Disclaimer:  All of the characters belong to Paramount, not that they know what to do with them.  So we will have a little fun and return everyone unharmed.  (if they will go)

Red Velvet and Roses 

 First place in Hearts Ablaze Valentines Day

Rated G
 

How in the hell had this gotten so out of control?  Kathryn paced her living area trying to decide what to do.  The entire crew was expecting her at the party, she has made it clear weeks ago that she would attend, but she really didn’t feel much like socializing.  Knowing everyone was anxious to see the Commander and his ‘secret’ valentine didn’t make it any easier.  For once Kathryn was at a total loss; she had no idea what she should do.

Still trying to make sense of things, Kathryn wandered into her bedroom and absently fingered the soft velvet of the dress that hung there.  It was a beautiful dress, designed especially for tonight, designed to remind them all, especially him, that their captain was still a woman.  It had thin satin straps a low back and a heart shaped neckline just low enough not to be too revealing.  The red velvet was snugly fitted, hugging her waist and hips then falling straight to the floor with a slit on the right side that ended just above her knee.  It was simple, alluring, yet elegant and when she put it on she had no need for pips to take command.  She had replicated this for him, and now he wouldn’t even be there.  She sat on the bed remembering how well it had all started out.

~~~^^~~~^^~~~


Sitting at her desk, she wondered just how long it would take Chakotay to follow her into the Ready Room.  She would have had to be blind to miss the looks passing between Ops and the helm when she entered the bridge, something was up and from the nervous glances Chakotay was receiving, he knew what it was.  She stayed on the bridge trying to catch a glimpse of the plot –and she was sure if Tom was involved, it was a plot—but nothing happened so she finally retired here.  She had turned back just before the door closed and caught a quick glimpse of Tom urging Chakotay on, so she just let it slide shut, replicated some coffee and waited. It didn’t take long.

“Come.”  She called at the chime, pretending to be engrossed in something on her screen.

“Captain.”  He stood in front of her desk.

“Yes, Commander, what can I do for you?”  She didn’t look up.

“Can I have a word with you?”

“Is this ship’s business?”  Looking up she couldn’t help the smile.  “Have a seat Commander, please.”

“Thank you, yes, actually it does concern the crew.”

“So what has Tom put you up to?”  She leaned over her desk resting her chin in her hands.

“What makes you think Tom has put me up to anything?”  He smiled back.

“Tell me, Chakotay, does the entire crew think I’m stupid or just the senior staff?  She sat back in her chair folding her arms across her chest.

“No one thinks you’re stupid, Captain.  Why would you think that?”

“You’re changing the subject, Chakotay.  Just what does Tom want you to convince me to go along with?”

“Now, Kathryn.”  He gave her his most endearing dimpled smile.

“Put those things away.”

“Huh?”

“Please!  Pretend you aren’t trying to persuade me with those dimples.” She rolled her eyes at him.  “Cut to the chase, Mr..  What do you want from me?”

“Oh, Kathryn, be careful..”  He chuckled.

“Belay that.”  She threw her hands up and shook her head.  “ What does Tom want me to approve?”

“Just a little party.”

“How little?”

“Only all off duty personnel.”

“Intimate little gathering.”  She laughed.  “Why? Is there a reason or at least some kind of excuse for this shin dig?”

“By the old Terran calendar in just two weeks it will be February 14th.”

“Oh that explains it!”

“It does.”

“Care to enlighten me?”

“Valentine’s Day.”  She just stared at him so he continued.  “You know, flowers, cupid, love…”

“Yeah, I get it.  Do you seriously think this is a good idea?”

“I think it’s a wonderful idea.  What better to cheer up the crew than a little romance?” 

“Oh, you are hopeless.”  She ruffled his hair as she passed him.  “Tea?”

“Yes, please.”  He watched her walk to the replicator.  “A little romance is good for the soul.”

“OK.”

“People could celebrate friendship as well as love.”  He got up to follow her to the couch.

“OK.”

“It would be good for morale.  A little fun for everyone.”

“OK.”

“Everyone needs to relax and if things remain calm, I don’t see any reason to deny them—us- a little fun.”

“Chakotay?”

“What?”

“Do you ever listen to me?”

“Of course, I do.”

“Good, then what did I say?”

“Uhhh you said.  ‘Do you ever listen to me.’”

“Before that.”

“Ummm ‘Chakotay’?”

“Yes, but before that.”

“Before that you said – umm ..”  He raised his head and smiled, gracing her with another dose of dimples.  “You said ‘OK’.”

“Very good. Now can I have my coffee in peace?”

“Only if you agree to attend the party.”

“OK, I’ll go but…”

“No buts….”

“Only one.”  She leaned back on the couch and gave him a Captain’s glare.  “Or the deal is off.”

“OK, Kathryn, one but —what is it?”

“That you go with me.”  He tried to hide his stunned expression; his failure made her laugh.  “What?  You don’t want to go with me?”  They usually went to ship functions together but she never openly insisted on it, it was just understood.

“No—er – Yes, of course I want to go with you.”

“Good, then it’s settled.”  She sipped her coffee.  “Tell Tom I want to see the plans for this thing and they better be good.”

“Yes MA’AM.”  He ducked the swing she took at him.

