DISCLAIMER:  Everyone I brought out to play belongs to Paramount.  I own only this twisted little tale and write it only for my own pleasure.  I make no profit and intend no harm.
POINT--COUNTERPOINT
RATED G
My own version of Counterpoint--sometimes the same --sometimes not---Let me know what you think.
Feed the author!
    They had been traveling through space belonging to the Devore Imperium for four days and already they had been boarded and inspected twice.  The Devore seemed to know they were hiding something, but had been unable to find anything.  It was evident the Inspector enjoyed his time on Voyager and they had no doubt he would return. 

     The Captain was in her ready room studying star charts and the latest information from astrometrics on her view screen.  Somewhere out there was a wormhole which woud take them out of this sector of space and she was determined to find it.  Her door chimed and she had little doubt who it was.  He would find some excuse to come here and see her, he always did.  She knew --had for a long time--how he felt about her and only recently had agreed to 'explore' her own feelings.  She had no doubts, of course, about how she felt about him--she loved him--had been in love with him for years--so long now it seemed it had always been. Her concern was not how they felt about one another, but how it would affect her ship-her crew--the command structure.  She never admitted her feelings--hoped it would make it easier --it didn't, so now she pretended to be first 'exploring' how she felt about him.  He didn't really believe it, he accepted it, for her sake and took things as they came, grateful for whatever concessions she made.  Their current status was rumored to be 'officially dating'  as they moved slowly into a relationship, allowing time for the crew---the Captain--to acclimate to their new status. 

"Come"  She called admitting him to the ready room. 

"Captain, good morning ---any progress?" He took the seat she offered him. 

"Nothing yet---we'll find it." 

"Soon I hope---I don't like that Inspector."  He studied her face, he knew she found the man attractive --- it showed in her face. 

"I wonder about him."  She looked away. "Coffee?" 

"Thanks."  He watched her walk to the replicator.  "He'd send us all to a detention camp without a second thought." 

"Yes, but there is something --interesting---about him."  She brought back the coffee and sat behind the desk.  "What do you suppose he's after?----Besides the telepaths, I mean." 

"You."  He watched her face, only a little surprise ---at what he said or the fact that he knew?  He wasn't sure. 

"What?" She shook her head and smiled, the color rising in her face.  "Chakotay, seriously." 

"I am seriously.  It's obvious to me, he's attracted to you." 

"Don't be silly."  She tried to dismiss the idea.  "It might be as simple as Voyager --- she is quite a prize, even with their level of technology." 

"Yes, Voyager is a wealth of technology and would be a feather in the cap of any captor."  He sipped his coffee and let it hang there. 

"But you don't believe it?" 

"No, I don't."   He stared directly into her eyes.  "He is much too interested in her Captain to take her as a prize just yet." 

"Tuvok to Janeway."  The comm interrupted their conversation but not the look that passed between them. 

"Janeway here." 

"Captain, we are being hailed by a Devore vessel." 

"Put it through to the ready room, Mr. Tuvok."  Chakotay held her eyes through out the conversation, now they both turned to the screen.  The smiling face of the Inspector appeared. 

"Inspector." 

"Captain Janeway, how nice to see you again." 

"Is there something I can do for you, Inspector?"  She kept her expression neutral, but her cheeks colored slightly and she knew Chakotay noticed. 

"I would like to come aboard and speak with you, may I dock?" 

"Asking permission, inspector?  How unlike you." 

"Not at all Captain, there are times I much prefer consent---although force can be interesting."  He smiled .  "I promise you Captain, what I have to say will be of interest to you." 

"I'll have docking coordinates sent to you." 

"Thank you Captain, I look forward to our meeting." 

     The screen went dark and the Captain ordered the coordinates sent to the Inspector's ship.  She studied the blank screen as she tried to figure out what he wanted.  Looking up she found Chakotay staring at her, their eyes met. 

"Commander, what do you think?" 

"You know what I think --I guess you'll have to ask him."  He stood. "If you'll excuse me Captain, I should return to the bridge." 

"Certainly, Commander ---dismissed."  She watched him go --could he be right---was it that simple?" 

