As Starfleet Officers

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From: crime@bu.edu (mary self)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: VOY: As Starfleet Officers
Date: 29 Sep 1995 11:29:04 GMT
Organization: Boston University
Lines: 352
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As always constructive criticism is welcome.

All characters in this story belong to Paramount, except Lt. Hannah Jemison,
and are use here for entertainment purposes only. The story is my creation
entirely.

For those of you unfamiliar with Hannah, she first appeared in a story I wrote
called Regrets.

As Starfleet Officers

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1995

In the darkened room, his hips jerked upward, her moist body engulfing
him with a deliberate hesitation. Her mouth traced the muscles of his neck
down to the shoulder, and he felt their hips begin to move in that familiar,
ancient rhythm. A cry of pain escaped his throat, as teeth sank into his skin
just below the collar bone. There would be a mark there for the next few days.
He wouldn’t bother to get it treated at sickbay; he wanted the mark, however
temporary it might be. Funny, he never would have guessed she was a “biter”.
Their movements grew stronger, desperate in their quest for fulfillment; her
breath panted warm in his ear, pushing him farther, faster . . .
Chakotay sat up in bed; his trembling body once again denied its dream-
induced pleasure. He raised a shaking hand to his head and brushed the beads
of moisture off his brow. Looking down at his chest, he half-expected to see
bloodied teeth marks on his brown skin.
The dreams were definitely getting worse; well, worse, in the sense
that he was having them more frequently. The dreams themselves were worthy of
the ship’s resident Romeo, Tom Paris. He allowed himself a momentary grin as
he disintwined the sheets from around his legs. Then a frown came to his face.
“This has got to stop, one way or another,” he muttered. “You’ve got to get
control of yourself.”

“Commander.”
Chakotay gave a sharp intake of breath; he hadn’t realized that his
attention had drifted so far away. Refocusing his gaze, he found himself
looking into his Captain’s worried gaze. “I’m sorry, Captain.” He apologized.
“I didn’t hear a word you said.”
“That was quite evident, Commander. I asked you if you would like
another cup of coffee.” Kathryn Janeway stared at her first officer. Deeply
concerned, she noted the circles under his eyes, which seemed to grow darker
with each passing day.
He gave her a tight smile. “I think I need one, don’t you?”
“It’s not my place to say what you need. But Commander,” she placed
a sympathetic hand on his arm. “Chakotay, if something is bothering you,
perhaps I can help.”
He shook his head; he wasn’t about to share his dream with her or
anyone else for that matter. “I just haven’t been sleeping well lately; I’m
not quite sure why,” he lied.
“Maybe you should visit sickbay; I’m sure the Doctor could prescribe
a sedative. Or I can schedule one or two days off for you. Gods know, you
deserve it after pulling two thirty-six hour shifts during the past month.”
She again caught the listless dark eyes in her gaze. “Sometimes you really do
push yourself too hard.”
Chakotay almost laughed at the choice of words, but stopped himself,
realizing that she would expect an explanation. Instead, he nodded in
agreement. “Yes, Captain. I’ll stop by sickbay after I get off this evening.
I promise,” he added, seeing her doubtful expression.

“Well, Commander,” the Doctor stared down at his tricorder. “According
to these readings, you are very healthy considering your stress level. All
the readings are quite normal, I’m pleased to say. There seems to be no
`physical’ reason for your sleepless nights.
“I do notice by your shift record, however, that you have been pulling
a number of double, even triple shifts over the past month or so. Both
Starfleet regulations and medicine frown upon such a work load; surely, the
Captain could find someone to fill in on some of these shifts.”
Chakotay nodded. “I just like to keep myself busy, Doctor. I’d go a
little stir-crazy if I didn’t have something to do.”
The Doctor frowned. “Commander, at the rate you’re working, you’ll go
`crazy’ from having too much to do. There are limits to the amount of pressure
the human body and mind can take.” Moving over to the dispenser, he continued.
“I’m issuing you a mild sedative. Take one tablet before going to bed, but for
your own health, I strongly urge you to cut back your workload. Socialize with
the rest of the crew; have some fun. And remember, Commander,” The Doctor
halted his patient’s rapid exit. “I may be a hologram, but I can still relieve
you of duty if I see fit.”
Chakotay’s jaw tightened visibly at the threat, but he gave the image
a curt nod of acknowledgement before heading back to his own
quarters.

The next day, after his shift ended, he took a long, circuitous
route back to his room. The sedative had helped last night, but he knew it
was only treating the symptoms, not the cause of his problems.
“Commander!” B’Elanna Torres increased her pace to catch up with the
quickly striding first officer.
“Yes, Lieutenant? What can I do for you?” He imperceptibly slowed
down, before turning his head toward the approaching engineer.
“A couple of us are getting together tonight at Sandrine’s, and I was
wondering if you’d like to join us. It’s sort of a teams pool tournament.
I need a partner, and since you’re one of the better players on the ship, I
was wondering if-” She paused; his expression told her that she had oversold
the idea. *The man isn’t a fool,* she scolded herself.
“All right, Lieutenant; I’ll bite. Who put you up to this?
The Captain? The Doctor, maybe?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Her brown eyes darted from
his face to the wall behind him and back again. She always was a lousy liar.
“Come off it, Torres!” he yelled, and she blushed as passersby glanced
briefly in their direction.
“Commander,” she whispered, hoping he would get the hint. “Please.”
He did, but he ignored it. “All day, I’ve had people coming up to me,
asking me to lunch, to dinner, to play raquetball. Others have been inquiring
about my health; trying to play counselor with me; hell, Paris even offered to
set me up on a date, hologram or otherwise. Now this. Just what the hell is
going on?”
B’Elanna stared at him. Rarely, had she seen him so angry, especially
over mere solicitous inquiries. He was her commanding officer, her friend, and
she was worried about him. But she didn’t particularly relish being dressed
down in public like this.
“Permission to speak freely, Commander?” she replied icily.
“Granted.” Her deliberate use of protocol suddenly reminded him of
where they were.
“The only reason people have been bothering you today is because they
are concerned.” She shot back, her dark eyes snapping angrily. “You haven’t
been acting like yourself for several days now, and frankly, you’ve been
looking like death warmed over. So, instead of being angry at people, you
ought to be damned thankful they care enough to ask. And now if you’ll
excuse me.” She drew herself up stiffly. “I’m sorry to have bothered you,
Commander.”
She began to walk away, but he caught her arm. “No, B’Elanna.”
His voice was husky with fatigue. “You are absolutely right, and I owe you an
apology.” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
She gazed at him; never had she seen him look so old or so tired. The
Captain had been right to confide in her; it was just too bad the entire crew
had also picked the same day to express its concern.
At last, he opened his eyes. “Okay, Lieutenant. You win. If you need
a partner at pool, I’ll be it.” He gave her a weary grin. “Although you may
be making a big mistake, considering how tired I am right now.”
She returned the smile. “I don’t think so. You could beat Paris with
one hand tied behind your back, and I happen to know that the Captain isn’t
playing tonight. So we stand a pretty good chance of winning if Paris and Kim
can eliminate Jemison and Dalby.”
*Damn!* He shook his head. “You’re reaching Torres. The day Paris
and Kim beat those two is the day we’ll all get home and be given full pardons
by the Federation.”
“Well, stranger things have happened,” she laughed. “See you at 2200
hours.”
He nodded and watched her walk away before resuming his own journey
to his quarters.

