Every Dog Has Its Day
Star Trek Voyager and it’s related universe are the sole property of Paramount Studios and are used without permission. Not copyright infringement is intended, I only sought to borrow them for the purpose of writing this story.
Author's note: This story was written after the character of Naomi Wildman was introduced, but before she was played by Scarlet Pommers. The Naomi in this story is considerably younger/less mature. Also, this is another story written in the early days of Seven of Nine. I think you'll be able to pin point which string of episodes this would follow. *G* Thank you and enjoy!
Captain’s Log Stardate 5-----------,
We’ve established orbit around a small M class planet, named Liturga, in a sparsely inhabited star system to take on food stuffs and mineral supplies. Internal sensors have been taken off line for routine maintenance while we are stationary. After reviewing the initial reports on the natives of Liturga, I’ve approved shore leave for the crew during our stay. They seem to be a friendly, outgoing people and I think time spent with them will do the crew some good. We haven’t had much down time lately and spirits around here have gotten a little glum. Quite frankly, I’m looking forward to a little shore leave, myself. It’s been a long and trying past couple of weeks and I hope that some down time would help alleviate some of my restlessness and increasing irritability.
06:30 en route to the mess hall
"Mommy, who’s watching me today?"
Samantha Wildman looked down at her daughter Naomi with a smile. "Neelix is, honey."
Naomi groaned as they reached the mess hall.
Samantha stopped and knelt down with her daughter. "Now, Naomi, I thought that you liked spending time with Neelix."
The child squirmed, sensing a lecture on the horizon. "I do, Mommy. But…it’s boring when I haffa be there all the time." Naomi scrunched up her face and did here best impression of her godfather. "And this is leola root Naomi! Do you know how many things I can make with it?"
"Oh, Naomi. He doesn’t say it like that."
"Does too! Can’t I come with you? I promise I’ll be good."
Samantha brushed back a lock of her daughter’s hair. "Honey, I wish you could. But we’ve talked about this. It wouldn’t be fair if Captain Janeway made special arrangements just for us."
Naomi nodded, knowing the battle was lost for now. "I know Mommy."
Wildman stood and took the child’s hand. "How would you like to go to the planet with me tomorrow. Maybe see some flowers?"
Naomi jumped up and down. "Real flowers? That grow in the ground?"
Kathryn Janeway sat on the biobed rubbing her neck. "Doctor, I don’t want a lecture. I just want something for this pain in my neck."
The Holodoc turned, hypospray in hand. "A pain which you would not have if you didn’t fall asleep reading data pads, Captain."
"Fine. I’ll make a concerted effort to go to sleep in my bed."
"At a reasonable hour." The Doctor added.
"Don’t push it." Kathryn warned.
The EMH relented and pressed the hypospray to her neck. "That should take care of that. Now, is there anything else I can do for you?"
Janeway stood. "No, thank you Doctor. I think that will be all." She headed for the door.
The Doctor followed her to the exit. "Because if there’s anything else I can help with I’d be glad to! Any problems with your hair? Lipstick causing any irritation? Uniform fitting all right?"
Kathryn stopped and turned to the Holodoc. "Are you trying to tell me something here, Doctor?"
"No, no" he said hastily. "I was just…"
"You were just what?"
"Well, I’ve begun to feel lately that I’m not quite in touch with the female members of the crew. I thought that if I could better understand some day to day concerns about health, physical appearance, and the like that I could gain some insight into what a female goes through."
Kathryn groaned inwardly. "So, this has nothing to do with my appearance then?"
"No, but I did think that the lipstick that you had on yesterday was much more attractive than your current choice. I’m not sure a neutral color is flattering with your skin tone."
"Thanks. I’ll take it under advisement." She said dryly. "And Doctor, the only way to really know how a woman feels is to be a woman." With a final shake of her head, she left sickbay.
Once she had gone the Doctor mulled over what the Captain had said. "Hmmm. Be a woman. Now, that’s an interesting idea."
Outside in the corridor, Kathryn changed her destination in mid-stride. She opted to skip breakfast in lieu of going to her quarters and changing her lipstick. "A neutral color isn’t flattering..." She mumbled under her breath.
0720 The Bridge
Harry knew that a lot of people didn’t much care for the early shift. He, personally, rather liked it. It gave him the opportunity to get a jump start on his work and usually have everything running smoothly by the time the Captain got to the Bridge.
This morning was no exception. He had run an intensive series of scans on the planet they were orbiting, studying their culture as well as their technology. But he knew that engineering was in need of several base mineral compounds for several different repair and maintenance projects. Although the order had not been given to scan for the location of such minerals nor to run these preliminary shopping lists by local merchants, he knew that it would be. He liked to have things ready before the Captain knew that she needed them.
He was sorting through the data when he received the message that effectively ruined his good mood.
"Engineering to Ensign Kim."
"Kim, here. What’s up B’Elanna?"
"Harry? How are you doing?"
Harry stifled a laugh. "Doing? I’m fine B’Elanna. Why wouldn’t I be?"
"You haven’t heard? Oh…um…maybe I’ll just let Tom tell you when he gets to the bridge."
"Tell me what? B’Elanna?"
"Well…I know that you said you weren’t interested any more, but I know that sometimes things like this have a way of affecting people any way."
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, hell. Seven agreed to go on a date with Crewman Dalby tonight."
"Seven…a date? With…Dalby?"
"But...how…No, I mean when? It’s not even oh' eight hundred."
"He worked the late shift last night. Apparently they got to talking when he was in Astrometrics helping her repair one of the imaging consoles and he asked her to dinner."
"And she said yes?"
"Yeah, it looks like it."
Harry couldn’t think of anything to say. He just stood at ops with a blank look on his face.
"Harry? Harry, you still there?"
