Concentration

Disclaimer: ParaBorg owns them, Cole Porter owns it, but I don’t care.

Whenever skies look grey to me
And trouble begins to brew
Whenever the winter winds
Begin to blow
I concentrate on you

When fortune cries nay, nay to me
And people declare “You’re through”
Whenever the blues becomes my only song
I concentrate on you

On your smile to sweet so tender
When first my kiss you deny
On the love in your eyes
When you surrender
And once again our arms entertwine

And so when wise men say to me
That loves young dreams never come true
To prove that even wise men can be wrong
I concentrate on you.

The instant she stubbed her toe against one of the chairs in her bedroom, she knew it was going to be one of those days. She had been right. Funny how rare moments of clarity have the possibility to change you entire life. Only this morning she had cursed every deity known to mankind for putting her here in the Delta Quadrant, for making her the Captain (of course, she didn’t really mean that one), for giving her such a damn irresistible First Officer. Life had a strange way of getting back at you.

For 40 plus years, she had been living her quiet and comfortable life in the Alpha Quadrant, and then suddenly one day, bam! Hello, new world!

Okay, let’s start over. Of course, she didn’t like being stuck in the Delta Quadrant. But let’s face it: that situation wasn’t going to change. Now, her second problem: being Captain. Hmm, that was not really a problem. She just wished that once in a while she could leave the Captain-personality behind her, and interact with the crew as Kathryn. Then again, the crew would probably not be able to handle that. Problem three: Chakotay. It’s not as if he really was a problem. More of a nuisance. Well, not a nuisance really, because he was the best XO she ever had, and probably her best friend ever. She was lucky to have him. But did she really have him? NO. And that was completely her own fault. Every time Chakotay tried to get closer, she would push him away and take two steps back. A Captain wasn’t supposed to get involved with her XO. Back to problem two: being Captain apparently was linked to problem three. Now, if only she could come up with a way . . . No, Tuvok would have a fit, he would never agree.

Kathryn never heard the chime of her door and also didn’t notice Chakotay standing in the middle of her quarters gazing at her.

“Kathryn.”

She looked up suddenly, almost dropping her coffee.

“Chakotay? What are you doing here?”

“Well, someone brought it to my attention that a certain officer was late reporting for duty. What were you thinking about just then?”

“How long have you been here?”

“Long enough to see you have a conversation with yourself inside your head. What were you discussing?”

“I was just going over some problems. Nothing important.”

“Really. Kathryn, why don’t you take the morning off? You know, just to regroup.”

“Why? I’m late for duty once. Normally officers get a warning; I get the morning off. Don’t you think that’s slightly off-balance?”

“No. You’ve been working very hard these past weeks. And I know you haven’t been taking breaks, so just enjoy the fact that we’re travelling through a relatively quiet area and take the morning off. You’re not of much help to us if you’re over exhausted.”

“I know. You’re right, as always.” Chakotay’s grin spread over his entire face, making his eyes light up with stars. “Stop grinning, Chakotay.”

“Yes, Captain.” He quickly stopped, but couldn’t keep his smile out of his voice. “You’ll be okay then, today?”

“I will, thanks though.”

“Well, I’ll head to the Bridge and inform Tuvok. Join me for lunch?”

“I’ll be there.”

* ~ * ~ *

Kathryn enjoyed her morning off. As she was preparing to go to the Messhall for her lunch date with Chakotay, she realised although her morning had started horrible, with all those doubts about life, the universe and everything, including one charming XO, it seemed that the day was salvaged. She was meeting Chakotay for lunch.

Funny, how something so simple could make her day. This morning she was in a foul mood, but then Chakotay stopped by, because he was concerned for her.

All it took for her to feel good again was to have him remind her she was still on his mind.

While waiting for a turbolift, she couldn’t help but notice the song Tom Paris was humming. She vaguely recognised the tune. It made her remember her sister Phoebe’s 20th century obsession. Tom and Phoebe were alike in many ways.

“Tom, what is that you’re humming?”

“You like it, Captain?”

“Yes, I do. I also vaguely recognise it.”

“You recognise it? Wow. B’Elanna and I only discovered it yesterday. We were watching those old musicals from the mid 20th century, and there was this composer who has written all these wonderful love songs. I’m surprised you’ve heard of him.”