At 2130 hours, he arrived at Sandrine’s. The small bar was already
packed. The Captain caught his eye and motioned for him to join her at her
usual table. He nodded in reply, indicating that he was going to get a
drink first.
“I’m glad you could come, Commander,” she said when he finally joined
her. “I understand you’ll be B’Elanna’s partner. This whole affair should
make for an interesting evening.”
He chuckled inwardly at her choice of words; lately, everything he
heard seemed filled with double-entendres. His gaze wandered over the crowd
around the pool table. Harry Kim was bending down to make a shot; beside him,
stood his usual pool partner, Tom Paris and B’Elanna. Down the table waited
two Maquis crewmen, Ensigns Kenneth Dalby and the young Bajoran, Geron. Next
to them stood the ship’s science officer, Lt. Hannah Jemison.
Ever since she had come to terms with the death of her brother and
his own role in it, she had emerged from her lab and proven to be quite the
pool shark. A smile danced briefly across the first officer’s lips as he
remembered the first time she had taken Paris to the cleaners. Price: two
weeks worth of replicator rations.
Chakotay watched as Dalby executed a perfect masse shot. If Torres
thought Tom and Harry could beat those two, she was definitely spending too
much time in the engine room. In two more shots, the former Maquis had ended
the game.
“Rack ’em up, Harry,” Paris said. “We’ve got time for at least two
more games before this tournament starts.”
Hannah handed her cue to Geron and gave the young man an encouraging
smile. “You play for me this time. I’m going to get myself another drink.”
Both she and Dalby had gradually become friends with the younger man.
Hannah had especially grown close to him, and recently, under her tutelage, he
had officially become one of her senior lab assistants. According to the
section’s personnel report, he showed a real aptitude for elemental chemistry,
tectonics, and environmental geologic theory.
“Captain, Commander.”
“Good evening, Lt. Jemison.” Janeway returned the greeting. “I read
your recent report on deuterium processing and reclamation. I think you
definitely have some good ideas for improving the efficiency of our energy
consumption.”
“Thank you, Captain. Ensigns Geron and Daleth contributed; it was a
real team effort.”
Janeway smiled at her. When they got home this young woman was without
question headed for her own command.
“I understand you’re going to be Torres’ partner tonight, Commander.”
Hannah turned her gaze upon the seated man.
“That’s right, Lieutenant. I am.”
“Then, I’ll look forward to beating you, later.” An impudent twinkle
danced in her grey eyes. “Captain.” She nodded her respects before resuming
her journey to the bar.
“Amazing young woman,” the Captain remarked. “Reminds me sometimes of
myself, many, many years ago.”
Chakotay turned his gaze, which had followed Hannah’s departure, back
to Janeway. “It couldn’t be all that long ago. We’re not that old.”
She chuckled. “You’re right, Commander, but out here, surrounded by
this youthful crew, it’s easy to forget.”
*Age isn’t the only thing that separates us from them,* Chakotay mused.
*And it’s not the only reason behind your not playing tonight.*
“Eight ball in the side,” Geron called.
Clunk!
“Hey, Jemison,” barked Dalby to his returning partner. “He did it.
He almost cleared the table.”
Hannah gave an enthusiastic whoop. Setting her glass down, she gave
the embarrassed Bajoran a hug. “Way to go!”
Dalby clapped him on the shoulder. “Keep it up, kid, and you’ll be
taking her for replicator points soon.”
Geron laughed. “Oh, I’m not that good.” He looked at his superior
shyly. “I could never beat her.”
Jemison leaned against the table; her face full of pride in her pupil.
“Sure you could. You’ve got the talent; all you need is the experience. Why
I bet- Hey, I’ve got an idea. Come with me, Geron” She strode over to where
the two commanding officers sat. “Captain, I know this is a bit unusual, but
Ensign Geron could use a partner for the tournament tonight. I’d do it myself,
but I’ve already got Dalby. You’re an experienced pool player; would you mind
being his partner?”
The Captain looked from the Lieutenant to the young man beside her and
smiled. The Ensign blushed all the way to the roots of his dark hair. “Why
that’s a wonderful idea, Lieutenant. Ensign Geron, I’d love to be your
partner, if you’ll have me.” She rose and extended her hand.
The colour drained from his face, but he took her hand and gave it a
firm shake. “It-it would be an honour, Captain,” he stammered.
“Excellent. You and Dalby had best beware, Lieutenant; you’ve got a
talented, untested team on your hands.” The Captain’s eyes sparkled with
encouragement at the Bajoran, bringing the colour back to his face. “Who
knows? We might even walk away the victors tonight.”
Hannah grinned, her own wit matching Janeway’s. “And if you don’t?”
“Then, it’ll be the brig for you, my fine lass.” Tom Paris came up
behind her and finished the challenge for his Captain, his arm draped casually
across Hannah’s shoulders.
She held his gaze with one equally flirtatious. “Unh-hunh, but that
still won’t get you back those replicator rations you owe me.”
“We’ll see.” Tom replied. His arm dropped down to her waist, steering
her back towards the table. “It’s your break.”
The Captain and Geron followed them. Chakotay looked down at his drink
sitting on the table, his fingers clasped tightly around the glass. Quickly,
he released it, realizing how close he had come to shattering it with his bare
hand. Picking up the tumbler again, he swallowed the contents. *Not good,
`Commander’; just how in command are you?* he asked himself. He put the glass
back down and joined B’Elanna closer to the table.
The tournament began, and Dalby and Jemison easily dispatched Tuvok and
Neelix, Paris and Kim, and with a little more effort the Captain and Geron.
Now only Torres and himself stood between them and total victory.
Chakotay racked up the balls and looked up the table at Hannah, who was
preparing to break. Her face became a complete blank as she focused her
attention on the cue ball. Adjusting her stance slightly until it felt right,
she waited for the first officer to remove the wooden rack.
Crack! The balls scattered across the table, but none of them went in.
“Damn!” she cursed under her breath. Her concentration had waivered at
the last minute, causing her to put a spin on the ball she hadn’t wanted.
“Don’t worry about it.” Dalby came up behind her. “Torres is only
good for a run of about three, four tops.”
As it was, B’Elanna only sank two before he took the table. The Ensign
got a 5-ball run going before he misjudged the return of the cueball. It came
to rest directly behind the 13, effectively cancelling out the shot on the 2
he had hoped to make.
“Looks like its down to you and me, Commander,” Hannah observed.
Chakotay nodded, keeping his eyes on the table. He wanted to keep all
his concentration focused on the matter at hand.
Clunk! Clunk! He sunk two before moving around the table. Clunk!
He chalked his stick before taking aim. Clunk!
*Four down,* he reminded himself. *Only the 14 and 8 to go.*
Jemison and the rest of the bar held its breath. *The game’s over,*
she told herself. *The 14’s an easy shot which should leave him directly in
line with the 8.*
Tom came up and rested his arm on one of her shoulders. “Tough luck,”
he whispered. “You two almost swept us all.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Chakotay saw Paris next to Hannah and
felt his hand tighten involuntarily around the end of the stick. He tried
to shake the image from his head, refocusing his attention on the 14. Miss!
Dalby let out an audible sigh of relief, as Jemison moved up to the
table.
Clunk! Clunk! Clunk!
Hannah lay her stick on the table. It was all over and they had won.
Dalby gave her a victorious hand clasp before they shook hands with Torres and
Chakotay.
“Tough luck, Commander. I really thought you had us beaten.” Hannah
took his hand firmly in hers.
“Yeah, well, you two deserved to win. I guess it’s always the easy
shots you take for granted.”
“Maybe,” she responded. Why did she have the feeling he was lying?
*He should have been able to make that shot with his eyes closed,* she
told herself.
The first officer moved away from the gathering crowd and back towards
the bar, where he quietly ordered a double.
Geron followed him with his eyes. *They don’t know how much they owe
their victory to Lt. Paris,* he mused. He, alone, had noticed how white
Chakotay’s knuckles had become when Lt. Paris had approached Hannah. White
knuckles, increased duty shifts, the self-imposed isolation; slowly it all
began to fall into place in the young Bajoran’s mind.

