Monsters in the Replicator

cmwende@compuserve.com
Delta Story

Synopsis: Several couples: some “canon”, some created. NC-17. Several of
Voyager’s stalwarts play along in a new twist to an age-old game, and a
good time is had by all. (Harry ends up with *two* women, and even stays
alive!)

MONSTERS IN THE REPLICATOR

“Neelix, there’s a monster in the replicator,” Naomi Wildman
chirped in her child’s sing-song voice. Her giggles accompanied
Neelix’s stealth-like tip toed walk over to the unit. The game
was now part of their daily ritual. Her small form shadowed his
footsteps, as her fawn colored hair streamed down over her slight
shoulders.

Her furry faced friend slowly leaned down, peering into the wall
receptacle. He offered a now familiar chant as he performed the
nightly task. “Monsters, beware; Neelix is here!” He jumped back
slightly, uttering a small gasp, which quickly turned into a wide
grin. Turning, he showed her the empty space between its walls.

“No monsters in here!” he happily reported.

She returned his cheery smile, and ran into his now-outstretched
arms. “Thank you, Neelix! Only you know how to scare them away.”
He hoisted her up, holding her in a loving grasp. She wound her
little arms around his thick, hairy neck, and then laid her cheek
against his whiskered one, being careful not to snag him with her
forehead spikes.

He sighed with a contentment that he had long since thought was
never to be his, as he carried his precious load into her
sleeping area. He started walking across the short distance; his
eyes fell into the smoky gaze of Sam Wildman, who was leaning
against a nearby doorframe. With a graceful movement, she
followed Neelix and Naomi. The two adults stood on either side of
Naomi’s bed, and together, they tucked the little girl underneath
her covering. Again their eyes met, and silent smiles crept
across their faces.

Their hands met in the center of the blanket as they finished
their duty. A blush crept across Sam’s face; she looked at her
daughter, who was rapidly falling asleep. The blessed peace of
the innocent radiated from the child’s face. Naomi sighed herself
further into slumber.

Neelix slowly covered Sam’s hand with his, curling his burly,
fur-covered fingers around her smooth, slender ones. She raised
the index finger of her free hand to her closed lips, gesturing
that he should be quiet. He stifled a quiet laugh, then pulled
her hand down the length of the sleeping child, finally leading
the two of them back out to the sitting area of the ensign’s
quarters. Sam signaled the door separating the two areas to a
closure of 80%.

She gently pulled her hand away from Neelix’s, as she went back
to the famous replicator.

“Would you like some Ktarian tea?” she asked him.

“That would be lovely,” he replied, clearing his voice somewhat
in a nervous gesture. He walked over to the sofa which was
underneath her starport. The luminescence of the starlight
streamed in and framed her intent face, leaning over the
replicator and awaiting her order. He sat down quietly, drinking
in the serenity of the scene and the handsome beauty of this
woman who had been fulfilling a unique responsibility on Voyager.
He had come to admire her greatly… to appreciate all that she
did for the ship, the rest of the crew… and yes, lately,
himself.

Sam turned with two steaming cups in her hands. She put them
down on the low table in front of the sofa, and seated herself,
curling her long legs up under her full body as she did so. She
was still in uniform, but moved as if she were unhampered by any
of its constraints. She leaned over to the enthralled Talaxian
sitting beside her, and slowly reached out and tenderly started
tugging on his whiskers. He sighed, as his hands reached out to
brush aside her long blonde hair.

She whispered into his ear, her voice now low and sultry, “Aren’t
you glad we have monsters in the replicators?”

He said nothing, only uttering his trademark twittering laugh, as
he pulled her closer and closer until they knew there was no room
for any monsters to get between them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Neelix whirled out of the Wildman quarters, his mind and eyes
still in a delicious, delirious haze. His turn was a little too
quick, and he ran right into Tom Paris, who was heading down the
hall to his rooms.

“Neelix,” Tom said with surprise, as the two crewmembers fought
for balance of their bodies. He looked up, and realized where
the shorter man had been. A sly smile brightened his face, as
his mind started putting together a few facts.

“Why, Neelix; I thought that Naomi had called you for her *good
night story* hours ago… and now it’s after 2300; don’t tell me
that…”

The bewhiskered Talaxian was momentarily flustered. He hastily
licked his lips, his eyes twitching back and forth. His hands
nervously tugged and smoothed his tapestry jacket. “Mr. Paris, it
seems that the Wildmans had… um… monsters in their…
replicators,” he suddenly said, his eyes now beaming and
satisfied with the idea. “Yes, yes… that’s it… monsters in
their replicators! Why, those weaselly, rascally monsters take a
long time to track down… one never knows what damage can
happen… if they’re not caught.” He quickly covered his mouth,
smothering his sounds, which were rapidly disintegrating into a
stream of giggles; and he scurried down the hall.

Tom watched the little man’s departure, sensing a mischievous
notion forming in his own head.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

B’Elanna Torres’ comm badge tweeped, just as she laid it down.
“*Now* what?” she said, anticipating yet another “emergency” in
engineering. The entire day had been nothing but small problems,
all which could have been handled by Carey or Vorik, but
ineptitude was running rampant throughout her staff as of late.
Ever since she had reprimanded Carey about not documenting the
Jefferies’ tubes calibrations in the correct sequence… when
were these people *ever* going to learn? All right, so she *had*
been a little loud… and had been hoarse for 12 hours… and had
broken a PADD when she slammed it against the railing around the
plasma core…

“Yes?” she said tersely in response to the hail.

