The Captain's passion

Copyright disclaimer: The characters and concept of Star Trek Voyager belong to Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor. I'm just borrowing them and I promise to return them to the toy box, without any damage, when I'm through playing with them.

I.

When B'Elanna was entering the quarter Tom Paris was sound asleep on the couch.

"Hey Tom."

The pilot rubbed his eyes and look up at his wife. "Hey B'Lanna,"

"Sorry there was problem with a gel pack in the engine room." B'Elanna flopped into the couch and groaned. "The Jeffrie's tube is just poison to my back."

"I can imagine that." Tom looked at her fondly and saw a smile creeping over her face.

"Today I overheard two Ensigns." The smile was now a grin, which was seldom to be seen on the Half-Klingon's face.

"And?"

B'Elanna leaned closer. "They were speculating," she whispered.

"About what?" He asked sleepy. Sure they were speculating if B'Elanna would dare to pull another Marquee trick out of her sleeves to press some additional speed out of the engines and make the Captain smile in the next senior staff meeting. B'Elanna called it slice tactic, small slices just to make the Captain smile, big slices if it was crucial to succeed in a mission.

"About the Captain's love life."

"What?" Now she had the full attention of her husband who wasn't sleepy at all any more.

"It seems to be the number one topic in the crew quarters these days."

Tom eyed his wife with suspicion. Sure he was interested in such gossip, but B'Elanna Torres?

"I never thought you're taking part in gossiping."

"I don't. I just listen." B'Elanna tried to be serious.

"What exactly they're speculating? Anything I should know?"

"Well they fancied people in whom the Captain might be interested, people who would have a chance."

"And? Who is on the list?"

"You for example." B'Elanna grinned mischievously.

"Oh, c'mon, they can't be serious. Really, the Captain has no interest in me at all."

"Sure? I mean this seems to be the only explanation why the Captain would have played along in your totally silly Captain Proton simulation." B'Elanna smiled innocently.

"Now you're kidding me, you don't believe it, do you?" From the look on her face Tom could tell that she wasn't entirely serious.

"Who else is on the list?"

"Chakotay and Seven."

"Seven?" Tom Paris looked at his wife.

She shrugged. "Sounds realistic to me."

"Chakotay might be, but Seven?"

"For some time I thought it might be Chakotay, but not now any more. I mean it was always a sensitive topic, but I think he has realized that the Captain has no interest in him, not any more, not beyond friendship."

"As you say so, you know him better. Someone else on the list?"

"Q." Now B'Elanna grinned even a bit dirty.

"How silly can a list get? Me, Seven, Chakotay and Q?"

"Let's just say they have a lively fantasy. Can you blame them? Stuck in the crew quarters, with the holodecks out of service until next week?"

This night, Tom couldn't find sleep easily. Thoughts were running through his head. Forbidden thoughts, but tempting thoughts.

II.

"Hey Harry," Tom Paris greeted his friend in the mess hall next morning. They sat down over a coffee, toast and eggs.

Suddenly Harry Kim bent forward and said in a low voice. "Have you heard the newest rumours from the crew quarters?"

"Man, is it making the round in all crew quarters?"

"Well, about what are we speaking?"

"The Captain."

"Yes it is."

They both grinned like schoolboys and tried to concentrate on their breakfast.

"What are you thinking about a bet?" There it was, Tom had feared it.

"Harry, I'm a married man now."

"Well I thought that is limiting your choice of women, not your ability to organize bets."

"Oh no," Tom said almost whiny. It was the same idea that was running through his mind half of the night. It sounded just too much fun. But Tom had made already his very special experiences with the Captain, when he was organizing a bet on Seven of Nine's love life. At that time he swore himself to avoid any such confrontation with the Captain, ever in his life again. The glare he had to endure during her little speech about morality and discretion could have burned a hole into the ship's hull. Her voice ever so low and dangerous could have even outdone the warp core's dark hum, if they would have been in the engine room instead of her ready room.

"C'mon Tom. Just imagine how much holodeck hours we could earn just with the fee."