"Yeah, B’Elanna. I have some work to do. I’ll talk to you later. Kim, out."
0730 First Officer Chakotay’s Quarters
"First Officer’s personal log: Stardate 5-------------. I have always considered myself to be a patient man. But I am afraid that I have reached the end of my patience in my currant romantic relationship. Relationship. Ha. I don’t even have a relationship with her. I give, she takes, and gives nothing in return. No, that’s not true. She gives me so much. It’s just that…lately it seems…..damn. Computer, delete entry."
Chakotay sighed, shook his head and headed for the shower. He couldn’t sort out his feelings about Kathryn. At least not now and perhaps not by himself. He would consider these matters during the course of the day and then make a decision.
0900 Mess Hall-galley
Naomi Wilder was bored. In fact, she was quite certain that she was going to die of boredom. She sat perched upon a high stool in the galley shelling green non-descript legumes for the noon time meal.
Neelix had promised to take her to the holodeck after they had checked on the vegetables in the Hydroponics bay. But, for the second day in a row, that didn’t happen. Yesterday, they hadn’t even made it to hydroponics. Today they had gotten there only to discover that the crop of Talaxian peas were ripe. Very nearly over ripe. They had to be prepared and eaten soon or they would go to waste. And waste was one thing that Naomi’s godfather simply did not approve of.
So Naomi shelled the peas while Neelix ran hither and dither fetching spices and what not for the obscenely large pot of peas that he planned to serve for lunch. She was bored. And perhaps now was the time to remedy that situation.
The Talaxian turned suddenly, nearly dropping a long strand of dried peppers. "Yes, Naomi?"
"I gotta go."
"Go? Where do you have to go?"
The little girl sighed in frustration. "I…have…"she started saying each word as slowly and clearly as possible. "….to….go!"
"Oh! Go! Well, hang on one micron my little snow pea and I’ll take you."
"But, I gotta go now! I’ll be right back and I promise not to wander off."
Neelix paused, contemplating the how the balance of the universe could be altered if one little girl went to the bathroom by herself.
Naomi, already a master in the art of pouting and pleading, stuck out her lower lip ever so slightly and batted her eyes. "Pleeeease?"
"Well, I guess it won’t hurt. Go ahead. But come right back!"
Naomi bounded off of the stool and out of the galley.
Neelix regarded the departure of the little girl for a moment before returning to his legumes. "I guess she really did have to go."
Once out of the mess hall and the not so watchful eye of Neelix, Naomi raced down the corridor, flinging off her communicator pin as she did. She ran past the nearest restroom and straight to the first turbolift that she came to. It was time to have some fun.
1000 Captain’s ready room
"Yes, Chakotay I did hear you. I was just thinking that I have too much on my agenda today to beam down to the planet…much as I was looking forward to going." Kathryn paused, noting the irritated and vaguely wounded look on her First Officer’s face. "I would love to visit that Market though. Do the Liturgans really have silk?"
Chakotay smiled. "In a veritable rainbow of colors Kathryn. Tom and I stopped there briefly on our initial away mission. You would love it. Come with me."
Kathryn sighed. She almost relented. "No, I’d like to, but I have to finish these crew evaluations that you gave me last week and try to figure out a way to conserve our resources. Not to mention review and approve ‘shopping lists’ from about a dozen different departments."
"Dammit Kathryn. That’s why you have subordinate officers! Let them do some of that for you."
"Chakotay I don’t like your tone just now and if you’re attempting to bully me into taking my shore leave with you it won’t work!"
Chakotay took a deep breath and counted to three silently. "Kathryn…I’m not trying to bully you. And certainly not for my own sake at that. I’ve know you. You will put off your shore leave until that last day and then only take an hour or two. If even that. You need down time as much as the rest of us, Kathryn Janeway. You forget that. Just like you forget to eat and sleep half of the time. I’m just trying to make sure you don’t entirely neglect yourself."
"I know Chakotay and I do appreciate that, but I really can’t make the time just now. But I promise, I won’t neglect my shore leave. All right?"
"I guess that will have to do, won’t it?" Chakotay turned on his heel and left her ready room.
Kathryn sighed discontentedly. She hadn’t wanted to end the discussion with Chakotay being upset with her. ‘Can’t make the time?’ she repeated. "Then what the hell is the point of being the Captain? Even in the Delta Quadrant, command has to have it perks." A smile began to twitch at the corners of her mouth as she began to mentally rearrange her plans for the day. She tapped the commlink and summoned Tuvok to her ready room.
"Mr. Neelix. My duties for the day have been compounded with additional work of the Captain’s. As you obviously have not surmised, I am extremely busy. Do you think you could simply state your reason for coming here with out the extraneous information?"
"All right" Neelix began shakily "I was in the galley making a pepper sauce to go with the Talaxian peas. I had a strand of dried red peppers. Or were they hot peppers? No, no, they must have been sweet red peppers because hot peppers wouldn’t really go with peas. Besides the hot peppers were green and not red…"
"What? Oh, oh, sorry Mr. Tuvok. I…well…you see…"
"You have exactly ten seconds before I leave this area and report to the bridge. I suggest you make the most of them."
"I lost Naomi Wildman!"
"Did I hear you correctly? Did you say that you have misplaced.."
"No-no! Not misplaced! Lost! I lost her! She said that she had to…er…go and when I realized that she had been gone an extremely long time, I went to look for her! I found her communicator...but…no Naomi! What will we do?" he cried while wringing his hands.
Tuvok regarded the agitated Talaxian for a moment before tapping a key on the security console. "Naomi Wildman you are to report to security immediately."
Neelix cringed. "Um. Say, if you don’t mind my asking, was that a ship wide announcement?"
"You did say that you found the child’s communicator, did you not?"
"Well, yes, but…"
"Then, logically, a ship wide hail was the most expedient solution."
