Author's Note: This is related to my earlier story, "Announcement", based on the fanfic tradition of having Janeway and Chakotay announce their new relationship to the crew. This mostly features the same characters, but takes place two universes to the right in an upwards diagonal direction. Minor content warning: same-sex infatuation. Don't read it if you think it'll offend.
by Liz Barr
The nice thing about Sandrines these days was that, what with the alternative attractions of Fair Haven and – unbeknownst to the Captain or Tuvok – a re-creation of a certain house of ill repute from the Ferengi quarter ("Harry, Harry," Tom had said, "it's just a dabo hall. Where the dabo girls are the stakes. It's perfectly legal. On Ferenginar.") – Sandrines was almost empty. It left six junior officers plenty of privacy in which to dissect their commanding officers' personal lives.
Crewman Mitchell read off a padd. "Turbolift malfunctions?"
"Check," said Celes. "It was even a real accident."
"Forgot to realign the anti-grav generators again?" asked Ensign Jenkins.
Celes blushed. "Yeah."
"Try to be more careful next time," said Lieutenant Mulchaey. "Dying together is romantic, but it doesn't leave much possibility for future developments. Plus, then Tuvok would be captain."
Mitchell cleared his throat. "Intoxicating punch at the toga party?"
"We *all* know how that worked out," complained Megan Delaney. "They left early—"
"That's encouraging," interrupted Susan Nicoletti.
"—Having had half a glass each," continued Megan, "while the rest of us endured Tom's rendition of twentieth century music–-" musician Nicoletti shuddered – "and Neelix's … fan dance."
"Dishcloth dance," corrected Mitchell.
"So it failed," said Mulchaey, who had suggested it. "At least we got to see Seven discover the giggling fit."
"Yeah. And hiccups," added Megan.
"Always entertaining," Mulchaey agreed. With a touch of nostalgia he added, "you know, the Borg just aren't the same these days. They show up, do the whole, 'You will be assimilated' routine, and I just think of Seven with the hiccups. The thrill has gone."
"You'd prefer the days when they were the most terrifying thing in the universe, then?" asked Jenkins. Celes, for whom the Borg remained the most terrifying thing in the universe – apart from maths and the sciences – remained silent.
"So, what should we try next?" asked Mitchell.
"Shuttle crash," suggested Megan. Everyone groaned.
"You only say that because you're in stellar cartography," said Susan. "Believe me, you'd feel differently if you were in engineering."
"Anyway," added Mitchell, "Chakotay doesn't need our help arranging shuttle accidents." There were murmurs of agreement.
"How about the jealousy thing?" offered Jenkins. "We could find a nice holographic mass-murderer with a tattoo, who mixes drinks and walks dogs between massacres. A love interest tailor made for the Captain."
"Or we could set up Chakotay with Seven of Nine," Mulchaey proposed.
"Are you *stupid*?" demanded Mitchell. "That would never work."
"The thought makes my skin crawl," said Celes.
"Actually," said Nicoletti, "I like it."
"Are you *insane*?" demanded Jenny.
"No! It's just – they'd look good together." There was a long pause. Nicoletti blushed. "And it'd free the Captain up."
"Free the captain up for who?" asked Jenkins. "It's not like dog-sitting mass-murderers spring up out of thin air, you know."
"Actually, I can see a market for the holographic variety," murmured Mitchell.
"Free the Captain up for me, actually," admitted Nicoletti, who was now an interesting shade of purple-tinged red.
There was a general silence. Then Mitchell said, "Yeah. I can see it."
"I think you'd make a cute couple," added Jenkins.
Nicoletti shook her head. "It would help if she knew I existed."
"Sure she knows," protested Jenny.
Jenkins and Mulchaey shook their heads. "Nicoletti goes all quiet when the captain's around," said Mulchaey. "I just figured she was being, you know, poised."
"Nope. I'm just shy. Most people mistake it for quiet confidence, though."
Mitchell tapped his padd. "So we're agreed? We dump Chakotay and start concentrating on Susan and the Captain."
There was general assent. "Sure you don't want both at once?" asked Jenny.
Both Susan and Celes turned bright red, but Susan managed to say, "No thanks."
As the meeting broke up, Mulchaey was heard to comment, "I wonder how much trouble we'd be in if the Captain found out about this."
"Or Chakotay," added Celes.
Janeway glared at the useless manual override. She was tempted to kick the turbolift walls, but she restrained herself. "Our comm badges won't work, either," she said. She glanced at the ensign – no, lieutenant – she was trapped with. Nichols was her name … Nicolette? Or was her first name Nicole?
Angry at both the malfunctioning turbolift and her faulty memory, Kathryn sank to the floor. "Why the *hell* does this always happen when *I'm* in the turbolift?" she demanded.
"I couldn't say, Ma'am," said Nicoletti.
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Copyright © 2000 Elizabeth M. Barr
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