she had done that already. She changed into comfortable clothes and brushed out her hair, set the table and replicated a bottle of wine. She had just lowered the lights and selected the music when the door chimed.
"Come in." She signaled the door to open and smiled at he sight of her first officer and best friend looking comfortable and relaxed and -----no she couldn't let herself go there.
"Hi, B'Elanna sent you this engineering report, but I'm only bringing it in if you promise not to even look at it until tomorrow." He held it just out of her reach.
"What if it's important?" She jumped to reach it.
"It's not---nothing new--all systems at peak performance."
"OK--no work. Glass of wine?" She poured one for each of them and brought it over to the couch.
"More wine---you didn't have enough yesterday?" She made a face, so he pushed the issue. "Not visiting Fair Haven tonight?"
"No" She sat beside him. "Actually, it is undergoing some minor repairs and won't be running tonight."
"Now I understand, I have to shut a whole town down to get your attention away from Michael. This must be serious."
"Chakotay, why do you do this---first you talk me into Michael---than you act like a jealous school boy?" She laughed and she tucked her feet up under her.
"I'm only teasing---I think Michael is good for you---you're more relaxed and you seem to be happier, besides I love to see you blush."
"OK, but remember turn about is fair play."
"And what does that mean?"
"It means that there are some things I want to know about--that just might make YOU blush. That's for later, now we should have dinner before I have too much wine and forget about it.
They had their dinner, cleaned up the dishes and made themselves comfortable on the couch, then proceeded to polish off the bottle of wine. Kathryn replicated another and they were well into that one and feeling quite relaxed.
"So---what did Michael want to show you last night?" He raised one eye brow and grinned at her---as if on cue --she started to blush.
"Oh no---my turn." She wagged her finger at him laughing.
"OK--give it your best shot. What do you want to know?"
"These holographic lovers of yours---are there more than one? Anyway ---what I want to know is---what they're like?"
"In bed!?" He couldn't believe she was asking.
"NO--well that could be interesting--no--like are they modern--educated--do you ever talk to them---you know---have some kind of relationship of just--well --you know." She was blushing again ---damn her fair skin.
"Well, there have been a few ---over the years--sometime I just want a warm body---sometimes more."
"Oh so it's just wham bam thank you ma'am!!?" She looked accusingly at him.
"Well no--not always--but--yes sometimes." He could feel his own color rise---damn she got him good, "I don't go the the holodeck to form lasting relationships. I'm apparently not very good at them anyway."
"I don't know about that---I think you would be great at that---given the right circumstances." She hesitated. "No--don't change the subject---YOU created these 'women' ---what are they like. If you got to creat your own--perfect woman--what would she be like?"
"Mostly thay aren't like anything---I never took the time to find out if they were."
"So you just create them--fuck them and delete them?"---Not how I pictured you."
"It sounds kind of sleazy when you say it." He laughed and poured more wine. "So you pictuered me? How?"
"You're changing the subject again. What would she be like?----If you could creat your own woman?"
"I don't know---I guess she would have to be.." He screwed up his face. "I get to keep this one?" She nodded. "She would be--a modern woman--a true child of the 24th century---someone who could understand and share my life--intelligent, ambitious--educated, smart---smarter than me, probable---Don't comment on that!---strong---stubborn--confident, independent--someone not afraid to challenge me---fiery, passionate---about life--work, play-love---everything she does. She's tough and assertive---soft and warm--gentle and loving. Forgiving ---god knows I screw up enough--she had to be understanding."
"That's a tall order---and what would she look like?"
"She would be petite and fair----have---blue eyes--yes I like blue eyes....."
"No---why would you say that?" He thought about it for a minute, she opened her mouth, but he stopped her. "Never mind---I know why---no I don't do well with blonds--or brunettes for that matter---guess she better be a red head." He watched for her reaction. "My track record isn't great there either but I'm hoping to improve it."
