Notes: Few cannon differences: No Torres / Paris and B'Elanna got the letter from the Maquis in Hunters, few differences in Extreme Risk but they flow quite naturally from the story. Also not a holiday story but I wrote it on holiday if that counts.

Enjoy.

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B'Elanna activated the door chime on the Captains Ready Room. "Enter." Janeway's cheerful voice came from the other side of the door.

The engineer walked into the room, slightly more hesitant than usual. Retrieving the data from the relay station was painstakingly slow even with Seven and Tuvok stabilising the relay station and in doing so she learnt far more about the crew than she had in the previous years. She had also learnt a lot of things she wished she hadn't; in this case she knew what the message she was about to give her Captain said. Knew the heartache she was about to cause. "I just uploaded this message for you Captain."

"From Headquarters?"

"Erm no. It's a personal message."

B'Elanna laid the PADD on the desk and cleared her throat, "If you will excuse me Captain? I should get back to Astrometrics."

"Of course Lieutenant."

The engineer smiled softly at her Captain before turning and leaving the ready room.

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Speaking to her first officer in the ready room, Janeway offered him a coffee. "No thanks. You haven't mentioned your letter. Who was it from?"

She paused for a moment and frequently hesitated during the next sentence, "It was from Mark, the man I was engaged to. He told me how devastated he was when Voyager was lost, how he held out hopes we were alive longer than most people did until he realised that he was clinging to a fantasy. So he began living his life again. About four months ago he married a woman who works with him."
"How do you feel about that?" He was as understanding as usual, voice soft but confident.
"Well, I knew he'd eventually move on with his life, but there was such a finality to that letter."
"Paris to the captain. Can you come to the bridge?"

"What is it?"
"We've picked up an automated distress signal from Tuvok's shuttle. Sensors show there's no one on board."

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Meanwhile

Harry Kim had been uploading more of the files piece by piece while B'Elanna was hand delivering some of the letters. He kept hoping that his would be the next to come through. Because he was looking for something specific he did not notice the nature of the message he downloaded for B'Elanna Torres. Laying the PADD aside he concentrated on getting as much data as possible. The door opened some time later and the chief engineer walked in looking a little lost in thought.

"Are you okay B'Elanna?"

"Yeah Harry I'm fine, just had to deliver some bad news."

Before Harry had a chance to tell her about the letter they heard the Red Alert alarm and Harry ran off the bridge, while B'Elanna stayed to try and finish the data retrieval – they had to get that message from Starfleet command – if nothing else they needed that, it might hold the key to getting them home.

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Once the catastrophe was finished Janeway; her second in command and security officer were talking about the new threat to Voyager. The Hirogen had the potential to be a huge problem and they hadn't seen the last of them. Tuvok excused himself to go and finalise some arrangements, Janeway yawned and headed to the replicator – it had been a really long day.

Chakotay smiled, "You know, you drink too much of that stuff."
Kathryn's voice was dry, "Really?"
"If I'm not mistaken that's your third cup this morning."
"Fourth." She corrected with a smile, "And on a day like today it won't be my last. Coffee - the finest organic suspension ever devised. It's got me through the worst of the last three years. I beat the Borg with it. Oh, I'm sure Voyager will be fine, but I'm worried that the crew might be a different story. I think they were hoping mail call would become a regular part of their day." She sounded a little sad.

"Neelix is putting together an impromptu party. He thought it might cheer them up."
"Good idea. When will it be?"
"As soon as he can get people together."
"Leave it to Neelix to come up with the right idea at the right time."

"How are you doing?"
"Me? I'm fine."
He smiled the familiar smile of many years of friendship. "You'd say that if you'd just had your legs torn off by a Trakan Beast. Look what you've been through in the last few days. We finally make a connection with home and then it's ripped away from us. We manage to make another enemy who's going to try and hunt us down and destroy us, and on top of that…"

"It's all right. You can say it. On top of all that, I got a Dear John letter." Kathryn sat down suddenly exhausted and a little numb, "It wasn't really a surprise. I guess I didn't really expect him to wait for me considering the circumstances." She paused, "It made me realise that I was using him as a safety net, you know, as a way to avoid becoming involved with someone else."

"You don't have that safety net anymore." He pointed out trying to keep the eagerness out of his voice.
Kathryn's tone was dry, "That's right. Then again, my life is far from uneventful here in the Delta quadrant. It's not like I would have had a chance to pursue a relationship even if I had realised I was alone." They both heard the words that she did not say, the acknowledgement of rules and regulations that would keep her from anyone.

"You're hardly alone, and to my way of thinking, there's still plenty of time."
"Plenty of time."

