I forgot how much fun writing FanFiction is! Enjoy. ~ Coffee
Kathryn marveled at how easy it was for her to assume her "business as usual" mode as she worked through her shift on the bridge. Her crew was still chuckling over the prank on Q from the night before (much to her chagrin), Chakotay was in a pleasant mood, and it appeared that today would be just another of the many eventless days they spent traveling through the Delta Quadrant. Sitting in her command chair, sifting through readouts and spatial data, Kathryn couldn't help but feel a rare sense of peace. Everything seemed right with the world.
Unless, of course, it's just the afterglow from a night of sex, the negative part of her brain snapped. You've gone so long without it, you've forgotten how much feeling good can actually make you feel good.
"Shut up," she muttered.
"Something wrong, Captain?" Chakotay was looking at her strangely from his command chair. Kathryn shook her head with a rueful grin.
"Just talking to myself."
"Hearing voices? You know, the Doctor might be able to prescribe something for that," he teased. Kathryn smirked.
"I think I'd like to avoid that particular treatment, Commander."
"That's fine, just don't complain when he has you declared unfit for duty."
"Well I'm not worried. I could always leave you to the tender care of the E.C.H.," she grinned. Chakotay winced. Janeway 1: Chakotay 0.
"Seven was just telling me yesterday about the some of the newer modifications the Doctor is making to that particular set of subroutines. He's attempting to…" Chakotay kept talking and Kathryn held her grin in place as she internally digested the shock of hearing Chakotay so casually refer to his new girlfriend in the course of their conversation. Had she just imagined the slightly saccharine inflection Chakotay had given Seven's name? Her mind, of it's own volition, began inserting subtext into his statement; Seven (The woman I'm madly in love with who isn't you, Kathryn Janeway) was just telling me yesterday (while we were in bed together making sweet, sweet Borg love) about some of the modifications the doctor is making…
Kathryn snapped back to reality and refocused on Chakotay's face. He was all brown eyes and concern-furrowed brows. Her heart contracted painfully. Seven! He's with Seven and not you! Why?
"Are you talking to the voices again, Kathryn?" Chakotay queried. She managed to scrape up a ghost of a smile.
"Yes," she nodded.
"And what are they telling you?"
"That I need another cup of coffee. Excuse me, Commander. You have the bridge."
She could feel him staring after her as she disappeared through the doors of her Ready Room. For maybe the millionth time since she'd been sucked into the Delta Quadrant, Kathryn mentally thanked StarFleet for their conception of the Captain's Ready Room. It gave her a place to work and think privately…and sometimes, a place to hide her face in misery.
She replicated her cup of coffee, and flopped indelicately on the nearby seating area to sip the java. She watched the stars as they warped past, and reassessed her relationship with Chakotay for the thousandth time. It occurred to her as she drained her mug, that it wasn't just Chakotay who was bothering her; she was a little angry with Seven as well. Seven had been her friend, and she missed that friendship. But at the same time, Seven had betrayed her-whether the blonde Borg was aware of it or not, she'd stolen the man Kathryn loved. The Captain couldn't look at her without feeling the green claws of Envy between her shoulder blades. Maybe, she thought in a guilty moment of insecurity, if I were as fair-haired and buxom as Seven, Chakotay would have found he extra incentive he needed to wait for me, to be with me, and not with my protégé…
Her combadge chirruped.
"Q to Captain Janeway…"
Q! Kathryn had completely forgotten about Q. How did he even fit into this mess? She tapped her badge.
"Go ahead, Q."
"Kathryn, my darling, I was wondering if you'd be so kind as to report to Astrometrics, and bring that lunk-head of a First Officer with you?" Kathryn smirked.
"It's possible," she replied, standing and placing her coffee mug on the table. "Care to tell me what this is all about?"
"No. It's a surprise!" Q informed her gleefully.
"Very well," Kathryn sighed. "I'm on my way."
She left her Ready Room and procured Chakotay; he looked especially displeased when Kathryn informed him of who was requesting their presence. One awkward turbolift ride and a stroll down a long hallway brought them both to Astrometrics. Kathryn stepped through first.
The initial thing she noticed was the softly glowing star chart projected overhead. It was extremely detailed, and must have taken quite a bit of time and data to create. The second thing she noticed was that Seven of Nine was standing next to Q underneath the projection. Her expression brightened when she saw the Captain, or at least that was what Janeway thought, until Chakotay walked past her and Seven's gaze followed him without a glance back in Kathryn's direction.
"Good afternoon, Commander," Seven said, her voice slightly huskier than normal, her cheeks turning pink.
"Good afternoon, Seven," Chakotay replied with a trace of humor over their stiffly formal greetings. He had that intense, focused look on his face, the look that had always made Kathryn weak-kneed when he'd directed it at her. After an excruciating moment of watching the two of them stare at each other, Seven turned to look at the Captain.
"Seven," Kathryn's voice was clipped.
Q cleared his throat conspicuously.
"Good afternoon, Captain," he crooned mockingly, stepping forward to bow and kiss her hand. Kathryn rolled her eyes.