"Why haven't you created a woman like that ---instead of empty holocharacters?"
"You said my perfect woman---I can't have a lasting relationship with a holocharacter---she could never share my life--my perfect woman has to be human.
"Yea---I know..." She fell silent, looking down at her hands. "More wine?' When she looked up she was smiling, but it never reached her eyes.
"I think we both had enough. She stuck her tongue out at him and her reached out and grabbed her, pulling her across the couch to him. His eyes locked with hers and he suddenly knew she was very close. "OK--one more glass." He sat her on the edge of the couch slightly away from him.
They drank their wine, making small talk and avoiding each other's eyes. When they were finished, he cleared away the glasses and said good night. She sat alone on the couch for a while---thinking. She knew exactly what he was saying and she knew it couldn't happen---no matter how much they both wanted it. Well, the holodeck would have to do for now. Resigned she settled down to another restless night.
Thanks to synthehol, the Captain was on the Bridge early and without any left over effects form the wine. Neither of them had slept well, but a tired command team was nothing new. The day was quiet and she spent most of it in her ready room. The Commander had other duties to attent to and so Tuvok spent his day in the Captain's chair.
Alpha shift ended and Tuvok handed the bridge to the lieutenant in charge of beta shift. The Captain left her ready room two hours later. Chakotay had been kept busy with shift changes, quarter assignments and various petty disagreements among the crew all day, so by 1930 hours he called it a day and headed for the mess hall. Inside the lift he thought to ask Kathryn to join him.
"Computer, locate Captain Janeway."
'CAPTAIN JANEWAY IS ON HOLODECK TWO"
"Computer what program is running?"
"PROGRAM RUNNING IS PARIS ALPHA ONE-FAIR HAVEN"
*Well so much for that idea...* Chakotay decided to skip the mess hall and went instead directly to his quarters. He tried to meditate unsuccessfully so he settled for reading the reports he hadn't gotten around to earlier. Reports, especially when things were quiet, were better than sleeping sprays---he was asleep on the couch in no time.
Sullivan's was busy tonight, Michael had all he could do to handle the bar, so 'Katie' helped out. If the crew were uncomfortabe with her relationship with Michael you never would know from the way they acted tonight. Maybe they just enjoyed being waited on by the Captain.
"Hey, help in here is improving." Paris gave the Captain an appraising look. "Katie darling, could you get me another?" He slapped her bottom and winked at B'Elanna.
"Certainly, Tommy." She leaned in real close. "I'd be careful where you put you hands, Tommy boy---someone might slip you a mickey." She tipped her head toward the bar and stood up. "What'll the rest of ye be having?"
"It's all in fun Katie girl---all in fun." He reached toward her, eyed the bar and withdrew his hand.
Kathyrn took the orders and those of two starled ensigns at the next table then weaved her way to the bar. She was very busy for a time and didn't have time to notice when new customers arrived. Finaly she worked her way back to the table with their drinks.
'Thank you ma'am" The ensigns replied together.
"At ease Ensigns---we're supposed to be having fun here." She shook her head and laughed at the blushing ensigns, then spun around to deliver Tom's drink, coming face to face with dimples. She froze for just a second, then proceeded to deliver their drinks, turning back to Chakotay when she'd finished. "And what can I be getting you sailor?" Chakotay just smiled up at her, not saying a word. "There's some lads over there in need of attention-- if ye know what it is ye want I'll be getting it---otherwise I'll be back."
"Oh I know what I want, alright. " He never took his eyes off hers. "I'm not sure it's available."
"We have everything on the chalk board---if it's not written on the board--it's not available." She managed to keep a straight face, but she could feel the blush starting. "Make up yer mind---I'll be back." She turned and pushed through the crowd.
He watched her talking with the Delaney sisters and Sam Wildman, take a few orders and head for the bar. She waited for Michael to notice her then handed him her orders. He took them with a smile, letting his hand rest on hers a moment then giving it a squeeze. They talked briefly and her laughter drifted toward him, he looked away.