“Well, nice to hear you, too,” came Tom’s voice from the other
end of the communiqu‚.

“Oh, Tom… I’m sorry, but…”

“It’s been a rough day; yes, I know; I heard about your little…
um… discussion with Carey.”

Her snort was transmitted readily over the comm range. “Does
*everyone* know about that?” she opined brusquely.

“Maybe not everyone in the *Alpha* Quadrant…” Tom ducked
instinctively, even though two decks separated their quarters.

“Seriously, though, I *do* have a problem with something here in
my quarters that I was wondering if you could take a look at
it…”

“Log it in with repairs; we’ll get to it as soon as we can,” she
replied curtly.

“Hey — it’s not that important. It’s just that… well, it’s
something right up your alley, so to speak.”

He knew just how to reach her; her curiosity was piqued
instantaneously. “Oh. And just what might that be?”

“Come on down and see,” he said with a tease in his voice.

A smile curved across her face. *All right; two can play this
game, mister,* she thought as she stormed towards the door,
heading towards the turbolift and his quarters.

The doors to his living area opened before she had a chance to
buzz. Tom was standing there, in his favorite off-duty attire of
dark blue pants with a thick heather gray knit top. His face bore
a curious expression, and his eyes seemed to be holding back a
story of some sort.

“So… what is this great emergency that you have?” she queried,
her face softening at the sight of him.

“It’s my replicator. There seems to be something… making a
strange noise inside it. I just got in from duty, and thought
that an Andorian ale would taste pretty good. I heard sounds in
the mechanism, but then it seemed to stop the replication from
…um… being completed, and I never got my ale. And, hey —
before you say anything… yes, I *do* have enough replicator
rations!”

A feigned, annoyed sigh sounded from the chief engineer, as she
marched over to the replicator.

“All right, I’ll look at it this time. But, this is *not* an
emergency… not at 2330 hours, and just for an Andorian ale.”
She leaned over to examine the opening. The lighting in the area
was not as strong as she would have liked it to peer into the
awkward aperture, and the flowing sleeves of her repose shirt
obscured her view.

“Here; let me help you,” Tom’s soft voice uttered, as he reached
around her, pulling the obstructing garment pieces back.

She turned slowly, then rose to a straight position. His arms
adjusted to her changing position and enclosed her in a loose
embrace. She looked into his eyes, and started reading the joke
in them.

“All right, this is probably the lamest of any of your excuses
recently to lure me into your lair,” she said, a low growl
starting to emanate from her throat. “What sort of reason were
you going to give me?”

Tom swallowed. “That there is a monster in my replicator?” he
meekly answered, realizing what was going to follow that growl.

“Monsters in the replicator, huh? Come on; where did you hear
*that* one?” Her voice was getting lower in pitch; she was
pushing his head to one side…

“Would you believe… Neelix?” he managed to get out. Her hand
had twisted his head far to the side; his voice was somewhat
strangled in its efforts to vocalize…

She started laughing… a low, guttural, animalistic laugh.
“*Neelix*? Why, the only monsters he knows about…” She raised
her head, the chain of her concentration broken. She became
silent, as the implication his statement sank in.

“Neelix?” she repeated. “And… and…Sam Wildman?” The look on
her face was incredulous as the tone in her voice. She shook her
head, whether in an attempt to clear her thoughts or regain her
composure. “But… who knows? Maybe those monsters do strange
things to unsuspecting folks. We better take a closer look here
at yours.”

She once more grabbed at his head, lowering it to hers. He felt
her nails and teeth more marking his cheek and neck; he
unconsciously groaned with the pain inflicted, knowing and
anticipating the pleasure to follow. His sounds began to imitate
hers, as he leaned down to reach the side of her neck with his
lips. He made his mark on her dark skin as he pushed her roughly
into the wall next to the replicator… the monster had been
released between them.

B’Elanna grabbed his face between her passion-strengthened hands,
hungrily surrounding his lips with hers. She snarled as her
tongue voraciously sought his, wrapping itself around the inside
of his mouth like a cobra coiling. He awaited her sting, as she
then bit down on his tongue. He tasted his own blood, like bitter
venom. She moaned with delight at its metallic essence, and
lapped it up.

She broke away from the embrace, a thin glow of perspiration
starting to form over her face. He smiled back at her, a feral
gleam in his eyes. He suddenly swooped her up in his arms, only
to roughly toss her onto the sofa in his sitting area.
He brusquely pushed aside the table obscuring his distance to
her. With one hand holding her in place, he reached down with his
free hand, and pulled off the laced slippers which were on her
feet. The tight space within which her arms could move allowed
her only to reach his tunic; however, she used it as a means to
pull him towards her once more. Her tongue found the original
wounds she had inflicted, and she sucked them, savoring the blood
she drew to the surface.

Tom continued his actions of peeling off the layers of her
clothing, all the while allowing her the succulence of his
lacerations. Her body was responding to his preparation… it was
twitching with savage, muscular movements, further heightening
his desire for this wild, beautiful woman. He was willing to
endure any physical test to win her love. She, in turn, was more
than willing to give him that love. With a last effort on his
part, he grabbed her hands away from his face and pulled the long
repose shirt over her head.

