Tags: AQ, Single Story
The crew of Voyager needed help from the pro's - and they got two students. Will this team be able to get the favorite command team together?
Disclaimer: This time I mean business! I plan to make millions from this story. Paramount, come and get me! *neener, neener, neener* Dedicated to Sylvia - for sending it to me numerous times! Luuuuuuuv ya!
* ~ * ~ *
After slamming the door in his face, she ran as fast as she could. The cadets coming down the hallway moved towards the exits when they saw the Admiral cruising towards them. They always tried to stay out of her way, and looking at her now, they decided that some highly intelligent evasive maneuvers were called for. As she was nearing, only one of them had the presence of mind to open the doors for her, and all the cadet heard was a muttering that sounded distinctly like 'that swine'. He wasn't one to judge an Admiral, but fact was that this one came running out of the office of one the Academy's more notorious professors.
Ever so careful he checked the way she'd come from and saw said professor looking in his direction, his eyes slightly glazed over as if he wasn't looking at them at all. A sad expression grazed his features.
"Jonas to Cadet Boel."
"What's up, Mac?"
"May, are you still looking for an editorial piece for this weeks Courant?"
"Of course! What do you have?"
"Meet me in the Night Owl at 1500. I need to do some further research."
"See you there, Mac. Boel out."
* ~ * ~ *
"Cadet, I won't let you in. You need an appointment with Commanders Paris. Do you really think I would let you in, just because you're out of breath claiming to have important news? I wasn't born yesterday, you know." Lt. Rein j.g. had moved Mac slowly back to the entrance of the office.
"But Sir, I really have important data for Commander Paris."
"And you don't even know which one you want to speak to? Out. Now! Before I call Security. Go, and don't show your face again!"
Rein practically pushed him outside, where Mac bumped into Commander Paris.
"Whoa, look out, Cadet."
All flustered, Mac could only stammer his apology. So much for his chance to tell them his important news. He might as well report to Waste Management immediately. "I'm sorry, Sir, Ma'am. I wasn't looking. I'll be going now. Goodbye."
But before he could even manage to make his escape, Commander Paris had taken his arm and guided him back into the office.
Lt. Rein stood at attention and tried to explain the situation to an irate looking couple.
"Nout, it's all right. Bring us some coffee, will you? We'll take care of the Cadet.
* ~ * ~ *
"So you want to make this into an editorial? You have some nerve, Cadet Jonas. I wish we'd thought of that on Voyager. Our broadcast show 'Breakfast with Neelix' would have been a great venting place for our frustrations. Do you really think you can get enough people to participate?"
"Well, Commander Paris, I was thinking that since most of the Senior Cadets are taking classes pertaining to the Delta Quadrant they will have had exposure to both the Admiral and the Professor. Most of the Juniors actually have classes given by various other Voyager crewmembers. That will give us a wide coverage, and if it is at all possible to make a class assignment out of the topic, I think we'll have covered most of the bases."
Mac was comfortably seated on one of the couches, while B'Elanna and Tom were sitting across from him. Lieutenant Commander Kim had also joined them and he was currently speaking to Ambassador Neelix who was staying at his goddaughter's house.
"Boel to Cadet Jonas. Mac, where in the Brass' name are you? I've been waiting for 30 minutes, and this is not funny! You will get your sorry behind in here within 2 seconds, or we are finished. You hear me? Boel out!"
"Your girlfriend, Mac?" Tom grinned cheekily at him. "Most inventive girl."
B'Elanna and Harry laughed as well, while Mac just looked uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, Sirs, Ma'am. She can be quite creative when she needs to be. She's the one who will be writing the editorial. Languages always have been her strong point. I guess I'll be going now. Permission to leave?"
"Mac, why don't we join you? What's her location?"
"The Night Owl, Sir."
"Right. Paris to Transport Central. Four to beam to the Night Owl.
* ~ * ~ *
"O my Hal! Mac? How? What? When? Why?"
Tom nudged Mac, "You just can't help but love them, can you?"
"Cadet Boel, we'll explain later. First we need to find some privacy in here. Our subject is highly secretive and we wouldn't want you-know-who to overhear us. Have you secured a private booth?" B'Elanna looked at the flustered cadet. She remembered her own Academy days and realized the girl must be scared out of her wits.
"No Ma'am. I mean, I've been sitting at a table. Booths aren't usually open for us lowly cadets."
"Well, we're going to have to change that. Now, where's Neelix when you need him?"
Just as B'Elanna walked up to the bar, a short colorfully dressed man came running up to them. "B'Elanna, Tom, Harry, how good it is to see you. Nice to meet you too, Cadets. Follow me, we have a room upstairs."
As they followed him, May took Mac aside. "What is going on? Do you realize who they are? And how do they tie in with my editorial?"
"May, please relax, and keep up with them. You'll find out what is happening. It's big, that's all I can say. And you're going to be the one coordinating our secret."
* ~ * ~ *
"Right, lets get down to business. Cadet Boel, are you up to the task?"
"Yes Sir. I am. I mean I will be, once I find my courage. Mac, what were you thinking? Do you realize we'll be kicked out of the Academy for this? I don't know about you, but I had always imagined to graduate."
"May, it won't be that bad. You might even manage to get a starship position out of this. Mac, you will distribute the background reading, Tom will take care of contacting all your professors, Seven will put together the assignment, Neelix takes care of our catering. By the way, Sam did say we could use her house as HQ? It'd be a great location, since we'd only be 5 blocks away from Gretchen's house who no doubt will want to help as well. Knowing our Captain's mother, she will probably rally with the best of them. Now, people, we need to get moving. Operation Swine has officially been started."
