By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: Based on the premise that Lt. Commander Cavit and Dr. Fitzgerald survived when Voyager was pulled into the Delta Quadrant.
Chapter One: Mutiny
“Commander Cavit? Commander Cavit, can you hear me?”
He woke up slowly, swimming up through layers of gray fog. He tried to answer, but only a croak came out. His mouth was swabbed with something cool and wet.
“Can you hear me, Commander?”
“Y – yes.” His throat felt dusty like he hadn’t used it in sometime. Forcing open his eyes, he blinked at the vision of the blond pixie leaning over him. Closing his eyes, he waited a moment, and then opened them again. The pixie was still there. “Who are you?”
The pixie smiled at him. “I’m Kes. How are you feeling?”
“Confused.” Turning his head, he recognized Voyager’s Sickbay. “Where’s Dr. Fitzgerald?”
“He’s in the bed to your left.”
Turning, he saw Fitzgerald asleep on the bio bed next to his. “What happened?”
“You were both badly injured when Voyager was pulled into the Delta Quadrant.”
“The Delta Quadrant?” He tried to sit up. “Who are you? Where’s Captain Janeway?”
“Please don’t try to get up.” Kes turned to Tom Paris who was nearby scanning another patient. “Tom, help me please.”
Tom walked over to where she was struggling with Cavit. “Just lay back, Commander, you’re not ready to get up yet.”
“Paris?” Cavit’s eyes widened at the sight of the pips on the other man’s collar. “Where the hell did you get those? Did you steal them?”
Kes was shocked at the question, but Tom ignored it. “Go tell the Doctor that he’s awake, would you, Kes?”
“I’ll have you thrown in the brig, Paris!” Cavit strained at the hands that held him pinned down.
“Relax, Commander.” Tom smiled slightly. “Or I’ll have to sedate you.”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
Holding up a hypospray, he waggled it suggestively. “Try me.”
“You’ll pay for this, Paris!” He sank back down on the bed.
“For that and a long list of things, I have absolutely no doubt.”
“Ah, Commander Cavit, you’re awake.” The EMH shouldered Tom out of the way. “You’ve sustained serious injuries, you need to remain still.”
“Who are you?” The face was vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t place it.
“I’m the Emergency Medical Hologram.”
Of course, with Dr. Fitzgerald incapacitated, the hologram would have been activated. “Paris, I want to speak to Captain Janeway immediately.”
“I’ve already alerted the Captain that you’re awake. She’ll be here shortly.” The EMH concentrated on the bio bed’s readings. “Are you experiencing any numbness or tingling in your feet or ankles?”
Cavit ignored the hologram. “Who are you?” He turned to look at Kes as she brought the Doctor a prepared hypospray.
“My name is Kes.”
“I heard that the first time. Why are you in Sickbay? Why are you onboard?”
“Neelix brought me on board a few weeks ago.” Her blue eyes were troubled by the dislike the man was projecting.
“Neelix? And who is that?” He barked at her. “Who authorized you to be here?”
“I did, Commander.” Captain Janeway stepped into his line of sight. “Go on, Kes, there are others who need your help.”
“Yes, Captain.” Kes slipped away gratefully.
“You authorized civilians to help in Sickbay?” Cavit demanded.
“Yes, I did, Commander.” The smile faded and the blue eyes hardened. “We no longer have a medical staff.”
She gave him a brief rundown on the Caretaker, the Kazon, and how she’d destroyed the Array. “Neelix and Kes are staying on to help us. Neelix knows this area and it’s inhabitants quite well. He’s also become our cook.” She chuckled. “Or so he claims.”
“You destroyed this Array – and it was our way home?” Cavit looked at her in disbelief. “You realize you broke the Prime Directive?”
“I disagree. The Caretaker was trying to destroy it himself, all I did was help him.”
“And interfere with the development of the Kazon, Ocampa, and this entire area!”
“Commander, we’ll discuss this later.” Captain Janeway stepped away from the bed. “ When you’re feeling more like yourself.”
Walking down the corridor, Kathryn sighed. She had already beaten herself up over destroying the Array, the last thing she needed was her ex-first officer slapping her around. “Oh God.” She stopped as she got to the turbolift. She’d forgotten to tell him he was her ex-first officer.
The lift doors opened and she stepped blindly inside colliding with a solid male body. Strong hands caught her before she could fall.
“Are you okay?” Chakotay stumbled back against the wall of the lift.
“I – yes, I’m fine.” She realized she was lying on his chest. Very firm chest. Get a hold of yourself, Kathryn! You’re almost a married woman! You can’t go around noticing other men’s chests – or shoulders! She looked up into his eyes. Or those beautiful dark eyes… Resolutely, she pushed herself off of him. “Sorry.”
“You looked lost. Is something wrong?”
“Cavit’s awake. I told him everything.”
“Ah.” That couldn’t have been very much fun. “I should have been with you when you told him.”
She studied the toes of her boots. “I didn’t get around to that part.”
He chuckled. “Fearless Starfleet Captain.”
“Cowardly Maquis rebel.” She shot back with a grin.
“I’m not the one hiding out in the turbolift.” Chakotay caught his breath as she looked up. Her smoky blue eyes showed her apprehension. In the few weeks they’d worked together, he’d found she hid a soft heart under her Starfleet armor. “What happened? What did he say?” He asked gently.
“That I broke the Prime Directive, that I destroyed our only way home – nothing I haven’t told myself.”
“You didn’t have a choice. We’ll explain it to him together.” The corner of her mouth tilted up in a crooked smile that made his heart beat jump to warp. Get a hold of yourself, old man! She’s your Captain – you can’t notice her smile or her pale skin and fiery hair… “We’ll make him understand.”
“Yes.” She nodded, reassured by his support. “We will.”
He turned his head. “Dr. Fitzgerald?”
“I see you’ve heard about what happened.”
“Are we really 75 years from the Alpha Quadrant?” It seemed too unreal to be true.
“Yes.” Fitzgerald shifted carefully, mindful of his recently healed burns. “Some alien pulled us here somehow.”
“I hear half the crew died.”
“Yeah, the lucky half.” He scratched at the new skin on his face. “Janeway didn’t tell you everything. The Maquis ship was here, too.”
“Did we catch them?”
Fitzgerald laughed. “You could say that. Or maybe they caught us.” He laughed again.
“Are they in the brig?” Cavit wondered if the doctor’s injuries had affected his mind.
“No, they’re running the ship. Janeway made a deal with the Maquis leader to share control of Voyager.”
“What?” He struggled to sit up. “She made a deal with Chakotay?”
“They’re wearing Starfleet uniforms and they’re running the ship.” Fitzgerald laughed again. “Made him first officer.”
“Gave him back his Starfleet rank of Commander while she was at it. Paris –“ He pointed across the room to where Tom Paris was helping Kes. “He’s Lieutenant Paris Chief Pilot.”
Cavit’s legs wobbled as he slid off the bed. “We’ll just see about this.” He staggered out of Sickbay.
The walk to the turbolift was longer than he remembered. Pain shot down his back and legs with every step. Leaning against the wall of the lift, he took great gulping breaths and tried to rest for the walk to his quarters.
He limped down the corridor, ignoring the stares of the crewmembers he passed. Collapsing against the bulkhead, he punched his code in the door’s control panel. When it didn’t open, he punched it in again. The light stayed red and the door stayed stubbornly shut. “Computer, open the door.”
