The Paris Journals: Proposal, vol. VII

From!!!agate!!!!uunet!!world!!!crime Mon Sep 9 13:44:06 1996
From: (mary self)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: VOY: Proposal (P) 1/4
Date: 6 Sep 1996 11:42:27 GMT
Organization: Boston University
Lines: 398
Message-ID: <50p2n3$>
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]

DISCLAIMERS: The characters, except for Caitlin Matthews, belong to Paramount.
The song, Joan of Arc, is by Leonard Cohen and the tiny quote
which follows it is from Walt Whitman’s `Song of Myself’.
This story and the character of Caitlin Matthews are
my creations.


Part 1

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

My eyes opened slowly. 0550. A little over an hour before the alarm
went off. Quietly, I rolled over, propping myself up on one elbow. Cait was
still asleep, her auburn hair strewn over the pillow like thousands of
silken threads. The merest hint of a smile lay on her lips. As I watched her,
I mouthed the words. Will you marry me? Like so many times before, she
didn’t answer.
I brushed a strand of hair off her cheek. We had dealt each other
a lot of pain over the past few years, but I thought, I hoped, it was all
behind us. No more break-ups, and maybe that was why I was so nervous.
The last time I brought up the subject of matrimony we split up a month
or so later.
When we finally got back together, we tried to take things slow, but
that didn’t last very long. Pretty soon, we were almost living together,
spending the night in whoever’s quarters were the closest. I had clothes in
her room and vice versa. At our age, marriage just seemed to be the next step,
logically and emotionally, but try as I might I couldn’t broach the subject.
I talked it over with Harry. He told me to swallow hard and ask her.
Big help. I kept telling him I was simply waiting for the right moment, but
he knew better and so did I.
Cait stirred beside me and groaned, the soft moss eyes blinking open.
“What are you doing?”
“Watching you sleep. I do it from time to time.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“You weren’t supposed to. You’re supposed to be asleep.” My fingers
slid down her cheek and around the curve of her jaw. “You are so beautiful,
Cait, sometimes I wonder if this is all a dream.”
She scooted beneath me and brought my head down for a long,
loving kiss. “Now do you believe I’m real?”
A devilish smile crept across my face. “I’m not sure. I think I need
some more convincing. My dreams can be pretty realistic, you know.”
Her arms curled about my neck. I snuck a quick peek at the
chronometer. Yeah. We had the time.
A little later, Cait pulled on her turtleneck as I stepped out of the
bathroom, and I caught a glimpse of red as the shirt came down and she tucked
it into her jumpsuit. She wore the matching underwear she had replicated a
month ago. Everytime I saw it I wanted to rip it off her. Okay, okay. So I
wanted to do that with most of her underclothes, but it went double for that
ensemble, something about the colour maybe.
“Are you wearing that?”
She glanced up, startled from pulling a boot out from under the bed.
“The uniform?”
“No, not the uniform. The um-”
Grinning, she stood up and raised the shirt, flashing me a quick
glimpse of red colubrian satin. “Why? Is there some Fleet regulation about
wearing sexy lingerie under a uniform?”
I stepped over and pulled her into my arms. “Gods, I hope not.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“No problem. I just didn’t think you would wear that on-duty.”
“Well,” Her hands slid up my arms and down my chest, swirling tiny
patterns in the still moist hair. “Look at it as being diversionary.”
“Mmm-hmm. Whenever you get bored at conn, you can think about what I’m
wearing a few decks away, and *poof!* boredom’s gone.”
I had to laugh. “There’s just one problem with that idea.”
“Yeah. I might not be able to turn my thoughts back to my work.”
She frowned. “Hmmmm. That could be a problem, with you piloting the
ship and all. I guess I’ll just have to forego wearing nice lingerie. For the
safety of the crew, of course.”
“Of course. The crew’s safety always comes first.” I murmured,
pulling down her shirt collar to nibble her neck. “Our personal lives must
always come second. Starfleet rule.”
Her head rolled to the opposite side. “But I’m not Starfleet.”
“Good. Then you can wear whatever you like on duty.”
“Omigosh! On duty!” She pushed me away. “We’ll miss breakfast at
this rate, and you’re not even dressed. Now, where’s my other boot?”
I looked at the chronometer. “Holy-! You’re right.” I dashed for
the closet and kicked something with my little toe. “Goddamn! What the hell?”
“You found it!” She exclaimed and held the boot up triumphantly.
Groaning, I hobbled into the closet hoping that a day which had started
out with such promise wasn’t headed too swiftly downhill.
Actually, it was destined to be a slow day. The engines were down
while B’Elanna and her crew changed the dilithium crystals, which meant she was
not in the best of moods at breakfast. It also meant we were dead in the water
until they finished running diagnostics on the replacements.
About 1045 hours, Neelix scampered onto the bridge, his face ablaze
with excitement. “Captain, I noticed that we will be passing through the
Granthion system in two days.”
“Yes, that is correct.” Janeway replied.
“Well, if I may make a suggestion, there’s a small planet there, Joro,
inhabited by a very generous people. They grow the most beautiful orchids.
You should see them, Mr. Vulcan.” He turned toward Tuvok. “One of them has
the most exquisite . . .”
The Captain glanced at Chakotay, who rolled his eyes. “Your point,
Mr. Neelix?” she asked.
“What? Oh, yes. Well, they raise just about every fruit and vegetable
known in this quadrant, and as I happen to be acquainted with a friend of one
of the Interior Minister’s adjutants, I thought this would provide an excellent
opportunity to augment our supplies, as well as provide some much-needed shore
leave for the crew. I would be happy to make the arrangements.”
Janeway looked over the bridge. Chakotay nodded his agreement, and I
began looking forward to the prospect of my feet touching soil again.
“Very well, Mr. Neelix. Have your friend inform the minister’s
adjutant of our request.”
“Yes, Captain. Right away.” He scurried back to the lift. “You won’t
regret this.”
The Captain turned toward Chakotay with an eyebrow raised. “What was
it you were saying at breakfast, Commander? Something about shore leave?”
He only grinned in response.