May was still unsure about the whole mission. "Do you really think I won't get into trouble for this? It's taken me too long to just throw a Starfleet career away."
"May, don't worry. Once we get this whole project going you'll be supported by more Starfleet Brass than can fit into the Great Assembly Hall. We're not just talking about our former Command Team, but this is truly an attack on Starfleet Protocol. Who knows, we might actually start a trend."
* ~ * ~ *
Teaming up with the Voyager crew was Mac's smartest move in his life so far, apart from finding the nerve to ask May out for a date of course. Over the next few weeks, while most students hardly noticed the dramatic change in their professors attitude, they handed out assignments, helped the freshmen study their texts and reported back to their HQ daily. Sam and her husband Greskrendtregk were constantly checking with Gretchen who in turn had frightened Kathryn when she told her daughter she would come and stay with her for a month. Little did she know that this was simply for observational purposes. Meanwhile B'Elanna had asked Chakotay's sister Taya to do the same with him.
May was still fazed with all the attention she was attracting. The other day she even received a message from Captain Riker telling her how much he appreciated their efforts. He also extended his wife's help to the team, which somehow didn't surprise Tom. Riker mentioned how he had tried to contact Commodore Picard and he would forward his message as soon as he received it.
During the first three weeks of their 'mission' it seemed that more and more Starfleet couples were coming forward about their relationships - just as Tom had predicted. Even Owen wrote a letter to the Academy Courant telling its readers how it pained him that Starfleet made his wife quit her position after they discovered her connection to the Admiral (actually he was a Lieutenant j.g. back then). The following week's issue showed a reply by Mrs. Paris saying how she in the end didn't mind, but at the time it had felt as a show of distrust in their relationship. B'Elanna was surprised to find Tom's parents this forward, but it also gave her some insight into her in-laws.
* ~ * ~ *
"Mom, would you please stop meddling! Enough already. You've been here for over 3 weeks now, and you still haven't realized that I have a life of my own. I don't want to hurt your feelings, but it would be best if you returned home."
Kathryn sighed. She couldn't say that to her mother. And she really didn't want to, except in a way she did want it. Her mother had been driving her crazy from the day she set foot in her apartment, completely taking over her daily routine. She'd even managed to sneak into one of her classes to show the Academy's Senior Class pictures of the Admiral as a child. Somehow her mother also made sure she couldn't contact any of her former crew. Every time she tried to make a call, her mother came running up to her with another excuse why she should wait. She hadn't seen her goddaughter Miral in over a month and she could do with some advice from B'Elanna.
After running out of Chakotay's office - 33 days ago - she had wanted to be left alone, but her mother prevented that plan. By now she couldn't even remember what they had argued about, and only the other night she recalled calling him a 'swine'. They'd been talking about Tom and B'Elanna and their daughter Miral. Chakotay was still slightly upset he hadn't been chosen as the girl's godfather even though he understood the couple's reasons. Kathryn had tried to cheer him up and he ended up saying things he didn't mean and she dramatically exited his office.
She desperately wanted to talk to him again, but she was afraid to contact him. He'd never lured her into a name calling contest before, and his behavior had simply shocked her too much to realize he was being irrational and would probably regrets his words instantly. She hadn't given him the chance to apologize however.
* ~ * ~ *
Tom turned up at Sam's house and let himself in. After she had discovered it was much easier to give some people the access code to her house, Sam frequently left knowing she wouldn't be missed.
"Anybody home? Sam, are you here?"
No one replied and Tom went over to the terminal B'Elanna and Harry had rigged up for their data. He uploaded the latest information when he noticed a message sent by Chakotay.
My friends, Please stay out of my life! Chakotay
* ~ * ~ *
When she entered her office she immediately noticed the dozens and dozens of roses surrounding her desk.
Long-stemmed red roses adorned the few free spaces on her terminal while the rest had been put into vases on the floor. Thoroughly checking for a card, Kathryn became restless when she couldn't find any. Just as she contacted her assistant to demand an explanation someone knocked on her door. She gave the command to enter, but nothing happened. Walking up to the entrance, she opened the door and didn't see anyone. Instead a long white box with a blue ribbon had been positioned against the wall. She carried it over to her couch and opened the box. Inside was another rose, a delicate peach colored one. Attached was a small card.
Lunch tomorrow? C.
After 34 long days and nights, Kathryn finally had a reason to smile again.
* ~ * ~ *
Finishing her third cup of coffee, Kathryn sank down on the couch and put her head back. "I missed this."
Chakotay sat down next to her and took another bite of his sandwich. He nodded at her statement. Chewing slowly he took his time to formulate his next line.
"Kathryn, we need to talk. Hear me out, before you interrupt. Whatever happened, happened. There's no point in trying to reason why we had this unusual argument. Hell, I don't even remember what we were fighting over. I just want to make sure it doesn't happen again. These past days have been horrible. I missed our time together, I missed you. And I don't want to go through it again. Our time is too precious to throw it away with mindless arguments. I have a proposal for you, one that you are probably not going to like."
"Chakotay, please, if you're thinking what I think you're thinking, then you'd better stop right there."
"How can you know what I want to say? I've analyzed our situation, and I think I've come to a conclusion."
"And I don't want to hear it. After being your friend for seven years, I have managed to draw some of my own conclusions, and I know that whatever you have come up with, I won't like it. So you'll just forget whatever you wanted to propose."
"You won't even hear what I had to say? That's not very polite of you, Admiral."
"Chakotay, don't 'admiral' me. You were going to suggest that, since Starfleet won't keep us together, we might as well get used to a separation. Well, I won't have it."
"All right, that's what you say now. But wait until you hear what our lovely crew is planning."
He filled her in on what he had discovered. As soon as she realized what was going on, Kathryn ran to the desk and traced all the recent communications between her crewmembers. Rank had its privilege.