Geron lay on his bed and stared up at the ceiling. Four uneventful
days had passed since the night at Sandrine’s, and he had done a lot of
thinking in that time. The Commander had always been kind to him, but somehow
removed, a kind of remote father-figure. Someone he had always admired and
recently striven to emulate, just like the Lieutenant.
A smile crept across his face. She was like the sister he had left
behind in the Alpha quadrant; kind, instructive, fun-loving. Geron had
wondered about her feelings for some time now. Ever since she and Chakotay
had come to an understanding over his role in the destruction of the Starfleet
runabout her brother had been on, it seemed to Geron that she spoke the first
officer’s name with a touch more respect, maybe, than she did anyone else’s,
including the Captain’s. He had saved her life after all, and there was often
a special bond that developed between people in those circumstances.
“Hey, Geron.” Dalby called from his bed. Bunking up among the lower
ranks had become mandatory to conserve fuel supplies. “What are you doing over
there?”
“Just thinking.”
“Unh-hunh. ‘Bout what?”
“Oh, a lot of things.” Geron rolled over on his side and raised up on
one elbow. “People on this ship mostly.”
“Like who?”
“You, me, Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay, Lt. Jemison. Tell me,
Dalby, what do your think of the Lieutenant?”
A grin flashed across the older man’s harsh features. “Why? You
interested in her?”
“No, but I think I know someone who is.”
“Really? Who? I know Paris has been after her ever since she stepped
foot in Sandrine’s, but that’s nothing new.” Intrigued, Dalby set down
his PADD.
“Can’t tell you. It wouldn’t be fair to either of them. Seriously,
what do you think of her?”
“She’s a fine officer and a damn good pool player. Good looks, good
personality, and smart, but you already know that. Hell, I’d date her myself,
but she’s out of my league.”
“Yeah, she’s special all right,” Geron confirmed. “But just whose
league is she in?”
“If you mean on this ship, you’d better look toward the Starfleet guys.
She’s career all the way and ambitious. You don’t play pool the way she does
and settle for time wasters, that’s why Paris will never make any headway with
her. I guess about the only Maquis who might stand a chance with her would be
the Commander since he’s ex-Starfleet. But I don’t see those two hooking up
anytime soon, not with her brother’s death hanging between them.”
“But she’s forgiven him for that. She told me so.” Geron protested.
The older man cast him a curious glance. “Tell me, Geron. If you met
a beautiful Cardassian and found out that she had been responsible for the
death of your sister, however indirectly, would you be taking her to bed?”
The young ensign rolled on his back. “I guess not,” he sighed.