She only allowed him a moment’s indulgence in enjoying her prone
body before starting to remove his garments. He was straddling
her body, kneeling over her. She braced her hands on either
side, and shifted herself up to a sitting position. Quickly her
hands yanked his shirt over his head. She tossed it to the side
of the sofa, and ran her hands through the thick, soft hair that
covered his body, from just below the Adam’s apple in his throat
to a dwindling point three inches below his navel — *just like
an arrow, showing me the way,* she thought with a grin. He read
the unspoken joke in her eyes, and as if to tease her further, he
himself started inching down the waist of his pants, revealing
the diminishing hairline. Her fingers followed its waning
appearance, only to touch a suddenly noticeable appendage. Their
eyes met with frenzied delight, as he quickly disposed of the
last piece of clothing… and let the “monster” into her…
replicator.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The following morning, B’Elanna was running later than usual.
Her head was lowered into a charging bull position as the doors
to the mess hall opened, and she ran full tilt into Voyager’s
security officer who was exiting at the same time. Her hard
Klingon head hit him dead center of his ramrod straight chest.

Lt. Commander Tuvok issued a slight “umph”, as he recoiled from
any further impact from the feisty Klingon.

“Oh, Commander, I’m so sorry,” she said, as she instinctively
reached out to him in an attempt to smooth out any physical or
mental injury to him.

He retreated still further from the physical contact, raising his
eyebrow in surprise at her actions. He looked at her now
upraised face, which looked like it needed about two more hours
sleep.

“Lt. Torres, it appears that you have had a… restless night.
Did you not sleep well?” he asked solicitously.

The brunette engineer shook her head, as if to bring herself to a
more alert state, brushing her hair back as she did so. She
smiled back at the Vulcan, a glint of conspiratorial knowledge
behind her flashing dark eyes.

“Um… no, it was a rather restless night. I had an… emergency
repair call. You see, Tom had… er… um… a monster in his
replicator, and…”

“Lieutenant, it is not logical to have a monster in a
replicator,” Tuvok said to B’Elanna, as she started to continue.
“You, as an engineer, must be able to ascertain the absurdity of
such a situation.”

B’Elanna tried to suppress a grin. Why bother to elaborate any
further? Tuvok would never understand. She was suddenly aware
that his eyes were now focusing on someone else who just arrived.
She turned her head, only to find that Tom had appeared right
behind her. Her face was mere millimeters from his, which also
bore the remnants of late hours.

In a barely audible whisper, with the breath of his words warming
her , he said, “Good morning, beautiful.”

Once more, a sound came from Tuvok, as he cleared his throat,
reminding them of his presence. Tom had forgotten about the
super-sensitive auditory sense of the Vulcan species. Tom’s
attention was drawn back to the older officer, who had a stern,
knowing look on his face.

“Lieutenants, my advice to you would be… to be more discreet…
about… monsters in your replicators.” He continued his
departure down the hall.

Tom and B’Elanna, looked startled by his obvious recognition of
their euphemism for their midnight tryst. Was the staid Vulcan
actually starting to lighten up a bit? Their momentary
bewilderment was rapidly replaced by another round of stifled
giggles, as they entered the mess hall.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuvok had taken his place on the bridge. As usual, he had
appeared early for his shift. He was reviewing some of the logs
of the previous day when he became aware of a tall presence next
to him. He turned as he heard a voice start to speak.

“I do not mean to interrupt your thoughts, Commander, but I have
some questions to ask regarding security checks of various
systems on the ship,” the assured voice of Seven stated.

Tuvok turned to her. “Is there a problem, Seven? My logs show no
irregularities in the last twenty four hours.”

“I have not had any direct experience with the situation, but I
have overheard two people mention a problem about… I am certain
I heard them correctly… *monsters in the replicators*.
Although I myself have no need to use the items in question, I
was concerned that we had once again… been invaded by… unseen
alien forces.”

The Vulcan looked into her serious eyes. He could feel that he
was suppressing… the humor of the situation.

“There is no need to be concerned. Some members of our crew have
decided to utilize this phrase to… conceal words describing
some of their… off-duty activities.”

The Borg/human looked a little more confused. “Why do they wish
to camouflage their actions? Are they indulging in illegal acts?”
she further quizzed him.

Tuvok felt somewhat uneasy with the progress of the conversation.
“No; however, there are certain parts of… relationships… that
most species feel should be kept private. Therefore, when they
are mentioned… in public… they use words other than
descriptive ones, to describe their actions. It is… like a
coded message.” He felt the unpleasant, rare sensation of sweat
droplets forming on his forehead.

Seven looked at him, still with a perplexed appearance. “Why do
they wish to speak in code?” she pressed.

Tuvok’s much-heralded patience was beginning to show a strain.
“Seven, I am not an expert on human psychology. Why do you not
go to the Doctor? His data banks would reveal much more
information.”

“An excellent thought,” she said with a firm nod. “He will want
to see me today for one of my booster medications. I shall
inquire.” She pivoted with military perfection, and proceeded to
the turbolift doors. She turned her head in exiting. “Thank
you, Mr. Tuvok.”

“You are most welcome,” he said with a very un-Vulcan sense of
relief.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Doctor was concentrating on the microphotographs on the
screen connected to his microscope, noting the mutations in the
viral particles he was examining. A shift in the holographic
emissions of his matrix alerted him to the fact that someone had
entered sickbay. He rose from his task and sighed without
turning around.