"I don't suppose there's a legitimate reason why you asked us both to come down here, is there Q?" Chakotay was annoyed already, and he was looking suspiciously at their intertwined hands: Q hadn't let go after planting a kiss on the back or her hand, and more importantly, Kathryn hadn't made him.
"I'd say the opportunity to behold the lovely face of my favorite Captain is a good enough reason for me…she is so very lovely," Q looked into her eyes as he made that last comment, and there was a ring of sincerity in his tone that Kathryn hadn't heard there before. She blushed and pulled her hand away.
"I hope you didn't ask Mr. Chakotay here for the same reason," she quipped.
"Ugh," Q shuddered distastefully. "He wishes."
"I'll try to choke back my disappointment," Chakotay growled.
"If only you would choke on something, Commander," Q hissed back with credible menace. Chakotay bristled and took a step towards the formerly omnipotent being…
"Perhaps you could tell us what this is all about, Q" Kathryn interjected smoothly, stepping between the two of them with a grace born of many years of diplomatic negotiations. Q smiled down at her, clearly reveling in her proximity, and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear in a sweetly intimate gesture.
"As you wish, my dear," he murmured. Then, flinging out an arm, he gestured grandly to the star chart. "Behold, ma capitaine; I have charted you a course through this next region of space, using all of my omnipotent knowledge and expertise." He nodded at Seven, who responded by tapping something into the console in front of her. A thin blue line appeared on the display before them and weaved an intricate pattern between dense clusters of gleaming stars. "This is what I feel to be the safest route for you and your crew, Captain, and because I know you too well, I've also made sure that we'll have the opportunity to hit some of what I consider to be the highlights of the Delta Quadrant." Several planets and solar systems were marked in various colors along the blue line of Q's course.
"He's taken into consideration several important factors Captain: resources for food and dilithium, places where we can trade for technology, dangerous territories to avoid…I find his work impressive," Seven remarked coolly. Q scowled.
"Well of course my work is impressive," he scoffed at her. Turning to look back at Kathryn, he added, "and you should know that it all would have been accomplished much earlier today if your Borg hadn't insisted that she monitor every algorithm and scrap of data I put into the computer under the pretense of my being a security threat!"
"I'm sure Seven was just being thorough, Q," Kathryn chuckled.
"And it's not as though you're exactly trustworthy, Q," Chakotay snorted.
"I don't believe I asked for your opinion, Commander," Q muttered, barely sparing a glance in Chakotay's direction before refocusing on Janeway. "As I was saying, should you choose to accept my course offering, dear Captain, I believe it will be a most profitable and memorable experience for your crew."
"I'd like a closer look at your suggestions Q, but all in all, this sounds promising."
Kathryn was touched. She'd been wondering just was role Q would play as a part of Voyager's crew, and he'd solved that riddle himself: for the next few weeks, he would be their guide to the Delta Quadrant. It was the perfect solution, and she was excited and intrigued to see the universe through the eyes and perceptions of a Q…especially this Q.
"Captain, may I have a word with you in private?" Commander Chakotay was looking at her grimly. Kathryn internalized a sigh of annoyance.
"Of course, Commander."
She followed him as he stepped outside into the hallway, gesturing to Q and Seven that they should wait for their return.
"Is something wrong?" she asked, after the doors had closed behind them.
"Captain, how do we know that this course of Q's isn't some kind of Continuum goose chase?"
"Oh, come on Chakotay," Kathryn chuckled. "I highly doubt that."
"It doesn't make any sense! Why would Q make himself human aboard this ship for a month for no other reason than to put us on this course? Why wouldn't he just snap his fingers and force us to go where he wants us to?"
"Because it's more fun for him if he makes us participate in his plan willingly…and he can try and get into your pants at the same time," Chakotay snapped, his eyes accusatory. Kathryn felt a rush of anger.
"You're out of line, Commander," she snarled.
"Am I?" he tossed back. "Don't think I didn't notice how he was looking at you…touching you! Since when do you allow anyone aboard this ship to make that kind of contact with you?"
"You tell me, Chakotay. You'd know that information better than anyone," she hissed coldly. Chakotay looked taken aback. Kathryn looked down at the carpet, wishing she hadn't said anything. She looked back up at Chakotay's face and found his expression had hardened.
"I'm not jealous, if that's what you're suggesting," he said. Kathryn rolled her eyes.
"Then what does it matter to you how Q looks at me or touches me!" she hissed, wishing they weren't having this conversation in a public corridor.
"It matters because you are my friend, and I am your First Officer, and I don't want to see you taken advantage of personally, or professionally! Especially not by Q!" Chakotay cried.
"Well Commander, you may trust me when I say that neither of those scenarios are at work here," Kathryn stated coolly. "It seems to me that you have your own domestic situation to be concerned with; perhaps you should focus on it."
"You mean Seven?"
"Ah…" Chakotay eyed her thoughtfully. "Perhaps I'm not the one who's jealous."
Kathryn frowned and looked at him sadly, pain evident on her face. She said nothing for a moment, wondering how she could phrase what she wanted to say next.
"I thought you…I thought that we had…an understanding…about us…" she sputtered.