“Unable to comply.”
“Computer, open the door, override Cavit Omega 4.”
“Unable to comply.”
“Computer, why can’t you comply?” Cavit gritted his teeth against the pain in his legs.
“Quarters belong to Commander Chakotay. Override code is not of proper level to override the locking codes.”
She gave his quarters to that Maquis traitor? Anger gave him strength to move. Following the directions from the computer, he went to his new quarters on Deck 8. Collapsing on the floor in the main room, he cried out at the burning pain. Slowly it receded enough for him to stand and make his way to the closet and pull out a uniform.
Captain Janeway looked up from the energy report when the ready room door opened and Commander Cavit stormed in. “Mr. Cavit.” She said coldly.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Chakotay had followed Cavit into the ready room; his eyes flickered to hers in silent support.
“Sit down, Mr. Cavit.” She refused to rise to the bait.
“You’ve given him my quarters!” Cavit leaned on her desk.
“I gave him the first officer’s quarters.” She sighed. “I’m sorry you found out this way. I intended to talk to you before you were released from Sickbay.”
“We’ve been busy with repairs. Voyager was badly damaged by the Kazon.” Chakotay moved around to lean on the edge of her desk. He didn’t think Cavit was unstable enough to attack her, but he wanted to be ready if he did.
“Why is he in a Starfleet uniform?” Cavit ignored Chakotay’s comment. “He’s a traitor to the Federation.”
“The Maquis crew is part of our crew now.” Standing, Captain Janeway leaned over the desk until she was nose to nose with her former first officer. “Commander Chakotay sacrificed his ship to save Voyager.”
“His ship couldn’t have gotten back to the Alpha Quadrant, it was too old and too small! He knew you’d take him and his rebels in!”
“That’s right, I did.” Chakotay forced himself to remain calm. “As a former Starfleet officer, I knew she wouldn’t abandon us.”
“That Array could have gotten us home – “
“There’s no guarantee of that. It was damaged by the Kazon.” She shook her head. No need to tell him the ship that the Liberty had taken out had crashed into the Array and caused the damage. “The Caretaker wanted it destroyed to protect the Ocampa.”
“The Ocampa? Who cares about the Ocampa?”
“He did. The Caretaker accidentally destroyed their planet’s ecosystem centuries ago. He was dying and couldn’t care for them anymore.” She straightened and put her hands on her hips. ”If we’d used the Array to get home, the Kazon would have used the technology to tip the balance of power in the Delta Quadrant.”
“That wasn’t our concern! You violated the Prime Directive by interfering!” Cavit finally looked at Chakotay. “And making this terrorist first officer – “
“That’s enough, Mr. Cavit!” Captain Janeway’s voice held the steel of command. “We need this crew united or we’ll never get home. You’ll give Commander Chakotay the proper respect or you’ll be in the brig. Are we clear, Mister?”
“Crystal.” He bit out.
“Get back to Sickbay. Dismissed.”
After Cavit left, Chakotay turned to her. “If you want to give him his position back, I understand.”
“No.” She laid a hand on his shoulder. The muscles were taut. “Then our Maquis crew would be unhappy. He’ll just have to get used to it.”
He smiled at her. “Our Maquis crew?”
“Our crew. Period.” She smiled back and squeezed his shoulder.
Over the next weeks, Cavit let it seem as if he’d accepted the changes. He publicly apologized to the Captain and Commander Chakotay for his outburst, blaming it on shock. Inside he continued to seethe over the situation.
He’d been assigned to Operations, bumping Ensign Kim to Sciences. Every time he looked up from his console, he could see Chakotay sitting in his chair. Enjoy it while you can, traitor.
Crew morale was dangerously low. Most were numb at the thought of the 75 year journey ahead of them. There was also friction between the Maquis and Starfleet crews as they adjusted to one another. Cavit did what he could to worsen the situation. He made sure to do so in subtle ways so neither Janeway nor Chakotay could reprimand him. Whenever possible he countermanded orders, always ‘accidentally’ of course. Intentionally upsetting the delicate balance of power.
Cavit suppressed a smile as he glanced down to see Chakotay going over the duty rosters. No doubt he’d seen the changes made in Ops so that the Gamma shift was staffed mostly by Maquis. Was it his fault if several people wanted to move to Alpha and Beta shifts and they happened to be Starfleet?
Chakotay could feel Cavit’s gaze on the back of his neck like a hot knife. The man seemed bent on undermining his efforts to unite the two crews. Pulling up the disciplinary list, he noticed the number of Maquis Cavit had put on report. He sighed inwardly. Small petty things: boots not shined, not addressing other crewmembers by their proper rank.
Standing, Chakotay turned and gave Cavit a slight smile. They both knew what he was doing, but sooner or later he’d make a misstep. Turning the bridge over to Tuvok, he stepped into the turbolift.
He stopped short as he entered his office. Seska was sitting behind his desk. “What are you doing in here?”
“Waiting for you.” She smiled up at him.
“What’s the matter?”
“Get up!” He pulled her out of his chair. “You overrode the code to get in, didn’t you?”
“Actually, there was a relay that needed repaired and the access panel is in here.” She deliberately fell against his chest as he pulled her up.
“What do you want, Seska?” He pushed her away gently.
“To see what you’re going to do about Cavit.”
“I’m aware of the problem.” He sat down. “I’m working on it.”
“Working on it?” She perched on the edge of the desk. “Chakotay, he’s treating the Maquis like second class citizens! The worst duty shifts – punished for the smallest infraction! There’s going to be trouble, Chakotay, we’ve been talking – “
“No!” Chakotay glared at her. “We have to work together! There’s no where else for us to go, Seska.”
“We’ll see.” She turned and left his office.
Captain Janeway smiled at Ensign Jenkins as she took her lunch tray from Neelix. Glancing around, she spotted Tom Paris and Harry Kim seated at one of the tables. Winding her way through the crowded mess hall, she stopped next to their table. “Mind if I join you?”
“Sit down, Captain.” Tom patted the seat next to him. “Harry and I were just talking about B'Elanna maybe making Chief Engineer.”
“I think she could do a great job.” She took a cautious bite of her partak stew.
“But Carey has seniority!” Harry flushed. “Captain.”
“True, but then none of our Maquis crew would ever be more than crewmen.” She smiled slightly as she heard herself repeating Chakotay’s words. “We need the best people in every position.”
“Exactly why I’m Chief Pilot.” Tom leaned back in his seat. “Name one person who’s better qualified to fly this baby?”
“That would be me.” Chakotay sat down next to Harry.
“Well, maybe.” Tom grinned. “But you’ve already got a job.”
“And part of that job is discipline.” He grinned back. “Meet me in Holodeck 1 at 1800 hours.”
“The holodeck?” Kathryn asked.
“Mr. Paris and I need to discuss the still he had set up in one of the cargo bays.” At her confused look, he explained. “He can spend two weeks confined to quarters with no replicator or be my sparring partner.”
“You box?” She was surprised at his preference for such a violent sport. Chakotay seemed like such a gentle man.
“It keeps me in shape.”
“Commander Chakotay was light heavyweight champ at the Academy.” Harry told her. “When I was in his class, I studied his records.”
Chakotay cocked his head at Harry, searching his memory, scanning through faces of past students. The eager young man in the front row? “You were in my Third Year Tactical class.”