“So what’s this place like?” I leaned against the wall munching on a
carrot while Neelix bustled about the kitchen cleaning up after the first
lunch shift.
“I haven’t seen it in quite a while, but the last time I was there I
stayed at my friend’s house on Lake Rishu, a beautiful lake with water as blue
as a Trabian sapphire. It’s located at the base of the Mooah mountains, which
send the intoxicating breath of rishus down on the wind. That’s how the lake
got its name. Rishus are a gorgeous flower, bright red with white centers,
about so big.” He made a circle with his hands about the size of a grapefruit.
“They grow on a vine in the higher altitudes, and their leaves make the most
succulent salad, especially if you combine them with some meelaas, a little
roasted leola root, some-.”
I sighed impatiently. “Um, Neelix, can we skip the cooking lesson.
I want to know more about the planet.”
“Of course.” He winked and jabbed me in the ribs with his elbow. “Are
you and the Lieutenant planning a little shore leave? Hmmm? Hee-hee-hee.”
“Well, yeah. I ah-” I paused and moved closer to him to whisper.
“Look this is just between you and me, okay? No one else. Well, Harry already
knows, but no one else. Understand?”
He bobbed his head with enthusiasm, his golden eyes glittering.
I crossed my fingers and hoped I wasn’t making a mistake by telling him.
“You see, I’m thinking of proposing to Cait, and I figured if I could
find some quiet romantic spot on Joro I might do it.”
His eyes widened as his mouth spread in a huge smile. He grasped my
hand and wrung it furiously. “Congratulations! I always did think you made a
fine couple. Kes and Valaxis will be thrilled to hear this.”
“Neelix! It’s just between you and me. No one else. Not Kes, not
Valaxis, no one. I haven’t asked Cait, yet.”
“Asked Cait what?” inquired a female voice behind me.
I spun around and my knees almost buckled. Damn! “Er -ah, if you
wanted to stay overnight on the surface or beam back up.”
“Oh?” Cait raised a doubtful eyebrow.
“Yes.” Neelix joined in. “He was asking me about accomodations, but
unfortunately every time I’ve been there I’ve stayed with my friend. So I’m
afraid I’ve been no help.”
She nodded, but I don’t think she bought the story. “Harry’s looking
for you, Tom. Something about splitting a crystal? He didn’t go into any
“Oh geez, I forgot. Thanks for your help, Neelix.” I winked at him.
“Not at all. Wish I could’ve been of more service. Good luck.”
“Thanks.” I beamed and dashed out.
I found Harry in Engineering. B’Elanna had replaced about most of the
dilithium crystals this morning and set aside some of the fragments. My idea
was to make a pendant with one of them as an engagement gift for Cait.
“Well, it’s about time.” Harry grabbed my arm as I came through
the door.
“Sorry. I was talking to Neelix about Joro. Seeing if he knew of some
quiet, romantic spot where I could-”
My friend held up his hand. “Save it. We’ve only got a couple of
minutes before we have to be back on the bridge. I’ve scanned the crystals;
they’re safe for wearing. No radiation or anything like that. So pick one.”
“Hey, slow down, will ya? It’s not that simple. It’s got to be just
right.” I scooped up two crystals and watched the work-station light refract
through them.
“You know, I was wrong about you, Paris. You’re not a romantic; you’re
downright sentimental.”
I glared at him. “Says who?”
“Says me. Anyone else would simply replicate his girlfriend a present,
but noooo. You want to make one out of an engineering crystal from the ship
you fell in love on.” He grinned. “Actually, I’ve been thinking of doing the
same thing for B’Elanna, not as an engagement present, but for her birthday.
Hey, that one’s not bad.”
“Nah, too big. She’s not a flashy dresser. I want something she can
wear off-duty at Sandrine’s or to an embassy reception.”
“Oh, right. We get invited to a lot of those out here.” He snickered.
“This one isn’t too bad.” I picked up another crystal and placed it
under the scope. “Yeah, this should do nicely. See. Two cuts, right there
and there, should leave it with a nice oblong shape.”
“Yep, I think you’re right. A little polishing, and you’re all set.
How are you going to mount it?”
“I’ve been think about that.” I eyed him hopefully while slipping the
stone in my pocket. “Chell has done some jewelrywork in the past and I was
thinking maybe you could-”
Harry’s eyes opened wide. “No. Oh, no. I’ve had to do some pretty
fast talking already to get these crystals from B’Elanna. I am not talking
to Chell. He’ll have gods only know what rumor spread about me throughout
the ship.”
“Which is precisely why I can’t talk to him. Either Cait will find out
the truth or she’ll think I’m having an affair, and I can’t have that.”
“As opposed to B’Elanna thinking it about me?”
“Harry, Harry, Harry.” I swung my arm around his shoulders and guided
him out of Engineering and toward a waiting lift. “Would I let that happen?
No, I figured the two of us can come up with some convincing story to tell him.
If we can’t we must be losing our touch.”
“Your touch, maybe. Why not have the computer do it on the holodeck?
You could replicate the chain and mounting.”
“That’s an idea. And I could use an image of Cait to test out the
chain’s length before replicating it. Harry,” I said, clapping him on the
shoulder. “You’re a genius.”
“Uh-huh. If I’m such a genius, how is it that neither of us thought
to give the lift a command?”
I shrugged good-naturedly and grinned. “Bridge.”

My eyes roamed over the helm. It was going to be a long, dull
afternoon shift. B’Elanna was having trouble alligning the crystals, so we
were still sans engines. I shifted my position and felt the crystal do
likewise. Cait. Where was she? Her and her underwear. Closing my eyes, I
pictured her standing before me, those green eyes regarding me with a playful
innocence. Without a word, my hands would glide up her bare arms, caressing
the skin with small snake-like lines. Then, taking my own sweet time, I’d slip
a strap from first one shoulder, then the other, my fingers sliding down over
her breasts to meet in the valley above the clasp. Yeah. Thata way.
Unfastening the catch and letting the bra fall to the- Whoa there, Thomas,
remember where you are. All right, so her little idea worked. I wasn’t bored
I snickered silently. I could still remember when she wouldn’t give me
the time of day, or to be blunt, when she hated my guts. I, on the other hand,
was oblivious to her existence for the longest time because I hardly ever saw
her except in passing in the corridors.
When she first came on board, she stayed pretty much to herself, not
socializing, only doing her duty. She had this experienced toughness that kept
everyone else, even other Maquis at bay, almost like that of an ex-con. I even
wondered if she had been in prison, and maybe that was what initially piqued
my curiosity. I mean, usually I could read people pretty well after all those
years of hustling pool and prison, but not her. She was a solid block of ice.
The only ruptures anyone had seen in her facade were full-blown
breaches of anger. Rumor had had it that Ashmore had made a few offensive
remarks to Henley one evening and Cait had flattened him with one punch.
Not many women could throw a punch like that, and yours truly was smart enough
to know he didn’t want to be on the receiving end.
At the time, she worked in stellar cartography with Jenny Delaney, and
they hated each other. Almost every other evening, Jenny would tell me how
Cait had annoyed her that day. It became a real broken record.