     A short time later the Inspector landed and was escorted to the Captain's ready room.  They were secluded in there all morning and when the doors opened, they exited smiling and crossed the bridge together. 

"Commander, I'll be in the mess hall if you need me."  The Captain spoke over her shoulder, not even really looking in his direction, before the lift doors closed. 

     A quiet settled over the bridge, the Commander showed no reaction.  The senior staff was aware of the slow changes taking place in the relationship between the Command team and something about the Captain's reaction to this alien inspector didn't seem to fit. Chakotay was entirely too quiet, it was obvious he saw it too. 

     About an hour later Tuvok relieved the Commander for lunch.  He entered the lift intending to go to his quarters, but decided he was being foolish and went to the mess hall for lunch.  He entered and immediately saw the Captain and the Inspector at a back table. They were busily discussing something that had the Captain smiling. He tried to avoid them, but his eyes were drawn to their table, his eyes met Kathryn's, she looked away.  He found a seat which kept his back toward them, but it wasn't long before the sound of her laughter drifted toward him and his appetite was lost.  He recycled lunch and left the mess hall. 

     It was 1500 hours before the lift deposited the Captain on deck one.  She entered the bridge--alone. 

"Mr.Tuvok, the Inspector is in the VIP suite, assign a security detail, take the replicator off line.  He is to be allowed movement about the ship --only with an escort.  Call a meeting of the senior staff in one hour.  You have the bridge. Commander, may I speak with you in my ready room."  She crossed and keyed the door. 

"Aye Captain."  They both answered.  Tuvok carrying out his orders and the Commander following her into the ready room. 

   She crossed to the replicator, requested one coffee and one tea without asking.  She brought them to the low table in front of the couch and motioned him to join her. 

"He wants to defect."  She spoke without preamble. " He is asking for safe passage on Voyager." 

"Will you grant it?" 

"I don't know.  If he is sincere ---yes."  She watched him.  "He can help us get past the patrols." 

"In return for....passage?--To where?" 

"For now, just out of Devore space --then wherever.  He's not sure." 

"Do you trust him?"  He was trying very hard to put his personal feelings aside ---to be objective. 

"No."   She could see his struggle, she counted on it.  "Even if he is sincere in wanting out help and is in return helpful to us--which I can see happening --even given that ---I think he would betray us in a flat minute for a better offer." 

"So why take the chance?" 

"We need his help--the Devore Imperium is powerful --they have many ships in this sector ---we're alone." 

"You're right--- and you think he will help us through?" 

"If we play it right.  At least until we find the wormhole.  He can be useful, he has a good knowledge of this space and a quick mind.  And he out ranks all the officers we are likely to run into--it could be helpful.  What ever he really wants he is more likely to help us as long as he feels he has a chance of getting it. 

"I see." 

"And---what do you think? --professionally." 

"Professionaly --it's a calculated risk.  He's one man against a whole ship, sure they have ships and men---back up for him--but he has that anyway and this way we could keep an eye on him--even learn a few tricks.  I think if we are careful, what we share with him what access he is given ---he may be helpful. It is worth trying - might even work out." 

"That's what I thought."  She watched him carefully.  "And personally?" 

"Personally -- I don't like him."  He looked at her squarely.  "I don't trust him and I don't want him on this ship. I don't want him any where near ---you." 

"Yes, I know---and you may be right.  Your eariler assessment may prove to be correct---I believe he is interested in me." 

"And?" 

"And what?  Do you want to know what I think of his interest in me -- or are you asking if I'm interested in him?" 

"Both, I guess ---You find him attractive, I can see it when you look at him." 

"Chakotay, I won't lie to you.  There is something appealing about him --- perhaps the very fact that he can't be trusted -- I don't know--I do enjoy our banter--the sparing--there is something very -- interesting--very..." 

"Sexy?" 

"I suppose so, yes ---Chakotay do you trust me?" 

"Yes." 

"Than we won't have a problem here." 

     They finished their drinks in silence.  It was a dangerous game she was proposing --professionally and personally.  They both knew it and she hoped that was enough to get them through it. 

"So we tell the senior staff ---what exactly?" 