“It was a great class! I learned so much.” Harry nodded eagerly. “I signed up for the Fourth Year class, but – “ He turned bright red.
“But I quit and joined the Maquis.” Chakotay regarded him steadily.
“I – its – “ Harry got up. “I’m due back on duty.”
Tom picked up Harry’s abandoned tray. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go help him get his foot out of his mouth.”
“So.” Kathryn waited until Chakotay turned to look at her. “Was Harry a good student?”
“He was very eager.” Chakotay remembered Harry now. “A little too by the book. He had a little trouble thinking outside the lines.”
“Not Maquis material?” She patted his hand. “No seat of the pants thinking?”
“No, but the potential’s there. He worries too much about doing the right thing.” He squeezed her fingers. “He needs to learn that the right thing is sometimes the wrong thing to do.”
Kathryn smiled at that. Experience would teach Harry that the problem with doing things by the book is that everyone else had read the same book. She squeezed Chakotay’s hand.
“Excuse me, Captain.”
Kathryn looked up to see Commander Cavit frowning at her. She snatched her hand out of Chakotay’s. “Join us for lunch, Commander?”
“I had lunch in the officer’s mess.” He ignored Chakotay completely. “Captain, I need to speak with you about a private matter.”
“Certainly. Commander, if you’ll excuse me?” She stood and followed Cavit out of the mess hall. Stopping to drop off her tray, she happened to glance back at Chakotay. His eyes were hard and his jaw was clenched. When he saw her looking at him, his gaze softened.
In the corridor, Cavit brushed a speck of lint off his immaculate uniform. “Captain, I feel it’s my duty to remind you of the proper distance a Starfleet Captain is expected to maintain from their crew.”
She forced her expression to remain neutral. “I hardly think a lunch with my senior officers is cause for concern.”
“Of course not, Captain, but the officer’s mess would be a more suitable place.” He stopped as they came to the turbolift. “If you’ll excuse me, Captain, I have an errand to run before I return to the bridge.”
“Of course.” She watched him walk away with a feeling of despair.
“She’s broken the Prime Directive and not just once.”
“Commander, the Kazon would have used – “
“Ensign, I know it’s hard to understand.” Cavit gave Harry a fatherly smile. “Sometimes upholding the Prime Directive is difficult, but we must not falter.”
“The incident at Dal Prime is the perfect example.” Dr. Fitzgerald added. “We gave them medicine to cure a disease. Unfortunately, it mutated into an even more virulent strain and killed millions.”
The other Starfleet officers nodded. There were numerous examples of why the Prime Directive had been established.
“You see, Ensign, as much as we want to, we can’t interfere.” Cavit looked around at the others gathered in the officer’s mess. “Each race must find it’s own way.”
“Harry,” Fitzgerald patted his shoulder. “Surely you see the wisdom of what we need to do.”
Slowly, Harry nodded. Starfleet standards had to be maintained.
“Here you go, Commander.” Neelix handed Chakotay a covered tray. “Fresh hot bread and galupean stew. The Captain loved it the last time I served it. Of course, I had to take it down to that dreary officer’s mess.”
“Thank you, Neelix.” He took the tray and left the mess hall. Kathryn had been spending more and more time apart from the crew. Cavit was continually pushing Starfleet rules and regulations at her. For every step forward she was shoved two steps back. She was pale and tense as they sat on the bridge and had lost weight as well. He was sure she wasn’t eating properly.
Outside her quarters, he pressed the call button. When the door opened he stepped inside. “Soups on.”
Kathryn put down the report she’d been reading. “Commander, Neelix have you on kitchen duty?”
“I’m on an errand of mercy.” He sat the tray down on the table. “I know you haven’t had anything since the roll you barely nibbled on for breakfast.”
“I’ve had dinner.” She glanced at the sandwich she hadn’t touched.
“I’ve brought dinner for both of us.” He slid a hand under her elbow and lifted her up out of the chair. “You’re going to relax, eat dinner, and make pleasant small talk. No ship’s business allowed.”
“Yes, sir.” She let him guide her to the table. “It does smell good.”
Flicking open a napkin, he placed it in her lap before moving to sit across from her. Tearing the loaf of bread, he handed half of it to her. “Eat.”
Between bites of bread and stew, they talked of unimportant things. Home and friends. It turned out they had several mutual friends including Will Riker.
“We met on board the Hornet. We were both catching a ride back to Earth. I was going to start my first term as an instructor.” Chakotay told her. “ We were the only two on the ship with nothing to do, so we passed the time together.”
“You’re complete opposites, so naturally you became friends.”
“Naturally.” He agreed. “We both had troubled relationships with our fathers.”
“You didn’t get along with your father?” His face clouded. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t pry.”
“No, it’s all right.” He sighed. “I loved my father, but I just couldn’t understand his beliefs.”
“And he didn’t understand why you wanted to join Starfleet?”
“You missed your calling, Kathryn, you’d have made a good counselor.” He smiled. “I liked the ships and the technology. As much as I love nature, I want to sleep in a climate controlled house with a computer and a replicator.”
“A true child of both worlds.” Kathryn chuckled. She didn’t go anywhere that didn’t have a bathtub and a coffee pot.
A look of profound sadness crossed his features. “My father told me I would never belong to either world.”
She reached across the table and took his hand. “He was wrong. You belong to both.”
He squeezed her hand. “I keep trying to tell myself that.”
“Your tattoo – it’s not shown in your file, but there’s a picture of your father and he has it.”
“I left to join the Maquis when my father was murdered. I took the tattoo to honor him and his beliefs. I’ve been trying to remember things I learned as a child.” He sighed again as he looked down at their joined hands. “We weren’t on the best of terms the last time I saw him.”
“I would think he’s proud of you.”
“I hope so. The one comfort I have is that I know my father loved me. Our last words to each other were in anger, but I never doubted his love.” Chakotay watched as Kathryn pulled his fingers open and measured her hand to his. A frown creased her forehead as she rubbed her thumb across the scar on his wrist. He knew he should say something, but her hands were soft and warm and the sight of her white skin against his was pleasant. Very pleasant.
Kathryn looked up to see desire smoldering in the dark eyes. She jerked her hands back. “I’m sorry. I – “
“Don’t be. It’s natural to be curious about something different.” He took one of her hands in his. “There’s quite a difference between us.”
“No, Chakotay.” A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. “There’s really not.”
“It was totally inappropriate.”
Kathryn rubbed her temple. For the last 20 minutes, Cavit had been lecturing her on her behavior. “There’s nothing inappropriate about a Captain having dinner with their first officer.”
“Alone in your quarters?” Cavit’s lip curled up in a sneer.
“I’ve had dinner with you before.” How dare he say it like it was something dirty? “Alone. In my quarters.”
“That was different.”
She arched an eyebrow. “How?”
“I’m a Starfleet officer and I never stayed until 2300 hours.”
“Chakotay is a Starfleet officer, need I remind you he taught at the Academy for over 10 years?” And you don’t have enough personality to make me let you stay until 2300!
“Before throwing away his commission and joining a terrorist group!”
“We are not having this discussion again!” Kathryn slammed her hand down on the desktop. “We are 70,000 light years from Earth! We’re alone here – the only humans in the Delta Quadrant! The only way we’ll get home is by working together!”