“Tom? Did you hear a word I said?”
“Sure, I did, Jenny. You were telling me how Matthews irritated you
today. Funny thing is, she came in just as you started.”
I nodded toward the figure occupying a solitary stool at the bar, the
auburn hair pulled back in its usual efficient ponytail. She tipped the stool
back on two of its legs while she waited for her order.
Jenny’s head whipped around. “Great. Just what I needed, and I’ll bet
she hadn’t finished those specs I told her to do. No one could have done them
this fast. Excuse me.”
She rose and began her slow, shifting walk to the bar. I watched,
vaguely interested in the undulation beneath the black fabric. “Wait a minute.
I’ll come with you. My -er glass seems to be empty.”
Jenny stopped beside Cait. “Crewman, did you finish those specs.”
Cait didn’t even look at her. “Yes.”
“Sir.” Delaney prompted.
“Sir. I am your superior. You should say `yessir’.”
Hard jade eyes stared at Jenny. “I only say sir to people I respect.”
“Don’t be insubordinate, Matthews, or I’ll report you to
Commander Chakotay.”
“Go right ahead. You will anyway. Maybe this time he’ll finally take
me out of cartography.”
And confine you to quarters for six months at the rate you’re going,
I finished silently in my head. Chakotay had been running interference for
her, kind of like he had for the other Maquis, but he couldn’t do it forever,
and she had already been through one of Tuvok’s protocol classes.
“Look, Delaney. I’ve finished those damn specs, and I’ve completed
my shift. Now leave me alone.”
Jenny drew herself up stiffly and turned to me. “Tom, you’re a
witness. She was rude and insubordinate.”
“`She was rude and insubordinate.'” Cait mocked. She slammed down her
glass and stood up, a tightly coiled spring ready to pounce, and I found
myself instinctively preparing to intercede. “Permission to speak freely,
“Not granted.” Jenny said.
“Tough.” Cait lowered her voice, but the threat still carried its
punch. “Get the hell off my case and stay out of my sight. It’s bad enough I
have to see you during my shift; I shouldn’t have to off-duty, as well.”
To my relief, she turned on her heels and stormed out of the bar.
“That bi*ch. She hasn’t heard the last of this.”
I winced. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a cat fight. Besides,
I could sympathize with Cait. There were times when I still felt like
an outsider.
“C’mon, Jenny. Let’s drop it. She’s had a tough time fitting in.
Give her a break.”
“And just when did you take up her defense?” Angry blue eyes snapped
at me.
“I’m not defending her. I’m simply making a suggestion.”
Delaney flipped her hair back in irritation. “Amounts to the same
thing where she is concerned. I’ve had no end of trouble with her since she
was assigned to cartography. Did you know she encrypted last week’s report
so that when I presented it to the Commander it came up: `Hey big boy, how
about we get together’?”
I stifled my laughter long enough to choke down a swallow of wine.
“No, I hadn’t heard about that.” I grinned. I could just picture Chakotay’s
less than amused expression.
“It’s not funny, Tom. Of course, I had no proof she did it, but I know
she did. What’s worse is that her work is always accurate and on-time. So I
can’t complain about her job perfromance, only her attitude. Oh, there’s the
Commander, excuse me.”
I almost choked a second time as I watched Jenny cross the room. Heyyy
big boy. Obviously, there was a lot more to this Matthews than she or rumor
let on, and I figured what the hell? I wasn’t having overwhelming success with
any of the other women on board, so why not? Something told me though that the
direct approach wouldn’t work, that I’d have to move slowly and get a nice
little foundation for friendship built first.
I knew she and B’Elanna had struck up a tentative friendship, mostly
over conversations on Klingon culture. Yeah, that figured; they were cut from
the same cloth. So, I asked Torres to introduce us, but no go. She flatly
refused, saying it would be a *very* bad idea. Strike one.
Then I turned to Harry, and he refused. Strike two. But I kept at
him, swearing that I only wanted to meet her, that I wouldn’t throw a single
pass. Finally, he relented, divulging that he, B’Elanna, and Cait would be
at Sandrine’s on a particular evening, and promised to introduce me if I
“happened” to show up.
I did, and true to his word, Harry introduced me to her. Cait stood up
and shook my hand firmly, but her eyes weren’t very welcoming. I got the
feeling she greeted me only because I was friends with Harry and B’Elanna.
The four of us talked quietly for a while with Cait remaining very
quiet and observing, hell, scrutinizing me the entire time. Then, Harry,
good buddy that he is, challenged B’Elanna to a game of pool, leaving Cait
and me alone.
I tossed a sideways glance at her and squirmed in the unforgiving
silence she created. “So, what’s your story?” I asked, offering her my
friendliest smile.
“Excuse me?”
“What’s your story? Why did you join the Maquis?”
“They were having a sign-up drive at my high-school and I thought the
life of an outlawed rebel sounded romantic.”
The smile faded from my lips. “Are you always this flippant or do
only I garner special treatment.”
“I treat everyone the same, except those for whom I have no respect.”
“Meaning me.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You didn’t have to.” I gazed into my drink, fighting to keep my
temper under control. “And just what, if you don’t mind my asking, have I done
to merit this distinction?”
She smirked and took a swallow of port. “Don’t let it bother you,
flyboy. I’m sure there are others on board far more willing than I to fall
into your bed.”
I needed a snappy comeback, but dammit, I couldn’t think of one.
“That’s `sir’ to you, Crewman.”
“All right, Sir Flyboy.”
“And that’s gross insubordination. I could bring you up on charges.”
A huge grin spread across her face. “That would be a first. For you,
I mean.”
I could almost feel the wisps of steam pouring from my ears. Okay.
Fine. Dandy. If she wanted to be that way, let her. I had to keep cool.
If I blew my stack, she’d win, and I couldn’t allow that. I plastered a smile
on my face.
“Don’t try so hard, Matthews. People might get the impression you
liked me. Or maybe you do?” I leaned back in my chair and took a sip of wine.
The green eyes lost their mocking twinkle for a moment, but then it
returned. “Lieutenant, let’s be honest. If I deny it, you’ll say I’m lying,
and if I confirm it, your ego will go straight through the ceiling and I’ll
never hear the end of it. I’ll admit I can see where some might find you
attractive, but I find your personality cancels that out, and to be quite
frank, I lost interest in cheap sex years ago. Besides, I don’t think you
could handle what you’re asking for.”
“Oh really?” I sat forward. Insults were one thing, but this was a
direct challenge that I didn’t intend to let pass. I did have some sort of
reputation to maintain. “You think so?”
Cait leaned closer. “I know so.”
“I don’t suppose you’d care to back up that assertion with proof?”
My gaze flicked down to her lips–nicely shaped and moist with the sweetness
of port probably lingering on them. If we had been alone, I wouldn’t have
bothered to ask. One hand behind her head, and I would have had my answer,
not to mention a broken rib or two, but here in the bar that wasn’t an option.
She chuckled with a quiet confidence. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“You might, too. Or maybe you’re afraid you’ll find out that
underneath this uniform I’m really a likeable guy.”
An icy smile flashed across her face. “Lieutenant, you have no idea
what kind of surprises you’d be in for with me.” The smile vanished as she
got to her feet. “Tell Kim and Torres I had to leave, will you?”
Before I could respond, she strode for the door and was gone.
I shuddered involuntarily in the wake of the smile. It’s coldness made me
wonder if she wasn’t right. Maybe I was way out of my depths. Either way,
it was strike three and I was out.