"That we are offering him asylum and safe passage and he will help us all he can with the Devore."  She turned to him.  "I know you are uncomfortable with this and I'm sorry---but, it may be a good thing.  He sees it too and it might help to convince him that I believe him--trust him--if ---well--if he thinks I'm interested." 

"So if I look miserable---he might feel safer.  Is that the idea?" 

"Sort of." 

"Well it won't be hard -- the more time you spend with him the more unhappy I will be."  He stood and offered her a hand.  "Time for the meeting." 

     She took the offered hand, smiled and touched his face, than turned and walked toward the door. 

"Kathryn." 

"Yes?" She stopped and turned back toward him. 

"How far will you go to convince him?" 

"Only as far as I have to."  She left the room and crossed the bridge without turning back --without further comment. 

     The meeting with the staff went as well as could be expected.  Tuvok raised an eyebrow at working with him, but said nothing.  The Captain was clear about the fact that he was not being given free rein and should not be totally trusted by anyone.  They were to work with him- carefully and clear any classified information with her first.  He had some modifications to the scanners, which she wanted Harry and B'Elanna to work with him on, Tom was to work on a flight plan with him and Tuvok was to be sure he had security at all times. 

     Chakotay was clearly  unhappy and the mood between the commanding officers was strained -- no one missed it.  For her part it seemed the Captain was a little too happy to have to Inspector on board.  She told them she planned to meet with him over dinner and they could expect to see him at the briefing in the morning.  The meeting was dismissed.  The Commander stayed behind as always to speak with the Captain privately, but she waved him off and left the bridge for her quarters. 

     When Chakotay next saw her, she was leaving her quarters fo the VIP suite.  She carried a bottle of wine and she wasn't wearing her uniform.  She turned the corner and saw Chakotay --the expression on his face was nothing short of pitiful. 

"Chakotay, no on has died--that I know of."  She placed a hand on his arm. 

"Have a nice evening, Captain."  He moved past her and she grabbed his arm. 

"Hey, meet me in my quarters at 2200?"  She smiled, but he was still uncertain. 

"Sure, 2200.  See you later."  He freed himself and walked away. 

   The Captain went on to the VIP suite.  Stepping past the security team and pretending not to notice the strange looks they gave her, she rang the chime.  He called for her to enter and the door closed behind --shutting out the rest of the ship.  Dinner had been delivered as ordered and she handed him the wine. 
 
"Kathryn--no uniform?"  He raised his eyebrows in surprise. 

"You prefer me in uniform, Inspector?" 

"You look lovely, Kathryn---it really doesn't matter to me what you're wearing."  He handed her a glass of the wine he poured as they spoke. 

"Flattery, Inspector is not likely to advance your cause." 

"Please Kathryn, I never liked that title --- call me Kashyk."  He walked to the couch and took a seat.  "Tell me than, what will advance my cause?" 

"Depends on your objective."  She joined him taking a seat in the chair. 

"I suppose my objective should be to get us safely clear of Devore space." 

"A worthy cause."  She tucked her feet under her,  "Tell me what do you have in mind?" 

"Are we still talking about a flight plan?"  He put his drink down and leaned over the table toward her. 

"That is our primary objective ---is it not?"  She smiled at him.  "I should think, Kashyk, life in a detention camp would appeal even less to you than it does to me." 

"Having seen them, I would have to agree."  He picked up the wine and sat back.  "And consorting with a gaharay -- even a beautiful one --- would not be looked upon with favor by my government.  How will your staff handle the news of my defection?" 

"However I tell them to.  So far, I think they are not personally thrilled -- but they will work with you."  She got up and poured them more wine.  "I will leave it to your natural charm to win them over." 

"Yes---I'm sure THAT will be effective."  He laughed as he accepted the wine she offered.  "Fortunately, I will have your authority to protect me." 

"As long as you hold up your end of the bargain."  She settled back in the chair.  "I told them you would be at the briefing in the morning --- they will be prepared to work with you then -- where would you suggest we start?" 

"We will need to enhance the scanners to compensate for refractive shielding." 

"I told Lieutenant Torres and Ensign Kim to expect to work with you on that." 

"Good, I fear your resident borg would never succumb to my charms." 

