R   AND   R

Disclaimer:  All Paramount’s – I’m just borrowing them.

Rating:  G

By Mary S.

           Kathryn Janeway stood in front of the replicator in her quarters.   “Coffee!  Black!”

           Nothing happened.

           “Computer!  Coffee!  Black!”

           Still nothing.

           “Stupid machine!  Computer, is the replicator malfunctioning?”

           “Negative,” came the reply.

           “Then why won’t it produce any coffee?!”

           “That substance is unknown.”

           “What?!!   Of course it’s known!!  Now look here, computer!!  I want black coffee and I want it now!!”

           “That substance is unknown.  If you wish to program a new item into the replicator, please open the following file…”

           Janeway swore long and loud.

           It had been a difficult week.   Hostile aliens, damage to her ship, injuries to several of her crew including her first officer – the Delta Quadrant had tested them yet again.   But once more, the crew had been able to pull off a miracle.   Just as the situation appeared to be at its grimmest, they had managed to disable enough enemy vessels to allow Voyager to escape.

            For two days, they had limped along at warp one, sensors extended to maximum, desperate to find a haven where they could pause long enough to heal both ship and crew.

           Finally, they had discovered a small planet covered mostly by water but with three small continents, one of which was uninhabited.   The other two were populated by some half million humanoids, their society roughly equivalent to Earth’s medieval period.  The captain wasted no time ordering the helm to establish an orbit that would keep the ship out of sight of the cities below.  After all, the telescope had been invented on Earth in a similar time frame.  She couldn’t take the chance of inquisitive eyes seeing more than they should.

           For three days, engineering teams had worked non-stop to effect repairs.   Everyone who knew one end of a hypospanner from the other was pressed into service.  The captain herself had pulled double shifts both in the Jeffries tubes and on the bridge.  With her first officer incapacitated, she had had to split his duties between Tuvok and herself, which only added to her load.

           Well, Chakotay was better now – the doctor had released him from sickbay yesterday and he had immediately gone to the planet to organize the gathering of supplies.  He had stopped in for a brief visit late the previous evening, telling her what a beautiful place it was, and how he thought they should take an extra two days to allow everyone some downtime.

           At first, Janeway had demurred, concerned that their attackers might discover them and renew hostilities.  But the commander pointed out that with their Borg-enhanced sensors set to maximum, they would have plenty of warning.

           “The crew has been working so hard – they really need a break,” he pleaded, then added “and so does their captain.”

           Her face closed down.  “Very well, Commander.  I’ll authorize shore leave for all who wish it.”  She turned back to her desk.

           “What about you?” he asked softly.

           She sighed audibly.  “You know I don’t have time!  Look at this pile!”  She gestured to the PADDs heaped in front of her.

           He stood looking down at her bent head.  “Very well, Captain.”

           Immersed in the next report, she hadn’t even heard him leave.

           Now, standing before her stubborn replicator, the captain debated her next course of action.  She was tired already and her day had barely begun.  Sighing heavily, she left her quarters and headed for the bridge.  Hopefully, the replicator in her ready room would prove more cooperative; she wasn’t yet desperate enough to face Neelix’s latest substitute.

           However, she had no more success there than in her quarters.  The replicator remained silent no matter how many times she ordered coffee.

           Frantic now, she paged the mess hall, asking Neelix if he would bring a pot of coffee to her ready room as soon as possible.  She couldn’t believe her ears when he regretfully explained that he would be unable to do so, since there was no coffee anywhere on the ship.

           “Neelix…!” began the captain in an ominous tone.  “This is ridiculous!”

           “I’m terribly sorry, Captain, but there’s nothing I can do.”  He paused.   “However, I did hear that the commander had a large thermos with him when he beamed down to the surface this morning.”  He sounded inordinately pleased with himself, sure that he’d found a solution to her problem.

           She scowled.  “It was probably tea.”

           “Why don’t you page him?  Doesn’t hurt to ask.”

           “Hmm.  Janeway out.”

           Kathryn sat back in her chair, her brain fuzzy and a headache threatening.   Damn!  All she wanted was one lousy cup of coffee!  Was that too much to ask?!  She had a nasty feeling that her over-protective first officer was behind the sudden absence of coffee but she refused to give in and ask.

           She continued to sit, trying to discover another way out of her dilemma, but after ten minutes was forced to admit she couldn’t think of one.   She would have to contact him.

           “Janeway to Chakotay.”

           “Chakotay here.”

           “Commander,” she began abruptly.  “There is no coffee anywhere on this ship!  You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”

           There was a slight pause before he spoke.  “Really?  I had no trouble filling a thermos before I beamed down.”

           Kathryn got the distinct impression he was trying very hard not to laugh.

           “Chakotay!  This isn’t funny!”

           “No, I’m sure it isn’t.”  On the surface, his tone was all sympathy, yet she could hear the amusement underneath.

           She ground her teeth, knowing she would have to beg.  “Could you send me some?  Please?”

           “Uh, no Kathryn, I can’t.  If you want coffee this morning, you’ll have to come down here to get it.”

           “Chakotay!  I’m ordering you!”

           “No,” he replied very sweetly.  “Chakotay out.”

           Kathryn rained imprecations down on his head, all the while knowing that if she wanted coffee, she had no choice.  Finally, she stormed out of her ready room, snarling at Tuvok as she passed that she would be on the surface if he wanted her.

           “Very good, Captain,” came the smooth reply.  “Enjoy your leave.”