I fingered the crystal in my pocket and smiled. We had come quite
a long way over the past couple of years. Closing my eyes, I tried to picture
where she was, in a corridor, or maybe a lift, but I didn’t have much luck.
No Betazoid genes in me.
I clutched the crystal and brought it out of my pocket. Silver or
gold? Silver would blend with the clear crystal; gold would offset it. Gold.
Yeah, definitely gold. It stood for goodness and purity, right? Of course,
it also stood for greed, and if I was being greedy by wanting Cait for myself,
so be it. Because that was exactly what I wanted until we were doddering
old fogeys. Grinning inanely, I slipped the crystal back into my pocket,
catching a glimpse of Chakotay out of the corner of my eye.
“Something you find amusing, Mr. Paris?”
“No sir.” My cheeks grew warm. I wiped the smile from my face and
spun back to the helm, but not before I spotted Harry doubled over in silent

From!!!!!!!uunet!!world!!!crime Mon Sep 9 13:44:07 1996
From: (mary self)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: VOY: Proposal (P) 2/4
Date: 6 Sep 1996 11:44:16 GMT
Organization: Boston University
Lines: 365
Message-ID: <50p2qg$>
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]

DISCLAIMERS: See part 1.


Part 2

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

At 1406, the engines came back on-line.
“All right, Mr. Paris.” The Captain said. “Set course one-five-zero
mark four-eight. Warp seven.”
“Course laid in.”
The ship jerked slightly as the warp field began to form. Suddenly,
a bright flash of light lit up the viewscreen and the floor rocked violently,
throwing me from my chair. Panels exploded. Sparks and tubing rained down
from the ceiling.
“Report!” The Captain shouted, fighting her way back into her seat.
“The warp field collapsed in on itself! I’m receiving heavy damage and
casualty reports from all decks!” Harry yelled.
“Mr. Paris!” Janeway called.
I struggled into my seat. “All engines are off-line, and I’m reading
power fluctuations throughout the energy matrix grid.”
“Janeway to Engineering. Report.”
“Torres here. We’ve suffered heavy casualties down here, Captain.
The collapsing field caused a series of feedback explosions along the power
cell buffers. We’re looking at a possible ship-wide power failure.”
I stood up. “Captain, permission to go down to-”
Before I could finish, the ship shuddered again and I fell against the
railing, hitting my chin and splitting my lip. I pulled myself back up,
licking the blood away.
“We’ve got hull breaches on decks seven and eight, with a minor one
on deck twelve.” Harry reported. “Containment fields are in place.”
The Captain nodded toward me. “Mr. Paris, get down to Engineering.
See if you can give Lt. Torres a hand. Mr. Kim, remodulate the . . .”
I ran for the lift. It took me almost to deck eight before shutting
down, along with the rest of the ship’s power. I yanked open the control panel
and used the manual release to open the doors. The car had stopped between the
two decks. Beautiful. I managed to work my fingers between the doors to deck
seven and open them. Then, I pulled myself up onto the floor.
The thick smoke strangled me. Debris lay strewn across the floor.
Beams and tubing hung down like streamers from the ceiling. A nearby panel
crackled and hissed before exploding into a shower of sparks and white smoke.
I covered my nose with my sleeve and made my way cautiously down the corridor
toward the Jefferies’ tube I could take to Engineering. All around, the creaks
and groans of stressed metal reminded me of the hull breach loosely contained
somewhere nearby.
I passed two crewmembers pinned by wreckage. They were both dead.
A metal pipe had skewered one through the chest. The other’s face was so badly
burned I couldn’t tell who she was, her lungs in all likelihood as charred as
the wall she leaned upon. Two meters away, legs stuck out from beneath a
panel. I crossed over and threw the debris aside. A pale, bloodied hand.
A gold collar. Auburn hair. Sh*t! A heavy beam lay across her right leg,
blood seeping out from beneath it. I knelt beside her, putting my hand to her
neck to feel for a pulse. As I did so, her eyes opened.
“Yeah, honey. It’s me. I’m going to get you out of here.” I touched
my commbadge. “Paris to Transporter room.”
“Paris to Sickbay.”
“Comm system must be down.” She rasped.
“Okay. Sit tight. I’ll be right back.”
I rummaged around for something I could use for leverage. Retrieving
parts of another beam and some smaller bits of paneling, I jacked up one side
of the beam far enough to pull her out. She bit back a scream as I did.
Blood oozed from the gash on her thigh. I could tell the leg was
broken by the way the thigh lay twisted. I hesitated to move it, but I had to
stop the blood pouring out. She had already bled quite a bit. I undid my
uniform and pulled off my turtleneck.
“Okay, kiddo. I’m going to have to move your leg a little. I can’t
seal this cut, so I’m going to apply a tourniquet near your hip. It’s going
to hurt, but I’ll be as gentle as I can.”
She nodded, but could not suppress a small cry when I lifted her hip
just enough to slide the fabric under her. I made one pass, then a second,
stretching the arms as much as I could before knotting them off.
“There. That should help slow the bleeding. Now, what about the rest
of you? Ribs, back, all of that okay?”
“I think so. I-”
The groans and creaks about us increased. Her eyes opened wide.
“A hull breach. Tom, you’ve got to get out of here. Leave me and get
out of here!” She pushed my hands away.
“Not without you. You’re coming with me.”
“No, I’m too injured. I won’t have-”
“Forget it. Leaving you is not an option.”
“Cait, shut up! For once, just shut up! You are not allowed to play
the hero now. I won’t let you. You’re coming with me and that’s final!”
I pulled over a piece of paneling. “There’s nothing here I can rig a
splint out of so I’m going to shift you onto this. It’ll hurt, but I’ll be
able to move you. So hold on. I’ll be as gentle as I can.”
She nodded and bit her lip white as I eased her onto the metal.
Uncontrollable tears sprang forth, and her breath came in shallow, painful
gasps even after I was done.
“Still with me?”
She nodded again.
“Good. Now, I’m going to drag you over to the tubes and we’ll try to
get you to Sickbay that way. The lifts are down and staying here doesn’t seem
very wise. All right? Stick with me now.”
I looped some wiring through one of the holes in the panel and drug her
over to the hatch door. I still hadn’t figured out how I was going to get her
up the ladder, but I pushed that thought aside for the moment. Getting her
safely away from the hull breach was far more important right now.
“Okay, Cait. I want you to hold onto the sides of the panel. Hold on
tight. I’m going to tip you up and inside. I’ll make it as smooth as
possible. All right?”
She nodded weakly.
I touched her cheek and kissed her. “Stay with me.” I whispered.
“I’ll try.” She smiled bravely.
It took me longer than I expected with each of her muffled cries
slicing through me like a phaser. The noises around us intensified. Something
exploded down the corridor, and a rush of air whipped down the passageway in