Tom groaned. There was only one thing in his life that was even worse than the Captain's hull penetrating stare and her warp-core-sound-alike-voice. It was his wife when she was mad at him. And there were two things about which she could get mad quite easily. One was him betting and the second was him getting into trouble with the Captain.

"After all we're belonging to the senior staff. If we don't know what's going on with the Captain who knows then? This is a chance, Tom."

"Ok Harry, damnit."

"So we have a betting agency?" Harry grinned all over his young face. "We need a list from which the folks can choose."

"That's easy," Tom said. "Make it Chakotay, Seven and Q." He paused. "And Voyager!"

"Voyager?" Harry gave him a disbelieving look.

"Yeah I mean we need an option in case we return to earth and she's still single, then she obviously has chosen Voyager."

"And I though it is ridicules that a lot of people have you on the list."

"They must choose someone else to bet on. Besides, have you never heard the Captain talking to Voyager?"

Harry thought about it for a moment. "Actually not."

"But I have!" Tom said seriously. "I have seen her wrapping her arms around the helm station and whispering almost sultry the sweetest words to the ship, giving Voyager her gooey look for all it is worth it. I swear she's flirting with Voyager. What do you thought how we got out of that nebula? I was sure we couldn't even use the thrusters and B'Elanna wasn't optimistic too, though we worked on it and then Captain Janeway…"

"Alright Tom I got the picture." Harry interfered. He truly believed there were details about the Captain's life he wasn't supposed to know. This was such a thing. There were just people who weren't supposed to have any sensuous life at all, at least he don't wanted to think of it. It was almost as if someone would tell him what his parents were doing in bed or what the doctor was fancying when off duty. Well ok, this was something he had learned recently, only in call of duty, of course. Nevertheless it felt wrong to observe the Captain in such an intimate moment with who- or whatever she was having it. The bare thought of it made Harry Kim feeling unwell.

Suddenly the door to the mess hall hissed open and Janeway entered. Harry and Tom exchanged glances.

"Good morning. Mister Paris, Mister Kim," the Captain greeted cheerfully as she bypassed their table.

"Mister Neelix, coffee, black," she ordered.

"Good morning Captain." The Talaxian smiled and handed her a steaming mug.

The Captain closed her eyes and moaned softly after she had taken the first sip of her favourite beverage. "That's so good." She took another sip and moaned again. "How do you do that?" She laid her head back and smiled genuinely, almost sensual.

Harry and Tom had observed her and Harry started feeling unwell again.

"You really have a hand with the replicator," Captain Janeway said to Neelix. "Your coffee is the best." Neelix just smiled.

The door to the mess hall opened again and Seven of Nine entered. She walked straight towards the Captain, ignoring others in the room.

"Good morning, Captain. Hopefully you slept well?"

Janeway stretched herself and smiled. "Sure I did. What about you?"

"I regenerated according to schedule." And to Neelix she said. "I would like to have porridge."

"Yes Seven, just sit down, I'll bring it to the table" The cook busied himself behind the stove and the two women walked to a vacant table.

"Lieutenant Paris, Ensign Kim," the ex-Borg suddenly said.

"Good morning Seven, everything all right?" Harry answered and smiled awkwardly.

"I think so," she answered briefly.

Suddenly Tom remembered his wife's word. "Now look at this. I think I'll to bet on Seven myself," he whispered.

"Aww no, that means nothing," Harry muttered. "The Captain is heaving dinner with Chakotay regularly."

"Yeah, man that sound like pure romance. Same day same time, same business as every week," Tom mocked. "The more I think about it the less chances I'm willing to grant the Commander."

Harry shot him a glare.

"I know Harry you don't like it, but face the reality. Your little Borg is sitting there with the Captain, not here with you." Tom gave his friend a slap and Harry rolled with his eyes.

III.

Until the evening twenty-eight crewmembers had already bet holodeck time on the Captain's future engagement. Sure Tom and Harry would get at least 60 crew members into the bet.

Tom looked on a PADD with some satisfaction as he walked over from the table where he and Harry were sitting to Neelix.