“Yes… please state the nature of the medical emergency.”

“There is no emergency, Doctor. I just need some information
about humans.”

The Doctor’s face lit up as he recognized the smooth monotone of
Seven’s voice. He spun around, now with a wide smile bisecting
his face.

“Why, Seven; it’s always a pleasure to have you visit. Human
information, is it? My, my… every day you become more and more
human and less and less Borg.”

“It is not about myself, Doctor. I am trying to understand the
human characteristics of some of the crew aboard this ship.”

“Well… who isn’t?” the EMH humphed, half to himself. He looked
at the statuesque figure standing no more than two feet away from
him, trying to understand the very human emotions he himself was
experiencing at this very moment.

“I will help you as much as I can,” he stated, half swallowing
his words. She moved closer to him, as if closeness would help
her to better understand.

“I approached Commander Tuvok with my questions, but he referred
me to you.” She paused, waiting for a response from him. He
uncharacteristically remained silent, forcing her to continue
with her explanation.

“It would appear that there is a coded statement being used by
several of the crew in order to conceal certain actions about
which they do not wish others to know,” she continued. “I am
curious why they would want to cloak anything. This is not what
I am used to with the collective. We experienced all as a group.
Mr. Tuvok has told me that the actions which are taking place are
not illegal, so I do not understand why there is such secrecy.”

“And what might this code be?” asked the Doctor, curiously,
encouraging further discourse from her.

“It is a phrase I have overheard. Lt. Paris and Lt. Torres were
laughing as they mentioned it. Then, Lt. Jenny Delaney remarked
about the same thing to her sister. They, too, expressed…
happiness when they were talking.”

“And?” The Doctor was getting exasperated at her drawn out
explanation.

“They were talking about… monsters appearing in their
replicators. This is the reason I went to Mr. Tuvok, to see if
we had had another alien invasion. He assured me that this was
not the case, and then told me that the words were being used as
a code… for some human action.”

The Doctor had to fight hard to suppress his glee now. Tom had
made a call to sickbay earlier that morning to have the doctor
perform repairs to some “minor” injuries that had resulted from
his latest encounter with his Klingon amour. The ever-curious
doctor inquired as to how the injuries occurred, and Tom had made
no secret as to his method in getting B’Elanna to his quarters in
the middle of the night. The doctor’s face lit up with a knowing
smile, and he reached down and took her hand between his.

She looked at him with startled surprise, but made no attempt to
remove her hand. He sighed, taking a deep breath before
proceeding. No one aboard Voyager had ever seemed to be in need
of a “facts of life” lesson previously. He had hoped that
perhaps the Captain, with all her other good maternal instincts,
had provided this service already for Seven, but… well, things
had been rather busy lately. He licked his lips… this was it!

“Seven, much like the Borg collective, most species, especially
the humanoid species, have a need for certain… interactions
among their beings. Many times, it is group interaction, such as
you see among Voyager’s crew when they are working. But,
sometimes, this interaction takes place between only two
people…”

“When they have strong feelings for each other?” she interrupted.
“I am aware of this… togetherness. Mr. Kim once told me about
it.”

Well, then,” he continued, a little more at ease, but now
wondering how she learned this from Harry Kim. “I guess you know
that these… strong feelings… sometimes make people want to…
be alone, by themselves.”

“How can they be alone, if they are together?”

“Well… um… when they are together, sometimes they are as
one.”

“How can this be, if they are not a collective?”

The EMH reluctantly dropped her hand… it was surprisingly soft
and… human, in spite of the remaining Borg implants.

“The Borg collective is one of thoughts and actions, whereas this
state in humans is more… physical.”

“Do they join in this togetherness?”

The doctor nervously cleared his throat, and his eyes broke
contact with hers.

“Yes, sometimes they do… join physically.”

She looked at him intently, her eyes now wide with interest.

“How can they do this? Do humans have probes that they can use to
join with each other? Do they assimilate each other?” Her eyes
opened wide with curiosity at this seemingly similar
characteristic.

*How do I continue with this line of questions?* the EMH rapidly
thought. *Should I get a reference PADD and…* He glanced
around quickly for a prop of support. Abruptly, his thoughts
were once more caught short.

“Can you show me how this joining happens?” she queried.

“Well… I’m not… Seven, you know that I am not really a
human,” he stammered.

“But, you are sentient; and, with your autonomous holo-emitter,
you have achieved even more human capabilities. You have a
complete assimilation of knowledge regarding human anatomy and
psychology.”

The doctor feared that he was rapidly approaching the boundary of
professionalism; this conversation was quickly escalating to a
level of physical as well as mental discomfort for him, as he
felt his uniform clinging too closely to a certain part of his
anatomy. He squirmed uncomfortably.

She looked at him. “Have I done something to offend you?” she
asked innocently.

“N..no; no!” He turned, and gently took her shoulders in his
hands. “Seven, I think that you understand what I mean about…
certain things happening between two people.”

“You mean… sex,” she stated matter of factly.

“Yes,” he responded, obviously relieved.

She continued. “But… is not this action merely a set of
motions? Why do humans become uncomfortable and noncommunicative
when I mention this?”

The doctor felt himself becoming *very* human-like as he stood so
close to her voluptuous form. The full, swollen lips of the most
recent addition to the crew were mere centimeters from his. He
quickly leaned towards her, and kissed her.

Startled by his action, she jumped back.