its direction. With a heave, I pushed Cait in and scrambled in after her,
shutting the door.
“Hey kiddo, we made it.”
Her eyes opened slowly. “I’m still here.” She whispered.
“Good girl.”
The conduit stretched before us, dimly lit by emergency lighting.
I took a deep breath and kissed her again. “Let’s get going.”
We proceeded only a few meters at a time due to the cramped quarters.
I had tied the wire around my waist and now pulled her along sled-dog style.
As we moved on, I tried to get her to talk about something to keep her mind off
the pain which I could do nothing about.
“So tell me about your father.”
“I’ve told you about him. He was a border trader.”
“No, I mean really tell me about him. About his family. About your
family. You were born on a space station, and your mom died when you
were four.”
“Five.” She corrected me.
“All right, five. You stayed with your grandmother until she died and
then you lived with your dad on his ship. But tell me about him.”
“He was born on Metaline II.”
“What? I can’t hear you.”
“Right. Metaline II. Gotcha.” I grunted.
“The second of three brothers. You know, the problem middle child.
His father wanted him in the Academy like his older brother, but he refused.
Ran away and hired onto a small trading ship.”
“That must have made your grandfather happy.”
“Happy? It was years before they spoke again. When William
disappeared, he didn’t even let Dad attend the memorial service.”
I looked back and grinned. “Sounds like your dad and I had something
in common.”
Cait smiled. “I think you two would have gotten along very well.
Maybe too well. Raising children would seem like a picnic compared to taking
care of you two.”
“You’re not exactly a walk in the park yourself. The number of times
you’ve had me scared-”
“Like now?”
“No. I know you can survive a broken leg.” I lied. I didn’t want her
to know how worried I was. I didn’t have a tricorder and couldn’t tell exactly
how much blood she had already lost. All I knew was that I didn’t like her
colouring. Much too pale.
I resumed pulling the paneling. “Anyway, you were saying he ran away.”
“Yes. He got a job on a trading vessel. He was a fair pilot, but his
real forte lay in dealing with people. He could size them up in a minute,
almost as if he could read their minds. The Captain picked up on his talent
and encouraged it, taking him to negotiations, asking his opinion, even letting
him do some of the bargaining. A few of the crew didn’t take to kindly to him,
saw him as some young upstart and tried on a few occasions to beat some sense
into him, but Dad didn’t quit. And little by little they came to respect him.”
“A regular self-made man.” I wheezed and wiped my forehead.
“When he was about twenty, he got a chance to buy his own ship under
a hefty loan. He didn’t have one trade contract lined up, but he bought it
anyway. A couple of the crew went with him: J’nok, my godfather-”
“He was a Klingon, wasn’t he?”
“Yeah, and saved my dad’s hide on more than one occasion. He was huge.
One of the biggest damn Klingons I’ve ever seen. My father used to look like
one of the seven dwarfs beside him, and Dad was not a small man.” She laughed.
“J’nok was a fantastic pilot, but it was so funny watching him squeeze in
behind the helm. And he could be such a big teddy bear. Like all Klingons,
he felt the honour of being chosen as a godparent deeply, but it went beyond
that. I never doubted that if something happened to my Dad that he would take
care of me. And after my mom died and I went to live with Grandma Dorie,
I think I missed him in some ways more than my father because my Dad was always
the disciplinarian.”
I nodded. I knew what she meant. I felt the same way about my uncle,
but then, he was about as far a cry from my father as you could get.
“He would tell me all these wonderful tales about Kahless and about
the importance of honour and family. I always thought his stories were so much
better than the ones my mother read because he put so much feeling into them.
He made them come alive. My grandmother used to do the same thing, but in a
much quieter way. AHHH!”
I turned around too quickly and banged my head on the side of the
conduit. “What? What happened?” I crawled back to her.
“Just a sharp pain. It’s better now. Really.”
I could tell by her eyes she was lying. I grasped her hand. “Cait,
don’t hide your condition from me. I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s
happening. If you’re in pain, tell me. If it gets worse, tell me. I could
make things worse if you don’t. Now promise.”
She brought my hand to her cheek. “I promise. You’re so determined
to take care of me.”
“Damn right. Now tell me more.” I started easing her along a little
more slowly to jar her less.
“Right. Dad got his ship. J’nok was part of his crew. There’s not
much more to tell, really. He worked off the loan by trading along the border.
People would pay just about any amount during the war, and after the war, his
contacts were so well-established he saw no reason to leave.”
She fell silent for a few moments.
“Keep going. I’m listening. Your dad had decided to stay with his
current trade routes.”
“What? Oh. Yeah.” She sounded fuzzy. “Trade routes. Trade routes.
Nothing left to tell. He met my mom, they had me, she died, and you know
the rest.”
“C’mon.” I wheedled. “There’s more to it than that. How’d they meet?
You never told me that.”
She sighed heavily.
“Hey! You staying with me?” I called over my shoulder.
“Trying to.” She said. “He met my mom on a space station. She was
traveling back to Earth to see her family and her ship had stopped there for
a few hours. He was waiting for another ship to dock so he could transfer
goods from his ship, and he saw her disembark. She was a dancer, you know?”
“No, I didn’t know. You’ve never talked too much about her.”
“Professional. She had just joined the Parisian Ballet Theatre as an
extra. She wasn’t good enough to be a star, or so she told my father. Anyway,
she was a small, slim, little thing and here he was almost 183 cm., and he fell
right for her. Talked to her the entire time she was on the station. After
she left they kept in touch by subspace for almost a year before she quit the
theatre and came out to be with him. Made her parents furious. Her father
cut her off and her mother refused to speak to her. Dad said when I was born
she tried to contact them, but as soon as they saw her face on the screen they
closed the link.” She paused. “I guess I should be thankful. They could’ve
petitioned for custody when she died and taken me away from him. Probably
would’ve stuck me in some school where I’d be forced to be a `little lady’.
At least, Grandma Dorie let me run a little wild. She was descended from
hearty Highland stock, firmly believed in fresh air.”
I chuckled. It was easier to picture Cait running over moors with her
hair flying in the wind, than sitting in some classroom. “What did you say
your mom’s name was again?”
“Duvernet. Madeleine Duvernet. Her father I think had diplomatic
ties or something like that.”
“Not Felicien Duvenet?”
“I think so. Dad only mentioned them once or twice when I asked.”
I let out a low whistle. “If it was Felicien, no wonder he blew a