“Of who?”

“You know, Cole Porter, the composer. I have the music on file, in case you’re interested.”

“Thanks, Tom, but I don’t think I’m in need of a file with love songs.”

“Why not? And don’t give me that ‘Captains don’t listen to love songs’-look. Everybody needs to listen to love songs sometime, even stubborn Starfleet Captains stuck in the Delta Quadrant.”

“Watch it, Lieutenant. Well maybe you have a point. Could you copy them for me sometime?”

“I’d be delighted, Captain. So, you meeting anyone for lunch?”

* ~ * ~ *

They had arrived in the Messhall, and Neelix’s cooking efforts were proudly displayed on the counter.

“Yes, Commander Chakotay and I are having lunch together.”

“Hmm, no need for love songs, right?”

“Tom! He’s only going to fill me in on this morning. You know, whether a certain pilot needs reprimanding.”

“O no, you’re not going there. I have been a good boy on the Bridge this morning.”

“Good, that’s all I wanted to hear. Enjoy your lunch, Tom.”

“You too, Captain.”

Kathryn was already seated when Chakotay arrived. She was in a world of her own and for the second time that day didn’t notice him. As he got closer he could hear her humming.

“Kathryn?”

“O, hi. Sorry, caught me again.”

“More thoughts?”

“Yes. I can recommend the Geranion bread salad. It’s edible.”

“Geranion bread salad? O, you mean the orange blob.”

* ~ * ~ *

He went off to get his lunch, only to find Tom telling Neelix about his newly discovered musical program.

“You should come sometime, Neelix. You’ll love it. I even got the Captain interested, and she usually doesn’t care much for 20th century things. O, hi Chakotay. Ready to brief the Captain?”

“Tom Paris, only you could make something innocent sound like a line from a dirty movie.”

“Why thank you, Commander. So you heard yet? I think I have found a key to the Captain’s psyche.”

“Why’s that, Tom?”

“Well, I was waiting for a turbolift, when the Captain joined me. She noticed I was humming this song, and before I knew it, she was telling me she was certainly interested in my collection of love songs.”

“Lieutenant, congratulations. You may be on to something.” Neelix budded in.

“However, we all know that the Captain isn’t going to shout it out, so to speak, that she likes love songs. Maybe if I looked through the database to see if I could come up with more things along those lines, and then, I don’t know, organise a party . . .” Neelix was still rambling on, when Chakotay took Tom aside

“Tom, do you think you could find out what song Kat, eh . . . the Captain is humming?”

“You mean, right now? I thought you and she were having lunch.”

“We are.”

“Okay.”

* ~ * ~ *

Tom walked over to the Captain who was once again lost in thought. He could hear her hum the song he had told he about earlier. As Chakotay came over to the table, he whispered “Cole Porter. I concentrate on you.” in his ear.

“Kathryn? Hello?”

“I did it again, didn’t I? I’m sorry, Chakotay.”

“It’s okay, after all, you know what they say: third time lucky.” She grinned, and looked at his plate. Seeing her confusion, he held it up. It changed from bright green to the colorful orange on Kathryn’s plate.

“Neelix told me it needs movement before it turns orange.”

With an incredulous look on her face, Kathryn took her fork and poked into Chakotay’s lunch.

“Feels the same.” She took a bite, “Tastes the same. It’s the bread salad, alright.”

They ate in companionable silence, with an occasional hum from Kathryn as she tried to find the lyrics to the song that was now occupying her thoughts.

When they were finished, Chakotay joined her on the way to the Bridge. Tom saw them leave the Messhall, Chakotay’s hand on Kathryn’s shoulder as he was helping her find the words to the song.

By now, she was extremely frustrated. Chakotay smiled at the way she was pacing the turbolift. Thinking he was going to let her mull over it some more before he would help her, he didn’t notice other people joining them in the ââ?¬Ë?lift. Kathryn hadn’t noticed either. He unobtrusively pulled her aside, as two more ensigns walked in. The movement caught her attention, and she just smiled up at him showing him 4 fingers. She was becoming more and more restless, and as they exited the lift on the Bridge, she almost ran towards her Ready Room, telling Tuvok he had the Bridge. Chakotay assumed he was to follow her. After all, she couldn’t be that distracted to completely ignore the hierarchy of Command and skipping him in favor of Tuvok. Still, he wasn’t sure and he waited until she would summon him.