"Oh Kathryn.." Chakotay reached for her, his face contorted in sorrow, but she pulled back from him.
"Don't." she said shortly. "I understand. It's okay. You've moved on…it's only fair…" She gritted her teeth, trying to hold back a wave of sadness that threatened to sweep her away. "But you have to let me do that same."
"Not with Q!" Chakotay cried. "Anyone but him!"
Kathryn felt a flash of rage. She was trying to be mature, trying to be fair. Who the hell did Chakotay think he was, telling her who she could be with and whom she couldn't, especially when his choice of partner had created such uncomfortable consequences for her.
"It's none of your business, Commander. I'll thank you to respect my privacy."
When they walked back into the Astrometrics lab, it was clear that something unpleasant had transpired between the two commanding officers. Seven raised an eyebrow at the sight of their entrance, but wisely said nothing. Q noted the miserable expression on Kathryn's face, caught her gaze, and raised an eyebrow in a silent question of concern. She shook her head and shot him a glance that said, later. Turning, he plucked a large PADD from the top of the nearest console and handed it to her as though nothing had happened.
"Here are all the specifications of the course I've charted. I trust you'll look over them this afternoon."
"Thank you, Q. I'll be sure to come to you if I have questions."
"I'd like a copy of that as well, Q," Chakotay said imperiously.
"If you insist, Commander, although this matter seems to be more of the Captain's choice than yours," Q smirked. "But of course, it's possible your spirit guide might be able to offer some insight, or perhaps you have some ancient warrior tale to contribute to the decision-making process, so by all means…" he turned and began to download data onto another PADD.
"I insist, Q, because the Captain and I make decisions about the welfare of this crew together," Chakotay replied snidely. He suddenly reached out and grabbed Kathryn's hand. "You see this, Q? She and I? We're a team. We always have been…" Chakotay's brown eyes met her blue ones. "…And we always will be." His hand tightened around hers, his eyes were dark and blazing, and Kathryn felt a wave of relief sweep through her. She'd forgotten that Chakotay had always been very professional about standing behind her publicly, even if he disagreed with her privately. It was one of the qualities she'd always admired about him. She gave him a small smile of gratitude, and squeezed his hand back. He smiled at her in return. Maybe they'd make it through this. Maybe they'd be okay. Maybe they could be friends again…
She looked up at Q, wanting to share her happiness at Chakotay's demonstration of professionalism and loyalty, but was surprised to see anger and frustration written in the lines of his face. He was staring fixedly at their joined hands, and the working of his mouth suggested that he was grinding his teeth. Quickly, she attempted to let go of Chakotay, but he held on—held on, and slowly, deliberately, raised her hand to kiss her knuckles lightly, his eyes never leaving hers.
Q turned red, then white with rage. He tapped a few commands viciously into the PADD in his hand before thrusting it at Chakotay, who calmly let go of the Captain to accept the offering. Kathryn looked over to see what Seven's reaction was to this subtext-laden moment, but the slender Borg only appeared slightly confused by these very human interactions.
"Thank you, Q," Chakotay said, with the slightest hint of smugness. "Now if you'll excuse me…Seven, would you mind accompanying me to the bridge? I'd like your perspective on a few items…"
"Of course, Commander," she nodded to the Captain and to Q, then followed Chakotay through the sliding bay doors.
Kathryn looked over at Q, painfully aware of the fact that they were now alone together. Q did not look at her, but stood, leaning on the console before him with both hands braced against it. He said nothing. There was a long period of silence.
"Q…are you upset with me?" Kathryn asked finally, approaching him and placing a hand on his shoulder. He was tense beneath her hand, and did not yield to her touch in the slightest.
"No," he sighed heavily. "I am upset with myself. I was a fool to think that this could work."
"What do you mean?" Kathryn asked.
"I mean," said Q, turning at last to glare at her. "I mean that it's clear to me now that you will never favor me the same way you do that tattooed buffoon."
"That's not true!" she cried, stung by the unfairness of his accusation.
"Oh no?" Q snorted. "You heard him; you're a team. Just the two of you… And don't think I didn't see the way that you were looking at him!"
"You're being ridiculous," she sighed wearily. She'd had enough arguing for one day. She wished he would just hold her. She wished she could just tell him how pleased she was with his work and how thoughtful she found his creation of this lovely route for Voyager to follow-a route which surely would ensure some exciting experiences for them all, and a break from the danger that constantly seemed to loom before them.
"He kissed your hand! You let him kiss your hand!" Q was frustrated by her lack of response, and her lack of reassurances.
"Clearly he was trying to get a rise out of you, Q," she groaned. "Please tell me you're not that gullible."
"Oh, so now I'm gullible?"
"That's not what I said! Listen, we can discuss this later, when I'm off duty. Right now, I need to return to the bridge," Kathryn turned to leave Astrometrics. Q called from behind her as she walked,
"Fine! Go back to the bridge with your teammate! Sit up there with the mighty warrior! See if I care! I don't! Not the slightest…."
The bay doors whooshed shut behind her, cutting off the rest of Q's sentence.
Tell me what you think! ~Coffee