gasket. He was, probably still is, a bigwig in diplomatic circles. My father
used to talk about him all the time. I think I might have even met him at
some function once, but I’m not sure. You know me. I always hated those
things.” I snickered. “The only good thing about them is the free bar. I’ll
bet your grandfather already had his daughter paired off with some up and
coming attache, whether she knew it or not. Ricki’s family was the same way,
but my Fleet roots gave me enough respectability to slide by with them.”
I looked back and watched a pained smile creep across her face.
“Your dad might like me after all then, even if I’m not acknowledged.”
“Who the hell cares what he thinks? You’re a heck of a lot better for
me than Ricki ever was. Anyway, whatever your grandfather’s intentions, the
interjection of your dad sure knocked them for a loop. I like him better
and better.”
“I think it was more my mother’s doing than my father’s. She was the
one who suggested they elope. He always told me he hadn’t been sure it was a
good idea. He thought she really didn’t understand the demanding life she
was trading hers in for, but she was determined.”
I stopped for a minute and leaned back to stroke her cheek. “I guess
I know now where you got your stubborness from, huh?”
She grinned listlessly. “No, I get it from both of them. Mom just
knew how to charm him, that’s all. I think he felt guilty somehow for what she
had given up, but maybe not. I don’t really remember all that much more about
her, just that she was pretty and read me stories. Oh yeah, and roses. She
always smelt of roses. She used to pick me up and it was like stepping into
the middle of a garden.” Her voice trailed off, her eyes clouding with tears.
“Shhh. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. We’ll talk about
something else.”
“No, it’s okay. I’m just tired.” Her eyes closed.
“Hey, hey. Don’t go to sleep on me. I’m going to need your help once
we reach the ladder.”
“Tom, I don’t know if I can make it up.”
I patted her hand. “Yes, you can. We need to get to Sickbay, and if
we stay here, who knows when they’ll find us.” I tapped my commbadge again.
“Paris to Sickbay.”
“Still out, I guess.” She said. “How bad was it when you left?”
“Not good. Damage and casualties reported on all decks. B’Elanna said
Engineering was in bad shape. That’s where I was headed when the lift broke
“It may be a while, then?”
“I think so.”
I brushed some hair from her forehead. Clammy. I didn’t like it.
Cold, clammy skin, fatigue, trouble concentrating. All symptoms of heavy blood
loss and shock. I checked her pulse. Rapid and faint. I tried to smile.
“C’mon kiddo. You can do it. So you lived with your grandmother for
a while? On Metaline II?”
“Yes. Until she died, and then I lived on Dad’s ship.”
“What about your dad’s father?” I grunted, tugging on the panel.
“He had died by then. About two years before I was born.”
“What about your other uncle? Or was it an aunt?”
“Malcolm? He went to the Academy for a semester, but he quit. After
William disappeared, he quit the Academy and dropped out of site. Said he
didn’t want anything to do with the family. Dad said he always had a few
screws loose anyway.”
“Every family has one of those. In mine, it was my dad’s sister,
Aunt Charlotte. Every winter, she’d walk five blocks to the park near my
grandparents’ to collect chestnuts for roasting, and if any of her nieces or
nephews were visiting, she’d take them along. She said nothing warmed the
heart on a cold day like the smell of chestnuts roasting before an open fire.”
“I don’t get it. What’s so odd about that?”
I laughed. “My grandparents lived in a hi-rise. There was no
fireplace. She used to spread them out in front of a wall. One would always
get kicked out into the middle of the room where someone would step on it and
fall. My dad did that once and swore he would never visit again during winter.
And guess what? We never did. She also used to name the pigeons that visited
the windowsill. Carried on lengthy conversations with them. I think she
embarassed my father a great deal. Figures, right?”
“Given your father, yes.”
The conversation lapsed. I continued pulling the sled along as best I
could, but the longer she remained quiet, the more I worried.
“You know what I was thinking about on the bridge?” I asked.
“My underwear?” She murmured.
“Well, that, too. But I was also thinking about how far we’ve come.
I mean there was a time you hated me and made me so mad I even took a swing
at you. I’d never swung at a woman in my life. Do you remember that?”
“Mmm-hmm. As I recall I stopped you, too.”
“Yep, quite effectively, right in front of the Captain. But it wasn’t
like you didn’t deserve it. You really hit below the belt with that holocrutch
A hand squeezed my leg. “I know. I regretted it later. It was
unnecessarily cruel.”
“You can say that again.” I replied, giving the hand a pat. “For the
life of me, I couldn’t figure you out. I mean, at first you were distant to
everyone, not just to me, and then you began to warm up to everyone except me.”
“And Delaney.” She added. “I’ve never warmed up to her.”
I snickered. “Tell the truth, did you encrypt her report one time to
read `Hey big boy, how about we get together’?”
“Oh gods, I had forgotten all about that. I just wish I had been a
fly on the wall to see his expression and hers.” She giggled. “But boy, I got
in trouble. Chakotay guessed I had done it and confronted me. That man lays
*the* most effective guilt trips.”
“Maybe I should get him to teach me how so I can keep you in line.”
“Me? What do I do?”
I paused to catch my breath. “Oh, you get pregnant with alien
lifeforms; you fall off supports in Engineering; you catch viruses that almost
kill you. Let’s see. What else?”
“And you, of course, never get in any trouble. Framed for murder,
mutated into a futuristic lifeform, captured gods know how many times.
The list goes on.” She looked up at me and smiled. “And I love you, either
because of or in spite of it all.”
I beamed down on her. “Same here, kiddo.” I leaned over to kiss her.
As I did, the crystal bit into my thigh. “OW!”
“This stabbed me.” I withdrew the rock.
“Why the heck are you carrying dilithium?”
“Well, it was supposed to be a surprise. I was going to have it made
into a necklace for you. I figured, well, I figured I’d give it to you as an
engagement present. When I -er asked you to marry me.”
“Marry you?”
“Yeah. You know, you, me, and eventually baby makes three.”
“I know what marriage is. I’m just not sure what to say.”
Uh-oh, Thomas. “You don’t have to come up with an answer right away.”
I continued. “I mean, these are hardly the conditions under which I intended
to propose.”
She grinned. “Is that what you were talking to Neelix about when I
scared you in the kitchen?”
“Yeah. I was asking him about secluded spots. Instead, I got a botany
and cooking lesson. Here. Why don’t you keep this in your pocket until we
get out of our current predicament. I might damage it.” I placed the crystal
in her hand. “Don’t worry. I’m not taking it as an acceptance. Like I said,
you’ve got time.”
Cait stared at the crystal, turning it over and over in her hand.
I resumed pulling the sled.