“What… what was that?” she asked, her eyes large with the
question.

“That, my dear Seven, was a kiss. It is a very human action…
between two people who care for each other.”

“Who… care… for… each other?” she asked, looking at him
with a sudden comprehension.

“I feel strange,” she said; “I need to assimilate the
experience.” And she copied his shoulder grasp, and kissed him.
It was now his turn to show shock.

“Most interesting,” she said. “I am integrating some strange
sensations, but feel that I need to repeat this.”

The doctor’s spirits rose. “Well, yes. Repetition is best. Do
you want to further experiment?”

Seven looked at him with curiosity. “Yes, I do. I have never
had such a strange impression with assimilation…”

The doctor took her hand, his face suddenly gleaming with wicked
humanity, and lead her towards his office.

“Seven, let me show you about monsters in the replicator…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chakotay was leaving the bridge, as Seven was entering with a
report for the Captain about the latest findings in astrometrics.
The faintest hint of a smile was forming on her lips.

“Good afternoon, Seven. You seem happy today,” the first officer
said in greeting her.

“Happy? Oh, yes… a human emotion. I have learned something
new today, and it has given me… pleasure.”

*Pleasure?* thought Chakotay. *What has she discovered that has
brought her this far?*

“Oh… and what might that be?” he questioned her.

“The doctor has taught me about…” she paused before continuing.
A slight grin formed on her face. “…about monsters in the
replicator.” For the first time that either of them could
recall, she blushed, and… giggled!

The look on the first officer’s face was one of shock,
surprise… and glee! Seven was *definitely* becoming more and
more human. His dimples appeared, deep with delight.

“The doc has monsters in his replicator?” Chakotay repeated, with
a tone of disbelief.

“No… not really. It is a code for…” she leaned close to him,
looking around for any eavesdroppers. “…for sex!” The blush
became more intense on her pale skin.

Chakotay did all he could to stifle the laugh that was quickly
forming in his throat. *The doctor? And Seven? Well, really it
wasn’t too far off base… two automatons…*

“So, it is a code, hmm? Well, I *have* heard that Neelix is…
um… frequently called to Ens. Wildman’s quarters to search for
monsters…”

“And Lieutenants Torres and Paris, also,” she revealed, with a
newly found enjoyment of being able to relate more to her fellow
Voyagers.

She once more assumed a serious demeanor. “Commander Chakotay, do
you and Captain Janeway look for monsters in your replicators?”
she asked with a knowledgeable innocence.

Now it was Chakotay’s turn to turn crimson. With an expression of
bewilderment, he asked,”Seven, where would you get such an idea?
The Captain and I have never…”

She cut him off. “But you have… strong feelings for one
another, don’t you?”

He was at a rare loss for words. “Well, we care for each other,
yes, but…”

“Have you ever had sex with her?”

Chakotay was *really* unnerved now.

“No… why do you think that?”

“You both would like to, would you not?”

*Think before you answer!* he cued himself.

“Seven, I really don’t think that that is anyone’s business but
mine and the Captain’s,” he finally stated matter-of-factly,
wishing to discontinue this conversation as quickly as possible.

She looked at him, confused at the opposing signals she was
getting from his words and his eyes.

“Maybe you should ask her,” the Borg/human stated, as she took
leave of the awkward moment.

Chakotay stood in place, shaking his head and dumbfounded by
Seven’s simple observation. Was his — or her — desire so
evident?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sandrine’s was up and running that evening, and it seemed that a
majority of the off-duty crew were making use of the raucous
facilities. Conversations overlapped as easily as the different
groups of people; words echoed across tables and across the room.
The hushed tones of whispers cushioned the shrill tones of more
resonant discussions. The air was heavy with the heady aromas of
synthehol, warm bodies and hormones; the floors were crowded with
physical forms in close contact — some dancing, some standing,
some just wanting… to be close.

The doors to the holodeck opened to admit yet two more people,
Captain Janeway and her first officer. Both had decided to
forego the confines of their uniforms and were clad in simple
casual clothing — she, in a jumper-tunic over leggings in her
favorite muted blues; he, in a simple tunic and trousers of
heathered browns. The lack of stress in recent weeks shown in
their faces and movements, as they warmly greeted their
crewpeople.

Harry Kim looked up as they walked past the table where he and
Ensigns May and Fraser, both from astrometrics, were deep into a
serious poker game. The statuesque Ens. Fraser had a stack of
chips in front of her that rivaled her height. Harry had a
lesser number of tokens, and from the expression on Ens. May’s
face, she was definitely on the losing end of the evening’s
activities. She was the dealer, and was shuffling the deck of
cards, darkly grumbling under her breath.

“Captain… Commander… care to join us for a few hands?” Harry
called out, even as he jumped up to get two chairs for them.

The two senior officers looked at each other, a mutual smile of
agreement on their faces.

“Why, thank you, Harry,” Kathryn Janeway said, as she seated
herself. “How have the cards been playing tonight?”

“Lousy!” replied Ens. May, before realizing that it was the
captain to whom she was responding. “I mean… Lousy, Captain,
ma’am…” Her tall body tensed at her faux pas.

“At ease, Ensign; I don’t bite!” Janeway soothed, patting the
younger woman’s hand.

“Yes, ma’a… Captain,” the astrometricist answered, with her
face turning a brilliant scarlet.