Inside her Ready Room, Kathryn went over to her viewscreen and accessed the computer database.

“Computer, give me a list of songs written by Cole Porter, 20th century composer. Display on my viewscreen.”

As she sat down, she realised Chakotay hadn’t followed her in. She was sure she had asked him to, or . . . No, she had done it again. Completely losing touch with reality over a stupid song. That would make the fifth time she had ignored him.

Damn, just as she was getting closer to ignoring all her safety nets where Chakotay’s was concerned, she was ignoring him. That had to change. She was going to have to concentrate more on him. Looking at the enormous list that was displayed on her screen, she absentmindedly pressed her commbadge.

“Janeway to Chakotay.”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Please join in my Ready Room, Commander.”

“On my way, Captain.”

* ~ * ~ *

He’d been right. When he walked in, he saw Kathryn staring at her viewscreen. He called her name, but no response. He moved over to stand behind her, and touched her shoulder. She bolted up, almost knocking him back.

“What? O no, not again. I’m sorry, Chakotay.”

“It’s okay. It makes it number 5, you know.”

“Six, actually. I thought I had asked you to follow me here, but then I realised I never did. So this is number 6.”

“Need any help?”

“Yes. I’m tired of having this song in my mind, without knowing the words to it. Think you can help me listen to these,” she showed him the list of songs, “and help me decide which is the one I’m humming?”

“Of course, Captain.”

“Kathryn.”

“Of course, Kathryn.” He gave her one of his special smiles that made her knees weak. “You know, I asked Tom earlier what the title of the song was you were humming.”

“You did? Why did you let me suffer this long. You know how I hate not knowing something. I should put you on report for this, you know.”

“And what would it say? I could always tell Starfleet I did it because you were ignoring me . . .”

“You wouldn’t! Right?”

“Don’t worry, Kathryn. Now, want to hear the song?”

“Yes, please.”

“Computer, begin playback of I Concentrate On You by Cole Porter.”

Whenever skies look grey to me
And trouble begins to brew,
Whenever the winter winds become too strong,
I concentrate on you.
When fortune cries “Nay, nay!” to me
And people declare “You’re through”,
Whenever the Blues become my only song,
I concentrate on you.

“Computer, pause playback.”

“Kathryn? The song isn’t finished yet.”

She walked over to the middle of the room.

“I know. I also know how it continues. Chakotay, may I have this dance, please.” He came over, and bowed. Kathryn curtseyed and moved into his arms. “Computer, resume playback.”

On your smile so sweet, so tender,
When at first your kiss, I decline,
On the light in your eyes, when I surrender
And once again our arms intertwine.

They had moved closer together. Kathryn’s head was resting on Chakotay’s shoulder, and she was tucked away safely in his arms.

And so when wise men say to me
That love’s young dream never comes true,
To prove that even wise men can be wrong,
I concentrate on you.

The music stopped, and Kathryn looked up into Chakotay’s eyes. He smiled.

Reluctant to step away from him, she tightened her arms around his back, and leaned back.

“You know, I can remember my mother telling me when I was a little girl that there are days when you know you should have stayed in bed. At the time I wasn’t really listening because I knew it would turn out to be one of those morals she was always telling Phoebe and me about. This morning I really wasn’t in the mood to do anything, at least, until you came by. Now, I can also remember her telling me that on those days there was only one solution to make it, what did she call it? O right, to make it a day with a star. She told me that whenever I felt like I needed a day with a star, I should take chance into my own hands, and just create a star for that day.”

Chakotay relished the fact that Kathryn hadn’t left his embrace yet, in fact she was tightening her hold on him even more.

“I just thought that not only do I want this to be a day with a star, but I’d like to think that I have enough chance to make this day the beginning of my life with a star.” She smiled at him, and he moved them closer together. Just as he was ready to kiss her, Kathryn’s face became more radiant. “Ready to create some stars, Commander?”

“Always, Captain.”

FIN