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SUMMARY: Chakotay has had it. Had what? Enquiring minds want to know!
An Officer and a Gentleman
Chakotay leaned against the bar and took in the full view. Sandrine's was busy tonight and it seemed like everyone on board Voyager had come in at least once during the evening. Personally, he was convinced that he'd taken enough oh-so-witty gibes in the past hour to account for entire crew plus the populations of a couple of passing planets! Now the senior staff was off duty and relaxing here in Sandrine's, most of them cheering on the captain as she played pool with Harry.
"Another glass of beer, Commander?" asked a voice behind him. He turned to face it.
"Yes, thanks Sandrine. Busy night you've got here."
"Oui, it's busy. I like it like that. And your lady is cleaning up again. What do you two do with all the replicator rations she collects?"
"It has nothing to do with me, Sandrine, but my guess is the captain spends them all on coffee."
He took a sip of beer as Sandrine looked first at him and then at the captain.
"Monsieur, why do you insist on denying the feelings that exist between you and the captain? It is obvious to all who watch you both."
"Then 'all' are suffering from mass delusion, Sandrine. The relationship the captain and I share is strictly professional -- always has been and always will be." He took a sip as he watched the captain sink another one.
"Mon Dieu, Commander Chakotay, I have watched people all my life and you are either lying through your teeth or delusional yourself. From crewman to Lt. Commander, the opinion on this ship is the same. The Captain and the First Officer were made for one another."
He snorted. "Then the crew should seek professional help and you, Sandrine, should have Tom take a look at your sub-routines!"
Chakotay gave her a practiced smile as she continued to let her romantic opinions be known but his mind drifted off to the past several months.
It had really gotten worse. Both the captain and he knew all about the crew's desire to bring them together romantically -- had known for years -- but it had always been discreet and within protocol's guidelines. Easy to overlook - and they did. Now even holograms and lower deck personnel were starting to drop obvious hints and comments about the lack of relationship, even when one or both of them were within earshot. It was getting harder to ignore the blatant insubordination and lack of respect and Chakotay was beginning to fear that official sanctions might have to be made to get this behaviour stopped. He absolutely hated that idea.
He suddenly realized that his beer glass was empty. Sandrine had wandered down to the other end of the bar to fill a tray for the pool players and now was an excellent opportunity to escape her. If he ever found out that Tom Paris or Harry Kim had a hand in Sandrine's opinions there would definitely be an increase in the ranks of the non-commissioned. And he was positive that there would be no flack from the person in the big chair - she was just as embarrassed and disturbed as he was.
He swept his eyes around the room. This bar had become one of his favourite holodeck programmes and tonight it was filled with friends. He just hoped he could enjoy the evening without anyone getting just a little too personal with their comments. He walked towards the piano where the Doctor and Seven were playing duets. The doctor smiled up at him.
"Good evening, Commander. Do you have a request? Perhaps something romantic to dance to?" The doctor nodded towards the captain with a twinkle in his eye. Chakotay followed his gaze and then smiled, too. Her back was to him and she was bending over the table to make a shot. As a spectator, this was his favourite position.
"I think our captain is busy enough right now, Doctor. But I'll take you up on the dance music; my legs could use a good stretch. Anything will do." The Doctor started to play and Chakotay approached Samantha Wildman.
"Care to dance, Sam?"
"Sure, Chakotay, I'd love to." They smiled at each other as they came together and started dancing to the music. For several songs they danced around the floor, making small talk and laughing together. Naomi was doing very well with her studies and sure, Joe could borrow Chakotay's wood carving tools. Nothing was really new on the bridge but he could schedule a rotation for her there if she'd like; it must be just about her turn anyway. Finally, she gestured towards Kathryn with a wicked smile.
"I see the captain is making another profit, Chakotay. Are you going to be celebrating later tonight?"
He couldn't help it; he sighed. "Sam, what in the world makes everyone think that there is something going on between the captain and me? Sometimes I think that I should get half her winnings, just as payment for all the pressure I get. But, since I could end up in the brig with an attitude like that, I just let it go. Everyone else on this ship should, too."