* ~ * ~ *
"Are they insane? How could they drag innocent cadets into their devious scheme? I'll have their heads for this!"
Once again, Admiral Janeway was seen storming out of Professor Chakotay's office. This time followed closely by its occupant.
"Kathryn, don't do anything you will regret! Miral needs her parents."
* ~ * ~ *
"Jonas to Cadet Boel."
"Go ahead, Mac, but keep it brief. Commander Paris and I were beta reading the latest editorial."
"May, Commander Paris, please get everyone out of the house as soon as possible. Plan Alpha-Alpha has just escalated. Subjects KJ and C are on their way to the Wildman's. I repeat, get out of there now, and destroy all evidence! Jonas out.
* ~ * ~ *
"I could have sworn they were at Sam's. The transporter logs don't show their departure."
"Kathryn, slow down. If this is really our crew's doing, they will have several back up plans. There is nothing we can do right now."
"Nothing? I'll show you nothing! We have to stop them. You're a professor at the Academy. Do you want your precious cadets harmed by our crew? I think not. Besides, think what this will do to your reputation."
Chakotay blanched. "You have a point. Let's see what we can do by calling in some favors. You try Admiral Paris, I'll work on Admiral Ross. Is there anyone else we could try?"
"I'll also mention this to Commodore Picard. He should have some pull with Starfleet Command. And if all else fails...."
"... we'll have to go into hiding. I know of a cabin near a lake."
The mention of a lake brought a smile to Kathryn's face, "I'll ask my mom about the keys to the cabin at Lake George. We might as well expect the worst. How fast can you pack and move there? I'll have my engineers send us a complete work terminal. We can rig it up and work from there."
"See you in five hours at Lake George then."
Kathryn was uncharacteristically quiet when Chakotay walked away. He turned around and saw her standing there looking lost.
"Kathryn? Are you all right with this?"
Walking back to her, Chakotay briefly took her in his arms and hugged her.
"We can beat them. We've done it before, remember? All those stalled turbolifts? Emergency transportations and loosing life support in the Jeffries Tubes? They haven't pulled one trick on us that we haven't parried with one of our own."
"I know." She sighed, "I just wish they'd stop."
"They will after this one. I promise you, they will stop meddling."
* ~ * ~ *
"Gretchen, are you sure? She's coming here?" B'Elanna was walking around in circles, shaking her head. "We have no place to go, we are doomed."
Beside her Cadet Boel was counting her grades and diplomas. Maybe she could anonymously enter the Vulcan Science Academy. Starfleet would kick her out as soon as they were done with her.
"Girls, relax. Kathryn sounded in a hurry. I wouldn't be too surprised if she calls me to ask if I could wait for her at the transporter. Hush and be quiet. Gretchen Janeway for Admiral Janeway."
["Hi mom, did you find it?"]
"I have the keys right here, Kathryn. Honey, if you are really in a hurry, I could meet you at the transport center. That way you don't have to walk all the way back to the house."
["Would you, mom? That would be great. How quick can you be there? I'll beam over in 5 minutes. Kathryn out."]
"Gretchen, you are a genius. We'll take Tom's car and on our way back we'll pick up the last equipment from Sam's house. Let's go, admiral Janeway needs those keys. May, stop mumbling and get back to work, you have an editorial to change. I can see the headlines already: Admiral and Professor at secret love nest. Write, Cadet, write!"
* ~ * ~ *
Putting his luggage near the door, he walked around the house. It was a small cabin, made solely of wood, with an alluring porch surrounding all four sides. The view was breathtaking, and he understood now why Kathryn had said the holodeck program paled in comparison to the real thing. Seagulls were flying over the house, their whiteness a stark contrast to the darkening sky. Before he left, he had checked the weather grid, and it showed a thunder storm coming in from the south. When he was at the back of the house, he noticed the small gate door under the porch. He carefully bent and went in. He found a large quantity of dried wood, ready for a fireplace. Keeping the storm in mind, he carried out as much as possible and deposited the wood next to the back door. Walking back to the front, he was just in time to see Kathryn materialize, accompanied by several large boxes.
"Help me, will you? I won't let the weather surprise us, did you see that sky? We're going to be in for a rough time."
No hello, but Chakotay only grinned at that. "Throw me the keys, Kathryn, I'll open the door, and you can start to use all that 'admirable' strength of yours to haul in the equipment."
She only shot him a death glare, but after all these years, Chakotay noticed he had grown immune to them.
"I'll have your hide for this, Chakotay. Just remember who is the technician here, and don't forget to watch your back at night."
* ~ * ~ *
"Cadet, have you ever considered giving up Starfleet and start a career as a professional writer?" Mark Johnson looked at May. "This is an amazing piece of work, I'm sure any university would gladly you accept you as a language major."
May blushed, "When I was little I always pretended to write the great 'Earth Novel', but then once I saw the news about Voyager, I only wanted to finish the Academy and join Starfleet."
"Starfleet is a large organization, I'm sure they are thinking of new positions for their crews. Who knows, they might consider taking on chroniclers for their new long term missions. Voyager could have used someone like you. As charming as it is to read Chakotay's stories, I think they would have benefitted from someone who knew how to write fact based editorials."
"Thank you, sir. I'll keep it in mind. I might actually need my writing skills once Starfleet kicks me out of the Academy."
B'Elanna and Gretchen walked into the room. "May, stop saying that. You read Commodore Picard's recommendation. Now that he's in charge of the Academy, he certainly will not kick you out." B'Elanna was growing impatient with May's uncertainty. She put her hands on the girl's shoulders, "You will be applauded for your guts, mark my words."