"Do you want to bet, Neelix?" he began.

The cook and moral officer of Voyager smiled. "Why not."

Tom handed him the PADD. "Subscribe to the list and make your choice. The wage is ten minutes holodeck time for the first choice, if you wish to change it you have to pay another 5 minutes," Tom explained.

Neelix looked on the list. "Who is the true passion of Captain Janeway?"

Tom Paris nodded. "You can put as much holodeck time on each name as you wish."

"And I have to pay a fee?"

Tom shrugged. "Just for the risk Harry and me are taking."

"Sure, if Captain Janeway finds out she'll blow you into space."

Tom sighs. "I know, tied to a photon torpedo, but avoiding this is part of the fun."

"Sorry Tom I can't bet on that, but thanks."

The pilot looked at Neelix a little concerned now. "You won't tell her?"

Neelix smiled. "No I won't, don't worry." Tom shook his head and walked back to Harry.

IV.

No the Talaxian wouldn't tell her about the bet. He also wouldn't tell Tom that his list was missing something essential, that he was totally wrong with his list. It was not Commander Chakotay who was her true and deep passion, though they had a date or two in the past.

Also it wasn't Seven of Nine who possessed the key to Captain Janeway's heart. Although if Seven would been asked if she than possessed the key to the Captain's mind she would raise her ocular implant, lift a corner of her mouth only a little and answer, "Perhaps".

For sure also Q wasn't her passion even if she somehow enjoyed to be romanced by an omnipotent being like him. It was also for sure she would never admit that. After all even Q couldn't divide Captain Janeway from her ship, her Voyager, to which the Captain groomed a love-hate relationship.

On occasion she would kick the replicator, but she also would embrace a console on the bridge whispering soft words, stroking it with her hand and even plant a kiss on it when she got what she wanted from Voyager. Despite this all Voyager was not her deepest passion. Neelix knew that. For a moment maybe Voyager had been her deepest passion. It was when B'Elanna Torres had assembled the extra transwarp coil they had stolen in a reckless heist from the Borg. The transwarp coil brought them 15 years closer to earth before it burned out. In that night Neelix found the Captain in engineering, admiring the green glow that the coil gave the normally blue warp core. Engineering was dipped in green light, scaring everyone away, except the Captain who was sitting on the floor, her back leaned relaxed against a console, her eyes glowing darker than usual in that Borg green light. Even in this moment Neelix knew that there was something else that Kathryn Janeway wanted more.

And it gave Neelix a deep satisfaction that apparently he was the only one on board who not only knew all this, but who was the only person on Voyager who was able to satisfy the Captain's longing entirely. It was a truly dark passion and Neelix wondered why nobody else realized what it was, because it was so obvious.

Neelix smiled as he shook off his thoughts and continued preparing food for the evening. He ran his hand over a pocket of his jacket. He felt a small data chip there. This was the key to Captain Kathryn Janeway's heart. Because her deepest passion was a black liquid, coffee, the greatest organic suspension in universe, the beverage with which the Captain endured night shifts on the bridge, the brew she needed to face a certain ex-Borg who never paid attention to the fact that her Captain needed more rest than four hours a night. Equipped with this hot drink she was even able to face the Borg Queen.

Neelix knew all this. He also knew that on the data chip in his pocket was a valuable program. It was the program for the best coffee that was available in the Delta Quadrant, Neelix was certain of it. Nobody had a better replicator program for coffee than the one he had developed over the last years on Voyager. Neelix wouldn't just save it in Voyager's database out of fear someone could modify or copy it. He would always carry it in a pocket. Only when the Captain would enter the mess hall he would go to the replicator of his kitchen, were no guest could see him. He would plug the data chip to one of the replicator's ports and let a can of coffee materialise. Coffee, black of course just like the Captain loved it, black like the void they had encountered and yet full of many different, rich flavours.

Neelix smiled. It was good when the Captain was happy. A happy Captain made the crew happy. Neelix had notion of such things. After all he was Voyager's moral officer.