"Oh, Chakotay, spare us. The joke isn't that people can actually see the air trembling between you two, the joke is that the two of you try so hard to pretend that it doesn't exist. And why is that, anyway? Geez, the hairs on the back of our necks stand up when you two are in the same room."
"Sam, I honestly don't know what you're talking about. I think all this started out as a smart-ass comment one day and bored people just kept it going as a joke. I've really tried not to mind too much but it could be hurting the captain. She's not exactly in the position to react, is she? Either she lowers herself to this juvenile level, or it has to come across in an official capacity."
Sam just looked at him. "You're right, Chakotay. I was out of line and it was very thoughtless of me. I'm sorry." And as he swung her around she rolled her eyes to the heavens.
The two friends enjoyed a couple more dances but finally Chakotay held out his arm. Sam slipped hers through his and he escorted her back to Joe who was saving them seats at a table. Sandrine magically appeared with a pitcher of beer and three glasses and disappeared without a word, for which Chakotay offered up a silent prayer of thanks. He really didn't need any more innuendoes about the Romance of the DQ tonight, especially in front of Joe.
"So, Chakotay, I was going to ask if you'd mind lending your wood working tools," Joe started and then faded out at the two smiles facing him.
"Sam just asked me, Joe, and no problem. I'll look them out and get them to you tomorrow - is that early enough?"
Joe grinned. "Yeah, that would be great, thanks. Do you think you could you also tell me about or show me a few things you've made for the captain, Chakotay? I'd like to make something special like that for Sam. Something personal and hand-made to show how much I care....you know."
Chakotay knew all too well. He also noticed Joe's eyes bug out as Sam kicked him in the shins under the table. "Well, Joe, I can give you some suggestions from gifts I've made, but you'll have to figure out what is appropriate for you to make for Sam. I don't have anything to compare with that."
"Oh, that's okay, thanks Chakotay!" Joe's face and voice was strained from trying not to gasp as he sat bent sideways holding his shin in his hand. "I'm sure I meant no offence!"
"None taken, Joe. I suppose I should have taken care of these rumours months ago, but I really didn't want people thinking I was being defensive about the whole damned thing. Don't worry, I won't tell B'Elanna that you annoyed me." He grinned at the very thought of B'Elanna's reaction.
Joe did not. His flushed face turned pale. "I'll give you a week's worth of rations not to do that!" he cried.
Chakotay stood and clapped his hand on Joe's shoulder. "Don't worry, Joe. Cruel and unusual punishment isn't my style anymore - I've gone Starfleet, remember? Now, if you'll both excuse me I see that Neelix has cornered Tuvok into playing a game of darts and I just have to check that out!" He gave them both a big grin and wandered over to the corner where the dart game was getting underway.
"Mr Neelix, I defer to you. Please, take the first turn. 501 and double in."
"Certainly, Mr Vulcan. But be prepared, I've been practising!" And with that comment, Neelix proceeded to double in.
"Indeed," said Tuvok. He hefted his dart in his hand, took aim and...
"Commander!" a voice called. Tuvok's dart hit the wall beside the target. He turned to look at the offending person.
"Captain. How good of you to join us." Tuvok didn't really look that pleased.
"I'm sorry, Tuvok! Really! I just wanted to tell the Commander that I wouldn't be on the bridge tomorrow morning until late." She turned to Chakotay. "Is that okay with your schedule, Commander?"
"Yes, Captain, it works out just fine. We'll see you when we see you. Have a good evening."
"Thanks. Good night, everyone. Enjoy your evening." She left the three men looking at the dart in the wall to continue her circuit of wishing everyone in the bar a good night.
Neelix looked at Tuvok. "Take your throw over, Mr Vulcan. That really wasn't fair to you."
"Thank you, Mr Neelix; I appreciate that," replied Tuvok as he pulled his dart from the wall. He turned to look at Chakotay. "Frankly, Commander, it would have been more logical to have made that arrangement with the captain when you had dinner with her tonight."