He turned back to his table to a full stare from B'Elanna, but before she could say anything, Tom returned from somewhere and placed a piece of chalk on the table.
"That should take care of that, Big guy." He nodded his head toward the Board. In big letters he had printed KATIE.
"Paris, you're a dead man." B'Elanna declared.
"By the looks of it---if she doesn't kill you, Michael will." Chakotay shook his head, but couldn't hold back the grin. He looked around the room. "The crew seems to be enjoying this."
"Most--It is kinda fun to be waited on by the
Captain." Tom tried to gage his mood. "She seems to be
"Strange way to relax." B'Elanna offered.
"Unusual" Chakotay corrected. "She's an unusual lady." He glanced toward the bar then smiled back at B'Elanna.
It was well after midnight by the time things slowed down and Michael was able to get someone to take his place behind the bar. Just about that time Chakotay excused himself and headed for home. Tom and B'Elanna caught up with him just ourside the lift.
"He's only a hologram---I made him--I can break him." Tom winked. "For free even---not a replicatior ration in sight."
"Tom don't mess with Michael---she's having fun, god knows she has little of that in her life. " The doors opened and Chakotay led them into the lift. "Deck three. You two stop worring about me---I'm OK."
"Yea, sure you are." B'Elanna eyed him. "How can you still hang on? ---How can you make excuses for her?---damn it --it's been almost six years!"
"B'Ella you don't understand, she's in a..."
"Yea, Yea I know she's the Captain---tough position--can't get involved with crew---damn it your not 'crew' you're the XO for gods sake." She stopped for a breath and took in the pained look on his face. Now she was hurting him too. *DAMN* "Chak, I'm sorry---I know the situation I..."
"B'Ella it's OK---I understand what you mean." He tried to school his expression and smile. "I'm gonna wait as long as it takes---'till we get home if I have to. I love that woman---more than life." The lift stopped and they walked toward his quarters. Outside his door he turned to them. "I know---even if she can't admit it now---she loves me the same." He keyed in his code. "Good night."
He entered the darkened quarters walking to the bedroom without lights. He sat on the edge of the bed trying to put things back into perspective, It hurt to see her with Michael, even if he wasn't real. He had no right--he knew--he had his own 'hololovers'---logic didn't help. There was nothing logical about the ache inside---it wasn't justified--it wasn't fair, but it was there all the same. He undressed and went to bed.
Katie and Michael had a grand time, laughing and joking as they closed the pub and cleaned up after the unusually busy night. They finally put the lights out and took a walk along the shore. It was a warm, clear night with stars that twinkled and a full moon. She couldn't help thinking--she belonged to those stars and Michael-well --he belonged to this land. It was OK to be different---differences made life interesting.
They sat a long time under those stars and Michael watched her intently. She was a mysterious, beautiful woman and he truly had fallen in love with her. He didn't know much about her, she had relatives in county Claire, she was intelligent and apparently educated--had a strange assortment of friends, and wasn't ---God only knew why --married. She wasn't afraid to work hard, in fact he thought she preferred working to playing or even dancing--which she was very good at. It wasn't much to know---yet he felt it was enough. He understood where this relationship was going and --tonight--well maybe not tonight --he would make her understand also.
There was a noise, it made him stir-no it was nothing. There it was again, he shook his head, as it cleared he realized it was the door chime. He rolled over and looked at the chronometer--0330--he rolled back over. Let it ring--didn't they know what time it was? It chimed again and again---finally he got up and pulling on a robe, he staggered into the other room and called for it to open.
Finally, the door slid open, she had been here for at least fifteen minutes.. She could have used her override, but she didn't feel right. It was dark inside, she stood just inside the door waiting for her eyes to adjust . She couldn't see him yet, but she knew he was here. She heard his voice when he admitted her and she could feel his presence even if she couldn't see him.