Sensing he was pushing her too far, Cavit backed off. “I’m sorry, Captain. I – it’s just hard.”
“I know.” She came around the desk and patted him on the shoulder. “But you can’t give up hope.”
“Oh, I haven’t, Captain.” He smiled at her. “I haven’t.”
Cavit was in his quarters going over his log entry when the door chime interrupted him. “Come in.”
Seska stepped inside. “We need to talk.”
“We have nothing to talk about. Get out.”
“Really? Maybe Captain Janeway would be interested in your plans to take over her ship. “ Seska shrugged and turned back to the door.
“Wait.” He clenched his fists. “What do you think you know?”
“Oh, I know it all.” She sat down on the sofa and made herself comfortable. “I know how you plan to throw the Maquis in the brig.”
“That’s not a secret.” He smiled. She didn’t know anything.
“With Janeway and her people in the cells next door.” Seska smiled as the color drained from his face. “Not much of a plan so far… but the potential’s there.”
“What do you want?”
“Let’s just say I’m not interested in spending 70 years in the brig.”
“The Maquis have no business being crew members on this ship.”
“I’m not interested in playing Starfleet, either.” She arched an eyebrow. “I want off this ship.”
“Fine.” He’d personally escort her to the nearest airlock.
“We’ll help you take the ship. In exchange, you let us off on a Kazon planet.” She pulled a data chip from her pocket. “Here’s the coordinates.”
“The Kazon haven’t been exactly friendly to us so far.” Cavit put the chip in his desk.
“True. However, I persuaded them that the Maquis would be very helpful to them.”
“When did you ‘persuade’ them?”
“It’s not important.” The smile didn’t reach her eyes. “The important thing is that you have extra manpower for your mutiny and the Maquis get off this ship.”
“You don’t want to go back to the Alpha Quadrant?”
“Lets see… 70 years on this ship with a prison sentence waiting for me when I get there. I think not.” She sneered.
“You help me and I’ll drop all of you off on this planet.” Cavit leaned forward and extended his hand. “But you take Janeway’s people with you.”
“Of course.” Seska shook his hand. “You don’t want to be looking over your shoulder the rest of the way home.”
His jaw tightened. “They would be a constant security risk.”
“Oh, I understand.” She stood and strolled to the door. “And after all, they are traitors to Starfleet and the Federation.”
Cavit stared at the door for a long time after Seska left his quarters. Somehow he felt like he’d made a deal with the devil.
“He’s set up security codes on half the systems! Every time I turn around I have to call for clearance!” B'Elanna threw her hands up in frustration.
“I’ll talk to Tuvok, Cavit shouldn’t be putting security codes on anything without his approval.”
“Chakotay, that’s not the only problem.” She looked around the corridor to see if anyone was looking. “He’s having us followed.”
“Followed?” Chakotay smiled. “B'Elanna, are you sure you’re not just being a little paranoid?”
“Paranoid? Do you even know what’s going on around here?”
“I’m aware of it. And the Captain and I are doing everything we can to correct the situation.”
“The Captain?” She snorted. “She hardly pokes her nose out of her quarters anymore.”
“I’m working on that, too.” He grinned.
“Chakotay.” B'Elanna put a hand on his arm. “Something’s up. Something big. Be careful.”
“Relax, B'Elanna.” He patted her hand. “Just remember we’re all in this together.”
Kathryn looked up from Neelix’s supply report as the chime sounded. “Come in.” She smiled at Chakotay as he came into the ready room. “Lunch time already, Commander?” They’d fallen into a habit of having lunch and dinner together. It was the high point of her days.
“It’s well past lunchtime, actually.” He sat down on the corner of her desk. “I was soothing some ruffled feathers in Engineering.”
“I heard about Carey's broken nose.” She walked over to the replicator. “I’ll order us up something, my treat.”
“Kathryn.” He caught her hand before she could touch the controls. “Let’s go to the mess hall.”
“The officer’s mess – “
“No, the mess hall.” Chakotay repeated. If he had his way, the officer’s mess would become the new observation lounge very soon.
She bit her lip. Every time she relaxed and got closer to the crew, Cavit reminded her of the Starfleet ideal of the perfect Captain. “I better not.”
“It’s a shame you’re afraid to walk around your own ship.” He sighed and shook his head.
“I’m not afraid!” Her eyes narrowed. “Oh, you’re good, Commander.” He hit her with a killer smile complete with dimples. How could she resist?
“I think Neelix’s cooking is good.” Kathryn forced down a bite of something green. “Good motivation to get enough power to run the replicators.”
“Try cutting it into small pieces. Then you can swallow it without chewing.” She laughed as Chakotay cut a blue piece of something into tiny pieces. “We really should be more grateful. If it weren’t for the supplies he’s gotten us, we’d be on rations by now.”
“True.” She choked down another bite. She’d noticed he tried to put a positive spin on things whenever possible. He wasn’t as angry as she had originally thought after reading his file. Chakotay had a quiet and gentle spirit she was coming to lean on more and more.
“What?” She looked up into his eyes.
“You spaced on me for a moment.” He grinned. “I thought maybe you needed the Heimlich after that last bite.”
“Sorry, just thinking.” Kathryn speared another piece of blue stuff and began grimly chewing it to death. It might be full of nutrients, but it was barely edible.
Chakotay watched her and wondered exactly how he had gotten himself into such a hopeless situation. He was in love with his Captain. He sighed. The first moment when she’d touched him and he’d looked down into those blue eyes, he’d handed over his heart. Never even got off a single shot.
“What?” He looked up into her eyes.
“Now who’s spaced?” She grinned at him.
“Captain! Commander! It’s good to see the two of you!” Neelix sat a bowl in the center of their table. “Weren’t the graba tufts delicious?”
“They were… good.” Kathryn shot a glance at Chakotay. He bit back a smile.
“Weren’t they? Ummm!” The Talaxian rubbed his belly. “Now this is a true delicacy, Uxtan custard.” He handed each of them a spoon.
Chakotay spooned up a taste of the dark pink custard. Steeling himself, he placed it in his mouth.
Kathryn watched his eyes widen as if in surprise. Good God, what has Neelix come up with this time? Should I call Sickbay? Then Chakotay’s eyes closed and a blissful expression covered his face.
“Neelix…” Chakotay said when he was finally able to speak. “Put this recipe in the database for me. Please!”
Spooning up a bite, Kathryn found out why he’d had such a reaction. The taste was sweet and creamy almost like an egg custard, but with a caramel flavor. “This is delicious!”
“Glad you like it! Enjoy!” Neelix took their dinner plates and walked away.
Kathryn watched with amusement as Chakotay savored each bite. She ceded part of her half of the bowl to him just so she could watch. With each bite he closed his eyes and a look of ecstasy crossed his face. It was almost a sexual experience. She half expected him to actually moan in pleasure. A flush covered her face at the thought.
Chakotay frowned at the bottom of the bowl. “I suppose it would be greedy of me to ask for more?”
“Sweet tooth, Chakotay?” She scraped up the last of the custard under his jealous gaze.
“Call it a weakness.” He watched her lift the spoon to her mouth.
She stopped and grinned mischievously. “Did you want the last bite?” She offered it to him.
“What do I have to do for it?” His voice was soft.
“Smile for me.” He smiled slightly. “Not seeing the dimples…”
“You didn’t ask for dimples.” She pulled the spoon back. “But I’m willing to make an exception!” Chakotay gave her the smile that had gotten him many a second look.