"And who are you planning on charming---B'Elanna or Harry?"  She chuckled behind her glass. 

"Tough choice---actually---neither would be my first choice."  He stood and offered her a hand.  "Shall we have dinner?" 

     She took the offered hand, getting to her feet and finding herself standing uncomfortably close.  She stepped around him and proceeded to investigate their dinner.  She busied herself setting out their meal and he brought the wine back to the table.  Over dinner their discussion ranged form earth's classical music to calibrations for adapting Voyager's scanners to unmask any Devore ships they may encounter. Though out the evening they continued the dangerous personal game of  cat and mouse -- never sure who was the cat or mouse. 

     It was 2230 before Kathryn realized the time and made a somewhat hasty excuse to leave.  She hurried down the corridor, quickly keying in her code and ducking into her quarters.  There was only dim light and it took a minute to spot him. 

"Sorry, I'm late."  She crossed the room to his position on the couch. 

"Have a good time?"  He said evenly. 

"It was informative.  He has some interesting strategies in mind."  She crossed to the replicator.  "Want something?" 

"No thank you."  He watched her get a coffee and return to the couch.  "Was there something specific you wanted to see me about?" 

"No, do I need a reason?"  She was a little surprised, she hadn't expected him to react quite like this. 

"It's late and we both have an early shift."  He shifted position, looking at her.  "Just wondering." 

"If you don't want to be here --- you are free to leave." 

"Am I being dismissed --- Captain?" 

"You were not ordered to be here in the first place ---I'm sorry if you felt that way."  She got up and recycled her coffee.  "Maybe  you're right----it is getting late." 

"Well, I guess I'll be going."  He stood up and walked toward the door. 

"Chakotay, I---I only wanted some time with you."  She stood behind him. 

"I know ---I'm sorry." He stepped forward and triggered the door.  "I'll see you in the morning."  He stepped out and let the door close behind him. 

      In the morning, Chakotay was feeling less threatened and a little ashamed of the way he had acted. 
He showered and as he got ready for his shift he decided to appoligize to Kathryn over breakfast. 

"Computer locate Captain Janeway." 

"CAPTAIN JANEWAY IS ON DECK THREE SECTION 327 BETA--THE VIP SUITE." 

      Chakotay decided on coffee in his quarters, a bad choice since it only gave him more time to stew.   He was on the bridge a full fifteen minutes before the Captain arrived--late for shift. 

"Good morning"  She greeted alpha shift with an easy smile as she took her seat. "Commander, sleep well?" 

"Fine Captain----you?" He wanted to ask if she slept at all, but bit it back.  He was in no mood for her easy banter this morning. 

"Fine, thank you."  She  thought his mood would have improved by now--it clearly hadn't. She considered going into her ready room to avoid his mood, but  he would probably follow her and that would make both of their moods bad.  She busied herself with a padd, trying to look interested. 

      At 0900 the senior staff was gathered in the breifing room, they sat around the table quietly waiting for the commad team.  Chakotay came in first--alone and took his seat without a word.  It was another five minutes before the Captain arrived.  She breezed in in her usual manner, greeted everyone and heard reports from all departments at 0930 the door opened and the Inspector stood in it. 

"Inspector, please come in and join us."  She indicated the seat to her right and he took it. "You all know Inspector Kashyk."  Everyone nodded to him. 

     The Captain continued the meeting, Kashyk joined in without effort.  The staff was civil and at times it seemed they actually respected his opinions and valued his advice.  Kathryn though it had gone well--except for the unusual silence of the Commander.  Kashyk worked with Seven and Tom to plot a new course than left with Harry and B'Elanna for engineering to work on scanner enhancements.  The meeting dismissed the Captain crossed to her ready room and waited.   She knew he would come and she really didn't look forward to it.  Her door chimed. 

"Come" 

"Captain, may I speak with you?" 

"Certainly, come in Commander, please have a seat."  She stayed behind her desk and offered him the chair, hoping to forestall a personal discussion. 

"Kathryn, I know this is not usually the time or place for personal discussions---but I feel this is clouding our Command relationship----at least mine." 

"Alright, Chakotay--- if you feel it's necessary."  She braced herself for a verbal blow. 