Geron looked up from the sample the computer was analyzing.
“Lieutenant?”
“Hmm?” Engrossed, Hannah didn’t raise her eyes from the results she
was busily comparing.
“You’re pretty observant, right?”
“As a scientist, I’d like to think so.”
The Bajoran cleared his throat. “Well, what’s your take on the two
crews? I mean, do you think we’re coming together as the Captain hopes?”
Hannah lifted her head in thought before turning her gaze on him.
“I believe so. Why?”
“I just noticed that you and Dalby were the only mixed crew team the
other night, and it just got me to thinking that’s all. I mean, take the
Commander for instance. How do the Starfleet people feel about him?”
“We follow the Captain’s orders,” she replied. “She has seen fit
to appoint him her first officer, and we will abide by that decision. Most of
us feel that he is a good man. It’s easy to give him your respect, and he
cares a great deal about all the people under him. I think Starfleet probably
lost a fine officer when he resigned, and considering how I used to feel about
him, that says a lot,” she finished with a grin.
“He’s been acting really strange lately, though.” Geron remarked.
“Like something’s bothering him.”
Hannah nodded in agreement. “Unh-hunh. I’ve noticed it, too. He
hasn’t looked at that well, either. I asked him when I delivered my report
yesterday if everything was okay, and he gave me the strangest look. Then, he
said yes and dismissed me. I spoke with Lt. Torres, and she is as much in the
dark as the rest of us. Although, she did mention something about him having
trouble sleeping recently, but evidently, that’s not the problem, only a
symptom.” Suddenly, it dawned on her that she may have spoken a little too
freely, even though everyone on board knew something was wrong. “Hey, Geron,
what I just said, it doesn’t go any further than the two of us, understand?”
The young man smiled. “Understood. I won’t breathe a word,
Lieutenant. I wonder what could be bothering him though? It can’t be the
crew, and he and the Captain are on good terms, which means it must be
personal. Maybe he’s got a crush on someone.”
Hannah gave an uncertain chuckle. “He’s not a teen-ager, Geron. I’m
sure if he liked someone he’d come out and say it. Commanding officers are
able to fraternize with their subordinates, you know.”
“Not according to him.” Geron stated. “I bet I know. I’ll bet its
Ensign Lakur. I’ve seen them talking together every now and then.”
“You have? When?” Hannah quickly snapped at his bait. “It couldn’t
be her; she’s not his type. Besides, I think she’s seeing someone in
engineering.”
The ensign chuckled to himself; he could almost see waves of jealousy
issuing from her. *So, you do like him. Have you admitted this to yourself
yet?* “Who is his type?” he pressed.
“Oh hell, I haven’t the foggiest. I wouldn’t have put him and Seska
together; so that only proves how much I know.” With a shrug, she turned back
toward the viewscreen.

Over the next few evenings, the Bajoran kept a sharp eye on both of
them at Sandrine’s, noting that they both watched each other covertly. Once,
he had even been afraid that the Commander would start a fight when Lt. Paris
had become a little too fresh with Hannah. She had shot him right down, and
everyone had concentrated on their verbal skirmish. Geron, alone, had seen the
momentary flash of fury in the older man’s eyes before the customary mask
dropped into place.
*Perhaps they just need a little push,* he thought boldly. *Maybe
there’s some way . . . *

“Come in.” Chakotay pushed the PADD away on the coffee table.
“Mr. Geron, what can I do for you?”
“Um, well, s-sir.” This was going to be harder than he had thought; at
least, he didn’t have to fake his nervousness.
“At ease, Ensign. Have a seat.” The older man gestured to a chair
next to the desk.
“N-no sir. I’d prefer to stand.” Geron looked down at the floor and
silently reminded himself to breathe. “Actually, it’s kind of embarrassing.”
The first officer sat back. “It’s all right, Mr. Geron; tell me when
you can. There’s really not that much you can say that will surprise me,
I assure you.”
“Well, sir. I need you to teach me how to dance,” the young man
blurted out.
Chakotay’s jaw dropped slightly, and an amused expression appeared on
his face. “I take that last statement back, Ensign. You have surprised me,
but surely, there’s someone else-”
“There’s this girl, you see, and she loves to dance, but I don’t know
how, and Mr. Dalby told me one time that you were a good dancer, and I thought,
that is, I hoped-”
“Take a breath, Mr. Geron.” The Commander chuckled lightly. “You’re
turning blue. So, Dalby told you I was a good dancer, hmm? How did he know?”
The answer came to him just as Geron answered, “Seska.”
“I’m sorry, Commander. I know you’re very busy, but I thought maybe
if you could show me just a few steps-”
“Now?”
“No, sir. A little later on the holodeck. I found a program for a
dance studio, wood floors and everything.” Geron knew that his entire face was
flushed from excitement. *This has to work.*
Chakotay looked at the red-faced youth and smiled. “Okay, Ensign.
I’ll teach you a few steps, but if you dare breathe a word of this to anyone-”
“No, sir. I won’t, sir. Thank you, sir.”
“Fine. How is 2100 hours with you?”
“That’ll be fine. I’ll be there.”
“All right. Dismissed.” He shook his head in disbelief. *Well, you
said for me to get out more, Doctor, but I seriously doubt that this is what
either of us had in mind.*

At 2100 he met Geron outside holodeck 2. “I can’t thank you enough
for helping me, Commander,” the young man said as the doors slid open. “And I
know you told me not to tell anyone, but Lt. Jemison promised she wouldn’t
say anything.”
“Jemison? What the-?” The first officer stopped short, seeing a
teal-collared uniform limbering up at the barre.
“Commander.” Her smiling face raised up from the stretch. “I see you
got roped into this, too.” She turned to face them. Her dark brown hair hung
down, barely grazing her shoulders and framing her face attractively. Geron
noted with some satisfaction that the Indian quietly caught his breath
before replying.
“Yes, but I thought this was supposed to be a private lesson.” He
turned on the youth behind him.
“I-I knew you would need a partner, Commander, and since I knew that
the Lieutenant also dances, I thought maybe she wouldn’t mind helping.” He
straightened up slightly. “I’m sorry, sir. You’re doing me a favor; I should
have consulted you first.”
“Nevermind. What’s done is done. Lieutenant, I want to apologize
first off in case I injure you in any way; it’s been quite some time since I
last had the opportunity to dance. Now, exactly what do you want to know,
Geron.” Chakotay realized he had to take charge of the situation for
his own sake.
“Well, I know she likes the Andorian waltz and some old Earth dance
called the foxtrot, but I think her favorite is the Risan tango.”
*The Risan tango! Oh great! One of the most intimate dances in the
galaxy.* The older man groaned silently, as his mind began rehearsing the
provocative steps.
“I was thinking,” Geron continued. “That you could show me one of
each, and then, we could start the actual lesson.”
Hannah shot him a curious glance and shrugged. “Okay by me. How about
you, sir?”
“Fine, fine, let’s get this over with. I mean, the sooner we get
started-” *Oh, hell!* he thought.
Grinning at his embarrassment, Hannah called for waltz music. She
placed a hand lightly upon his shoulder, her grey eyes glowing in amusement.
“Shall we?”