Oh my. Kathryn’s hand shook as she lifted the spoon to his mouth. Instead of taking it in his mouth, he licked the custard off the spoon. Slowly and suggestively, his black velvet eyes never leaving hers.
Across the room, Ensign Miller took in the scene with great interest.
“She was doing what?” Dr. Fitzgerald gaped.
“She was spoon feeding him.” Ensign Miller shook his head. “Right in the mess hall.”
“I told you, they’re lovers.” Cavit looked around at the other Starfleet crew that had gathered in the holodeck. “She’s not interested in getting us home.”
“How soon can we act?”
“Soon, Mr. Carey.” Cavit nodded at the others. “Be ready.”
After hours of going over Chakotay’s Starfleet record and Intelligence files, Kathryn was still at a loss. Chakotay remained as much a mystery to her as he had when she’d studied his files before entering the Badlands. Why would a decorated Starfleet officer, a respected Academy instructor walk away from a career that other officers only dreamed of? And where was the enraged man who had filed a resignation full of anger and hatred?
There was only one file left she hadn’t looked at. Purposely hadn’t looked at. The Cardassian attack on Trebus. Even before Voyager left on her mission, those files had sat untouched in the computer.
“Computer.” Kathryn steeled herself. She knew firsthand what the Cardassians were capable of. “Play Starfleet file Cardassia-TrebusA.”
The images seemed benign at first. Smoke hung in the air and ashes floated and gusted lazily. Whoever had recorded the file turned slowly to show the scope of the devastation. There were no trees or vegetation of any kind. A dry voice noted the Cardassian use of Thermalite, which burned up to 1600 degrees Celsius. Stone had been melted into insane shapes and twists. In some places it had puddle and turned to glass. A layer of ash covered everything. The scan stopped and focused on a stone wall and the shadows on it.
Kathryn frowned. Shadows from what? There weren’t any trees or – dear lord! Those were shadows of people! The natives of Trebus had been vaporized and left behind only their shadows. She clasped her hand over her mouth as the file played on showing the few bodies that had been found intact. They had been tortured and murdered and were obviously left behind after the initial attack. A taunt to Starfleet? Or a warning to the Maquis and the other border colonies that they were next?
The clinical voice started listing the numbers of dead and survivors. The setting changed to those few pitiful survivors who had been underground or in caves during the attack. Most were horribly burned and dying of radiation sickness.
Tears trickled down her cheeks and her stomach clenched threatening to spill. Chakotay’s reason for leaving Starfleet was no longer a mystery. The mystery was how he’d kept his sanity in the face of such atrocities.
Outside the ready room, Chakotay considered hitting the door chime again. Worried that he might wake her if she’d fallen asleep, he punched in the override code. If she were asleep, he would leave the report on her desk and cover her with a blanket. Lately she looked too tired, a little rest would be good for her.
Inside, he stopped at the sight of Kathryn wiping tears off her face. Damn Cavit to hell! Kneeling next to her, he took her hands in his. “Kathryn, you need to stop worrying so much. Things will work out.” She shook her head, unable to speak. Looking up at the computer screen on her desktop, his breath caught in his throat.
Snapping the screen off, he pulled her to her feet and led her to the sofa. “I never looked.” She buried her face in her hands.
“How can you understand? How can you – “
“Because I do.” He forced her head up so he could look in her eyes. “You couldn’t allow yourself to sympathize with someone you’d been ordered to capture.”
“I’m sorry, Chakotay.” Kathryn took his face in her hands. “I’m sorry I betrayed you.”
“Starfleet and the Federation betrayed us, Kathryn. Not you. You’re one person.”
“I’m Starfleet!” Fresh tears ran down her face. “I knew the treaty was wrong! I know what monsters the Cardassians are!”
He pulled her into his arms and rubbed his hands up and down her back as she cried. Tucking her head down on his shoulder, he held her while she cried herself out. The tears were for Chakotay and his people and for herself and her crew stranded so far from home. The past weeks had ground down her spirit until she had nothing left.
The soft body against his own was causing an ache Chakotay was having a difficult time ignoring. Damn it! She’s upset and afraid! This is no time to get horny! Despite himself, he nuzzled her hair inhaling the soft rose scent.
Slowly Kathryn became aware of the hard muscular body she was cradled against. Chakotay’s chest was broad and comfortable to rest on. Her nose was pressed in the soft skin under his ear and she took in his warm spicy scent with every breath. Somehow her fingers had ended up in his soft hair.
Pushing herself up, she looked into his eyes. There was no hate or anger there, only concern. “I’m sorry.”
“Kathryn, if you want forgiveness – then I forgive you.” He brushed back the strands of auburn hair that had fallen around her face. “But there’s no need. You didn’t make the treaty and you didn’t kill my people.”
“But I –“
He placed his fingers against her lips. “You couldn’t have stopped any of it from happening.”
Taking his hand, Kathryn placed a kiss on his palm before pressing it to her cheek.
Chakotay leaned forward until his mouth hovered over hers. Her lips parted slightly and he shared her breath.
The door chime startled them apart. Kathryn moved quickly to her desk before ordering the door to open.
Lieutenant Commander Cavit entered and stopped at attention in front of her desk. “I have the Ops report for the week, Captain.”
“Mr. Cavit, you’re a stickler for Starfleet protocol.” Captain Janeway arched an eyebrow as he laid a PADD on her desk.
“Yes, ma’am.” He said arrogantly. “Starfleet protocol is important to insure the smooth operations of a starship.”
“Then why are you giving your Ops report to me?”
“Ma’am?” He blinked.
“Protocol, Mr. Cavit.” Janeway nodded at Chakotay. “Senior officers are to submit their reports to the first officer.”
“That would be me.” Chakotay sat down in the chair in front of her desk.
“The first officer would note in his report if there were an irregularity or other issue that required my attention.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Cavit ground his teeth together. “Permission to leave, ma’am?”
“Denied.” She fixed Cavit with a sharp glare. “I have requested that you address me as Captain. Not ma’am. Not sir. Captain. Consider it an order from this point on.”
She cocked her head to one side. “Is there something else we need to discuss, Mr. Cavit?”
“No, m – Captain.” He turned to leave.
“Mr. Cavit.” Janeway’s voice was deceptively soft. Chakotay forced himself not to smile. “Why is your report still on my desk?”
For a moment, Chakotay thought Cavit was going to throw the PADD in his face. Hatred oozed from every pore in the man’s body and his hand shook as he held the PADD out. Taking it from him, Chakotay laid it on the corner of Kathryn’s desk.
Cavit turned and walked toward the ready room door. Just before he reached the point where the sensor would have opened the door, the Captain’s voice stopped him “Mr. Cavit, you were not dismissed.” She waited until he turned to face her. “Dismissed.”
After he left, Kathryn turned to Chakotay. “I’ll probably regret doing that, but it felt good!”
“Nice to be on the other end of the protocol beating for a change?” He let out the smile he’d been holding back.
“It is indeed.” She sighed. “He wasn’t my choice as first officer. I wanted Nartana Hunter. We served together a few years ago and had a great chemistry.”
“Starfleet in its infinite wisdom decided that Cavit was the better officer.” She rolled her eyes. “What it really meant was that they didn’t want too many women on Voyager’s senior staff. I already had Stadi as Chief Pilot.”