~~~^^^~~~^^^~~~

Well, she had to do this; they were expecting her.  Sighing she pinned up her hair, started a bath and headed to the replicator for a glass of wine.  She needed to relax; it wouldn’t do to let the whole crew know how disappointed she was tonight.

~~~^^^~~~^^^~~~


He was due on the bridge in forty minutes.  It should have been Tuvok, but in light of his recent injury and the fact that Chakotay had nothing better to do anyway, he had taken the shift.  He heard her bath running and wondered if she would still go to the party, after all her one condition was that he go with her and that wouldn’t happen now.  The crew would be disappointed either way; he certainly was.  On his way to the shower, he stopped to finger the soft petal; the roses still looked as fresh as the days, over a week ago, she sent them.  He laughed to himself, he could imagine Kathryn being the type to send flowers to a man; it was her method he was shocked by.

The first time he was in the mess hall, he had just finished breakfast with Tom and B’Elanna.  He stood up to clear his tray when Ensign O'Donnell approached him in full dress uniform.

“Good morning, Commander.”  She smiled and saluted him.

“Ensign.”  He returned her saluted with a sidewards glance at his bewildered breakfast mates.  “What can I do for you?”

“Nothing, Sir.  It’s what I can do for you.”  She smiled and handed him one long stemmed red rose.  “The message you will find attached reads. ‘The way you smile when you say my name’.”

Chakotay took the rose, unraveling the tiny scrolled message to see its origin. No name just the message the ensign had delivered.  “Ensign?”  He looked up but she was gone.

“A secret admirer, big guy?”  Tom teased him.

“Good morning.”  The captain joined them before Chakotay could muster an answer.  “Nice flower, Commander.”

“Uhh, Good morning.”  He eyed her quizzically but her expression never changed.   “Yes, it doesn’t say who it’s from.”

“Oh a secret admirer--- interesting.”  She raised an eyebrow as she took the seat next to B’Elanna.

“I guess.”  He smiled uncertainly.  “Well, I have to go.  See you on the bridge.”  He gave Kathryn one last look, and left the mess hall.
 

The second arrived on the bridge.  It was quiet and the Captain had just returned from her ready room and settled in her chair.  The lift doors opened and Ensign O’Donnell stepped off, still in full dress uniform.

“Permission to enter the Bridge, Captain.”

“Granted.”  The Captain studied the young woman, with surprise. “What can we do for you, Ensign?”

“With your permission, Captain, I have a delivery for the Commander.” 

“Oh?”  The Captain eyed the Commander.  “Well, don’t let me stop you.  Permission granted, Ensign.”

“Commander, the message says. ‘The way your dimpled smile lights up a room.’.  She handed him another rose, red and long stemmed like the first.

“Thank you, Ensign.”  He looked down trying to avoid Kathryn’s inquiring look.  “But Ensign..”  He glanced up just as the lift doors closed behind her.

He could hear the faint sounds of laughter around the bridge but no one spoke.  The Captain continued to study whatever was on her padd.

“Perhaps you should put it in water.”  She said without looking at him.

“Yes, I’ll do that as soon as shift is over.”  He tried to catch her eye, but he got no further reaction.

When shift ended Chakotay wanted only to get off the bridge and away from the sly glances of the crew; he headed immediately for the lift.

“Oh, Commander.”  She tapped his shoulder and he turned to see her crooked smile.  “You forgot this.  Now don’t neglect to put it in water.  It is too beautiful to let die.”  She handed him his rose and stepped past into the lift.
 

“Thank you.”  Was all he could muster with his embarrassment and growing confusion.

The quiet lift ride deposited them on deck three, which was experiencing an increase in traffic even for shift change.  He hurried toward his door trying to ignore the looks he and his rose received from curious crewmen.  He was almost there when she stepped in front of him, dress uniform and all.

“O’Donnell?”

“Commander.”  She smiled and extended the rose. “The message reads ‘the way hearing your voice on the comm. brightens my day.”  And once again she left him standing alone.

The forth message read ‘The way we have shared experiences, both good and bad’,  and was deliver in the same manner as all the other, this time just as he entered the mess hall for breakfast.  Number five arrived in the middle of engineering, the message ‘The way you laugh even at my silly jokes’.  Six caught him in astrometrics and earned him such a look from Seven that he blushed.  The message read ‘The way your presence always calms me’.

He had half a dozen red roses and still no confirmation on who they were from.  He assumed Kathryn at first, but she was admitting nothing and the messages could have been from anyone—so far.  He even considered O’Donnell, but she never stayed around long enough to ask and frankly he wasn’t ready to start chasing down half the crew in search of the phantom flower sender.

He was getting better at controlling his embarrassment by the time the seventh one arrived, at dinner.  He was eating with Kathryn in the mess hall, when she smiled and indicated with a nod that he should look behind him.

“O’Donnell.”  He nodded at her smile and extended his hand to receiver the rose.

“Commander.”  She handed him the rose.  “The message reads ‘The way you respect and appreciate my individuality’.”

“Thank you.”  He mumbled knowing she was already gone.  He turned back to see Kathryn smiling at him.  “Kathryn, are you doing this?”

“Me.?!”  Chakotay, what would the crew think?”  She laughed.  “Maybe you better find out who this is, before it really gets out of hand.”

At breakfast he received number eight.  ‘The way you listen when I’ve had a bad day.”  And as he left the morning briefing number nine arrived ‘The way you always share your rations with me.’  He was now sure it was Kathryn, but she still denied it.

Ten arrived at lunch with the message ‘The way you’re not afraid to tell me what you think.’  And number eleven in the middle of late night meeting he was having with B’Elanna, in her office.  ‘The way you stand beside me always.’

“Has she admitted it yet?”  B’Elanna laughed.

“No., but it couldn’t be anyone else.”  He admired another perfect red rose.  “No one else could get away with the deliveries—know where I am and on the bridge, who on this ship could get away with that?”

“Outside of Tom?”  They laughed together.  “Besides all the messages point to her.”

“Yes, well I guess she will admit it when she is ready and for both out sakes, I hope it’s not Tom!.”  He got up and stretched.  “Long day, B’E, you better be getting home, too.”

“Yeah, Tom won’t be sending me flowers if the baby kept him up this late.”

They headed home, it was late, they were both tired and he was glad he didn’t run into O’Donnell on the way.  He took a quick shower and wrapping a towel around his waist he replicated a cup of tea to unwind.  He turned back from the replicator and she was standing there.  He hadn’t heard her come in so she must have used her over ride; she stood before him in full dress uniform.

“Kathryn?”  He was suddenly conscious of his attire or lack of it.

“Chakotay.”  She held the twelfth rose in her hand as she stepped closer.  “Most of all because you are you.”  She handed him the rose.  Brushed a light kiss across his lips and left before he could recover his senses.

When he had called her on the comm. link she said only ‘Sleep well, Chakotay’ and cut the link.
 

He laughed now thinking of how he must have looked, wearing only a towel and a dumb look.  Well, he had no time for this now; he needed to shower and report to the bridge.