Gretchen sat down next to Mark, "Thank you for coming, Mark. I have a feeling we're going to need your help. You know how stubborn Kathryn can be."
Mark coughed, "I had suppressed her tenacity, Gretchen. I don't know whether to thank you or not for reminding me."
"She's not that bad," B'Elanna supplied, "She just knows what she doesn't want."
* ~ * ~ *
Surprisingly it only took Kathryn an hour to set up all the equipment.
"Kathryn, what would you like to eat? I took the liberty of shopping before I came here, and it seems the cupboards were well-stocked too. Looking at our supplies I think we could stay her for at least a month, even longer if you want to try eating rations."
She looked up from the workstation. "Anything replicated would be great, Chakotay."
"Replicated?" He turned around and scrutinized her. "I have managed to secure a large amount of fresh food, guaranteed leola root free, and you want something replicated?"
Sighing Kathryn got up and moved towards the stove. "My mother has been staying at my house, pampering me with real cooked food for too long. I'm dying to have something replicated, that's all. If you want I could replicate us something."
Chakotay shook his head in amazement, "I'm sorry, Kathryn, but we won't replicate until we really have to. For now, and for the next couple of weeks, you will eat 3 cooked meals a day."
"Yes, mom." Kathryn grinned. "Actually, I think I'm going to enjoy this. While our valiant crew is spoiling the careers of future Starfleet Officers, we have a lovely cabin to our disposal. And it gets even better, since I have my own personal cook and companion." She sat down on one of the chairs. "So, cook. What will you prepare for me tonight?"
* ~ * ~ *
B'Elanna and Gretchen were seated in the large living room of the Janeway house, enjoying a moment of silence. Tom was outside with Harry, trying to train the new puppy Gretchen had found for Kathryn. Mac and May had returned to their dorm and Mark had gone back to his own house.
"How long do you think they'll stay at Lake George?" B'Elanna was looking at the pictures Gretchen had given her. She was holding a photo of a young Kathryn up. "The surroundings are simply amazing. No wonder you never wanted to sell the place. And no wonder Lake George was Kathryn's favorite holoprogram."
"Knowing my daughter, which you do, how long do you think it will take her before she goes crazy with just one person as her companion?" Gretchen countered.
B'Elanna giggled. "Well ... knowing my commanding officers? I'd say they'd better fly in some more supplies, because it's going to take a while. You know, I can see them hiding there, just to wait out this new 'revolution' at Starfleet. Did she tell you about the time they were contaminated by an obscure bug?"
"You mean when they were on New Earth?"
"Huh? New Earth? I can't remember ever visiting a planet by that name. Not even the 37s used that."
"B'Elanna, my daughter told me about the time she and Chakotay were secluded on a planet, for almost three months. They had named that planet New Earth."
"They did? How romantic. It must be the same planet. We had so many bets going, especially after Tuvok had made the decision to turn back and pick them up. I think most of us were expecting to witness some kind of formal joining between the two of them before they would resume their positions."
"You mean to say the crew suspected them to be married? But you'd only been out in the Delta Quadrant for two years? Kathryn was still engaged to Mark."
"I know. But it would have been so romantic. I think Chakotay did say something to Kathryn to explain his feelings, but we never discovered what really happened down on that planet. When they came back things quickly went back to normal, as if nothing had happened. Still, I believe something did happen, even though they never acted on it."
"Kathryn told me something about a legend Chakotay once told her. Hang on, she wrote it down for me, because it's simply too beautiful to forget."
Gretchen got up and rummaged through a drawer. "There it is. The Angry Warrior Legend. Have you ever read it?"
"Angry Warrior Legend? I can't say I have, and I must have heard almost all of Chakotay's stories. The man is simply a great story teller. May I read it?"
* ~ * ~ *
"Mac, do you think it's possible for us to go to Lake George?"
Mac looked up from his Delta Quadrant Engineering Manual. "Huh? Lake George? What do you want to do there? Take pictures of the Admiral and the Professor? May, we have exams coming up. Don't you think you should do some studying?"
Scrutinizing her boyfriend, May considered the differences between men and women. "Sometimes, you can be so dense. No, I don't want to take photos of them. I simply want to see Lake George. After what Mrs. Janeway told us, I think it's simply the most romantic place on Earth."
"But why would we go there now? We have enough work as it is, without taking the time for a vacation. Besides, I think the Courant could use some updated material. Pictures would be great proof of our theory."
"MacMarius Jonas! I can't believe you just said that! I feel bad enough writing my tabloid editorials without debasing myself by adding photos. I simply mentioned Lake George because I thought it would be nice if we went there, sometime. I didn't mean now. I know we're up for our exams. Don't you think I'm nervous?"
She grabbed her coat and took her keys from the shelves.
"Where are you going, May? Wait up and I'll join you."
"No need to follow me, Mac. I'm going out by myself, I need some time to think. I'll be back later."
* ~ * ~ *
Someone had a death wish this morning, Kathryn thought. Looming over her, Chakotay was tickling her nose with a feather he had found last night. Carefully opening one eye, she saw he wasn't paying attention. Ever so quickly she grabbed his arm and with a swift movement of her legs - a technique Tuvok taught her when he first submitted her to one of his Crew Fitness Programs - Kathryn had him pinned under her.
"That teaches you! Never tickle a Captain before she's ready to wake up."
Chakotay raised his eyebrow, "Captain, Admiral?"
To prove her point, she punched him in the chest. "Admiral, of course. And don't try to change the subject. Have you any idea how early it is? I'm not aboard Voyager anymore, I don't need to get up until I feel like it, got that? Now, since you've woken me up, you might as well make yourself useful."
His other eyebrow joined the first one. "Kathryn?"