The young Bajoran watched them through two dances, their bodies moving
and responding to each other as if they were one being; it was almost like
intruding upon an act of intimacy. In fact, Geron was willing to bet that if
he exited the holodeck they wouldn’t even notice. He rose and quietly called
for the doors. *I’ll let them enjoy the moment alone.*
Chakotay was aware of only two things: the woman he held in his arms
and the dances which allowed his body to speak to hers in a manner he thought
it never would in private. His arm wrapped around her slender waist; his
thighs pressed against her legs; to him, their very souls seemed almost joined
by the depth of their concentration.
When the music ended, they stood together, breathing heavily, each
staring into the other’s eyes; neither able to break free. Her arms were
already around his neck; one of his hands at the small of her back. His left
hand crept behind her head, tangling in the thick, mahogany-coloured hair.
Spellbound, he drew her closer, his lips meeting hers in a tender, then
increasingly passionate kiss.
With her willing response, all reason left him, and his mouth wandered
along her jawline and down her neck, tasting her skin with occasional flicks of
his tongue. Hannah moaned softly, and Chakotay felt his excitement increase
in reaction. If they didn’t stop this now, he wouldn’t be able to stop at all.
He was her commanding officer; he knew better than this. Pulling her arms from
around his neck, he stepped back out of reach. Her face registered the same
combination of desire and shock that he was experiencing; her eyes, darkened by
intense emotions, were as grey as the storm clouds he loved to watch back home.
*Great Coo-naayoo, how could I let this happen?* “I’m sorry,
Lieutenant,” he mumbled, a dark flush coming to his face as he strode quickly
out of the program.

“Aargrr!” The outer soundproof casing of the wall shuddered briefly
under the blow of Chakotay’s fist.
“Idiot! How could you? You, who had expressed such reservations about
crew fraterniztion. How could you be so careless?
“Paetah!” he roared, smashing his knuckles back into the wall, this
time leaving a small smear of blood.
*She could press charges, you know.* he told himself silently, but he
didn’t think she would. “After everything I’ve done to try and gain her
respect and trust.” He shook his head and sank wearily into a chair. “I’ve
blown it, all of it. Damn!” He slammed his injured hand down on his desk.
The pain felt good; he deserved it. He looked at the split, bleeding skin on
his knuckles; he would have to get that treated in the morning. Tonight, he
didn’t want to see or talk to anyone else.
Getting up, he crossed the room toward the bed. On the small bedside
ledge was the small container of sleeping pills that had kept him going for the
past few days. *Weak, undisciplined. Where is your spirit?* Even recent
visits with his guide had not helped, for the course of action she advocated
was one not open to him.
He took two of the pills and threw himself fully dressed onto the bed.
Closing his eyes, his mind drifted back to the holodeck. *Great Mother, she
had felt nice. If I hadn’t pushed her away. . .* He knew he would have made
love to her right there on the dance floor. *Tenderly, too; unless, of course,
she really is a biter.* He gave a small hopeless grin. The dream would come
again tonight, of that he was certain.

Geron didn’t say a word, watching as Lt. Jemison worked silently
through their shift. *She doesn’t seem to be angry,* he thought, as she
punched out calculations on one of the lab’s viewers. *But why doesn’t she
say something? Did nothing happen? Was I wrong to have left them?* No
immediate answers seemed to be forthcoming from his superior officer.
The silence grew more and more unbearable; he had to speak; he had to
know. “Ahem, uh, you and the Commander made really good dance partners last
night.”
Silence.
“I mean, you seemed to sense each other’s movements perfectly,” he
continued on bravely. “I just wish I could’ve stayed and seen all of your
Risan tango.”
“Why didn’t you?” Her eyes never left the screen.
“Well, I, uh, remembered something I had to do for Daleth, but since
you two appeared to be having fun, I thought I’d let you finish the dance
without me.” *That sounded a bit glib,* he cautioned himself silently.
Hannah turned and eyed him with a look somewhat akin to distrust. She
knew he wasn’t telling her the truth; in fact, she had begun to doubt his
entire story. However, exactly why he would concoct such a fabrication eluded
her. To be honest, though, she hadn’t given it much thought; she hadn’t given
most things much thought all morning. Last night had left her much too
confused for reasoned reflection.
After the Commander had left, she had followed him out of the holodeck
in a daze. She still didn’t recall the journey back to her quarters or getting
ready for bed. All she really remembered was waking up in her bed this
morning with the pressure of his mouth still present on her neck.
“Lieutenant!” Geron’s voice sung out. “Be careful!”
Too late. The beaker of bentalenic acid fell and splashed upon her
hand. Immediately, the skin began to burn. Grabbing the lab’s medikit, Geron
quickly opened it and plunged her hand into one of the burn solution packs.
The soothing gel counteracted the chemical reaction and stopped the pain.
“Ahhh,” she involuntarily gasped in relief, before looking up into a
pair of concerned brown eyes. “Thanks, Geron; its okay now. That was really
quick thinking on your part. I should have been paying more attention to what
I was doing.”
“You’re sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine once the Doctor had taken a look.” She rose to her
feet and carefully removed the splattered lab coat. “Could you and Hodges
clean up this mess for me? I should get to sickbay.”
The young ensign nodded pulling on the heavy decontamination gloves.
“Go ahead, Lieutenant; I’ll take care of things here.” It was the least he
could do. After all, he figured it was his meddling that had probabaly caused
her inattention in the first place.
Holding her still-bagged hand at the wrist, Hannah left the lab and
headed for sickbay. The seven deck ride was quick enough, depositing her
efficiently on deck 5 and right into the first officer’s arms.
They regarded each other silently for a moment, a slight flush coming
to both faces. Then, with a brief nod, Chakotay moved to enter the lift, but
the bag on her hand caught his eye. He frowned. “What happened to you,
Lieutenant?”
“What?” She had completely forgotten for the moment about her injury.
“Oh, I spilt some bentalenic acid, and-”
“Bentalenic? Come with me.” He grabbed her under the elbow and
hustled her down the corridor.
“Computer, activate emergency holographic program,” he requested as
they each got one foot in the door.
“Commander, please state-”
“The Lieutenant has spilt some bentalenic acid on herself. She needs
immediate attention.” Chakotay impatiently cut off the Doctor’s ever-present
question.
“Bentalenic? That’s very corrosive. How much did you spill,
Lieutenant?” The Doctor grabbed the tricorder off his desk.
Hannah hopped up on a biobed. “A small beaker full, most of it went on
the table. Geron plunged my hand in this bag before I was really aware of how
much got on me.”
The Doctor looked at his readings. “A very wise move on his part. Any
delay and you might have suffered nerve damage. Now, I’m going to have to
remove the bag. Once your skin is exposed you may feel some pain before I
begin the dermal treatments.”
Hannah gasped as the bag was taken away. She had seen acid burns
before, but seeing them on oneself was another matter. Where the bentalenic
droplets had fallen, the skin had bubbled and burst leaving burnt-rimmed sores
behind. The green treatment gel only added a disgusting likeness to oozing pus
to the wounds.
“That doesn’t look too bad,” the Doctor remarked casually, turning her
hand over in his.
Hannah stared at him in amazement. “Too bad?” she repeated. “I’d hate
to see what qualifies as serious in your book, Doctor.” She gave a sudden hiss
of pain, the knuckles of her uninjured hand turning white. Closing her eyes
briefly, she swallowed hard. “Damn!”
“Pain starting already?” The Doctor reached for the dermal
regeneration unit.
She nodded; her mouth drawn in a tight line. A hand slipped around her
free one and gave it a little squeeze. As she looked up, Chakotay gave her a
small smile of encouragement.
*Once the regeneration begins, I’ll leave,* he told himself, determined
to escape before she could follow. Watching her closely, he saw the corners of
her mouth start to relax; that was his cue. “Well, Lieutenant, now that you
seem to be out of danger; I’ll take my leave. Doctor.” He gave the hologram
a slight bow of acknowledgement and headed for the door. “Oh, Lieutenant.” He
paused as the door opened. “Try to be more careful next time. In case you
hadn’t noticed, we’re running a little short on science officers this voyage.”
Before she could retort, the doors closed and he was gone.