~~~^^^~~~^^^~~~

He had gone to the bridge without knowing if she was still in her quarters or if she had gone to the party.  He could have asked the computer but part of him really didn’t want to know.  He thought about their argument and realized it wasn’t important, they had had bigger fights and gotten over it, but some how this one was difficult.  They argued about the away mission, and then Tuvok had gotten injured and they argued some more.  It was all pointless and he thought she was just being stubborn.  Maybe it wasn’t the argument at all; maybe she had gotten cold feet.  Maybe she had changed her mind and didn’t know how to get out of it.  It didn’t really matter now, they hadn’t spoken, except in a professional capacity, in days.  Stubborn, that was what she was—ahhh, hell so was he.  He wondered, not for the first time, why he let this build up so quickly. He had tried to talk to her, but they only ended up arguing some more and when she came back, probably to apologize he now thought, he had been too angry to listen.  She was angry when she saw the change in bridge duty; maybe she thought he was avoiding her.  Some one had to cover for Tuvok, but it didn’t necessarily have to be him.  She had wanted to go to the party with him and he wondered if she still would have, well it didn’t matter now.  This was going to be a long quiet shift with way too much time to think.

He sat alone on the darkened bridge.  It was quiet sector of space and Voyager already knew where they were headed, so he had little to do.  He already read all the reports he could stand for one night, read some fiction, even played one of Tom’s games and now all he had left to do was find a way to stay awake.  When Tom proposed the idea of this evening’s party it seemed like so much fun; he was looking forward to it.  For once Kathryn had readily agreed and had even hinted that she might be ready to go openly as his ‘date’ and then the flowers made her intentions pretty clear to the entire ship.  His mind kept running over the same territory and it was beginning to make him a bit crazy.

“Boy, did you blow this one.”  He shook his head as he began to pace the lower level.  “You work for seven years to win her over and then just when she is ready ------damn, I can be so stupid.”  He walked around checking reading, at all the empty stations then returned to the center chair.  “Well, two more hours and this stupid day, if not this shift, will be over.”  He spoke out loud to the emptiness surrounding him.  Lost in his own misery, he never heard the lift open.

“Chakotay.”  Her voice was soft and warm, but it startled him just the same.

“Kathryn?”  He jumped and turned, shaken even more by the sight of her, a vision in sleek red velvet.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”  She sat in the chair to his left.  “Everything quiet?”

“Yes.”  He waited for her to speak, when she didn’t, he asked.  “Shouldn’t you be at the party?”

“I was--- but.”  She looked away, then back up.  “As Tom explained it, that’s not where I belong.”

“What?  He knows better.  Kathryn, the crew loves to have you….”

“No, that’s not what I meant.”  She put her hand on his.  “It’s Valentine’s Day.”

“Yes, that’s why we had the party.”

“I know and it is a lovely party, but I belong here.”

“On the bridge?”

“No.”  She cocked her head and gave him a crooked smile.  “Valentine’s day should be spent with the one you love.”  She leaned over the console, gently pressing their lips together.  “I love you, Chakotay.”

The End