"Yes, yes, you’re right, Mr. Tuvok. Absolutely right. It’s just, uh, I haven’t exactly told Ensign Wildman that her daughter is missing yet."
The doors to security opened admitting Samantha Wildman.
"Then it would appear that you have a great deal of explaining to do." Tuvok answered.
"I’ll say!" Wildman exclaimed.
Neelix twittered nervously. "Um...to quote Mr. Paris…oh shit."
1130 Mess Hall
"How in the hell did I get stuck with this duty?"
"Ooh! Prim and proper Starfleet ensign turns into swearing bad ass! We might make you as cool as me yet!" Tom teased.
Ensign Kim continued to stir the mammoth pot of peas and glared at he helmsman. "Just shut up, will you?"
"Look, Harry, I’m sorry. I know you’re upset about Seven and Dalby. I was just trying to cheer you up a little."
"You know, I’m getting sick of everyone treating me like their kid brother. I don’t need to be cheered up like a baby who’s just lost his sucker."
Tom stopped trying to slice the misshapen loaf of bread and turned to his friend. "I’m not trying to treat you like a kid, Harry. I’m just trying to keep my best friend from having a bad day. Same as always. That so bad?"
"No, I’m sorry. It’s just…."
"Just?" Tom prompted.
"After all of the time that I’ve spent with her, how the hell can she go out with Dalby. I mean…Dalby! He’s so wrong for her. He can’t possibly understand how complex she is. How sensitive she is."
"Not like you, right?"
"Harry, I’m your friend…"
"Yeah, unless you’re going out with her too."
Tom laughed. "Oh, no. Not my type, besides B’Elanna would kick my butt. Anyway, as your friend I’m telling you to let it go."
"Just let it go, Harry. Before the green-eyed monster makes you do something really stupid that you’ll regret."
"Yeah, maybe I should. But it’s not going to be easy. I’ve spent a lot of time with her."
"What’s the alternative? End up like Chakotay? Pining away for a woman who’s just not going to return sai favor?"
Harry looked down. "He’s still got it bad for the Captain?"
"That’s what B’Elanna says and I figure she would know."
"Still though…it’s kind of sweet. The way he waits for her. Stays by her side."
Tom rolled his eyes. "Aww, Harry! Haven’t I taught you anything?"
"Sure. You taught me that even a pig like you can get a steady girl friend while I, a decent guy, on the other hand, wind up with nothing. I just can’t believe this. I didn’t think that she was even ready to date and she going out with Dalby!"
"Harry, Harry, Harry……" Tom began again while contemplating the loaf of bread he had mutilated. This day threatened to go to hell quickly and where was Neelix anyway?
B’Elanna Torres had often questioned the accuracy of the phrase ‘die laughing’. At the moment, she had no more questions on that topic. She was doubled over one of the biobeds in sickbay laughing so hard that no sound was emitted. Her entire body shook, alarmingly, with each fit of laughter and tears poured down her cheeks. She took great ragged gasps of air trying to stop the laughter, to no avail.
"Lt. Torres if you don’t calm down, I’ll have to give you a sedative." The EMH cautioned with her hands on her hips.
B’Elanna took another peek at the Holographic doctor and began to laugh harder, occasionally beating the cushion of the biobed for emphasis.
"All right, I’m administering a sedative before you burst a vein." The EMH pressed a hypospray to Torres’ neck.
The Chief Engineer’s laughter quelled to small giggles and she managed to straighten herself. "When…when you said….that you had…had…"
The EMH rapped red nails impatiently on the surface of the biobed. "Oh, just spit it out why don’t you."
"When you said that you had changed your appearance, I had just figured you had programmed some hair for yourself or maybe a smaller nose. But…this….I wasn’t expecting this!"
"I see. Then you don’t think that I’m attractive and what's wrong with my nose?"
B’Elanna gazed in amused astonishment at the appearance of the EMH once more. Essentially, the facial features had remained constant. Same disdainful holographic visage that the crew had grown to love. But now, instead of a bald head, the face was framed with generous blond curls. He, now a she, had applied the holographic equivalent of cosmetics to her eyes and lips. At first glance the EMH appeared to have gotten slightly taller, but this turned out to be due to a stylish pair of black pumps. He, she, B’Elanna corrected mentally, was also filling out a great deal more uniform than previously. Her chest was rivaled only by Seven’s for size. In short, the EMH appeared to be in drag. Torres could feel the laughter welling up again, and tried to choke it back down. "Um…well…it’s…too much of a shock to really judge your…physical…If you don’t mind my asking, why? I mean, why decide to be a woman?"
The EMH pursed her ruby red lips thoughtfully. "Actually, I have you and Captain Janeway to thank for this."
"Me? I’m somehow to blame…I mean to thank?"
The Holodoc ignored Torres’ foible. "Since I was first activated I was confident that there wasn’t a broken bone that I couldn’t mend, a disease that I couldn’t cure, a virus that I couldn’t kill. But one thing that has continued to stump me was how to relate to the crew. I was sure that given time, I would become as proficient in that area as in any other. And I must admit, that I feel like I’ve made great strides. Lately, though, I’ve started to feel like I was out of touch with the female members of the crew. Particularly when it comes to yourself and the Captain."
B’Elanna settled herself more comfortably against the biobed. "Uh-huh, go on."
"Obviously, I could treat any ailment that I was presented with. But it seemed that there were some emotional or perhaps psychological ailments unique to the female gender that I was at a loss to help with."
"Well, for example, how to aid a female who doesn’t feel attractive or doesn’t feel in touch with their femininity. I can quote texts and medical research, of course, but it seemed that this was an area where advice based upon physical experience would have been more helpful."
"So, you decided to make yourself a woman."
"Actually, it was Captain Janeway’s idea."