Another smack on his chest quickly reminded him what she meant. "You're going to have to let go of me, if you want some fresh coffee. I know I'm brilliant, but not even I can make coffee while pinned underneath you."
Ignoring his look, Kathryn slowly got up and walked to the bathroom. "You can give me my coffee later. I think I need a bath first."
As he sat on the bed, Chakotay tried to make sense of the woman called Kathryn Janeway.
* ~ * ~ *
"Gretchen, are you sure we should publish this?" Tom held up the piece of paper with Chakotay's legend. "I mean, I'm all for shock therapy, but Kathryn is going to read the Courant. We noticed they are keeping tabs on all of us. Why do you think May has reverted to writing everything down on paper?"
"Tom, have you even read it?" B'Elanna asked. "We can't let an opportunity like this one pass. Besides, since when do you care about what is proper and what isn't when it comes to those two?"
"Tom, I think if Kathryn reads Chakotay's legend again, this time in the Courant, it will help her consider her options. Frankly, I think my daughter needs any shock therapy she can get her hands on. They've been locked up in that cabin for close to a week now, and still no word."
Tom looked at his wife, "Did you tell her about the bug-planet?"
Nodding B'Elanna continued, "Gretchen, they were on the planet for 3 months, like a modern day Adam and Eve. They have proven they don't need the outside world. In fact, I think we should let the whole thing rest for a while. Who knows, they might even continue where we left them on the planet."
"Three months, B'Elanna, and still nothing happened." Gretchen looked at the group surrounding her. "Why should this seclusion be any different. Granted, they don't have the responsibility of Voyager anymore. This time they're simply two Academy professors, with Starfleet breathing down their necks."
"Very true, Mrs. Janeway." Tuvok looked up from his Kal-toh session with Harry. "But by now they will have realized Starfleet isn't holding them back, so to speak. They refrained from starting a relationship because of what they thought Starfleet Protocol entailed. I think we can say we have successfully changed the rulebook, so therefore the Admiral and the Professor would not let that get in their way. I concur with Commander Paris, when she says we should leave them alone."
* ~ * ~ *
Special Report -- Special Report -- Special Report -- Special Report
by May Boel - Editor
After graciously allowing us into her house, Mrs. Gretchen Janeway showed us the document we have been wanting to secure for you.
Read and give us your opinion!
"This is an ancient legend among my people. It's about an angry warrior who lived his life in conflict with the rest of his tribe. A man who couldn't find peace, even with the help of his spirit guide. For years he struggled with his discontent, but the only satisfaction that he ever got came when he was in battle. This made him a hero among his tribe, but the warrior still longed for peace within himself. One day he and his war party were captured by a neighbouring tribe led by a woman warrior. She called on him to join her because her tribe was too small and weak to defend itself from all its enemies. The woman warrior was brave and beautiful and very wise. The angry warrior swore to himself that he would stay by her side, doing whatever he could to make her burden lighter. From that point on her needs would come first, and in that way, the warrior began to know the true meaning of peace."
Special Report -- Special Report -- Special Report -- Special Report
* ~ * ~ *
-- Incoming message for Commodore Picard. Recorded - audio only - no reply required. --
-- File transfer protocol Alpha 47 completed. One file copied. Two files archived into folder Sent Messages. No new transmissions recorded. --
"Jean-Luc, unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances I won't be able to attend this morning's briefings. Tell Alynna I will be in touch with her, but I can't seem to reach our favorite dragon lady today. Take care and give my love to Beverly. Kathryn Janeway out."
The terminal dutifully beeped through all its protocols, not registering the lack of communications between the former Voyager crewmembers. Filing away the older documents, it automatically printed out the newest file according to its specifications. After more than 300 years of computer technology, Starfleet Academy's Courant was still delivered to its subscribers in the original format - a standard letter sized piece of paper.
As the Courant made its way out of the printer, Kathryn and Chakotay were walking outside towards the boathouse.
For two days there had been no shocking news from their crew, and Chakotay decided today would be a great day for that promised sail on Lake George. After carefully securing the terminal, Kathryn had checked the boat while Chakotay was preparing their lunch.
Raising his head to look at the seagulls in the sky, Chakotay heard Kathryn's sharp intake of breath.
"Are you all right, Kathryn?"
Sighing again, she turned towards her companion. "I'm fine. Actually, I'm better than fine. I feel great, I feel alive. You? How are you holding up? I can't but help thinking I thwarted your plans to keep away from each other, and here we are, stuck together with no one around."
Grinning they continued their walk. "Thwarting that plan was one of your better moves, Kathryn. I wouldn't have traded this for all the crew's plots in the world. Still, I can't seem to shake the feeling that something big is happening. Did Picard reply to your message, or is he in hiding as well?"
"He didn't reply, but why would he be in hiding?"
"Well, I can remember you telling me about the dashing Captain Picard and his Chief Medical Officer. Don't you think that they'd be under fire too, like us?"
Linking her arm through his, Kathryn moved closer to Chakotay. "I'll let you in on a secret. Jean-Luc and Beverly are in fact husband and wife. They married soon after the Enterprise-D went down. They've been quiet about it, but quite a few people know. Knowing Beverly, she's probably up there with our crew, cheering them on. She's been badgering Jean-Luc about those Starfleet Protocols for years now. He finally gave in."