"Kathryn---I just want to appolgize for my behavior and let you know I intend to keep my personal feeling off the bridge."  He swallowed hard. "I won't let my feeling toward the Inspector interfere with the safety of this ship----I just want to make you aware of that." 

"I appreciate that Chakotay." She was clearly surprised. "It's important we work together on this."  She got up and came around the desk.  "Coffee----tea?" 

"Tea thanks."  He watched as she silently retrieved their drinks and returned to her seat "Any progress on the wormhole?" 

"No---I can't figure it out."  She looked over and saw amusement on his face -- a refreshing sight.  "What--- did I say something funny?" 

"You can't figure it out.----Please Kathryn,-----you haven't figured it out YET ---OK, but I know better than to even think you would accept not being able to find it."  He smiled at her, showing her the dimples for the first time in days.  "You're at your best like this --- when you're working on a problem, especially a scientific one.  I like to watch you figure it out --- I love the way you look when you finally get it." 

"I do love it when it finally comes together, but I didn't realize working through a problem had become a spectator sport." 

"Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I enjoy it."  He chuckled.  "At least when it's you I'm watching---now Tuvok---somehow doesn't hold  that kind of interest." 

"I swear, Chakotay you are hopeless --- you think watching me breath is an enjoyable past time." She shook her head at him. 

"You watch me breath -- I've seen you, when you think I'm sleeping  ---you're no better."  He smiled at the slight rise in color in her cheeks. 

"OK, you caught me"  She stood. "I should get to work on that wormhole ---but --why don't we have lunch first."  She walked over and offered her  arm,  he took it and her invitation and they headed out to lunch. 

     They crossed the bridge arm in arm, much to the relief of the bridge crew.  She officially handed off the bridge to Tuvok and rang for the lift.  The door opened and they came face to face with the Inspector and his security guards. 

"Captain ----Commander." 

"Inspector -- how did it go in engineering?"  The Captain was a little uncomfortable between these two men. 

"Modifications complete--- I was just looking for you.  We  have some work to do."  He watched her face closely but didn't miss their entwined arms. 

"Yes -- well, I'm just on my way to lunch --- We can meet in astrometrics in about an hour." 

"Inspector, we are just on out way to the mess hall  --why don't you join us?"  Chakotay offered. 

"Thank you Commander, but I think I'll just return to my quarters until the Captain is ready."  He made a short bow.  "If you'll excuse me--- I'll see you in about an hour."  He never took his eyes off the Captain even when he spoke to Chakotay. 

     Having little choice, the three of them and the security team got into the lift together for the short ride down to the mess hall.  They made the trip silently --- deck two the mess hall --- the command team exited, leaving the Inspector to complete his journey. 

     They selected lunch and made their way to their customary table before either spoke. 

"How very gallant of you, Commander  --- offering the Inspector lunch."  She commented flatly as she took her seat. 

"I hope you don't mind --- I must have had a moment of weakness."  He smiled. 

"I'm glad he didn't take you up on it --but I appreciate the effort anyway." She reached across the table, placing her hand over his. 

"I aim to please---most of the time." 

      The rest of their time passed pleasently, none of the crew even came near them, almost  as if they had been warned.  An hour was a short time and soon lunch was over.  Chakotay had the bridge and the Captain was due in astrometrics.  She hailed the Inspector to meet her and her and Chakotay left the mess hall together. 

"Sorry, I can't come and watch you think---duty calls." 

"I know and I'll probably be tied up late ----breakfast?" 

"Sure, see you in the morning."  He smiled but she knew he wasn't happy. 

       It was difficult at first getting anything done, Seven's open dislike for the Inspector hampered their every move.  It didn't take long before they sought a kinder atmosphere for their work.  They left astrometrics for the ready room, where they secluded themselves for the afternoon and most of the night.   They had the last four known locations of the wormhole and tried every pattern and logical 
application to predict it's next occurance.   Nothing worked. 
 
"It's just beyond me--I can't think of another thing."  Kathryn paced with what had to be her thousandth cup of coffee. 

"Think" 

"I am." 

"Think harder---It's not like you to give up so easily." 