Harry had gotten more poker chips, and was distributing them to
the newcomers. “All right; there’s a one “credit” ante… er, I
mean, a white chip. Of *course* we don’t play for the real
thing…”

“Of course not,” Chakotay smiled, his eyes twinkling with a full
knowledge that they did indeed play for replicator rations.

“So — what’s the game tonight?” the Captain offered, as a
change of subject.

“Five card draw,” responded Fraser, who was gathering her
mountain of chips closer to her place. “Are you feeling lucky
tonight, Captain?”

“Hmmmm… we’ll see after a couple of hands,” the senior officer
answered.

As May was dealing the cards, Janeway glanced at Chakotay, who in
turn was scanning the room, nodding every once in a while at
someone in the crowd. She noticed that he suddenly froze,
looking at the Doctor, who was deeply engrossed in a conversation
with Seven. The first officer’s expression turned to one
indicating smirking delight at seeing the pair. She made a
mental note to ask him about that.

Her concentration was brought back to the immediate group when
she heard Harry say, “Captain, your cards…”

“Oh… yes; sorry! My mind was elsewhere,” she laughed,
covering her momentary lapse. “Let’s see…” She looked at her
cards — not very promising! She had two deuces, and one each of
a four, six and nine.

She folded after two rounds; her replacement cards did nothing to
better her pair of twos. Finally, it was down to Ens. Fraser and
Chakotay. He finally called, and Fraser’s full house beat out
his two pairs. The ensign added another 20… whatevers… to
her stash.

That hand was the last one that lucky Fraser was to win for a
while, however. It seemed that the addition of the two senior
officers brought new luck to Ens. May, who won the next two
hands. Then, in order, Harry, Chakotay and Janeway each held the
triumphant cards.

The conversation was becoming both lively and flippant. The
three younger officers seemed to become more at ease, as they
realized that Janeway and Chakotay were comfortable being just
part of the crew.

It was Harry who finally broached the fateful subject. “Say…
has any one here looked for monsters in their replicators
recently?”

Chakotay shot him an icy look, and the two younger women suddenly
froze in disbelief. Janeway surveyed the looks that were being
shot back and forth among the quartet.

Janeway studied their startled expressions. “Anyone want to tell
me what this is all about?” she asked, her eyes twinkling.

An uncomfortable silence overcame the table, broken at last by
the voice of the commander.

“I’ll tell you what, Captain. Let’s keep it within the game.
The four of us will play a hand, while you sit it out. Then, the
winner will have the… er… pleasure of telling you about
Voyager’s… um… latest *scourge*.” He quickly looked at the
stunned faces of the younger officers, daring them with his eyes
to say anything further.

“Straight poker. No extra cards. Agreed?” he half asked, half
ordered.

The trio nodded obediently, and mumbled their accord with his
suggested stake. Statistically, he figured it was Harry’s turn
to win; served him right!

Ens. May’s hands were shaking as she dealt the cards. Each of
the other three players glanced at each card as it appeared face
up in front of them.

The first round gave Chakotay, to Ens. May’s left, a seven of
hearts. Next, Harry got the queen of clubs; Fraser’s hand showed
a ten of hearts, and May upturned the ace of spades in front of
herself. She groaned at the significance of the card.

Four more cards were dealt. They were the five of hearts, jack
of diamonds, three of diamonds and the ace of clubs. The tall
young woman shifted uncomfortably.

Round three showed up the eight of hearts, two of diamonds, king
of spades, and ten of clubs, respectively to Chakotay, Kim,
Fraser, and May.

When the fourth cards fell, they came in this order: Chakotay,
four of hearts; Harry, jack of spades; Fraser, nine of clubs; and
May, the two of clubs.

All eyes suddenly were on the four cards in front of the first
officer — he had four hearts — and was just one off from a
game winning straight or flush. He looked up, a surprised
expression of apprehension forming, as he realized what *could*
happen…

Janeway looked at him, with a quizzical crooked grin on her face.
“Why, Commander… is your little plan going to backfire? Just
what is with this interesting story that seems to have passed by
me?”

Chakotay looked at her, trying to keep the panic out of his eyes,
praying that Harry would get a third jack; or May, a third ace.
He realized that his hands were sweaty, and he wiped them on his
trousers. Forcing a confident smile on his face, he said,
“Ummm… Captain, it would be my privilege to fill you in, if
that’s the way the cards fall.”

And with that, Ens. May upturned the next card in front of him:
the fateful six of hearts, completing his straight. He let out a
sigh of resignation to his lot.

The woman dealing quickly laid out the next three cards, just to
make Chakotay’s win honest. Harry ended up with the six of
diamonds; Fraser got the five of spades, and May gave herself the
ten of diamonds. The three young people in unison turned their
heads and looked at their senior officers.

“I’m waiting, Commander,” Kathryn Janeway said with authority.

Chakotay was looking at the five cards in front of him, a state
of shock settling in as he comprehended what he’d set himself up
for. His chain of thought was broken, as the three other card
players hurriedly rose, not even bothering to collect what was
due to them from the night’s winnings.

“Commander, I’m sure that you would like some privacy with the
Captain,” said Harry, as he ushered the other two women in front
of him. “It was fun; we’ll have to do it again,” he winked at
the first officer, as he put an arm around the shoulder of each
woman. The three quickly made their exit from the vicinity.