"Oh, you’ve got to be kidding."
The EMH raised one of her elegantly lined eyebrows. "No, I’m not. I talked to the Captain this morning and told her how I was feeling, much as I just told you and she said that the only way to know how a woman felt was to be a woman."
"Still though" Torres said "I don’t think that this was quite what she meant."
"Perhaps not, but I think that it's an ingenious decision."
"Uh-huh. Let me ask you this. Didn’t you add a little physical feature to your program a while back."
"What? Oh, you mean that."
"Yeah, that. What did you do with it?"
"Pardon me?" The EMH queried horrified. "What do you mean what did I do with it? What do think, that it’s in a holographic jar on the holodeck?"
"No, I mean did you….how to put this…erase that extraneous bit of added programming?"
"I’ll have you know that it wasn’t that extraneous! And no, I didn’t erase it."
"You still…" B’Elanna asked.
"Yes, I still have it."
"I see. And you think that you are going to come to some sort of new and enlightened understanding of how the female gender feels while still packing a holographic penis in your pocket?"
"I hadn’t thought about that."
"I didn’t think so. You’ll have to remove it."
"If you really want to be a woman…it’s got to go. I could delete it for you if you like."
The EMH uttered a tiny shriek. "No, no. I’ll…take care of it."
"The other thing that you may consider is that being a woman is more than having the physical attributes of a female. You need to experience everything that a woman does."
"Oh, yes everything."
"But…I mean…I don’t think that I could….you know…with…a male."
"Well, then before you commit yourself to the...er...sex change, I suggest you give that some thought as well."
"Thought, yes. I’ll think about it. But I can’t imagine…I mean…who?"
B’Elanna was choking back her laughter once more. "Oh, that’s simple. Just try to imagine yourself, as a woman, with the next male that you encounter."
"That sounds like reasonable advice."
At that moment the doors to sickbay swooshed open admitting Neelix. "I’m trying to find Naomi Wildman. She hasn’t been here has she? Doctor…isn’t that a new look for you?" Neelix queried guilelessly.
The EMH, thankfully already loaded into the autonomous emitter, ran from Sickbay screaming.
As Torres fell onto the biobed laughing once more, Neelix looked around in confusion. "What? What did I say?"
1315 Cargo Bay Two
Naomi tip-toed, very carefully, towards the remaining bit of active Borg technology left onboard Voyager. The Borg woman, Seventy-nine, Naomi recalled, stood inside the active cubicle- her eyes closed. The green lights blinked and thrummed behind her head seeming to give her a green halo.
She new her Mother didn’t like Seventy-nine very much usually made sure to steer her curious daughter out of the Borg’s presence. She didn’t know why her mother didn’t like her. Naomi thought she was pretty. She didn’t seem to smile or laugh, but Tuvok didn’t either. And everyone liked him. Naomi didn’t think that was very fair. She didn’t think that Seventy-nine had any friends. And that wasn’t very fair either.
She figured that since she was the only little girl on board and Seventy-nine was the only Borg, that they should be friends. If for no other reason that that they were both unique.
But they couldn’t start being friends until the pretty Borg woke up. Although how someone could sleep standing up was beyond her understanding.
Naomi reached up and touched Seventy-nine’s leg. "Hello?"
No response. She touched the Borg again. This time, her eyes opened and she stepped down, grabbing a hold of Naomi’s arm.
"Why are you here?" she asked. "You do not have clearance for this area."
"I don’t have clearance for anywhere." The child said petulantly.
"That is because you are undeveloped and do not comprehend the importance of many areas on the ship." Seventy-nine said, releasing the girl’s arm.
Naomi sighed. "I guess its like that for all kids….but I haven’t met any."
"That is incorrect. Children that have been assimilated by the Borg function in the Collective the same as any other drone."
"Are there lots of kids in the co-lective?"
"There are several hundred."
"Wow! Was it fun?"
"Fun?" Seventy-nine asked.
"Being in the co-lective with all those kids."
"Fun is irrelevant. Children, however, make acceptable drones."
"What’s ir….ir…irlevelant mean?"
"It means that it serves no purpose." The Borg replied.
"Oh" Naomi responded. "But I like to have fun. Even if it’s irlevelant."
"Many of your species share that same flaw."
Naomi decided that this current tactic wasn’t getting them anywhere. "Why is your name Seventy-nine?"
"My Borg designation was Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One. Seven of Nine is an imprecise but acceptable abbreviation of that designation. However, you may call me Seven."
"Was there an Eight of Nine?"
"Yes" Seven answered.
"Did you know her?" Naomi asked as she started to skip towards the bulkhead and back again.
"I was Borg. I knew all other Borg."
"Why have you come to Cargo Bay Two?" Seven asked.
The little girl stopped skipping and smiled shyly. "I thought we could play since you don’t have any friends."
Seven nearly reminded the child that playing was irrelevant but abandoned the thought. Much of the activities that the humans and their neighboring species engaged in were an inexcusable waste of time and energy. And yet…they thrived, despite their frivolous natures. "I do not know…how to play." She stated.
Naomi smiled. "I could teach you! We could play lots of things."
"That would be acceptable. However, I have duties to perform today."
"That’s okay" Naomi said. "I probably can’t play much today either ‘cause I’m probably gonna be in trouble."
"In trouble?" Seven asked.
"Yeah. I was s’posed to stay with Neelix and I didn’t."
"I understand. You disobeyed an order."
"I guess, kinda."
"I see. I have disobeyed orders before as well."
Naomi’s eyes went wide. "Did you get in trouble?"
The Borg considered the question before answering. "I was denied use of any of Voyager’s key systems and my duties were restricted to Astrometrics."
"It sure sounds like you got in trouble. Can you play tomorrow?" Naomi asked.