Hannah nervously tapped the PADD against her hand. Two days had passed
since she spilt the acid and no trace of the burns remained. She hadn’t seen
Chakotay in that time either, but now it was the end of the week, and time to
deliver her report to him. In the past, this weekly ritual had been so easy,
so professional. *Do I say something? Do I not say something? Just what do
I do?* The questions spun around her head, just as they had since the evening
he kissed her. *Or did I kiss him?*
She should be angry at him she had tried to tell herself. It was
his fault, not hers. It was his mouth that had lowered onto hers; his arms
that had held her fast. But he had also been the one who had stopped; the one
who refused to let them make a mistake they might later regret. He had shown
restraint and judgement, not her. Hannah closed her eyes and leaned against
the side of the car, wondering what it would be like to feel his lips and hands
move over her body.
The lift halted, and she exited. His door was five cabins away. She
found herself entertaining the childish notion of pressing the chime, dropping
the PADD and running. “Idiot,” she muttered under her breath. “Just give it
to him and leave, like you always do. You’re an officer, a professional,
remember?”

Chakotay paced the floor of his quarters. 0830 hours. She would be
there soon, just as she was every week, prompt and efficient.
“Paetah!” He cursed himself for the umpteenth time in as many days.
“How could you let it happen? You knew better!”
The chime sounded, interrupting his self-recrimination. He quickly
slid into the chair by his desk and picked up a PADD. Professional. Cool and
Professional.
“Come in. Ah, Lt. Jemison, on time as always. How’s the hand?”
“Fine, Commander. The Doctor did his usual superb job. Here’s the
weekly science report; you’ll notice that so far our refining experiments are
meeting without much success. We don’t know why just yet; theoretically, they
should work.”
Chakotay nodded, quickly glancing over the information handed to him.
“I’ll inform the Captain. Keep working on it, though; I’m sure you and your
team will solve whatever problems exist. Dismissed.” He gave her a brief
smile of encouragement before turning to his desk.
“Yes sir; we’ll do our best.” She stood staring at him, rooted by the
memory of the previous night.
Uncomfortably aware of her silent presence, he glanced back up. “Is
there something else I can do for you, Lt. Jemison?”
Her head jerked slightly. “Oh, ah, no, Commander. I guess not. Sorry
to bother you.” She proceeded toward the door. *Idiot. What did you expect?
He’s not only your superior; he’s Maquis. Remember that.*
Chakotay frowned, perhaps he should speak with her. *Oh hell, why did
this have to happen?* “Wait a minute, Lieutenant.” He rose from his chair and
stepped towards her. “Maybe you and I should have a little talk.” He motioned
for her to join him on the sofa.
She hesitated, and then, shrugging slightly, took a seat. “Very well,
Commander. What do you want to talk about?”
He sat down a few centimeters away. “You know perfectly well what I
am referring to, Hannah. Our little dance lesson on the holodeck the other
night, the one that I believe was arranged for our benefit.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “So you think so, too.”
Chakotay nodded. “I’ve thought about it from just about every
conceivable angle I can, and that’s the only way it makes any sense. Of course
the why still eludes me.”
“Excuse me?”
He flushed slightly under his dark skin. “No, that’s not quite what I
meant. You’re a very attractive and intelligent woman, Hannah; any man would
be lucky to have you as a partner. I mean, considering our past connections
with the Galileo, as well as my current position on board this ship, I wouldn’t
have thought anyone, much less Geron, would have tried to match us together.”
“No, I don’t suppose you would, and the last thing this ship need is
another rampant rumor.”
“My thoughts exactly. But I did want to apologize. I shouldn’t have
taken advantage of you like that. You are a fine officer, and we’ve managed
to build a good working relationship. I wouldn’t want what happened a few
nights ago to jeopardize that.” Chakotay tried to remember if it had hurt this
much when he resigned Starfleet.
“Yes sir. I understand. Well, if that’s all I’ll be returning to my
lab.” A flush was creeping into her face, but at the moment, she didn’t know
whether it was from embarrassment or anger. Right now, all she wanted was to
get away from this man who always seemed, however unintentionally, to bring
pain into her life. *I can’t cry,* she willed. *I won’t allow it.* Quickly,
she rose and walked to the door, exiting without waiting for his permission.