Chakotay seemed lost in thought, gazing at nothing in particular. After seven years on the same ship, Kathryn had gotten used to Chakotay's quiet moments, but this one threw her for a loop. Hadn't he heard what she had said? She gave him a perfect opening for him to badger her about Starfleet Protocols, but he hadn't even noticed. What was she to do? For close to a week, she'd been slowly letting him know she wanted their relationship to change, but so far Chakotay hadn't picked up on it. First there was her adamant attitude towards his proposed separation, then there was the obvious open door when she made him invite her to Lake George. Of course the other morning, after he tickled her awake, she thought he was ready to take the next step, but nothing moved except his eyebrows. Today would be her last try. A romantic sale on Lake George should do the trick. She even had him pack the champagne. If all went as planned, she didn't even have to wait for the latest Courant where Cadet Boel would talk about how the Admiral and the Professor were at their secret love nest. They would be able to go home again, and continue with their lives, together preferably. She'd even be able to tell B'Elanna how she managed to read all the crew's transmissions. Her former Chief Engineer still had some things to learn.
* ~ * ~ *
After handing out his last copy, Mac sat down next to Harry Kim.
"That was it, right? Tom doesn't have another stack hidden somewhere which he wants us to distribute."
Harry laughed, "Don't worry, Mac. B'Elanna called me earlier, telling me she'd finally convinced Tom to stop the presses. You know, Tom is my best friend, but he tends to get carried away sometimes."
"I wouldn't classify printing 20,000 copies of the same paper as getting carried away. Any counselor would call it obsessive."
"Mac, remember where we were for the past seven years? We spent all that time looking at a Command Team in love. So much pent up emotion from just two people is bound to cause a short circuit in your brain somewhere. Tom just has a different way of showing it. Besides, we managed to give each student and each teacher a copy, so we met our goal. We should celebrate!"
Mac simply groaned, too tired to do more celebrating.
Ever since the first copy of the Courant featuring the Angry Warrior Legend, the Voyager crew had found numerous reasons to celebrate. Whenever one of them showed up at the Night Owl, the owner immediately thought they'd have another party. Of course, they would have a party, but that was besides the point. He simply couldn't take it anymore. Excusing himself, he left an understanding Harry Kim behind and Mac went in search of May. Perhaps they would even managed to do some studying tonight.
* ~ * ~ *
As soon as he opened the door, he could hear the excited clatter of a keyboard. What was she up to now? Stepping inside the room, Mac noticed the clutter of paper all over the floor. Strewn all over the couch were empty bags of sugary snacks from all over the Federation. Sitting right next to the couch was the once terrifying Chief Engineer of Voyager. Now she was simply trying to hold a wiggling Miral, while reading whatever Mac threw at her.
A curt nod and B'Elanna was back to reading. Mac crouched down and took Miral from her, eliciting a happy grin from both mother and daughter. "Hello Miss Miral, are you having fun with these two? How about if we go to the shops, get dinner, and hope that the fairies will have cleaned up when we get back?"
May turned away from her viewscreen, "Hi Mac, I didn't hear you come in. You don't have to worry about fixing us dinner. Tom and Harry are bringing around whatever Neelix is willing to make them. Have you seen this?" May pointed towards the strange contraption that was attached to her viewscreen. "It's a keyboard."
"It looks interesting. What do you do with it?" Mac looked at the thing, and touched the 'A'. "Where did you get this?"
Mac scrutinized her boyfriend. "Aren't you taking one of those 20th century classes? You should be able to tell what this is. B'Elanna and Harry made it for me. Remember that my left wrist was giving me problems? The doctor even declared it was tendonitis. Well, this keyboard will solve my problems. IT was ergonomically designed just for me."
She sat behind her viewscreen again to show the intricasies. "I can take it with me wherever I go. No matter what system, it will adapt. They used some of Seven's technologies. I could even tap into a Species 8472 computer if I wanted to.
Trying to look interested Mac was glad that Miral started pulling his hair. "It looks great, May. I hope your wrist won't trouble you anymore. So how is the editorial coming? B'Elanna, can I read that after you finish?"
B'Elanna looked up distractedly, "I'm sorry Mac, what did you say? No, I just changed Miral's' diaper, but thanks for asking."
Mac laughed, "Miral, honey, as much as I admire your mother, she is a strange one. Let's see if we can find something fun to do, while these two crazy women focus on our mission."
* ~ * ~ *
As the cabin loomed up before them, Chakotay took the picnic basket in his other hand, making sure Kathryn couldn't grab hold of his free one. All day she'd been sneakily trying to hold his hand, but Chakotay wouldn't let her.
Both let out frustrated sighs at the same time. "I'm sorry, Kathryn. I can't do this anymore. If you don't mind, I'll stay until tomorrow and then I'll be out of your way again."
"You're leaving me? Why? What did I do? Can't you stay? Please?" Kathryn knew she was begging, but she didn't care. He simply couldn't leave her alone, not as they were finally making progress. She took his arm and stopped him. "Chakotay, tell what is going on? What can't you do anymore? Please tell me."
Trying to ignore her desperate plea, he focused on a point over her shoulder.
"And would you please look me in the eyes? I can't have you talking to some obscure bird over my shoulder. What has happened to you? I thought were having fun. Don't you want to be with me anymore? Whatever it is, we'll work it out. We're still friends, aren't we? That means we can talk about anything and everything."
Taking her hands in his, Chakotay looked at Kathryn. "Kathryn, I'm sure you have realized that our relationship is strained. I'm just making this easier on you. When I leave, you can leave too, and we won't have the entire Federation hunting us anymore."
"Making this easier for me? I thought we were in this together. You can't leave me battling the 'entire Federation'. I need you with me, beside me. You've been acting strange all day. Did I do something wrong?"
"You didn't do anything wrong, Kathryn, believe me. I guess I just imagined things differently."
"What things? Tell me, Chakotay. We need to get this, and us, out in the open once and for all. What did you imagine differently? You've been keeping your distance. Have you met someone else?"
"Someone else? What are you talking about, Kathryn? I've been trying to keep my distance, because of your behavior."