"I have a block of personal time between 0800 and 1100 hours. I would be available to….play at that time."
"Ok! If I’m not grounded we can play a game."
Seven nodded as the little girl skipped towards the wide doors of the cargo bay. Naomi stopped and turned. "Seven? How come you sleep standing up?"
"I do not sleep. I regenerate."
"Oh. Sometimes when I can’t sleep Neelix comes and tells me a story."
"This is effective?"
"Uh-huh. But sometimes I just can’t sleep cause I don’t have my teddy bear."
"Your teddy bear?"
"Yeah. His name’s Marcus. He’s brown and furry. Hey! Maybe if you got a teddy bear then you could sleep!"
"I will…consider your proposal."
"Okay. Bye!" Naomi hollered and left the cargo bay.
Seven inclined her head. "Have a pleasant day." She then moved over to the console nearest her regeneration alcove and began to review her personal logs.
She had barely begun when the cargo bay doors whooshed open once more to admit Neelix, Samantha Wildman, and Ensign Geller from Security.
Wildman eyed the Borg warily. "Has my daughter been here?"
"When?" Neelix and Geller asked.
"She departed approximately two minutes ago."
"Did she say where she was going?" Geller questioned.
Wildman took a step closer to Seven. "And it never occurred to you that maybe you should have called me, or Neelix, or Security instead of letting her run around this ship by herself?"
"Seven, she’s a child and children do not run around unattended!" Samantha said in frustration.
"I will note that for future reference."
"You’d better!" With that Wildman left the cargo bay with Neelix and Ensign Geller following.
Seven returned to her logs.
1450 Ship’s time: Liturgan Market place
Kathryn emerged from behind the dressing screen in what she was told was the finest clothing shop in the Liturgan market place. She had let Chakotay talk her into a delicious concoction of maroon and gold fabric that seemed to hug her in all of the best places. She didn’t notice Chakotay’s mouth drop as she moved to stand in front of a large mirror.
Kathryn almost didn’t recognize the body in the mirror as her own. Having become so accustomed to the standard issue uniform and her loose, comfortable, after-hours garb, she was unprepared for an outfit designed to show off her best physical attributes. If she didn’t know better, she’d have sworn that the garment had been sewn specifically for her.
Her neck and shoulders had been laid bare, her pale skin a pleasing contrast to the deep maroon velvet that began with an off shoulder neck-line. The dress was snug from her bodice to a lowered tight ‘v’ waistline her abdomen, then at her hips it suddenly erupted in yards of sheer gold and maroon organza. She looked like royalty.
"Oh Chakotay, it’s beautiful…but, I’d never have an occasion to wear it."
Chakotay remained silent.
"I know, I know…" Kathryn continued "I should be a little frivolous and just buy the damn thing. But it’s just too gorgeous to hang unworn in my closet. Don’t you agree?"
"Chakotay?" Kathryn turned from her reflection in the mirror to regard her First Officer.
He stood gazing at her, his lips parted slightly, his eyes glazed.
Kathryn snapped her fingers. "Hello? You’re not communing with your Spirit Guide during my shore leave, are you?" she chided.
Chakotay blinked once, and then again. "Wha?"
"Have you heard anything I’ve said?"
"Honestly, no. Did I miss anything important?"
Kathryn smiled. "No. Just me giving a list of reasons not to buy this dress."
Chakotay seemed to ‘come to’ slightly as he advanced upon her. "What ever those reasons were, they don’t justify not buying that dress. If you don’t buy it, I’m buying it for you."
"When am I going to wear it?"
"The Liturgan Magistrate invited us to attend a performance by a sort of Opera company."
Kathryn grinned. "Chakotay…you hate opera."
"Since when? I love it. Every last note." He lied. ‘And if you wear that dress tonight I’ll wake up every morning to an hour of opera and die happy’ he thought.
"All right. But if I’m buying this dress…then you had better find the Liturgan equivalent of a Tuxedo...though I really think dress uniform would be more than sufficient."
"Kathryn…look around. The Liturgans are a people dedicated to beauty and extravagance. Attending in uniform would only insult them!"
"I think you're reaching on that one, but, I've already agreed to buy the dress, so you'd best just quit while you're ahead!"
1500 Holodeck One
"Mr. Paris, would you shut up!"
Voyager’s helmsman sat on the black and yellow grid floor of the holodeck with tears streaming from his eyes. He had laughed himself hoarse. "But, Doc" he croaked "I tellin’ you, you’re kind of sexy in that get up."
"You pre-pubescent humor is the last thing I need at the moment." The EMH said irritably. "I asked for Lt. Torres to come and help me return my appearance to my original default settings. I certainly did not ask for you or your adolescent, sexist witticisms!"
Paris managed to stand and saunter over to the EMH. He moved in until the Holodoc was backed against one of the generic walls of the holodeck. "Sooo, does this mean I don’t stand a chance?"
The EMH uttered an inaudible ‘eep’ and deactivated his own program. Paris burst into laughter once more. "Geez, some people are so touchy. Computer reset EMH to original default appearance parameters authorization Paris zeta three."
"Default parameters established." The computer intoned.
"Computer, activate Emergency Medical Hologram."
The EMH shimmered into being in front of Tom.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency."
"Relax Doc. You’re as good as new…or old in this case."
"Where are the patients?"
"There aren’t any patients. You’re on the holodeck. What’s…"
"I am not programmed for use in on the holodecks. Please transfer my program to sickbay."
"Doc…are you all right? You’re not still mad at me, are you?"
"Why should I be mad? Have we met?"
"C’mon Doc, cut it out."
"Cut what out? I am the Emergency Medical Hologram. My program was designed to supplement the existing medical staff of any ship during a crisis. Please deactivate my program and consult your ship’s physician."
"Uh-oh." Paris tapped the communicator on his chest. "Paris to Torres."