“Too much estrogen?” Chakotay grinned. “I don’t know, I think it’s a good idea. I’ve seen you in action, Kathryn, women are much more dangerous than men.”
“Chakotay, that’s incredibly sexist!”
“No, its not, its a compliment. If Cavit had been in command… Voyager would be mine now.”
The dark eyes were hard and she felt a shiver of fear race up her spine. Over the past weeks, she’d forgotten he was a dangerous man. “What would you have done with me?”
“Done with you?”
“If he were in command, I would have been the one in sickbay. What would you have done when I woke up?”
“Hmm…” He thought about it for a moment, tugging at his earlobe unconsciously. “If Cavit had been in command, I’d never have beamed to Voyager.”
“Things could have been very different.”
“He wouldn’t have brought Neelix onboard and we wouldn’t have found Harry or B'Elanna because we wouldn’t have known about the Ocampa.” Chakotay rose from the chair and paced over to the viewports. “Cavit wouldn’t have destroyed the Array, he would have used it to get back home. You would have woken up back in the Alpha Quadrant.”
“And what would you have done? Would you have destroyed it?” Kathryn followed him to the viewports.
“No, probably not. I wouldn’t have had a reason to. I’d have used it to get the Liberty back home.”
Leaning on the ledge, Kathryn watched the stars streak past. “It would have been better for everyone if I’d been the one in sickbay. Or killed.”
“No.” He leaned on the ledge next to her. “Things would have been worse, much worse.”
“Worse than being stranded a lifetime away from home?” Her laugh was cynical and forced. “What could be worse?”
“Harry and B'Elanna would be dead or trapped underground with the Ocampa. Worse, captured by the Kazon. Kes would still be a prisoner, if the Kazon hadn’t beaten her to death by now for not telling where her people were hidden. I’d still be on the road to hell. Maybe I’d be lucky and be dead, too.”
“Don’t say that.” Kathryn put her hand on his shoulder. The muscles were tense and knotted under her fingers.
“I didn’t abandon everything when I joined Starfleet. I believed that life was sacred and that peace was everything. The hardest part of being a Starfleet officer was getting used to people dying. Killing. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, I understand that – but I never got used to it. When the chance to teach at the Academy was given to me – I took it immediately.” He rubbed a hand over his eyes. “I never wanted to command. Never wanted to order people into dangerous situations. To their deaths.”
She kept silent, sensing his need to tell a secret he’d kept hidden for a very long time. Sliding her hand across his back, Kathryn curled her fingers around his shoulder and pulled him closer to her.
“When the Federation gave Trebus, Dorvan, and the other planets to the Cardassians, I trusted them to know that it was the best thing to do. If the Cardassians wanted to believe they owned those planets – fine! Peace was what was important. We know that no one owns the land. When they killed everyone, I felt personally betrayed. I turned my back on my people and my home to join a world where I felt more comfortable. And that world murdered my family!”
Chakotay’s body was trembling against hers. The pain and rage was a palpable thing radiating from him. Kathryn’s heart ached for him and she guided his head down to her shoulder in an attempt to comfort him.
“If you tell anyone, I’ll deny it, but I’m glad I’m here instead of there. The anger and hate was eating me up. I killed people with my bare hands, Kathryn, I was looking for the one who would put me out of my misery.”
“I won’t tell.” She stroked his back and shoulders. When he’d been injured in the tunnels leading to the surface, he’d told Tom to leave him. At the time she had thought he didn’t want to endanger Tom. Now she wondered if what he really wanted was to be left there to die. “If you won’t tell that I’m glad you’re here instead of there, too.”
The strength in her slim body was comforting and he relaxed against her, allowing himself to let go of the anger. How many times had his grandfather told him that anger was his enemy? Why had he never listened? Forgive me, grandfather.
“Why did you beam to Voyager?” His earlier remark that he wouldn’t have beamed over if Cavit were in command intrigued her.
“I trusted you.”
“I seem to recall you had your phaser out.” She slapped his back playfully.
“You I trusted – your officers not so much.” Straightening up, he brushed his lips across her cheek. “I better take a look at the Ops report.”
“I trusted you, too.” She smiled at the memory at that first encounter.
“I know.” He picked the PADD up off the desk. “Anytime you start to feel like you made a mistake, remember how much worse things could have been. And, Kathryn…”
“You’ve given me peace.” He turned to leave the ready room.
Watching him go, Kathryn touched her fingertips to her cheek. “You never did tell me what you would have done with me.”
“There’s only one thing I could have done.”
“Kept me locked in the brig?”
“I’d have kept you locked up, Kathryn, but not in the brig.” Chakotay’s smile as he left made her knees go weak.
They had punched their way out of the singularity Voyager had been trapped in. Kathryn stood at the railing on the upper level of Engineering enjoying her victory. Below her, B'Elanna gave her first orders as Chief Engineer. Surprisingly gentle orders considering the half Klingon’s usual style. There was no hesitation as she strode to the computer and began putting in her own private codes for the ship’s Engineering and critical functions.
Chakotay looked over Kathryn’s shoulder. He was proud of B'Elanna and had no doubt she’d do a good job. What worried him was the resentful look on Joe Carey’s face. Would the Starfleet officer accept a Maquis commander?
As he and Kathryn left Engineering, he thought about their conversation a few days earlier. “If things had been different, if we were on my ship, would you have served under me?”
A flush covered her cheeks at the double entendre. “As Captain, there are some questions I don’t have to answer.”
“What if the question was ‘will you have dinner with me’?”
Pretending to think about it, Kathryn led the way to the turbolift. “I guess… that one I could answer.”
Ordering the lift to their deck, Chakotay leaned against the wall. She leaned against the other wall, a gleam in her eyes. The close brush with danger seemed to have reinvigorated her. “And would you answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’?”
“Hmm… I could answer yes…” She grinned mischievously. “If…”
“You do the cooking.”
Not a tough choice considering she almost set off the fire suppression systems with her last attempt. “It’s a date.”
Kathryn’s cheeks turned a delightful shade of pink again, but before she could answer, the lift doors opened. Trying to make her escape, she rushed out colliding with Cavit as he tried to enter the lift.
Chakotay caught her as she fell back. Steadying her, he looked up to see the other man glaring at them with hateful eyes. Unconsciously, he moved forward to shield her.
“Do you intend to replace all of us with your Maquis?” Cavit spit out as the lift door closed behind him trapping them inside the lift.
“You’re out of line, Cavit.” Chakotay stepped in front of her.
“You two planned this, didn’t you? Brought us out here so he wouldn’t go to prison!”
Kathryn tried to push Chakotay out of the way, but he might as well been made of stone.
“Get out of the way, Cavit.” Chakotay kept his voice even. He could sense the man was on the verge of exploding. “Just back off and we’ll forget this happened.”
“I wondered how long before we saw who’s really in command around here.” The other man sneered.
Stepping out from behind Chakotay’s bulk, Kathryn put her hands on her hips. “What exactly are you implying, Mr. Cavit?”
“Implying? I’m not implying anything! The two of you planned this!”
“Do honestly believe I knew the Caretaker would drag us into the Delta Quadrant?” She shook her head. “He was searching for his mate – “
“All we have is your word on that – no one else talked to this Caretaker! Except your loyal Vulcan who was with Chakotay in the Maquis!” Cavit stepped closer to her. “I think you and your Maquis lover planned this trip to the other side of the galaxy!”