Somehow, she made it through her shift; she knew Geron had been
watching her closely ever since she had returned from delivering the report.
Now, alone in her quarters, she lay curled up on her bed, Chakotay’s earlier
words echoing in her head.
Neelix had begun serving dinner an hour ago, but she wasn’t hungry.
In a strange way, the self-induced hollowness comforted her, almost punishing
her for her lapse into folly. How could she have been so foolish? It was bad
enough that he was her commanding officer; equally bad was his involuntary role
in her brother’s death. But he was Maquis; she couldn’t risk her career on a
personal involvement with an enemy of the Federation. Working out here with
them was one thing; that was survival. An affair with one of their commanders
was quite another. *How could you even consider it? It would mean betraying
everything you’ve worked for, every principle you’ve been raised to uphold.
Dammit! Why of all the men on this ship did it have to be him? Why?*
“Arrgh!” A deep, throaty cry of anger escaped from her as she sent her
pillow flying across the room right into Chakotay’s face.
“Good arm,” he remarked, catching it as it fell. “Good lungs, too.
I would never have thought you had Klingon blood in you.”
Hannah sat back on her ankles, her mouth open in shock. “What- what
are you doing in here? I locked my door; I didn’t want to be disturbed.” He
was no longer her commanding officer; he was an intruder, and quite frankly,
the last person in the galaxy she wanted to see.
“What a curious effect I seem to have on some people,” he continued
calmly. “Always throwing things at me; Torres, Hakil, and now you. Very un-
Starfleet of you, Lieutenant.” He chided her gently.
“If you came here to infuriate me; I don’t need any help. I’m quite
upset enough, thank you.” She was beginning to compose herself, her voice
sliding easily into its cold, impersonal tone.
“So I see.” Chakotay tossed the pillow on the bed. “Actually, that’s
why I am here. When you didn’t show for dinner, I thought I’d come and see if
you were all right. I grew alarmed when I discovered the door locked but
received no answer to the chime.”
“You pressed the chime?”
“Yes, twice. I used the security override only when the computer said
you were in here. Hannah,” He sat down on the bed. “I think we may still
need to talk.”
“What do we have to talk about?” She scrambled to her feet; the close
proximity of his body had an unsettling effect. “I understood everything
perfectly earlier. Now, if you don’t mind, Commander.” She gestured to
the door.
“Hannah, please don’t start putting up another wall between us. Not
after we’ve worked so hard to develop a professional relationship.”
“Professional?” Her voice rose with each word she uttered. “You call
what happened in the holodeck, professional? You don’t seem to understand a
few things, Commander. I hate the circumstances which force us to work
together. I hate being on this ship with you. I hate you for being who you
are.” Instinctively, she lashed out, wanting to him hurt as much as she was
hurting, wanting his face to break its frozen mask.
Chakotay’s stoical countenance, however, never revealed the pain her
words inflicted; he just sat and stared at her impassively during the outburst.
“Are you through, Lieutenant?” he asked calmly; his own explosion would come
later, in private he hoped.
“To begin with, I apologize for what occurred the other night. I
didn’t mean for it to happen, and I should have been more in control. If you
wish to press charges, you are within your rights to do so. Secondly, I’m
sorry you feel the way you do about me. I’ve tried to make amends as best I
could, but I can’t change the past. And lastly,” He took a deep breath. Her
words were pounding loudly inside his head, and his own anger at the whole
situation was mounting much too quickly. He had to get away. “Lastly, I’m
just sorry. I accept full responsibility for everything, for the Galileo, the
holodeck, everything.” Rising, he strode rapidly toward the door, which opened
allowing Geron to plow into him.
“Oh, Commander. I-uh.” Seeing both of their expressions, he hesitated.
“Um, Lieutenant, is anything wrong? Can I do anything? Can I-” He stopped as
he felt his body lifted off the floor and pressed with a painful forcefulness
into the wall.
“Can you do anything?” Chakotay growled in his face. “Haven’t you
done enough already? Why did you do it? Why?” He tightened his hold on the
young man’s uniform and gave him a shake. “Answer me, Geron!”
“Commander.” Hannah grabbed his arm to intercede. “Commander, let
him go.”
“Not until he tells me why he saw fit to meddle in our personal lives.
He owes us both that.” It had been a long time since he had been this hurt and
this angry, not even Seska’s betrayal had come close.
“Commander, you’re right; we deserve an explanation, but not this way.”
Her hands locked onto his wrists and one shoulder dug into his ribs as she
tried to pry the two men apart. “Please, let him go.” She stared up into the
livid black pools. “Chakotay, please.”
Something in her voice broke through his anger. He abruptly released
the young ensign and stepped back, shocked at his own uncontrollable outburst.
Breathing heavily, he gazed from the boy’s scared face to Hannah’s concerned
one and back again. “I’m sorry, Geron. I shouldn’t have acted in such a way.
I – Excuse me.” Before either could respond, he left the room.
Hannah turned to her subordinate. “Now, would you mind telling me what
has been going on? He’s right, you know; you do owe us that much.”
The young man nodded in response, sinking slowly down into a weak-
kneed crouch.