"Umm, B’Elanna, we have a minor problem here."
"What did you do?"
"Nothing! Sheesh! I just reset the Doc’s appearance to its default exactly like you told me and now…"
"Now, he’s acting like just like he was just activated."
"What did you do!" B’Elanna repeated, much more forcefully.
"Just what you said to do."
"Well you must have done something wrong."
"No, I ……."
"I’ll be there in just a minute."
"Try not delete the program in that time, okay?"
"Just don’t do a thing."
Torres cut off the transmission. Tom grunted in irritation and looked at the EMH. "Women!"
The EMH continued to stand still as a stone and remained unresponsive.
"I just know she’s gonna blame me for this." Paris muttered as he began to pace the holodeck.
1525 Mess Hall
Harry worked feverishly in Neelix’s makeshift kitchen. He had stayed to serve lunch and now cleaned every last millimeter of the cooking area with an almost manic zeal. He had hoped that plain old-fashioned sweat would take his mind off of Seven and Dalby. To that end he had washed every dish and counter top in the vicinity and had just taken to scrubbing the floor with a wire brush and soap. He was on his hands and knees in the kitchen with sweat pouring off of his brow. It wasn’t working. He could still think of nothing but Seven. And Dalby. Together.
Harry had paused to wipe some of the sweat from his face when he heard the doors to the mess hall ‘whoosh’ open. From his position behind the counter he could not see who had come in. He was about to stand and utter a greeting when he heard Dalby’s normally charming and contagious laughter combined with the equally charming tones of both Meagan and Jenny Delany.
He couldn’t make out the conversation, but he was sure that, knowing Dalby, it was no innocent chat. He couldn’t believe it. Dalby was going out with Seven in less than four hours. Did he intend to pass the time beforehand trying to cajole the Delany sisters into submission? The man was a menace. A primal sex fiend who cared nothing for the hearts of the women who were felled before his lust. Harry’s fists were clenched. "What an ass hole!" He muttered. Seven didn’t know what she was getting herself into. He owed it to her to look out for her, to protect her and the Delanys, who at this moment could be making a mistake that would lead to heartbreak and betrayal. It fell to one man to stop Dalby. And that man was Harry Kim.
Before he even knew what he was doing, Harry lunged from behind the counter. He saw nothing but Dalby as he rushed by Chell ,who had Meagan Delany on one arm and her sister Jenny on the other. Crewman Dalby looked up from the padd he’d been reading just as Harry made contact. They both went crashing to the floor. Harry had the advantage of surprise and managed to get in several quick punches to his opponent’s mid section before Chell and the Delanys rushed forward to pull him off.
"What the hell is your problem?" Dalby yelled.
"Me? What the hell did I do to you?"
Harry refused to answer, he just glared.
"Oh, wait. I get it. It’s this whole thing with Seven. Geez kid, lighten up, a little. It’s just dinner."
"I bet. And then what?"
"And then she goes back to her cargo bay and I grab some sleep before my eleven to seven shift."
"You’re planning on three and a half hours just to eat?"
"Who the hell are you…the date approval committee? No, actually. I was planning on eating and then ditching her as soon as I could. I’m not even that interested in her."
"Then why have dinner with her at all?"
"Because Lt. Torres, who just happens to be my immediate Senior Officer, mentioned that it was sort of sad how Seven usually eats alone and wouldn’t it be nice if she could find someone to really communicate with blah, blah, blah."
"This was B’Elanna’s idea?"
"Well, yeah! Kind of. I’m hoping that if I go out with Seven, Torres will think I’m an all right guy, as well as great engineer, and give me that promotion in Warp Core Maintenance."
Harry pinched his brow. "You mean this whole date is just you trying to get a promotion?"
"To quote archaic earth vernacular, Ensign Kim, ‘Duh’! After my performance as Puck on talent night I thought everyone on board knew I was gay."
"You’re…gay…I mean…your tendencies are…?"
"Yeah, my tendencies are. Wanna jump on top of me again?"
Harry shook his head. He felt like quite possibly the most idiotic human to have left the planet. "No-o. I just want to kick myself….a lot."
Dalby nodded. "Well, you know…what ever works for you."
Ensign Kim was about to tell him that nothing short of a quick and easy death would ‘work for him’ when Naomi Wildman ran by giggling and out of the mess hall. Harry opened his mouth again and Samantha Wildman ran by. Followed by Ensign Geller and then Neelix. He gave up and shut his mouth.
1675 Ship’s time- Liturgan Market Place
Chakotay, First Officer of the Federation star ship Voyager, and Ex-Maquis leader, was embarrassed. In fact, he had turned a shade of red that Kathryn had found almost as alarming as it was charming.
"No fair" Chakotay croaked. "You knew, didn’t you?"
Kathryn set the large box containing her dress aside and approached Chakotay with an air of innocence. "Knew? Knew what?"
"That the Liturgan form of male finery consists to tiny strips of fabric held together with dental floss!"
Kathryn choked back a laugh, but could not hold back the silly leer that had crept up on her face. She tried, but nothing short of biting her lips was going to stop it. He was a magnificent sight. Truly, a fine model for the Liturgan formal attire. She hadn’t seen this much of his tan flesh since she’d snuck a peek at him bathing on New Earth.
"Oh, come now, Chakotay. There’s more than two tiny strips of fabric." Not very damn much more, she amended silently. "Don’t be a prude. I think it’s very flattering." And it was. He was completely bare down to a spot very low on his hips where the clinging black fabric hugged his genitals. He refused to turn around to prove that the back of the garment was indeed comprised out of a material that was alarmingly similar to dental floss.
Chakotay was still a deep shade of red, but his embarrassment was fading in the face of his desire. He advanced slowly on Kathryn. "How flattering?"