From!!!agate!!!!!uunet!!world!!!crime Mon Sep 9 13:44:07 1996
From: (mary self)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: VOY: Proposal (P) 3/4
Date: 6 Sep 1996 11:44:57 GMT
Organization: Boston University
Lines: 208
Message-ID: <50p2rp$>
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]

DISCLAIMERS: See part 1.


Part 3

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

“What, Cait?”
“If we got married, what would our lives be like? I mean, do you
think they would be all that much different?”
“I don’t know. I simply think they would be. Maybe Harry’s right.
Maybe I am sentimental. Maybe I just believe in the age-old institution of
marriage. I don’t know. It just seems the thing to do.”
“That doesn’t mean it’ll be better.”
I sighed. “No, I guess it doesn’t. Call me an optimist, then.”
She fell silent while I heaved and swore under my breath.
“Haven’t gone anywhere.”
“How is asking me different from asking Ricki? You asked her, but you
also said it was a mistake.”
“I asked Ricki under very different circumstances, and I was a very
different person back then, too. I asked her because it was expected of me,
by her, by her family, by mine, even by me. I was trying to proove to them
and to myself that I was ready to be Mr. Faithful. With you, I’m doing it
because I want to, not because I have to.” I sat back against the wall of the
tube and rubbed my knees. “Cait, we could stay just like we are, and I would
be happy. No permanent attachements. We could even go our separate ways if
we got back home. But I don’t want us to part if we get back, and if we don’t
get back, I still want us to start a family here. I want `us’ to be permanent
no matter where we are.
“Maybe that scares you. I’ll be honest, it puts quite a few
butterflies in my stomach, but deep down, I know it’s what I want more than
anything.” I leaned over and kissed her. “I love you, Cait. You have brought
more meaning into my life than I thought anyone could. No one makes me
angrier, or sadder, or happier. No one ever will.”
She bit her lip, and a tear trailed off into her hair.
“That’s the difference. Ricki only scratched the surface. You got
inside. I will never be complete without you, Cait. Never.” A lump rose in
my throat, but I swallowed it back down and continued the journey.
“I suppose we’d have to have Neelix cater.” She finally said.
I snickered. “I don’t think we could get around that, but if you have
any ideas, I’m all ears.”
“Where would we have it?”
I sucked in my breath. Was she actually contemplating acceptance? Or
was she only trying to pacify my concern over her condition? Maybe even trying
to bolster her own spirits?
“How about Sandrine’s, at least as far as the reception goes. We could
always have the ceremony on the holoprogram of `our planet’, the one we came
together on.”
“Liar. We did not. You came first.”
“Very funny, smart ass. You know what I mean.”
“By the lake, under the trees?”
She sighed. “It would be pretty. I just don’t know if I could keep a
straight face when the Captain said `do you take this man’.”
“You have a very dirty mind, Matthews.” I sniggered.
“And here I thought you loved me for my mind.”
“Nope. That’s only a rumor.”
The door leading to the vertical conduit sat about ten meters away.
“We’re almost there, Cait.” I called over my shoulder. “We’ve only
got to open the door and pull you through.”
She didn’t answer.
“Cait, you still with me?”
It was a weak yes, and I crawled faster in response, my bruised knees
slamming against the metal grid beneath me. The door opened without any
trouble. I scrambled out and stood up quickly, every joint and muscle in my
back shrieking in protest. I reached back in and looped my arms under Cait’s
shoulders and gently eased her out. A large pool of blood smeared across the
panel. Sh*t! The tourniquet hadn’t worked very well. I stretched her out
and reviewed our options.
From where I stood, the conduit looked clear. No debris blocked the
route up, at least not for two decks which was about as far as I could see in
the dim light. If I could tie Cait to me some how, I could get her up that
way, but I had nothing with which to secure her, and I didn’t think she had the
strength to climb it herself.
“Hmm?” I turned around. Her face glistened with a ghostly pallour.
My stomach knotted. All of a sudden, I was frightened, deeply frightened.
I knelt beside her. “What is it?”
“I can’t do it. Not even with your help. I just can’t.”
“Then I’ll go. I’ll get a medikit and come right back.” I tried to
stand, but she grabbed my arm.
“No! Don’t leave me.”
“Cait, I have to. I’ll go as fast as I can. I’ll come right back.”
“No. No. Please. Stay with me. I’ve lost so many. I don’t want
to lose you.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. Her voice faded to a whisper.
“Please. Don’t leave me alone. I’m scared. I don’t want to die anymore.
I did when I joined up, but I don’t want to now. I want to stay with you.
Please don’t leave me.”
I stared at her. I didn’t know what to do. I might be able to get
to Sickbay and back in time to save her life, but then again, I might not.
I’d be leaving her to die in this darkness alone. Alone and scared. A little
child, who’d lost all the people in the world she’d ever loved and found
herself in a cold corner of the universe that didn’t care if she lived or died.
A frightened little girl who’d stayed alive by staying alone. What others,
including myself, had mistaken for courage had been an indifference to living.
And then, somehow along the way I had made that difference mean something.
If I ignored her plea and left, would she survive? Could I live with myself
if I left and she died?
I sat down beside her and gathered her into my arms, kissing her
forehead. “It’s okay, Cait. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I love you, Tom.”
“I know.” I blinked hard. I couldn’t cry, not yet.
“That’s my name.” I smiled.
“Do you remember when I had Rowan?”
“Remember? How can I forget? It isn’t everyday a man nurses
his son.”
She flashed a weary smile. “Remember how after he left you asked me
who I dreamed of when he was implanted?”
“Mmm-hmm. You said you would tell me when we were old and grey, if by
some miracle we were still on speaking terms.”
She looked up at me. “It was you. I dreamed about you. I just wanted
you to know.”
“So now I know.” I brought her hand up and pressed the cold fingertips
to my lips. “I love you, Cait. No matter what happens I’ll always love you.”
Another tired smile flitted across her lips. “And I never hated you,
either. You frightened me because I knew I could fall for you. I had to push
you away, and then you pushed back, and it escalated. I didn’t mean it to.”
My hand caressed her moist cheek. “It’s all right. I think we both
felt a little threatened by the other, even if we didn’t understand why at
the time.”
She trembled and I hugged her closer. She was slipping away. I could
almost feel it, every nanosecond a little bit more.
“We’re quite a pair, aren’t we?” I whispered. “Always in trouble.
Can you imagine what our kids will be like?”
“Wonderful” came the slurred reply.
I shut my eyes, but a tear escaped down my cheek. “Yeah, they will be.
The girls will be as beautiful and wise as their mother, and the boys will have
her strength and bravery. It would be nice to have one of each. Don’t you
think so? But two of the same would be just fine, too.”
I reached down and patted her stomach. “Makes me nervous to think
about my child growing in here. You wouldn’t think so, would you? Not after
Rowan. But it does. Think about it. This one will be ours. Ours to raise.
Ours to spoil. Ours to mess up. Yet, something deep inside tells me we’ll
do all right.” I laughed nervously. “Funny, huh?”
“Tom, hold me. I’m cold.”
“I am holding you, Cait.”
“Tighter. I can’t feel you.” She shivered violently. “It’s s-s-so
“I’m right here. Listen to my voice. Can you hear me?”
“That means I’m still here. Still holding you. I promised I wouldn’t
leave you.”
“T-talk to me. Sing to me. Anything.”
“All right. Let me think. How about this?

Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark
no moon to keep her armor bright
no man to get her through this dark and smoky night.

She said “I’m tired of the war
I want the kind of work I had before
a wedding dress or something white
to wear upon my swollen appetite.”

“Well I’m glad to hear you talk this way
I’ve watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win
such a cold, such a lonesome heroine.”