"Four worm holes less than 20 light years apart----there is no pattern 

"Did you apply a fractal coefficent?" 

"Yes" 

"Neutrino flux parameters?"  She nodded her head in response. "Statistical algorithms?" 

"Everyone I could find.  This worm hole defies analysis----maybe it's just out of our league------How do you predict a random occurance?"  She knelt on the floor next to his chair to look at the computer with him. 

"You follow your instincts"  He turned toward her she was suddenly staring at him.  "Captain?" 

"Counterpoint----it's in all great music. Parallel melodies, playing against one another.  We've been looking at the obivious, frequency, location, timing, but each of those parameters could have a counter point in subspace." 

"If we could run an algorithm based on sub space harmonics---it might reveal a pattern." 

"Computer run subspace transkinetic analysis on the wormhole data."  She smiled at him. 

"ANALYSIS IN PROGRESS." 

"This could take a minute"  She walked back to the table and poured them each a coffee. 

"I'll miss this coffee of yours." 

"I'll give you the recipe." 

"Thank you." 

"You don't sound happy about leaving."  She took a seat on the couch. 

"The Benarie are not about to embrace a former Inspector.  I'll be feared and hated for what I represent." 

"Anxiety doesn't become you, Inspector."  She waved her hand as if to brush it off. "Try to relax a little." 

"I suppose you like me better in uniform." 

"I haven't decided weather I like you at all" 

"Indecision isn't like you at all." 

"What do you know about what I'm like?"  She turned toward where he sat on the couch. 

"I've learned alot from you data base, much more than crew rosters and ship specifications." 

"Such as?" 

"Such as --- you risked everything when you picked up those refugees --broke not only Devore law but  the Prime directive, I believe it is." 

"Sometimes--you have to go with your gut---sort it out later." 

"Do that often?" 

"When I think it's worth the risk."   Their eyes locked--he smiled.  "After all, the Federation is very far away---I sometimes have to make my own rules." 

"Like you relationship with your Commander?" 

"There is nothing --improper-- about my 'relationship' with my First Officer." 

"No clear regulations to violate---however, I don't think it would make Starfleet happy." 

"We are far away from Starfleet---out here we need to solidify our alliances --- Chakotay is a powerful man on this ship--I'm sure you found that in the data base." 

"The rebel Maquis Captain--yes, I know--doesn't seem the type." 

"Don't let his quiet mannerisms mislead you."  She smiled back at him, arching one eyebrow..  "He is every bit the dangerous Maquis he was before." 

"Tempered only by his devoition to you?" 

"It's helpful." 

"And my presence --- how does the Commander feel about me?" 

"Oh-- How would you expect?"  She laughed.  "To put it mildly---he doesn't care for you." 

"Aren't you concerned he will stage a mutiny---- If I remain here--spending all this time alone with you?" 

"Let me worry about the Commander---you worry about holding up your end of the bagain." 

"Which is--what exactly?" 

"To get us through Devore space---help find the wormhole..."  She leaned a little closer and smiled.  "What did you think?" 

"Oh---exactly that, Captain."  He leaned in.  "Kathryn, an aliance with me could be very---benefical." 

"I never doubted it." 

"ANALYSIS COMPLETE" 

         They moved back to the computer terminal.  She studied the screen carefully. 

"It worked!  It looks like three days and less than eight light years from here." 

"The Tahara system."  He shook his head. 

"Is there a problem?" 

"There is an automated sensor array between here and the Tahara system." 

"Can we go around it?" 

"We would never make it in time---we'll have to find a way to avoid it." 

"Let's do it in the morning." She stretched, stifling a yawn.   "I think we've done enough for tonight." She got up and recycled their cups. 

    When they crossed the bridge it was already 0100 hours.  She dropped him off at his quarters and continued to her own.  She needed some sleep, needed to clear her head, needed to find that worm hole. She wondered if her thinking was clouded only by her lack of rest--- and did she really want to think clearly?  Of course she did!  This was only a game she was playing with the Inspector---wasn't it?  Yes, a very dangerous game. 