Her voice was thick and husky when she managed to respond with, "Very".
And then there were no more footsteps between them. He was in front of her. So close, but not yet making any overt move to continue. "You know, I’d wear this for you Kathryn. But not in public." He put his hand on the wall behind her head.
"Umm. Perhaps, perhaps we should see about something a lrosse more conservative…"
Chakotay leaned in "Are you sure you want to risk offending the Liturgans sense of style?"
Kathryn ducked under his arm and into the relative safety of the center of the room. "Yes, I’m sure. Positive. Much more conservative." Her face had now taken on a shade of crimson that rivaled his own.
"As you wish, Captain." Chakotay said passing her and ducking back behind the screen of the dressing room.
"Chakotay?" Kathryn called out.
"Why did you come out if you objected to the…uh...thong…dammit! I mean thing."
She could hear him chuckle as he tossed the tiny garment over the screen.
"You’re not going to answer that, are you?"
"Nope. Would you really want me to?"
"No." she said as she dropped into a nearby chair. "No, I don’t think I would."
1750 en route to Cargo Bay Two
There was very little doubt in young Naomi Wildman’s mind about how much trouble she was going to be in. She was going to be grounded forever, she was sure of it. But she couldn’t give herself up to her mother, or Neelix, until she had finished the last task that she had set for herself that day. She knew that the adults were only a minute or two behind her, so, she put as much speed as her young legs would allow.
She was less than a foot away from Cargo Bay Two when she heard her mother call her from the opposite end of the corridor. "Naomi Wildman, you stop this instant!"
Oh, boy. She was in for it. Well, she thought, since I’m already gonna get it….
Naomi rushed through the double doors and ran to the cubicle where Seven had stood a few hours before. She quickly deposited her cargo at the base of the cubicle and then ran to meet her mother at the doors.
Samantha scooped Naomi up into her arms and hugged her fiercely. She then set her down and dropped to the girl’s eye level. "Just what do you think you’re doing, young lady? Do you know that Neelix, Ensign Geller, and I have been looking for you for hours?"
"And then we had to chase you through this ship like you were some sort of criminal! What do you have to say for yourself?"
Naomi’s lip trembled. "I don’t know."
"Well, why did you run away from Neelix like that? You scared him half to death!"
"I don’t know."
"Well, you’re grounded until you do know and you apologize to Neelix, to me and to Ensign Geller who had to spend her day off chasing after you!"
Naomi hung her head. "I’m sorry" she said quietly.
Samantha stood and took a firm hold of her daughter’s hand. They left the Cargo Bay just as Neelix and Ensign Geller arrived. The round of questioning took place again from Neelix, in a manner almost identical to that of Samantha's. Ensign Geller, relieved at finding the child, but still determined to make the most out of the rest of the day, bid her farewells to the adults and favored Naomi with a stern, but amused look. The party left the Cargo Bay, no one but Naomi knowing about the worn stuffed bear that sat on the floor of Seven’s cubicle.
"You know I could have transferred the Doc’s program to Sickbay, if you’d just asked."
B’Elanna looked up from the wall console where she was studying the hardware components of the EMH’s matrix. "Well, I just didn’t want the program to get garbled more than it was and figured it was safer if I transferred it."
Tom ran a hand through his coppery hair and looked at her. "You think I messed up the Doc’s program."
"I didn’t say that."
"You didn’t have to."
"Oh, please. Stop being so paranoid." B’Elanna said as she returned to the console. "You know what’s weird?"
"What?" Tom asked, still a bit petulant.
"I can’t figure out what’s wrong. Everything looks normal. The program reads as normal and the hardware seems fine. I just don’t get it."
"So…it wasn’t my fault?"
"I don’t see how it could have been. But then again at this point I don’t see what the problem is either. Hmm. Maybe if I try changing the matrix bandwidth to 0 point 175. Think that’d give the memory and logic systems a little tweak?"
Tom looked at her. "B’el…I have no idea what you just said. How should I know if it’ll work?"
B’Elanna gave him an apologetic smile and completed her adjustments. "Computer activate Emergency Medical Hologram."
The Holodoc appeared as unceremoniously as ever. "Please state the nature of the medical emergency. Oh, you two again."
Paris was about to suggest abandoning the repair when the doors to the sickbay opened admitting Dalby and Harry Kim. Harry had a small cut on one lip while Dalby held one arm over his midsection. "What the hell happened to you two?" Tom asked.
The EMH, noting patients to attend to instructed them both to sit on a biobed as he ran a tricorder over them one at a time.
Dalby grinned. "The kid here went nuts and lunged at me in the mess hall. You should have seen it. Eyes blazing, lips curled. I was truly impressed."
"You did what?" B’Elanna questioned.
"I, uh, you know. Might have hit him once or twice."
"Aww, Harry, you didn’t!" Tom admonished.
"Yeah. I was…you know. Being stupid….about Seven and I…well…I ran at him like a lunatic and hit him a couple of times."
Dalby, perhaps thCloust amused man ever attacked by a senior officer, grinned again. "All because he thought I was going to try to get Seven in bed."
"You’re not?" B’Elanna and Tom asked in unison.
"No. She not my type. She’s so…girly."
"Huh?" Paris asked.
"He’s gay, Tom" Harry explained.
"Really?" B’Elanna asked. "But you seem so…well…manly."
Dalby threw his head back and laughed wincing at the pain this caused his bruised gut. "It amazes me that even in the twenty-fourth century the stereotype of the weak, limp wristed, flaming queen lives on. Do you mean that none of you knew I was gay?"
They all shook their heads.
"Shit, didn’t anyone see my performance as Puck on talent night? The roll of a fairy was not just coincidental, you know!"
"Yes, and it was very convincing." The EMH said as he pressed a hypo spray to Harry’s neck.