Chakotay frowned. "Tuvok, I am getting more than a little tired of explaining this to crewmembers every time I have some down time. The Captain And I Are Professional Associates. I would think that her friend and Second Officer could appreciate that fact and not contribute to the unrelenting grapevine on Voyager. Also, I did not have dinner with her."
"As you say, Commander." And Tuvok returned to the dart game, giving Chakotay every logical reason to believe that he'd just been brushed off. He looked at Tuvok's back and then around the room. Tom, B'Elanna, and Harry waved frantically at him from the pool table.
"Chakotay! Over here! Join us -- if we don't have a fourth we'll lose the table."
Chakotay gratefully accepted and grabbed a cue from the rack. "Partners, Be?"
"You bet, Chakotay. Old Maquis vs old Starfleet. Rack 'em up, Helmboy!" Tom cheerfully complied and B'Elanna broke, but no balls fell. The table turned back to Tom and Harry.
Chakotay counted the seconds as Tom bent over his first ball. Three. Two. One.
"Hey, Chakotay, where's the captain? She was here a while ago, how'd you lose her?" Bingo.
"What do you mean, Tom? I didn't talk with her tonight so you probably know more than I do."
His three junior officers tried hard not to smirk as they exchanged amused glances. B'Elanna's face was merry as she held her upright cue against her cheek.
"Chakotay, in all our history together I have never seen you like this. Absolutely never! Why don't you two just cut the crap and come clean? Kahless, it's been six years, the suspense is killing everyone on board! Even Tuvok can hardly stand the strain anymore. Enough is enough!"
The commander's voice was cold. "Actually, it's more than enough, Be, and if you're as smart as I give you credit for you'll change the subject. It's bad enough to suffer through the comments of other people, but you three are bridge officers and my friends. And I expect you to show a little respect towards the captain, even if you can't manage it for me."
"Oh, come on, Chakotay," laughed Tom, still poised over the table. "Where's your sense of humour? Like you just said, we're bridge officers - do you honestly think we don't see how you two look at each other or how often you manage to touch each other? You sure as hell don't touch Harry and I like that! And how about those little tête a tête's over the central console? Neelix's reports aren't that interesting!" The three friends burst into laughter and Tom gave up trying for a shot.
The commander slowly turned to face all of them and this time his face was not the normal gentle Chakotay visage. There was no question in the minds of Tom, Harry, and B'Elanna that the commander had finally hit the wall and their laughter stopped abruptly. He started out quietly enough though, at least for the first few opening words.
"Be, you took the words right out of my mouth back there. And you were absolutely right - enough is enough. I have had it up to HERE with all the snickering, smirking, and sniggering that I have been taking from the crew lately. Lord knows you don't dare try it with the captain and thanks to the spirits for that, but where does everybody get off thinking they can taunt the first officer of this ship with dirty little innuendoes involving the captain? For gawd's sake, we've been out here for SIX YEARS and I'm sick and tired of taking this shit! It just keeps getting worse and worse and WORSE! And tomorrow I start putting it on people's RECORDS!"
Whack! went his cue on the table. Tom, Harry, and B'Elanna stood frozen to the floor. People around the room stared at the scene, holding their breath. The Doctor stopped playing with his hands in mid air. No one moved until the fuming commander had slammed the door of Sandrine's and then it was only Sandrine herself who followed his path to check on the damage to her door.
People slowly began to exhale and looked with embarrassment at others in the room. As one they all realized that their friendly gibes at their commander had finally crossed the line. Few, other than his close Maquis friends, had seen Chakotay's temper in all the years on Voyager, and none of them had witnessed a display like this. They all felt guilty for their part in his misery.
And miserable he was. Twice before reaching the lift he pounded his fist into the bulkhead. When the lift doors opened at the same speed they had for six years, his boot was applied to hasten that opening. The computer accepted his growl for its command and let him off at the officer quarters level. One more bash against the bulkhead and he was at his own door. A quick entry with one last kick to his doors and he was home.
