Author's Note: Another installment in the lower decks mayhem saga. In "Drone", we met Lieutenant Mulchaey. In "The Haunting of Deck 12", there was a reference to an Ensign Mulchaey. There might simply be two Mulchaeys aboard. But I got to thinking, why would Lieutenant Mulchaey get demoted?
by Liz Barr
Mulchaey had planned to be tough. But it all fell apart when the captain looked up at him through eyes which, despite the anger, seemed dangerously close to tears.
"Mulchaey," she said softly. "Do you want to offer an explanation?"
She looked over at Tuvok, and he was about to interpret the glance as desperation until she turned back to him. Her eyes were flinty.
"Let's say I don't give you a choice," she said.
"No explanation, ma'am."
Tuvok raised an eyebrow. "Crewmembers do not conceal recording devices in the captain's quarters without a reason, Lieutenant."
Mulchaey licked his lips. "I was curious?"
"Curious." The captain looked disbelieving. Mulchaey thought of blaming it on a bet, but decided against it. The captain would ask who else was involved, and he didn't want to get them in trouble as well. They were only junior officers, but she seemed quite friendly with Celes and Nicoletti.
She'd better stay friendly with Nicoletti, he thought suddenly. They'd gone to enough trouble just to draw Janeway's attention Susan's way. Susan would be devastated if he messed this up now.
"Yeah, curious. There are all these rumours, you see."
Tuvok raised an eyebrow.
"About you and Commander Chakotay."
"Chakotay," she repeated.
"And Seven." He was going to spend the rest of the trip cleaning the plasma filters with a toothbrush anyway. He might as well make this good.
Janeway and Tuvok both quirked an eyebrow. Mulchaey was struck by a fatal urge to laugh. Good Lord, maybe that one was true.
The captain took a sip of her coffee.
"And Neelix." She choked. Mulchaey hid a smile. He always had been a master of timing.
"Also Harry Kim, Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres. Sometimes all at once. Oh, and Kes, while she had a body." He flashed the smile his aunt, cousins and a dozen girlfriends had told him was charming. "Some of the astrophysicists see interesting possibilities in the pure-energy format, but they're a pretty kinky lot down there."
"Yeah. Not as, um, creative as shuttle maintenance, but kinky, you know?"
The captain looked both nauseous and curious. "Are these rumours – widespread?"
"They cover the whole ship, yes, ma'am." The captain shared a horrified glance with Tuvok. "No one seems to think you're involved with the Doctor, ma'am. If that helps."
The captain gave him a look which suggested that it didn't.
"And you sought to – confirm these rumours?" she asked. The balance seemed to be tipping towards nauseous.
"I know it was inappropriate, Captain. But the only rumour I could confirm either way was that you weren't involved with *me*."
She gave him a disgusted look and stalked towards her windows. Tuvok followed her with his eyes. She took another sip of coffee and turned back to him. She placed the mug on her desk and moved close to him. He could smell her perfume, and suddenly decided that he wouldn't mind being stuck in a turbolift with her either.
"Nicholas Mulchaey," she said softly, her fingers brushing against his neck. "For conduct unbecoming an officer, I hereby reduce you to the rank of ensign and confine you to quarters for two weeks." She stepped back, rubbing his pip between her fingers. "And I suggest that in future, you pay a little more attention to your own business."
His cockiness had deserted him with his lost rank pip. "Yes, ma'am."
Nicoletti's eyes were filled with horror. "She demoted you?"
"Oh, Nicholas…" She touched the blank spot on his collar. "Do you want me to talk to her?"
"No. She thinks I was working alone. Let's not advertise the connection."
"Bitch," spat Megan Delaney.
Her sister nodded in agreement. "Personally," Jenny purred, "I wouldn't mind finding that you'd put a recording device in *my* bedroom." She tried to hold a pout, but ended up laughing instead. "Well, I certainly wouldn't be demoting you, anyway. Tossing you naked out an airlock, maybe…"
"Anything involving the words 'Jenny Delaney' and 'naked' is good," quipped Mulchaey. He leaned back and took a deep breath. "It could have been worse. At least I can have visitors for the next two weeks."
"So, was it worth it?" asked Mitchell.
"Yeah," said Megan, "what did you get?"
"Is the captain sleeping alone?" asked Nicoletti, biting her lip.
Mulchaey reached over and gave her a data chip. "Forty hours of the captain's breathing. About three hours of odd sighs. Five nights of wandering around and ordering coffee. Eight all-night discussions with Chakotay – oh, she mentions you. She says you seem 'like a sweet girl.'"
Nicoletti frowned, apparently trying to decide whether or not this was a good thing.
"But no wild and interesting sex. No sex at all. Not even solo."
"Oh. Good," Nicoletti breathed.
"None in the captain's quarters, anyway."
Everyone looked up at him. "Who knows what she gets up to with the
Doctor after hours?"
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Copyright © 2001 Elizabeth M. Barr
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