"You think so, really?" Dalby asked.
"When was talent night, did I miss it?" Paris queried.
"I feel like such an idiot!" Harry chimed in.
"HOLD IT!" B’Elanna yelled.
The room fell silent quickly. The Chief Engineer advanced on the Holodoc menacingly. "What do you mean ‘it was convincing’?"
"Umm. I don’t know what you’re referring to."
"Oh cut the crap! I’ve spent almost three hours pouring over lines of code and your damn hardware trying to figure out what went wrong! Except…nothing did go wrong did it? You were just putting on a little performance of your own!"
The EMH grinned fiendishly. "Yes, I was. Quite frankly, I was tired of you and Mr. Paris gleaning so much amusement from my…er…sexuality crisis" The Holodoc ignored the eyebrow that shot up on Dalby’s face and continued. "I only thought it fair that I take some amusement from the two of you."
B’Elanna glared at the EMH dangerously. "Did it ever occur to you that I can get even?"
"I’m not flesh and blood so I think I’m safe from the usual form of Klingon vengeance" the Doctor answered snidely.
Paris, Kim, and Dalby began to slowly move away from B’Elanna.
"Oh, you three quit it. I’m not going to fly into one of those mad Klingon rages." She chided.
"You’re not?" Tom asked.
"Nope." B’Elanna said sweetly. "Computer, delete holographic feature addition 1001."
The EMH gasped. "You wouldn’t!"
"Authorization Torres gamma nine eight." B’Elanna finished just as sweetly.
"Authorization approved. Deletion complete."
The EMH fled to safety of the medical office and sat down to compose himself.
"What the heck did you delete?" Paris asked.
"Oh, not much. Just one tiny little thing. He can program it back in himself in no time."
She smiled and left the three men standing confused in the middle of Sickbay.
Harry looked at Tom. "The Doc didn’t have a…you know…"
"Nah….at least I don’t think so." Paris answered.
Dalby glanced towards the office. "But if he did…he’s probably…"
"Freaking out" Harry finished.
They advanced slowly towards the EMH’s office. They could here him muttering within. "That’s just fine. No problem. I can get it back. And this time, I think I’ll make it bigger!"
Tom, Harry, and Dalby erupted into sputtering fits of laughter and then fled sickbay before the EMH could respond.
"Degenerates." The Holodoc said and frantically continued his work.
1950 Cargo Bay Two
"Computer, resume personal log" Seven stated. "I have been what humans refer to as ‘stood up’. Undoubtedly Crewman Dalby experienced some lingering doubts about my personality. Most likely this is due to my existence as a Borg. Many species find me frightening for that reason." Seven stopped speaking and keyed in the save command for her log entry. She looked around the Cargo Bay until her eyes fell on the small ‘teddy bear’ that she had found in her cubicle. She picked it up and stoked its artificial fur.
Seven gently set the stuffed toy on the console and regarded it thoughtfully.
2100: Ship’s time, Liturgan Royal Amphitheater
Kathryn leaned back in Chakotay’s arms and gazed up at the brightest star in the Liturgan sky. It was, of course, Voyager. Even had she not been able to differentiate due to its brightness, she would have known. She could feel, even now, the faint pull of the ship on her. Like a magnet. It was home. There and here. In the warm circle of Chakotay’s arms, regarding the stars in an empty amphitheater.
"You’re not upset?" Chakotay asked.
Kathryn smiled and smoothed the gold and maroon organza of her dress. "Upset that I spent a week’s replicator rations on the ore to buy this dress for a fictional opera?"
The skirt of Kathryn’s dress rustled as she turned in Chakotay’s arms to face him. "No. It was a beautiful night. A quiet dinner, a romantic stroll, and a night under the stars. What woman would complain?"
Chakotay smiled and traced her lips with his finger. "I just wanted to see you happy Kathryn. If I could have arranged for an opera I would have."
She trembled slightly under his touch, but did not resist. "I know. Do you know what I think would be the perfect end to this evening?"
"If we beamed back to Voyager, raided the Captain’s personal wine stash, and spent the rest of the evening in her quarters."
"That doesn’t sound very Starfleet of you Kathryn."
She laughed gently and placed a bold hand on his chest. "I’m not feeling very Starfleet at the moment."
Chakotay took a hold of her had and gazed into the marine depths of her eyes. "And what about tomorrow when its time to be the Captain, again?"
"Let’s just take this one step at a time, shall we?" Kathryn said. And then giving over to the wild, giddy abandon she felt, she reached up and flung her arms around his neck and gave him a slow, deep kiss.
Chakotay smiled from beneath her lips. "Agreed" he said and returned her kiss.
2325 Outside of Ensign Kim’s quarters
After receiving a curt message from Samantha Wildman that her daughter would be unable to keep her engagement the next day, Seven had scooped up the bear from the console in the Cargo bay and proceeded to the quarters of Harry Kim. Seven sounded the chime on Harry’s door and attempted to grasp the teddy bear Naomi had dubbed Marcus in a more Borg like fashion. When Harry opened the door, she appeared to be casually strangling it one handed.
"Seven, what are you doing here?"
"I require you assistance."
"I would like…"
"I would like…to learn how to play."
"Yes. Humans often engage in activities with no value that they deem to be ‘fun’ I would like to engage in such an activity as well."
Any other person, except possible Captain Janeway, would have thought it a very odd request. But Harry had spent more time with Seven and could see the gradual beginnings of feelings and desires. He motioned her inside. "Ever heard of a game called Twister?"
"You’ll be great at it, but you might want to take off your shoes first."
Seven arched arched a brow and set the bear on the couch. She had been confused at her reluctance to leave the bear behind in the cargo bay and was grateful that Ensign Kim had chosen to ignore it, for now. "Very well. Please state parameters of…Twister."