Chakotay’s cheeks took on an uncharacteristic ruddiness, as he
tried to look at his commanding officer, his thoughts zooming
back to the conversation he had had earlier in the day with
Seven. Impulsively, he looked up and over the captain’s
shoulder, only to meet the staring eyes of Seven, who seemed to
sense what was happening. She smiled provocatively, and nodded
to him, then turned her attention back to the doctor, whose arm
was wrapped snugly around her trim waist.

An idea was forming, even as Janeway was waiting for his answer.
In the privacy of their twosome, he addressed her familiarly.

“Kathryn, perhaps I can *show* you better than tell you what this
is all about. Would you accompany me to my quarters, so that I
might… um… explain… the monster in my replicator?” He
rose, and offered to pull out her chair.

She responded to his courtesy. “Thank you, Commander; that seems
an excellent suggestion.”

As they walked towards the exit, she questioned him further.
“Just why haven’t you informed me earlier about this problem? I
haven’t seen any reports regarding the situation.”

He stammered uncomfortably. “Well, Captain, it doesn’t really
affect the ship that much.”

“Oh?” she responded. “I would think that anything of this nature
would most certainly affect Voyager.”

They arrived at the turbolift. As the doors opened, two other
crewmen from the holodeck entered as well. Their conversation
was abruptly quelled, as the two younger people acknowledged
their superior officers.

The turbo stopped, opening its doors onto the deck of Chakotay’s
quarters; he and Janeway exited into the hall. The pair hurried
along the suddenly populated corridor. They stopped in front of
his door, and he hesitatingly asked, “Do you want to come in?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” she asked.

They entered his sitting area, the lights adjusting to the
incoming lifeforms. She walked slowly over to his sofa, sat
down, and put herself at ease. He was *far* from being
comfortable.

“Uhhh… please make yourself at home, Kathryn,” he managed to
say after-the-fact, all the while avoiding her gaze. “Would you
like some… coffee or tea?”

She looked at him, her legs lazily crossed and her arms spread
across the low back of the sofa.

“Well, now… tell me.. how can you replicate some… with a
monster in your replicator?” He turned and looked at her; her
eyes and smile were teasing him unmercifully. It seemed she was
holding back a ringing laugh.

His discomfort was escalating. He turned, and started walking
towards her.

“Kathryn, I…”

“You what?” she queried, slowly… provocatively rising from her
seated position and walking towards him. “Don’t you want me…
to look for monsters with you?”

A sudden illumination lit up in his mind. His dark eyes awoke
with the realization… that she was fully aware of the meaning
of the phrase.

“Kathryn… you know…”

“All about it? Yes, I do.”

“How long?”

“Since this morning. Tuvok told me about his little…
discussion… with Seven. And, I also heard about Tom’s visit to
sickbay…”

He threw his head back ever so slightly, his mouth forming a wide
arc between his dimples. He started laughing, at first
nervously, then with relief. “Why didn’t you let me know?”

“And spoil a *very* interesting evening? Never!”

Chakotay inched towards to her, closing the distance between
them. His eyes were daring her to continue.

Her eyes were now piercing his; her voice became lower…
softer… with her words. “Why did you… *really*… ask me
here?”

He was now standing next to her, his shadow embracing her, his
voice tone echoing hers. “If you knew about the… monster
story… why did *you* agree to come?”

Her smile became enigmatic; she turned slightly, breaking their
eye connection. Her nervousness became audible with a twittering
sound which he could barely hear.

She spoke softly, “Maybe it’s time for us both to put certain…
monsters… to rest.” She once more looked into the darkness of
his eyes. “Monsters that have frightened us… and kept us
apart.”

Chakotay took in a deep breath, allowing himself time to respond.

“Perhaps so,” he said, now closing the final distance between
them. “There have definitely been… certain things… that have
terrified us. And, just like Naomi’s monsters, they may have
been just… fabrications in our minds… keeping us from seeing
our real surroundings… understanding what feelings are truly
real.” He looked at her, hoping that she would once and for all
admit that her defense mechanisms… were just that.

She reached up to him, her slender arms encircling his muscular
neck. “Chakotay, send the monsters away,” she said pleadingly.
“Don’t let them frighten us or keep us apart any more.”

The smile that took over his face suddenly brightened and warmed
the room. The depth of his dimples drew her towards him as
surely as any black hole. She was surrounded by its gravity-like
attraction, which drew her to him. As if wanting to fill the
void that had existed for so long, he hungrily sought her
penitent lips, encasing them with the fullness of his.

Not satisfied with just finding her lips, he vigorously pursued a
further uniting with her. The forceful tip of his tongue bid her
open to him, which she did with no further defense. Hers joined
his in a savage exploration of their first tastes of each
other… drinking of each other like two lost travelers in a
desert, not being able drink enough of each other. His hands
held her head within a firm possession; hers fell from his neck,
only to claw his back through his tunic with a savage like
strength.

Seconds… moments passed, as they endeavored to search for
answers for unanswered questions: weeks of indecision; months of
yearning; years of obsession. They finally broke their embrace,
only to begin again an odyssey with their hands… wanting to
explore the new lands that they knew were ahead of them…
frightened of what their reactions would be.

He leaned down into the heady warmth of her neck, sucking the
soft area that she exposed to him by tilting her head back. Her
sighs of satisfaction were drowned by his moans of ecstasy. Her
hands journeyed lower, and found a hold around his tensed gluteal
muscles. She grasped their firm roundness, and in doing so,
pulled him closer to her. A small gasp of surprise came from her
as she realized that he was as hard in front as he was in back.