    She keyed in her code and went directly to bed.  It wasn't long before she got up, knowing sleep wouldn't be easy tonight.   She replicated hot choclolate and settled on the couch.  What would Chakotay think if he hear her refer to their relationship as a necessary alliance?  She was delibertaly allowing Kashyk to think Chakotay was nothing more than a convience---a very dangerous game. 
She remembered than that Chakotay would be here in a few hours for breakfast--she needed to sleep. 
She went back to bed and eventually to sleep. 

      It was 0600 when her door chimed, she was not dressed yet. 

"Computer identiy the person out side these quarters." 

"COMMANDER CHAKOTAY." 

"Come in Commander."  She greeted him in a towel--actually two-one around her wet hair, the other around her freshly showered body. 

"Good morning, Captain"  He said as the door opened--then he saw her.  "Kathryn!  Do you always entertain dressed like that?" 

"Very funny, Chakotay.  You ARE a little early."  She replicated coffee and handed him one. 

"Well --we never specified a time--just morning and it is morning."  He smiled and gave her an appraising look.   "Nice outfit." 

"Cute"  She took her coffee to the bedroom.  "Be dressed in a minute." 

"Too bad."  He mumbled, sitting down at the table. 

"I heard that."  She yelled back to him.  She quickly dressed and brushed out her hair then she called to him again.  "Would you bring me another coffee---Please." 

"Is it safe?"  He peeked around the corner, seeing her dressed and about to dry her hair.  "Damn--too late." 

"Have a seat--this takes a little longer."  She took a sip of the coffee and bent over shaking out her hair and drying it. 

      He sat on the bed and watched.  He thought about what she said the day before--he really did have it bad--he enjoyed watching her dry her hair--that was just plain sad.  The thought made him chuckle and she looked up at him through tangled strands of hair. 

"Don't laugh at me---this is mostly for your benefit, you know." 

"I wonder about that--but I wasn't laughing at you.  I was laughing at me."  He smiled as he watched her stand and flip her head and each hair fell into place.  "That is kind of amazing--- how do you learn to do that?" 

"Years of practice."  She sat down and applied her makeup.  "Why are you laughing?" 

"You were right, I must have it bad---I actually enjoy sitting here and watching this." 

"Hopeless."  She finished with a dab of perfume and came to stand in front of him.  "Don't wonder--- it's not for him."  She bent down and kissed him and he grabbed her and pulled her down on the bed. 

       They were laughing when he rolled her beneath him.   She stared deep into those dark pools and reached to bring his lips to hers. 

"Oh this will not do---get up." She broke the kiss breathless and struggling to get up. 

"Better be careful what you order."  He flashed her the dimples, but didn't move to let her up. 

"Chakotay, I would like nothing better than to stay right here, but we have a wormhole to find and twelve refugees to take care of." 

"Thirteen."  He moved and helped her sit up. 

"He doesn't count---I still don't trust him." 

"Any progress?" 

"Yes,  A big step.  Let's get breakfast and I'll fill you in." 
 
      They discussed the array over breakfast and called for an early staff meeting.  The senior staff along with the Inspector, reported to the briefing room at 0730.  The command team was already there. 
The Captain offered everyone coffee as she explained the progress of the night before. 

"How often does this array emit a scan pulse?"  B'Elanna questioned. 

"Every 40 seconds."  The Inspector calmly sipped his coffee. 

"Range?"  The Captain asked. 

"10 light years." 

"What are you scaning for exactly?" Chakotay inquired. 

"It's designed to detect and track warp fields and impulse signatures." 

"So if we lower our power out put to beneath it's detection threshold----we could drift past undetected?"  The Inspector nodded at the Captain.  "B'Elanna  can we do it?" 

"I think so---if we're real careful." 

"OK let's do it.   Dismissed."  She turned to the Inspector. "I want you to monitor that array from the bridge." 

"Yes, Ma'am"  He smiled at her expression--she knew he was aware of her title prefrence. 

        They powered down everything possible. Lowered their out put and prepared to glide past the array.   B'Elanna was on stand by in engineering, Kashyk at the engineering station on the bridge.  Tuvok tracked the scanning pulse from the tactical station.  Harry monitored systems at OPs and Tom held his breath and prayed they had enough momentum to drift past. 