He could see her as she stood there in the darkness. She was wearing the same dress, the apron was gone. He watched---neither spoke. She looked around, but he knew her eyes hadn't adjusted yet. He started to wonder why she was here---but was distracted by the wistful expression on her face. In the light from the stars she looked---if it was even possible--more beautiful than he had ever seen her.
"Chakotay?" She called in a hoarse whisper.
"Over here." He walked toward her and she reached out her hand. "Kathryn?"
"I need to talk to you. Can we sit down?"
"Of Coarse we can--but --Kathryn it's 0330---what's wrong?" He stepped back leading her to the couch. "Can I get you something?"
"NO---nothing. I'm sorry it's so late," She sat down and patted the couch next to her. "I just came from Fair Haven and I needed to see you." She noticed the slight shift in his expression at the mention of Fair Haven.
"You looked like you were having fun---did something go wrong?" He was concerned, but couldn't help being a little hopeful.
"Yes and no. I had a wonderful time--it's fun being a waitress when it's only play." She gave him a small push. "Nice addition to the board!"
"I didn't do it---you can guess who did. I hope Michael didn't see it." He was really torn on this subject and didn't want to talk about it---but he could refuse her nothing.
"OH--he saw it -alright!" She laughed. " He wasn't amused by it."
"I hope it didn't cause trouble."
"No---it had nothing to do with it." She got quiet and he waited before speaking again.
"Kathryn, is something wrong---between you and Michael?" God he hated this.
"No nothing's wrong." She took a long pause. "Between Michael and I--well there isn't a Michael and I---that is --not the way you---and the rest of the crew-think." She could hear the relief in his sigh.
"What happened?" He tried to be sympathetic but he was clearly relieved by this turn of events.
"After everyone left we spent a long time cleaning up and closing the pub. When we finished, we took a walk down the shore---there's a large crop of rocks down about half a kilometer---don't know it you've ever been there." She looked up at him and he could see the starlight reflect in her eyes. "We talked all the way down, but when we got there we just sat--thinking our own thoughts. I watched the stars---they were truly beautiful---Michael watched the waves. It sort of represents the differences between us."
"Differences aren't necessarily bad." He was more confused than ever.
"No---they tend to make life interesting."
"So---what happened?" He tried to gently prod her.
"He kissed me." She looked away. "It was a warm and wonderful kiss---but something was missing--it wasn't the kiss, though--it was what he said." She shook her head and looked at him with questioning eyes.
"What----what did he say?" He wasn't sure he wanted to hear any more----why did she feel she had to tell him this?
"He said." She took a deep breath. "He said---'Katie O'Claire, you're a beautiful woman and one hell of a watress'---she laughed a little---then he said-"I love you, Katie---and I know you've tried, but---you don't love me and you never will.' I tried to speak but he put his finger to my lips. "Katie, we both know where your heart is---go to him. Just promise to be happy and to come and see me sometime---maybe help me out from time to time---we'll have a dance and a laugh--you can bring him with ye.' Then he took my hand and we walked back to town." She paused for another deep breath. "When we got there, he hugged me, gave me a kiss on my cheek and sent me on my way----and--so here I am." There was another silence, then she looked up at him. She took his hands in hers. "Chakotay, I love you."
They sat hand in hand eyes locked, neither moved--neither spoke, Her blue eyes glistened, she was hardly breathing as she watched the doubt and sorrow of almost six years of waiting and hoping dissolve and wash away on salty teardrops. Releasing his hand she reached up to brush away the tears, then slid her fingers through his hair as she brought his lips down to meet hers. His arms went around her lifting her from the couch and closing the space between them. The soft brushing of moist lips slowly deepened into the burning passion of years of longing. An enernity passed before she broke the kiss, tilting her head back to see his face.
"That's what was missing." Her voice was husky with desire, she didn't wait for an answer before rejoining their lips......