He paced for a few minutes, working his arms and doing deep breathing exercises. Slowly his heartbeat returned to normal and he began regaining control of his temper. He walked to the bathroom and splashed cool water over his face and neck. While he brushed his teeth he caught the anger of his own eyes in the mirror and he glared at the reflection. If he was going to regret this outburst tomorrow he certainly showed no sign of it now.
Entering his bedroom he pulled his shirt over his head; buttons be damned. His boots were kicked into the corner and his trousers were thrown on top of his crumpled shirt. Two seconds later he was naked and he slipped into the comfort of his own bed. He let himself fall heavily on his back and exhaled long and slowly, covering his eyes with an arm.
Another arm, much smaller and softer, gently wrapped around his chest. Directly following the arm came the rest of the woman until he felt sweet open-mouthed kisses being scattered on his neck and throat. The mouth climbed higher until a husky voice whispered into his ear.
"Rough day at the office, dear?"
He enveloped her in his muscular arms and held her tight.
"Not as hard as tomorrow, I think. I really lost it tonight -- you're going to be hearing about it, I'm sure. Your XO -- finally gone nuts and rampaging through the corridors of Voyager." He sighed and put his head down in the crook of her neck. "Kathryn, I don't know how much longer I can do this or, for that matter, how much longer we're going to get away with it."
She pulled herself up to look at him in the face. "Well, four years is a pretty good run, don't you think, Chakotay? Not one slip, in word or deed, in four years. Who else could have pulled this off for so long?"
"I don't know, Kathryn. I'm beginning to wonder if we've been as clever as we thought. I can't even remember why we wanted to keep it secret in the first place. I mean, everyone seems to know we're together, even if they have absolutely no tangible proof." He laughed bitterly and continued, "The holograms, for spirit's sake, even the holograms assume that we're together. I almost sprayed Sandrine with her own beer when she started in on me!"
Kathryn laughed. "Well, it didn't help when you lied to Tuvok about eating with me this evening. For heaven's sake, I told him we would be available during our 'working meal' and the next thing I know I'm in Sandrine's overhearing you lying like a rug. To Tuvok of all people!"
"It wasn't a lie. I don't lie -- except on duty for my Captain and Voyager, that is."
"Oh really. Then do explain how you looked Tuvok in the eye and said we did not have dinner together."
His face twitched. "We didn't. Well, at least not the way I was brought up. Dinner was our mid-day meal and supper was our evening meal." Even Chakotay had a hard time keeping a smile from spreading across his face. Kathryn didn't even try; she laughed again.
"I'm sure Tuvok will appreciate that slight difference in semantics. I used to call that 'verbal chess' and I'm sure he would have an even clearer definition for it."
She sobered and they both rolled onto their sides, facing each other.
"Is it time, Chakotay? You have a closer personal relationship with the crew, you tell me."
"Yeah, it's time, but that's the problem -- the timing sucks. I just spent a year's worth of Talent Night acting convincing everyone on board that this was all a deep-rooted neurosis on their part. I really don't want to admit tomorrow morning that I've been boffing their captain for four years and, oh by the way, she's damned good, too."
She raised an eyebrow. "So eloquently put, Commander." When he started to blush she smiled and beeped his nose.
"This is your call, Chakotay. Whenever, wherever, however, I'll be there by your side. And, you know, I'll be happy when this charade is over. I've decided that I want everyone to know that you belong to me; especially," and she mock glared at him, "a certain busty Borg in Astrometrics."
"Kathryn, I don't even want to go there. A short, skinny, almost redheaded woman my own age is what I want and need in my life. Even if the hair does come out of a bottle. Owww!!!"
"You DIE, Chakotay!!" And then she literally jumped his bones. A tussle ensued with great displays of pounding hands and feet swinging in the air until finally he held her firmly under his body. One gaze between the two of them and he lowered his mouth to hers. They were experienced in the art of loving each other and her mouth opened for him. Then he jumped her bones. Metaphorically.
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