"My behavior? I'm glad you noticed. Why are you keeping your distance?"
"Well, you've been touchy-feely even more than you usually are. Not to mention what you did to me the other morning. Spirits, Kathryn, do you know how hard it has been not to react to you?"
"Why didn't you react? Chakotay, how many more obvious openings do I have to give you? I. Want. You! There! Happy now?" She stormed off without looking around, almost running back into the forrest they had just cleared.
Chakotay groaned. It wasn't his imagination. She'd meant it. She wanted him. She. Wanted. Him! Dropping the basket he ran after her.
* ~ * ~ *
-- Incomming transmission for Admiral Janeway. Urgent. Clearance Alpha 5 needed. Respond within 1 hour. --
-- Recorded. --
-- No more messages. --
Kathryn Janeway! How dare you miss our meeting. I do not care what your reason is, but you will show up in my office in exactly 4 hours, or I will have to convince Starfleet to send you on a new mission - to the Beta Quadrant - on a freighter!
Jean-Luc told me you were unavoidably detained. That is your problem, and not mine. And while you're at it, Admiral take Professor Chakotay with you. He still owes me a conversation about Maquis Rebels and Starfleet Captains.
-- Delete Transmission. Authorization Chakotay Sigma-Pi-Freckles. Automatically transferred to Deleted Items. Delete from system. --
-- Transmission deleted. --
* ~ * ~ *
B'Elanna looked around the group. Almost all of the key players were assembled in her living room, and their chattering was deafening. Tom was providing everyone with drinks, while May had kindly offered to take care of the snacks. As the noise level rose, she saw Gretchen Janeway wink at her. And with that one acknowledgment, B'Elanna realized they were on the verge of something big. Today Starfleet would finally publish their decision on personal relationships between officers. Keeping a close eye on the commsystem, B'Elanna wandered over to where May was playing with Miral. Too nervous to sit down, she simply brushed a hand over her daughter's soft cheek and nodded to May.
The two young cadets had surprised the Voyager crew when they had come forward with their plan. Crazy as it was, right now it was turning out to be a winner. Starfleet had finally agreed they had to review their rules on fraternization. Of course, the key players of the plan were not around. No one had heard from them since they escaped to the cabin near Lake George. Not even Gretchen had received a message, although she was contacted by Starfleet Command earlier today to give account of where the two officers might be.
When the call from Admiral Nechayev came in, B'Elanna was standing slightly behind Gretchen, and the young officer had found out where her Captain got the talent for deceiving people. Without ever lying to the Admiral, Gretchen had successfully explained her daughter's disappearance, not giving away the secret.
* ~ * ~ *
Contacting the nearest Transport Center, Kathryn ran as fast as she could. Luckily she had the advantage of knowing where she was going. Chakotay would be left to his natural tracking skills, but a determined Kathryn Janeway knew her way around the woods of Lake George. Approaching the Transport Center, she slowed down and looked over her shoulder. Not seeing Chakotay, she let out a small sigh. She might actually be able to make it to Starfleet before he closed in on her.
The transport officer was already waiting for her with the appropriate coordinates. Within a minute she felt the familiar tingle of the beam and she knew she had made it.
* ~ * ~ *
The verdict was in, or was that out? Mac didn't really care, because he was feeling too elated to think about it. Somehow May and he, together with the Voyager crew, had managed to force Starfleet to update one of their oldest rules. The official rule on fraternization had been reviewed and changed. Not radically of course, Starfleet would never have considered most of the proposals the team suggested. But they changed it where it mattered most. Soon the entire Federation would hear about the ruling, but for now, the group gathered at Tom and B'elanna's were the only ones who new.
Under Tom's guidance he forwarded the message to some of the Federation's main papers, which they had previously selected from a long list. Whereas Starfleet would wait at least a week before they'd let the press know about their decision, the team had decided they would take it on themselves to let the news out. May was already working on a front page editorial, aided by Harry and Sam, which would be send out as another special edition. Bringing the news into the world was one of the most gratifying things he'd ever done. Now all they had to was wait and see if their plan worked. Starfleet's ruling was simply an additional benefit, but they were more interested in finding out how the Admiral and the Professor would react. Maybe they would finally come to their senses.
* ~ * ~ *
Realizing he was too late, Chakotay thought he'd had to resort to bribing a Starfleet Officer. The poor Ensign never knew what hit him, when Chakotay threatened to take over the controls. After some choice words, the young man entered the last used coordinates and beamed the irate older man on his way.
* ~ * ~ *
As she stepped off the platform, Kathryn noticed the unusual number of press surrounding Starfleet's head quarters. She had opted out on beaming into the main building, simply because she didn't have the time to go through the usual security checks. Beaming into the transport station at the edge of the large square seemed more logical.
The moment one of the journalists, who had turned around to see who had arrived, ran towards her, Kathryn realized something big was happening. She waited too long, because before she knew it, an entire horde of journalists was running towards her, all screaming to get her attention. Swiftly she turned back to the transport building, only to find her path was blocked.
* ~ * ~ *
Surveying the field before him, Chakotay saw the mass of people running towards Kathryn, whom he had spotted a second earlier. She seemed confused as to what was going on, and as she debated where to go, Chakotay used the opportunity to walk up behind her. With the large group of people coming up towards him, he knew her ways to escape had disappeared. He saw her turn towards him, and the total look of surprise in her eyes as she spotted him almost made him smile. As her face fell, he couldn't stop his from smiling anyway. She had no place to run. He had her right where he wanted.
* ~ * ~ *
Temporarily forgetting the horde of people behind her, Kathryn looked straight into the face of her former XO.
"How did you ...", but she never got the chance to finish her question. Chakotay reached out and took her hand, before her brain could form another thought. Dragging her behind him, he didn't look back once. All that mattered was staying clear of the journalists chasing them.