Three hours later, Chakotay looked up from the PADD he held. He had
finally finished his letter of resignation to Captain Janeway. *A first
officer can’t go around shoving ensigns into walls,* he reflected bitterly.
*No matter how much they deserve it.* Besides, charges would probably be
brought against him, and he’d rather just resign now and be done with it.
Seventy-odd years in the brig, couldn’t be that bad, could it?
He glanced at the door as the chime sounded. *Damn!* The last thing
he wanted was to see anyone; maybe whoever it was would go away.
It sounded again. Shrugging his shoulders, he unwillingly acknowledged
the third chime. “Come in.”
“Commander, I thought you might like to know; I managed to extract a
full confession out of Geron. You should try the rack next time, much quicker
results.” Hannah leaned against the wall and folded her arms across her chest.
“I don’t find that very amusing, Lieutenant. What I did was completely
out of line, and I’m prepared to answer for it,” he replied, tossing her the
PADD.
She scanned it quickly. “But this is your resignation.”
He nodded. “A first officer can’t be as out of control as I’ve been
lately. The Captain needs someone she can count on. As of late, my
performance hasn’t measured up; besides once Tuvok gets through bringing
charges against me-”
“There won’t be any charges, Commander. Geron realizes now that his
intentions, however well-meant, were misguided.”
“But still-”
“Commander, drop it. The matter is settled.” She placed the PADD
on the desk in front of him. “Oh, and delete this.”
“I can’t do that, Hannah.”
“If you don’t, I will, and the backup copy, too.”
“All right.” Chakotay pressed a few buttons. “There, satisfied?”
“No, but it’ll do for now.” She strolled over and looked out one of
his windows.
He spun around in his chair and stared at her silent back. “Well?”
he prompted.
“Well what?” She didn’t turn around.
“Is there something else I can do for you?” *Just what could Geron
have told you?* he wondered silently.
“Hmm, that’s a good question. Actually, I’m just waiting for
confirmation.”
“Confirmation of what? Don’t play games, Jemison; I’m not in
the mood.”
Throwing caution to the wind, she turned around, a partially suppressed
smile on her lips. “Confirmation on how you feel about me, what else? I
believe you have some pretty strong feelings for me.”
*Damn her! What kind of game was she trying to play?* “I think you
had better leave, Lieutenant.” His voice became dangerously quiet.
“Why?” She crossed her arms defiantly, refusing to budge. “I think I
have a right to know, especially after what happened.”
After all that she had said earlier, now this; she was almost flirting
with him. Was she trying to torment him? He could feel his control slipping
away bit by bit, as his hands curled around the arms of the chair. “Get out!”
She stared at him in shock. *Hadn’t he? Didn’t he?* She was
confused. “Why? I don’t understand. I thought, I mean, Geron said-”
“Eactly what did our intrepid crewman tell you?” he demanded angrily.
“Well, for starters, that Ken and I owed our victory the other night
more to Lt. Paris putting his arm on my shoulder than to luck, and after what
happened on the holodeck, I didn’t think his assessment was too far off.”
Chakotay glared at her. “So you thought you would come be my quarters
and see for yourself if he was right. Is that it?” *Oh gods, it’s all going
to come out now; there’s no way I can stop it anymore.* Wearily, his head
sank sideways into his hand, covering his eyes. He couldn’t look at her, not
now. “Well, he was, okay. Now will you please leave.” His voice reflected
a mental and physical exhaustion worse than any he had ever felt before.
“No.”
He looked up; how much more humiliation did he have to endure to please
her? “That’s an order, Lieutenant.”
Hannah stood her ground. “Then, you can bring me up on charges because
you were right, we do need to talk.”
“Considering what you said earlier, I would’ve thought that that
particular necessity had already been taken care of. As I recall, you hate
having to work with me; you hate being on this ship with me; and you just hate
me, period.” He said it all very calmly, as if he expected nothing else. His
dark eyes, though, glowed with a pain-filled fury.
Hannah’s mouth dropped open; the full horror of her earlier diatribe
striking her sharply. No wonder he was so angry; her previous words had
skewered him, but he had never shown it while they were being spoken. Now, it
was her turn to collapse. She sank down on his sofa. “Oh, Chakotay, I’m so
sorry. That wasn’t what I meant at all. You’ve got to believe me; I was
upset, but at our whole situation, not you. I’m angry that we are so far from
home; that you are Maquis and I’m Starfleet; that everything about us is wrong;
and that in spite of it all or maybe because of it, I find myself attracted to
you. I-” She stopped abruptly, embarrassed by her own admission. “I’m sorry.
You’re right. I had better go.”
She rose and tried to make her way to the door, but he stepped quickly
in front of her, blocking her exit. “Don’t apologize, Hannah,” he whispered,
grabbing her arms and pulling her to him. “Don’t ever apologize for what you
just said. You don’t know what it means to me.”
She looked up at him, her soft grey eyes full of disappointment.
“Actually, I think I do.”
He gave her a tired smile and pressed her head against his chest above
his heart. *Great Coo-naayoo, thank you for this brief moment with this
woman,* he prayed silently. *Even though, I know there can be no others.*
The low drumbeat of his heart was soothing, and Hannah did not want to
move. It was warm and comfortable in his arms. *Too warm and comfortable,*
she reminded herself and gently pulled away from his embrace. “What are we
going to do?”
“Do?” Chakotay stared at her for a minute, and then walked over to the
windows. Gazing out, he found no answers forthcoming and sighed heavily. “Oh,
hell, Hannah, I don’t know. I really don’t. I’m not sure there ever can be a
`we’. Relationships within Starfleet are tough enough; between you and me, on
this ship, the odds of success are probably four times as small.”
She cleared her throat. “Whether there is a `we’ or not, in one sense
doesn’t matter. We still have to work together. I’ll still have to submit
weekly reports to you; we’ll still see each other at Sandrine’s; and on certain
occasions, we may even have to go on away missions together. How will we deal
with that?”
He turned, an undisguised sadness filling his dark eyes. “The same way
they taught us at the Academy, Lieutenant, as Starfleet officers.”
“Yes sir, as Starfleet officers. I understand.” She drew herself up
to attention.
He crossed over to her and brushed her pale cheek with the back of his
fingers. “I’m sorry, Hannah. I never meant for this to happen.”
“I know that, Chakotay. Neither did I.” Her reply was hardly more
than a whisper.
He drew a deep breath. *Dammit! If it hadn’t been for that stupid
treaty, none of us would be where we are right now,* he reflected silently.
“Then I think you had better go, Lieutenant. We’ll get through this somehow.”
“Yes sir. Good night.” She turned towards the door. “Oh, Commander.”
“Yes, Lieutenant?”
“If you ever need a dance partner. . .”
The dark eyes twinkled wearily. “I know who to ask now, don’t I?”
Hannah nodded him a half-smile as the door leading to the corridor
slid open.

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