“You’re stepping way over the line, Mister. “ Kathryn glared up at him. Beside her she felt Chakotay’s shoulder brush hers as he moved. Raising her hand, she stopped him.
“How long, Janeway? How long before you decide we have to give up and settle down?” Cavit leaned down into her face. “Then you and your lover can live happily ever after!”
“This is insane!” Being a petite woman in what was still primarily a man’s world, she’d become accustomed to having men try to intimidate her with their superior height and size. Her chin jacked up another notch. She’d never backed up yet and she wasn’t starting now. “I’m trying to get this crew home and if you think otherwise, I suggest you go back to Sickbay! It’s obvious you haven’t recovered from your head injury.”
“Why did you insist on getting Paris out of prison?”
The question threw her for a moment. “Tom was one of Chakotay’s crew – “
“And you wanted to be sure he wasn’t left behind while the rest of you got away!” Cavit interrupted.
Chakotay choked back a laugh as Kathryn answered the ludicrous accusation. “Chakotay believed Tom was a spy and had to be restrained from attacking him when he first came on board. As it is, they barely tolerate each other.”
“Good cover story, Janeway. Just like Paris’ connection to Torres? I suppose that’s just a coincidence?”
Now it was Kathryn’s turn to laugh. While it was true Tom had expressed interest in B'Elanna, it was also true that B'Elanna didn’t like Tom. “She can hardly stand to be in the same room with Tom.”
Chakotay tensed as Kathryn’s laughter provoked Cavit’s anger even more. He let his fingertips rest on the small of her back. If the other man became violent, he wanted to be able to move her aside.
Finally, Cavit stepped back. “I’m logging everything that happens. You’ll answer to Starfleet Command.”
“I’ll be more than happy to do so.” She pushed past him and triggered the door control. “I’ll land Voyager on the front lawn and walk you inside.”
As he followed her out of the lift, Chakotay made sure to brush against the other man, effectively pinning him against the doorframe for a moment. Let him see what it was like to have someone larger breathing down on him.
At the door to her quarters, Kathryn shakily put in her code. Once inside, she collapsed on the sofa.
Chakotay knelt at her feet. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never had a confrontation like that before.” She rubbed her forehead. “There’s been a time or two I had to show I wasn’t a pushover because I’m a woman. A short woman.”
Her pout proved too much to resist. He rubbed his thumb across her lower lip. “Your face will freeze like that.”
His touch set off fireworks inside of her. Reaching up, she took his hand intending to move it away from her face. Instead she laid her cheek into the big palm. Tears stung her eyes at the comfort she felt from the roughness of his skin against her own.
Moving to sit beside her, Chakotay pulled her into his arms. Her slim frame shuddered and she hid her face in his neck. He could feel the struggle within her to hold back her tears. Leaning back, he pulled her onto his lap. His hands stroked up and down her back gradually soothing away the tremors.
Their breathing fell into the same pattern, their heartbeats into one rhythm. Chakotay’s body was firm and comfortable. Kathryn sighed. Very warm and… very… hard. He was hot and hard under her buttocks. “This isn’t appropriate.”
“Sure it is.” He chuckled at the last bit of defiance. “If you were a man, I’d pat you on the back, but since you’re a woman, holding is perfectly acceptable.”
“You are sexist.” She tipped her head back to look at him. “You are an old fashioned sexist pig.”
“Yes, I am.” Pulling at the hairpins holding her hair up, he tugged it down around her shoulders. “I believe that there are times a woman needs to be held and comforted.”
“I’m strong enough to take care of myself.” She protested.
“I have no doubt of that. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times you need to feel someone’s arms around you. Times you need to feel protected.”
“No, I don’t.” Yes I do! Not trusting herself to look at him, she combed her fingers through her hair trying to straighten it.
“You’re a strong woman, Kathryn Janeway.” Chakotay’s arms tightened to curve her into his body. “But if you don’t bend sometimes, you’ll break.”
“What about men, don’t you ever need to feel comforted and protected?” It was a hard struggle. All her life it seemed she’d tried to show she had a steel spine and a heart of stone, that she was worthy of being a Janeway.
“Of course, but men aren’t allowed to admit it. If a woman cries – well, she’s a woman. If a man cries, he’s a weakling.”
“You let me hold you.” Chakotay didn’t strike her as a weakling. “Were you bending so you wouldn’t break?”
“Yes.” The black velvet eyes sparkled as he smiled. “If not for you, I would have snapped in two by now.”
When he lowered his mouth to hers, it seemed inevitable, fated somehow. His lips were warm and firm caressing hers until they parted for him. Gently, his tongue teased its way into her mouth, inviting hers out to play.
Moaning, she slid her fingers into his hair to hold him close as she returned the kiss. He tasted spicy and sweet and she pushed her tongue into his mouth for more of him.
Letting her set the pace, Chakotay slid a hand up until he could squeeze a soft breast. The nipple was hard; he could feel it even through the turtleneck and tank she wore. Pinching it gently, he was rewarded with her gasping and squirming against him.
It was his turn to gasp as her hands moved down between their bodies to fondle his erection. Her blue eyes glittered with lust as one small hand began stroking him through his pants.
For the first time in weeks, Kathryn felt alive. She had barely escaped from a dangerous and deadly situation and she had a gorgeous sexy man kissing her. A very aroused gorgeous sexy man. She squeezed the hard length of him, watching his face. This was much better than when he was eating the custard. He appeared slightly dazed as he arched up helplessly into her touch. Could he know she liked being on top?
She’d had a dream like this last night, his golden body between her thighs. Lately, she’d had a lot of dreams about Chakotay. Turning to straddle him, Kathryn kissed him again and pushed her tongue into his mouth. Rocking on the hardness between her legs, she swallowed his whimpers of pleasure.
His hands were pushing up under her shirts until he found the catch on the front of her bra. Unhooking it, his hands covered her bare breasts cupping and squeezing the pink and cream mounds roughly in his mounting excitement.
Pulling his mouth to her, Kathryn ground down on him with no mercy as he sucked and licked at her nipples. Her orgasm was getting closer and closer, but stayed just out of reach. More, I need more! “Chakotay…” Her voice sounded strange in her ears.
Chakotay’s head lolled back suddenly. The dark eyes were unfocused and panicked, and they fluttered shut as she watched. Did he come? He’d been moving under her, but not as frantically as a man normally did when he was climaxing.
Her ears were ringing and her eyelids were unexpectedly heavy. Something was wrong. Pushing herself off his lap, Kathryn staggered toward the door. The floor stretched until the door was miles away. “Janeway… to… Sec…” The lights went out.
“Go away, Harry.” Tom brushed off Harry’s hand as he keyed open the door to his quarters.
“Tom, I really need to talk to you.”
“I think you said everything already. Let’s see if I got it straight.” He turned on the younger man. “I’m not really a Starfleet officer, my field promotion doesn’t matter, and you’re not allowed to socialize with me – did I leave anything out?”
“I’m sorry. Commander Cavit –“
“Cavit’s a jerk! He’s so concerned with rules and regulations he’s going to get us all killed!”
“Starfleet has developed its protocol –“
“Shut up, Harry.” Tom stepped inside his quarters. “Just go play with your Starfleet buddies.”
