TITLE: Secrets Waiting to be Told

SUMMARY: An episode addition to The Cloud. The senior staff is gathered at Sandrine's and Chakotay is finding that he doesn't know much about his captain at all.

RATING: PG

DISCLAIMER: Characters – Paramount's; Story – Mine!

FEEDBACK: welcome, if it's constructive/positive. Flames will be used to keep my fire warm this winter.

When the door to Sandrine's opened to reveal the captain with Harry Kim, Chakotay noted two things. Firstly, the place went completely silent and secondly, that the captain immediately made a point of telling everyone to relax. But that was easier said than done, and Tom wasn't the only one embarrassed when one of the male holocharacters propositioned her. Chakotay had to give her credit though; she took the incident in her stride and laughed it off.

The night had already proven to be full of surprises. For one thing, B'Elanna was voluntarily in the same room as Paris and the pilot was still alive. If Chakotay's relationship with the former convict was bad, the one B'Elanna had with him was worse. On more than one occasion in the past she had loudly announced that he was cocky and arrogant, and when he was captured she had merely stated, "Good riddance." But tonight things looked to be changing. Even when she told Paris he was a pig, Chakotay was able to notice the lack on venom in her voice.

Tuvok had been another surprise. When he had arrived at the bar Chakotay found himself wondering if he was about to close the place down. But the Vulcan had proven to be a more than capable pool player. Tuvok was never what you thought him to be, Chakotay was realising. The former Maquis leader found it hard to hold a grudge against the man; he had been doing his job as defined by Starfleet and the Federation and monetary gain hadn't appeared to be the motive. The Vulcan did appear to be a stickler for regulations and protocol, but he seemed to be adapting well to the unfamiliar scenario in which Voyager had found itself.

"Your stick, Commander?"

Chakotay blinked and pulled himself back to the present. The captain was smiling elegantly and holding out her hand to him. "It's called a cue, Captain," he said, feeling duty bound to correct her. He almost felt sorry for his superior officer. This match was going to be embarrassing.

Two hours later Kathryn Janeway had dashed the hopes of anyone who might have thought they could beat her. By the time she placed her cue back in the rack she had beaten Paris, Tuvok, and even himself, quite soundly. Harry and B'Elanna hadn't even taken the chance. The captain was quite the enigma and he found himself wanting to spend more time in her company. "I'll walk you back to your quarters," he said quickly. She regarded him strangely for a moment but then nodded her agreement. As they were leaving he noticed B'Elanna's suggestive look, but chose to ignore it, opening the door for his captain instead.

"It seems you have an advantage over me, Captain," he told her as they walked back through the ship.

"I beg your pardon?"

"At this point, I know precisely three things about you." He began to count them off on his fingers. "One. You give people more than one chance in life. Two, you like asparagus and eggs benedict for breakfast, and three – you enjoy a good hustle when it comes to pool."

She laughed. "Don't tell Tom," she said in a conspiratorial tone of voice, "but he's not the only one to have visited the real Sandrine's in Marseilles." She paused. "But I don't see why you think I have an advantage over you."

"Well," he said as they stopped at her door, "I know only those three things about you, whereas you probably have my entire file memorised. So I'm wondering, is there anything else you would like to tell me?"

"Not really."

Chakotay smiled down at her. "Are you quite sure?"

Kathryn returned the smile and patted him lightly on the arm. "I'm sure you can find out for yourself." She turned slightly and the door slid open. "You used to teach advanced tactics, didn't you." He nodded. "Well, Commander, I suggest you practise what you preach." She smiled broadly at him and then disappeared into her quarters.

Chakotay was left staring at the now closed door. Tactics was all about outwitting your opponent, giving yourself an advantage over them. Was she suggesting…? He shook his head and turned to go to his own rooms next to hers. At his own door he stopped and grinned. The captain had definitely been flirting with him, and it was up to him to pick up the gauntlet she had thrown down. Suddenly, the rest of his life looked incredibly exciting.

FINIS