His hands, too, had traveled downwards on her torso, surveying
every curve of her upper body. His right hand moved inwards,
then stopped to grip her rapidly swelling breast. The tender
tissue, ravished by his pleading hand, responded by molding to
his grasp.

Both sensed an immediate need to get even closer. In
synchronized movements, they reached to the lower edges of their
upper garments and quickly rid themselves of the bothersome
fabric layers. With the same dexterity, they peeled down their
leg coverings, removing their shoes also.

Kathryn was now clad only in a simple one piece undergarment, and
Chakotay stood before her in his plain underwear, invitingly
misshapen by a firm erection. They backed away, if only to
assess views of each other that they had never seen before.
Their flushed faces further beamed with satisfaction with what
they beheld… and with their rapidly growing desires.

She reached up with her right hand, placing it on his chest as
she had done so many times before, but now, not as a consoling
and comforting touch, but with a need to assure herself that he
was truly here, in this state, in this room, wanting her as much
as she wanted him. As if reading her thoughts, he reached over
to one of the thin straps of her soft garment, and slowly pulled
it down and off of her shoulder. He repeated the action with the
other strap; as it slid down her arm, the last bit of tension
holding the filmy piece being releasing itself. Gravity took
hold, and with nothing but her breasts to hold it up, it began a
sensuous downward fall.

She stood there, allowing nature to take its course with the
garment. He placed his hands underneath her arms, deciding to
help the fabric in its journey. He eased it over the ripe mounds
on her chest, revealing their glowing fullness. His mouth
anointed each one as it appeared, with brief sighs signaling his
satisfied pleasure with what he saw. His tongue grazed the erect
nipples on each, stopping long enough to suck each briefly. One
more bit of guidance eased the soft piece over the last obstacle
of her body, the curves of her hips. He released his hold,
allowing the now free article to fall to the floor, forming a
lake at her feet. She nimbly stepped out of it, and stood before
him — one less monster was in the way.

He stepped back, wanting to burn into his mind forever this first
time of revelling in her natural beauty. And beauty it was… as
perfectly proportioned as he had ever dreamed… the pink
paleness of her skin that could only compliment his own burnished
pigmentation.

“Kathryn…” he finally said huskily.

“Shhh…” she said, as she now gently released him from his one
remaining constrainment, carefully pulling the undergarment over
his engorged tissue. She eased it down over his thighs… his
knees, his ankles, allowing herself to follow its path. He
stepped out of its confines, and reached down to pull her up. As
she slowly rose, she stopped momentarily, to kiss his saluting
member; he once more moaned with deep pleasure. She braced her
hands on the smooth bronze of his chest, sliding them up
seductively as she moved into an upright stance.

Once more they stood, with only their bodies as support for one
another. For a journey that had taken so long, it now raced
towards its destination. Neither of them was willing to allow
any more detours; it was now accelerating at full speed… now,
warp 9.95.

Chakotay once more grasped her shoulders, this time tenderly
urging her backwards, towards the wall a few feet away. She
willingly allowed him to guide her, sensing what was to come. As
soon as she felt the firm support of the wall surface behind her,
she stretched for his neck, as an anchor for her movements. He
reached behind her, cupping her firm buttocks in his massive
hands; she pulled her legs up his body, locking herself securely
around him.

The way was open and ready. He easily slid into her; she
welcomed him by drawing herself tighter. They both sighed with
the knowledge that… it could be this easy. She jostled herself
a bit, to grasp him tighter, both inside and out.

He began to rock gently back and forth; up and down; her soft
sounds fell into his rhythm. But four years had been too long
for him to be satisfied with the slowness that he wanted, and his
movements quickly escalated to a fevered pitch. Her voice also
crescendoed, as her frustrations were falling like leaves in a
November wind. Higher and higher they spiraled in their
ecstasies; faster and faster their bodies met in sweaty
delight… until they both reached the pinnacles of their
desires. The rapture released itself in one last plunge; then
the motions slowed to a peaceful calmness. They remained in
their locked position, allowing themselves to again fall to a
plateau of peaceful consummation.

Their breathing became more evenly paced. She finally relaxed
her legs, and they once more assumed a standing position, but
seemed too weak to remain there for long. He, too, was
struggling to stand upright, and they sank together into a mound
of satiated flesh on the floor, locked in each other’s arms.

The next few minutes seemed as long as the previous four years;
neither of them either had the strength or the courage to speak.
Finally, Chakotay decided he had better break the silence, for he
had been the one who “lured” her here.

“No regrets?” he whispered, as he brushed back the wet strands of
her hair clinging to her cheeks.

“No regrets,” she repeated, tracing his lips with her fingers.
“It’s time that we once and for all got rid of all the
monsters… in the replicators… and between us.”

He leaned over and kissed her, this time slowly… with a promise
of much more to come. He then got up, and offered her his hands,
pulling her up also.

“Then… let’s put the monsters to bed,” he said, with his smile
beaming, and he lead her towards his bedroom.

She allowed herself to slide into the curve of his arm, comforted
by his own particular form of a bedtime story, and silently
thanking little Naomi for making the rest of the ship’s
inhabitants cognizant of their own deepest, imagined fears.

Voyager’s monsters were no longer in the replicators… or
anywhere else.

******** Happy Midwinter’s Night’s Dreaming! ********

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