        The first first pulse passed over them safely.  The second damaged the matter stream and B'Elanna worked frantically to keep the third from light them up and detecting them. The third pulse detected them and the Captain ordered them to power up and head out at warp 9.  Two Devore war ships had been dispached and would intercept them in under six hours.  The only way out now seemed to be to fight. 

"Captain, We need to talk but not here."  Inspector Kashyk broke the silence. 

"My ready room."  She motioned with her head.  "Commander, you have the bridge." 

      Once inside Kashyk told her his plan to go back.  That way he could be in charge of the inspection teams and if they were really lucky--- the teams would be on and off Voyager before they reached the worm hole.  Kathryn wasn't entirely happy, but in the end she agreed it was their best chance.  She ordered the  Inspectors shuttle readied for take off  and escourted him personally to the shuttle bay. 

"I'm making one modification to your plan, Inspector."  She looked up at him as the shuttle bay doors opened  "We will wait as long as possible---until the wormhole starts to collaspe, for you to join us." 

"I don't think I'll make it, Kathryn." They walked into the bay.  "Prepare preflight." 

"Try" 

     When he turned to answer, she was stand very close--looking up at him.  He took her arms and pulled her to him kissing her.  Breaking the kiss, she looked up at him, searching for a truth in his eyes---she took his face in her hands and brought him back to her---a more demanding kiss this time.  As the kiss ended, he took her hand from his face and kissed her palm.  They silently looked into each other's eyes and he walked away. 

     She stood and watched his shuttle leave the bay and the doors close.  She wondered for a minute if she was still playing a game.  She turned to leave and he was standing there---just watching.  Their eyes met, she could see the question there.  They said nothing, just returned to the bridge. 

    The shuttles were equiped with refractive shielding and photon torpedos to open the worm hole. 
The false readings were set and the entire planned deception was underway before the Devore inspection team arrived.  They played their parts and she won the game.  He took his teams and left in defeat--with, if he could be believed, more than a little regret. 

      She sat on the bridge--alone.  She won, the refugees---at least twelve of them--were safely through the worm hole and her ship and crew were safe and back in her control---she would see no more of the Devore inspection teams.  Why then did she not feel like a winner?  She hadn't noticed him standing in front of her, she was so deep in thought. Finally she looked up. 

"Chakotay?"  She said it softly. 

"Are you OK?"  He sat, now as the rest of the bridge crew filed in. He watched her. She got up and left the bridge.  "Mr. Paris, set a course for home.  Mr Tuvok, you have the bridge."  He followed her into the ready room.  "Kathryn?" 

      She was standing on the upper level, staring out the viewport.  Her arms were wrapped around her, she didn't turn when he spoke.  She knew he was there--she didn't know what she was feeling --she couldn't explain it to him. 

"Kathryn---are you OK?"  He was standing behind her--very close but he didn't touch her. 

"I will be."  She leaned into him and he put his arms around her. "I'm sorry." 

"About?" 

"Kashyk."  She put her hands over his.  "I didn't expect you to be there." 

"So are you sorry you kissed him----or that I saw you?" 

"That you saw."  She took a deep breath.  "I needed to seal the deal---and-- I needed ---I needed to know." 

"Well, we're here and still free--so I guess it worked.  If it were any other Captain, we would all be in detention camp before morning." 

"You're probable right.---It was a dangerous game--I guess it was worth it." 

"And did you find out what you needed to know?" 

"Yes----yes I did."  She turned to face him.  "Kashyk is an attractive man--intellgent, witty, quite dangerous and even sexy."  She reached up and touched his face.  There was a certain chemistry between us----just a chemical reaction.  I love you, Chakotay.  I'm sorry for what I put you through these last few days.  Can you forgive me?" 

"I love you, Kathryn"  He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head.  "Someday we'll tell our grandchildren all about the time grandma seduced the bad guy and saved the ship, and we'll laugh." 
He held her as he stared out the viewport --- He was glad she hadn't objected to having grandchildren---and he wondered where HE was and what he was thinking.  They had won--more than the ship and their freedom--- and he was sure it would be alright. 

The End 

            EMAIL  ME                               RETURN TO INDEX