           “I won’t be that long!  I just need enough time to get a cup of coffee!  And wring the neck of a certain first officer!”  Her glare was ramped up to full.

           As the door to the turbolift closed, Tom Paris murmured that maybe they better warn Chakotay that the captain was on the warpath.  Tuvok remained unconcerned, remarking that he had found the commander was well able to look after himself.

           Tom shook his head in reply, but said no more.

           Meanwhile, the captain hurried to the transporter room, ordering the ensign on duty there to beam her to Commander Chakotay’s coordinates and be quick about it!

           The young woman’s fingers slid nervously over the controls, the heat of the captain’s glare causing her to fumble the settings.  Quickly, she forced herself to concentrate on the panel and activated the transporter just as the captain started to demand what the problem was.  The ensign breathed a sigh of relief as her commanding officer dematerialized.

           Kathryn found herself standing on a small point of land jutting into a large body of water.  Behind her was thick forest while all around were scattered a number of logs, large and small.  Smooth stones mixed with sand crunched under her feet.   She could see a range of hills rising into mountains on the opposite side of the water, partly shadowed by a few clouds.  Overhead, however, a yellow sun shone out of a clear blue sky directly onto her face, suffusing her with its warmth.  She could hear the cries of birds and smell the fresh clean scent of the sea.

           There was no sign of Chakotay but as she sniffed the air, her nose picked up a faint whiff of a very welcome aroma.

           She stepped forward to find him propped comfortably against a log, eyes closed with a very peaceful expression on his face, the open thermos beside him.   As she gazed down at him, one brown eye opened and he tilted back his head to smile cheerfully at her.

           “Kathryn!  You came after all!”

           He sounded so pleased to see her that her angry words died on her lips.  She moved to sit down beside him.  “Yes, Chakotay, I came.”

           He picked up the thermos and poured her a cup of coffee.  “Here, drink this.  Then sit back and close your eyes.  You’ll feel much better.”

           She buried her nose in the mug, drinking it down quickly before holding it out for more.  She sipped at the second cup, willing to enjoy it now that the caffeine was working its magic on her body.

           “Ohhh, that feels much better!” she groaned blissfully, finally able to relax.  She heard the quiet chuckle beside her and glanced at him reproachfully.

           “That wasn’t nice,” she told him.

           “Maybe not, but it got you down here.”  He gestured around them.  “Aren’t you glad now that I made you come?”

           She let her eyes rove over the scene in front of them and nodded.

           He patted her hand, then began to play idly with her fingers as she leaned her head against the log and closed her eyes, sighing softly.  All her irritability and anger floated away as the heat of the sun, the soft sound of waves washing onto the shore, and the warm hand holding hers combined to calm her mind and heart.

           Chakotay saw the tension leave her body as she let herself slump and silently congratulated himself on the success of his plan.  Her breathing slowed and her head rolled sideways as she dozed.  Carefully, he removed the mug from her hand, then eased his arm around her shoulders, letting her head come to rest on his chest.  She was sound asleep.

           For over an hour they sat there, their cares and troubles momentarily put aside.  Chakotay felt a rare contentment steal over him and pondered anew how this woman could so affect his well being.  Long ago, he had accepted that he would never be able to have the kind of relationship he wanted with her.  But he couldn’t stop loving her.  Therefore, he took what he could get, savoring moments like this and storing them carefully away in his memory.  He wondered if she had any idea how much he treasured the brief times when they could be just a man and a woman.

           Eventually, Kathryn stirred as muscles cramped from lying too long in one position roused her.  Her mind and heart were filled with peace and serenity, feelings she experienced all too seldom.  She sighed and nuzzled her face into the warm body supporting her, inhaling his scent, then opened her eyes.

           “Hi, sleepyhead,” came his soft voice.  “Feel better?”

           “Oh yes, although I’m stiff.”  Kathryn stretched out her legs, then started to sit up, groaning as her body protested.

           Chakotay helped her up, then stood himself, stretching his back.  Kathryn looked around, then reached for the thermos.   “Is there any more coffee?”

           “Probably, but I imagine it’s cold.  Why don’t I get Neelix to send down a fresh supply?”

           She glanced up at him sharply.  “Oh, you mean now the computer knows what coffee is?!”

           He grinned at her, quite unabashed.  “Why, of course, Kathryn.”

           “There’s no ‘of course’ about it!”

           He tapped his commbadge.  “Chakotay to Neelix.”

           “Yes, Commander?  Ready for another thermos?”

           “If you please.  And perhaps you could include the picnic now as well.  I don’t think the captain had breakfast this morning.  She looks hungry.”

           “Certainly, Commander.  It will be just a few minutes.  Neelix out.”

           Kathryn stood staring at him, hands on hips, as the plot became clear.

           “You had this all figured out, didn’t you?”  she accused.

           Chakotay shrugged his shoulders.  “I knew you’d never come here otherwise and you needed the break.  You’re a human being, Kathryn.  You have to let yourself relax once in a while.  Don’t you?”

           She started to protest, then gave up, acknowledging the truth of his statement.  She smiled at him fondly, then reached up to stroke his face lightly.

           “You’re right.  Thank you for looking after me.  I know I don’t say it often enough.”

           He turned his head to kiss her fingers, then smiled down at her, his voice affectionate.  “You’re very welcome.”

           The sound of the transporter caught their attention and broke the moment.  Quickly, Kathryn rooted out the full thermos while Chakotay unpacked the food.  For a few hours, he would have Kathryn all to himself before he was forced to relinquish her back to her duties.   For now, it would be enough.


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