“And who are you?” she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke
“Why, I’m fire,” he replied
“And I love your solitude, I love your pride.”

“Well then fire, make your body cold
I’m going to give you mine to hold”
and saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride-

My voice broke under the weight of the words and I stopped singing.
I tried to remember where I had heard the song. Aunt Charlotte. She had
played this one and others over and over. They came from the twentieth
century mostly speaking of love, unrequited, misunderstood, and yet compelling
in its force. I cleared my throat.
“How’s that?” I asked, but received no reply.
Cait’s breath was so shallow she hardly appeared to be breathing.
It wouldn’t be long before the remaining part of her spirit slipped through my
fingers, scattering into the darkness surrounding us. I tilted her chin up
and kissed her.
“`All goes onward and outward,'” I whispered. “`Nothing collapses,
and to die is different from what any one supposed.'”
I undid the clasp that held her hair and let the auburn waves tumble
softly about her face. She always looked more beautiful when it hung free.
Searching my mind, I tried to remember how her mother died. I didn’t think
Cait ever told me. Was her father with her mother? Had he held her as I now
held his daughter? Had he told her he loved her? The tears rolled silently
down my cheeks.
Suddenly, the lights came on around us. Now, I could see how blood-
soaked the leg of her uniform was. I could see the blue tint to her lips.
I could also see that she still held the crystal.
I tapped my commbadge. “Paris to Transporter Room. I need an
emergency transport to Sickbay for Lt. Matthews now!”

From!!!!!!!uunet!!world!!!crime Mon Sep 9 13:44:07 1996
From: (mary self)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: VOY: Proposal (P) 4/4
Date: 6 Sep 1996 11:45:32 GMT
Organization: Boston University
Lines: 116
Message-ID: <50p2ss$>
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]

DISCLAIMERS: See part 1.


Part 4

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

Hours later, I walked into Sickbay. I had thrown myself into the work
of repairing the ship, but the time for escapism had passed. I had to face
reality. Kes glanced up as I approached, offering me a comforting smile.
“Is she awake, yet?” I whispered.
“Not yet, but she should be at any minute. Why don’t you wait?”
I nodded and leaned over the biobed to smooth back Cait’s hair. She
was still very pale, but her lips were pink now, not blue.
“The Doctor believes there should be no permanent damage from the
blood loss, even to her leg. She may have trouble remembering things over the
next few days, but he believes those effects will be only temporary, correcting
itself as the healthy cells take over the workload.”
“Thanks, Kes. That’s good to know. I’ll keep an eye on her.”
My friend laughed softly. “I’m sure you will. Oh, the crystal is in
the Doctor’s office. I’ll get it for you.” She stepped away and returned
quickly. “Here you go.”
Without another word, she moved into the other office and I watched
her have a few words with the Doctor. Maybe he wanted me to leave, but she
must have persuaded him otherwise because no one told me to get out. I gazed
at Cait. Would she recall all that we had said? I slipped the crystal into
my pocket. Perhaps she would forget its existence and I could propose to her
again, properly.
She stirred.
“Cait?” I said, clutching her hand. “Can you hear me?”
The eyelids fluttered open. “Tom?”
“Yep, it’s me. How do you feel?”
“Like hell. How else?”
I grinned. “Okay. Stupid question. The Doc says you’ll be fine.
No permanent damage. But you gave me one hell of a scare there for a while.”
“Sorry. We’re quite a pair, aren’t we?”
I stroked her cheek with my finger. “Yeah, we are.”
She sighed and blinked slowly.
“Look, you’re tired. You need some rest. I’ll come back later.”
“No, we need to talk.”
“We can talk later. Right now, you need to rest, or do you want the
Doc to ban me from your bedside?”
“No, but-”
“No buts. Close your eyes.”
“But Tom- mmmph.”
My lips closed quickly over hers. I ran my tongue along her upper lip,
coaxing her mouth open. As her tongue extended to mine, I pulled away.
“What’s that? Speechless? Why, Lt. Matthews, are you actually going
to let me have the last word?”
She gazed up defiantly. “Not on your life, Paris.”
“Ah well, it was worth a try.” I planted a quick kiss on her forehead
and released her hand. “I’ve got to go grab some dinner, but I’ll stop by
before I turn in.”
“Yeah, sure. It’s not like I’m going anywhere just yet.” She yawned.
I spun around from the door. “Yes?”
“The more I think about it the forest and Sandrine’s sounds perfect.”
My mouth fell open. She was serious. Not one hint of mischief
lurked in those emerald eyes. My heart somersaulted into my throat, a shaky
grin lighting up my face. “We’ll talk later, but you’re right. It does.”


I lay in bed. I was awake, but couldn’t quite bring myself to open
my eyes and become fully awake. Cait giggled from somewhere next to me.
“What?” I asked, peeking out of one eye.
“Nothing. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh. I was watching you
sleep when I suddenly felt this uncontrollable urge to giggle. I couldn’t hold
it back.” She kissed me playfully on the cheek.
I opened both eyes. Her entire face radiated an unabashed happiness.
“So you couldn’t resist laughing at me?”
“I wasn’t laughing at you.”
“Oh, then what were you doing?” I rose up and leaned over her, forcing
her onto her back. “Thought I looked funny, huh?”
“No, I-”
“What was it? Maybe a whistle in my nose?”
She snickered. “No.”
“Or maybe a little drool hanging right there?” I gently poked the
right corner of her mouth. “Is that what was so funny?” I had her right
where I wanted her, on her back and on the defensive.
“No, nothing like that. It was-”
“It was what? You’d better tell me.” I lowered my head to kiss her.
“Because I’m a very impatient man. I might not wait for an explanation.”
“Mmmmm.” Her arms wound around my neck. Good. She was falling
for it. “I told you I don’t know why. I just felt like laughing for some
I pulled back a little. “So. You felt like laughing, is that it?”
I tickled her right side, then her left. “Do you feel like laughing now?
Hmmm? How about now? And now? What about now? Hmm?”
“Stop! Stop!” She writhed beneath me.
“Why, Lieutenant, I think you’re laughing at me.”
“You didn’t say uncle.”
She tried to draw her legs up between us, but I blocked them by
stradling her stomach. “Say uncle.” I prodded.
“Tuvok to Lt. Paris.”
“Oh thank gods!” Cait gasped. “Which one?”
“Lt. Caitlin Paris, please report to my office.” I could almost hear
impatience in his voice. I guessed Vulcan didn’t believe in long honeymoons.
“Yessir, I’ll be there shortly.” She gazed up at me, her cheeks
flushed from laughter. I rolled onto my back and she sat up. “I’ll be back as
soon as I can.”
I grabbed her arm and pulled her back down, trapping her in a tight
embrace. “Promise?”
She tapped me lightly on the nose and squirmed free. “You know I do,”
she replied with a big smile.


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