The transporter chief didn't show his surprise when Chakotay told him to beam them back to their previous location. And when he was told not to divulge that location, the lieutenant simply nodded. Even without the uniform, he recognized the famous Admiral Janeway, and thanks to the Academy Courant, he knew exactly who her determined companion was.
* ~ * ~ *
Tom screamed when he saw the news feed.
"There they are. Quiet down, people. Our Command Team has surfaced. Hang on, where are they going? O my, Chakotay is dragging the Captain behind him. They're moving back to the Transport Station. Man, I can't believe it. It looked as if the Captain was actually running away."
His word by word commentary was enough to get everyone up and going. Walking around in circles, May was contemplating a new editorial. If the Admiral and the Professor had appeared again, it could only mean one thing, or two at the most. She'd just have to write two versions, and depending on the outcome, she'd publish either one. As she walked around, she accidentally bumped into Gretchen, who, anticipating the young girl's move, took May by the arm and sat her down.
"May, there's no need to fret. So they were seen, that doesn't mean a thing. For all we know they never heard of Starfleet's ruling. Just sit here and wait. We'll find out soon enough what is going on. Besides, I know my daughter. Anything happens, and she'll call me.
* ~ * ~ *
Kathryn felt as if she was a small child on her way to a time-out in her room. Chakotay hadn't let go of her hand since he first grabbed it and he was still pulling her along. Her brain was slowly adapting to the situation, and the moment she had wanted to say something, Chakotay sent her a look that immediately shut her up. With no other choice but to follow him, Kathryn used the time to figure out what had happened. Running out on him probably wasn't her smartest move, but at the time she didn't feel like waiting around for his reply. His chase and subsequent capture gave her hope that if she'd stuck around, she probably would have liked his reply very much. And a Chakotay in Angry Warrior mode gave her an odd sense of security.
Suddenly, Chakotay stopped and Kathryn nearly bumped into him. When she looked up, she realized they were back at the cabin. Without waiting for her, Chakotay went inside, and she could hear him move around. Squaring her shoulders, she went in after him, thinking that anything he threw at her, she'd dodge.
* ~ * ~ *
His movements were erratic, as he tried to pack up as much as he could. Not noticing a mix-up of his and Kathryn's belongings, he opened up containers as fast as he could. Completely ignoring the figure standing in the doorway, he managed to clean up most of their things within ten minutes.
"Why not just transport all our stuff out of here?" Kathryn broke the silence.
He looked up from where he was crouched down and saw her leaning against the door, a smile adorning her face.
"And where would we transport it? Do you have another cabin out in the middle of nowhere?"
She let his slightly sarcastic tone wash over her, "I know of a house. It's not exactly in the middle of nowhere, some would even say it's become the center of a new community."
Slowly walking over to him, she held out her hand to help him rise. As she looked at the packed containers, she continued, "It would save us a lot of agony if we just kept our things mixed, don't you think?"
Taking her other hand in his, Chakotay looked straight into Kathryn's eyes.
"It sounds reasonable, but before we transport everything, including ourselves, I think we should talk."
He had to laugh at the small groan Kathryn produced, which in turn made her laugh too. Leaning forward, Chakotay brushed a light kiss across her lips.
"I love you."
* ~ * ~ *
-- Incoming call for Gretchen Janeway. --
-- Automatically forwarded to Paris Residence. --
-- Link established, please hold. --
* ~ * ~ *
The news feeds were constantly replaying the scene at the Transport Station. In lieu of Starfleet's recent ruling, and thanks to the Academy Courant, the speculations about the appearance and subsequent disappearance of Voyager's former Command Team were off the charts. Each channel tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together, but ended up rehashing what had already been said before.
As B'Elanna was listening to the recapitulations of the news, Tom was watching their comm terminal like a hawk. Gretchen was seated next to him, and combining their mental powers, they were willing it to beep.
Incoming message for Gretchen Janeway. Forwarded. Please respond. On visual.
["Mom, are you there?"]
Within a nano-second, Tom and Gretchen were surrounded by what appeared to be most of Voyager's crew.
"I'm right here, Katryn. How are you?"
["Mom, who is that besides you? Hang on, where are you?"]
"B'Elanna and Tom are having a get-together. I've set the terminal at home to forwarding all messages. You wouldn't believe the number of calls I received from Starfleet already."
["Starfleet? Mom, what is going on?"]
"Katryn, why are you calling? I thought Chakotay and you were in hiding?"
["We're on the move again. It seems people have found out about our location. Mom, have you turned the security shield on at the house?"]
"Of course, I have. No one will be able to enter without the code. Have you seen the news feeds, by the way? We all saw you earlier on FNN. What happened? We saw you come out of the Transport Station, closely followed by Chakotay. Why did you turn around? Those nice press people would have loved to get the scoop on you two."
["Scoop? Mom, why were they there? We haven't seen a news feed since we first left for the cabin."]
"You mean, you don't know? Starfleet has changed their policy on fraternization between officers, who are close in rank. Looking at the crazy news feeds, you'd think the entire Federation is celebrating your arrival home again."
["Fraternization policy? They didn't? Mom, we need to transport home now. And we're coming over to Tom and B'Elanna's. I can't believe it! Chakotay, did you hear that? They won't bother us anymore."]
"Kathryn, I have changed the security code. You'll find it in its usual place. We'll be expecting both of you within an hour. Shall we put the champagne on ice?"
Suddenly Kathryn's image disappeared, to be replaced by Chakotay's.
["Gretchen, we'd love some champagne. We could use definitely use it. And tell Tom to clear the betting pool. Chakotay and Kathryn out."]