“Tom, wait!” Harry ducked inside, the doors jerking back open to keep from closing on him. “Something’s going on. Something…” He shook his head at a loss to explain the deception that he’d been involved in.
“Something dangerous?” He softened. Harry was a good kid and was being pulled in so many different directions it was a wonder he didn’t tear apart. “Do we need to tell the Captain?”
“I – I think so, Commander Cavit and some of the other officers have been talking about taking over the ship.”
“What?” The younger man’s red face told him this was no joke. “And you’re going along with this?”
“No! No, sticking to rules and regs is one thing – “
“Mutiny is another.” Tom finished for him. “Paris to – “
“Computer, belay that!” Harry’s black hair fell into his eyes as he shook his head. “The comm system is being monitored.”
“Well, I don’t think I’ve been in the Captain’s quarters yet.” He rubbed his hands together. “I’d say it’s time for a visit.” Walking to the door, Tom was surprised when it didn’t open for him. Rubbing his bruised chest, he glared at the door. “Computer, open the door.”
“Unable to comply.”
“Any particular reason? Other than making me look stupid?”
“Please restate the query.”
Harry punched the door control several times. “I think we’re locked in.”
“Looks like the mutiny’s started with out us. Gee, and me without my tuxedo. Get me that tool kit on the – “Tom watched as Harry fell against the bulkhead and slid to the floor. “Oh, hell.”
His bed was too hard. What happened to his nice soft mattress? Chakotay felt something sticky and smelly under his cheek. His stomach roiled and lurched like it was trying to crawl up out his throat.
Trying to push up, he found his arms too weak to support him and he collapsed. The only other time he’d woken up on the floor in a puddle of his own vomit was the one time he’d gotten drunk as a Cadet at the Academy. He hadn’t drunk to excess ever again and had learned his lesson well. Hadn’t he?
Abruptly, his stomach lurched and he began to gag. There was nothing left to come up and he dry heaved helplessly. Spirits, have pity on me! Just kill me and get it over with!
That was all he needed to make his humiliation complete was for Kathryn to be here to witness him throwing up everything but his boots. Please let me die!
“Chakotay, are you okay?” Kathryn couldn’t see him. She knew he was in the cell next to her, but didn’t know if he was conscious or not. “Tuvok, is he choking?”
“He’s still on his stomach, Captain.” Tuvok was in the cell across from her. “He was attempting to rise a moment ago, I believe he has regained consciousness.”
“Thank God.” The cells were filled with her senior staff, including one very angry Klingon who had taken her frustration out on the hapless mattress in her cell. Chakotay had remained unconscious far longer than anyone else and this was the third time she’d heard him retching. Rollins, their guard, had ignored her orders to check on him. Only Tuvok’s reassurance that Chakotay lay face down had calmed her. If he’d been on his back – she shuddered – Rollins would have let him choke to death on his own vomit.
“Wh – what happened?” Chakotay rolled out of the mess he’d made.
“I believe it was an anesthetizing gas. Perhaps Xerphyla.” Tuvok answered.
“Chakotay, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Captain.” Pulling off his jacket, he used the soft lining to wipe his face off as best he could. “I don’t handle anesthetics very well. Genetic weakness. I can’t hold my liquor either.”
“Rollins!” She barked at the guard. “Get him something to clean up with!”
Rollins ignored her as he had earlier.
“So, I take it Cavit made his move?” Crawling up on the bunk, Chakotay lay down and wrapped his arms around his stomach.
“It would seem so.” Tuvok was settled in the corner of his cell. “The comm system is not responding, nor is the computer. It would appear that Dr. Fitzgerald is in league with Commander Cavit. Only the Chief Medical Officer would have been able to flood key areas with anesthetic gasses without the approval of senior officers.”
Pacing her cell, Kathryn glared at Tuvok. “Enough with the status report – how do we get out of here?”
“We do not.”
“Commander Chakotay and I have insured that Voyager’s brig is virtually escape proof.”
“There’s a good idea.” Chakotay laughed bitterly.
“I assume you two tested it?” Kathryn plopped down on her bunk. “If the two of you can’t get out, I guess we’re stuck.”
“I believe that’s what I said.” The Vulcan said patiently.
“Actually, I got to test it.” Tom waved at her from across the aisle. “They couldn’t get out three modifications before they managed to keep me locked up.”
“So we just sit here?” B'Elanna slammed her fists against the bulkhead.
“We can play Twenty Questions.” Tom said. “I’m thinking of – “
“I’m thinking of ripping your head off!”
He was glad there was not one, but two force fields between him and B'Elanna. “Okay, you go first, if you want.”
“Mr. Paris, this isn’t the time for fun and games.”
“Indeed it’s not, Janeway.” Cavit strode into the brig. “It’s time for your trial.”
“You’ve violated the Prime Directive.” He smiled smugly. “You’re under the influence of the Maquis and therefore a traitor to the Federation.”
“A traitor? For trying to get us home?” Was he deranged? “It doesn’t matter anymore who’s Maquis or Starfleet. If we don’t work together, we’ll never get back to the Alpha Quadrant.”
“We’ll get there. You’ll just get there by way of the brig.” Cavit strutted up and down the aisle between the cells. “The Maquis, however, will be staying behind.”
“You can’t abandon them here.” Kathryn felt a chill chase down her spine. “You’ll be violating the Prime Directive yourself.”
“Not so, you’ve already made first contact with the Kazon. They’ve agreed to take the Maquis in and let them join their society.”
“They don’t have a society! They’re a gang of bullies!”
“Then your Maquis will fit right in.” He stopped in front of Tom’s cell. “Hell, they may take over.”
“And you plan on keeping me in the brig?”
“You and the other Starfleet officers who collaborated.” He turned to smile at Chakotay. “Not the tough guy now, are you?”
“Fuck you.” He’d sit up and flip Cavit off, but vomiting might spoil the effect.
“I’ll leave that to Janeway. Oh, wait!” Cavit snapped his fingers as if he suddenly remembered something. “She’ll be here and you’ll be left behind.”
“I’m staying.” He might be able to steal a ship from the Kazon, but how would he get back onboard Voyager?
“Not a chance, Maquis.” Cavit laughed. “Don’t worry, maybe I’ll let the two of you have one last fuck for the road.” He turned back to Kathryn. “I know we interrupted you before you were finished last night.”
Cursing her Irish skin as her face flamed, Kathryn gritted her teeth. “You’re Mr. Starfleet regulations, Cavit, you know you can’t lock me in here for 75 years.”
“Watch me.” Come on, Janeway, make it look like it was your decision to stay behind!
“The Captain is correct.” Tuvok was standing at the edge of the force field. “Regulations are very specific as to the treatment of prisoners. The brig does not meet the requirements mandated for long term facilities.”
“I’ll vouch for that.” Tom called out. “I’ve spent my share of time in prison and this would barely qualify as a holding cell.”
“You want to stay here? Fine by me.” Cavit turned to go. “It’s what you wanted to begin with.”
“We had a deal!”
“And I kept that deal.”
“You son of a bitch!” Seska raged at Cavit through the force field. She’d intended to keep Voyager, not get stranded here in this backwater quadrant.
“And I’m sure your mother was a saint. You wanted to be delivered to the Kazon, and here we are. Deal done.” Cavit looked disgustedly at the Maquis and their collaborators. “And good riddance.”