"Neelix to the Ready room. The party's about to begin and there are only two people missing."
"We're on our way."

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It was much later that Seven of Nine walked into the Mess Hall into the party that Neelix had planned.

Kathryn Janeway was sitting at a mess table with some other officers, after getting that letter from Mark she didn't want to be alone but couldn't bring herself to talk to anyone about it. Mark belonged to another time, when she was just a normal Starfleet Captain; before she had to be this strong infallible figurehead. Just when she had thought she was over him and she had stopped even thinking about him – the letter just had to stir things up.

Seven of Nine walked into the room, after all this time heads still turned whenever she walked into a room. She walked right up to Janeway's table, "Lieutenant Torres, I found this in the Astrometrics Lab. I believe that Ensign Kim uploaded it from the Relay Station."

B'Elanna reached out and took the PADD from Sevens hand. "Thank you. Would you like to join us?"

"I do not require nutritional supplements at this time." The former Borg Drone walked away.

"B'Elanna I am sorry – I forgot all about it when you came back."

"I thought you weren't expecting anything?" Tom asked.

"I wasn't."

She glanced down at the PADD.

"Don't keep us in suspense Lieutenant." This came from Chakotay.

Kathryn noticed the engineers face drain of colour slowly as she scanned the letter, scrolling down the length of the text. Colour flooded into her face as her anger rose.

The PADD and her empty cup smashed into the opposite wall as B'Elanna stormed out of the room.

The entire room fell silent, Captain Janeway stopped Neelix from following the angry woman. She walked across the room to stop Chakotay from reading the contents of the PADD. "But Captain…"

"If she wants anyone to know what's in here – she will tell you."

Despite her own curiosity the Captain turned off the PADD. "I will go and talk to her, continue the party people. We have a great deal to celebrate."

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Stepping into the corridor Kathryn found B'Elanna pacing around the corner. She looked like a caged tiger, frustration and anger poured off her like water. She stood and watched the shorter woman for a moment.

"What do you want?" The question was asked through gritted teeth and sounded more like a growl than a question.

Kathryn looked closely at her engineers face for a moment, "Come with me Lieutenant!" She walked off hearing the change in the footsteps as B'Elanna followed albeit reluctantly. Her refusal to answer questions intrigued the engineer despite herself especially as they approached the holodeck. The Captain started a program, and invited B'Elanna to precede her through the door.

The half-Klingon stepped into what was a light airy room. There was a circle drawn on the floor and two wooden staffs in a holder. She looked around slightly bewildered, "What…?"

"I have a number of programs I use when I am frustrated or upset. This is one of them."

"Captain…?"

Janeway looked at her protégé. She sighed and tossed the PADD on the floor, her uniform jacket followed as did her long sleeve under tunic – leaving her in her sleeveless undershirt. "My name is Kathryn B'Elanna." Why she said that she didn't know, the Chief Engineer surely knew her name but she couldn't remember the younger woman ever using it.

Striding over to the centre of the room Kathryn hefted one of the short staffs. "Ready B'Elanna?" A strange expression came over the younger womans face before she too stripped off her outer layers. Kathryn forced her gaze to remain on the other womans face, this wasn't the time.

B'Elanna stepped into the circle which then burst into flames trapping the two women in the circle. "What are the rules C…Kathryn?"

Kathryn Janeway grabbed two pieces of pale cloth from the floor; tucking one into the back of her trousers she threw the other to B'Elanna who followed suit. "Grab the flag."

"That it?"

"Yep." The two women looked at each other, without warning Kathryn stuck out. B'Elanna barely had time to block. She winced in pain as Kathryn's staff whacked hard into her kidneys. Before she knew it Kathryn had ripped the flag from her trousers.

"Round Two." B'Elanna said.

The two women fought for more than an hour until bruised and bloody, they declared a draw. B'Elanna changed the program for a Klingon simulation of the hills outside Chronos, lying on the cool grass the two women drank glasses of water.

B'Elanna laughed, "I guess you had your own frustrations to work out?"

"Yes I did."

"Did it help?"

"Somewhat. Are you feeling better?"

"A little."

"Then we obviously haven't done enough."

B'Elanna smiled, "Computer 2 Bat'leths. Start program Torres 8A."

Janeway found herself in the midst of a Klingon battle. She swallowed, not being noted for her skill with a Bat'leth – taking a deep breath and grabbing hold of her courage and anger she launched herself into the fray.

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The Captains Quarters

Discarded pieces of gold and red uniform lay of the couch. The two women sat at the table side by side, their clothing was bloody, torn and ripped. The holographic blood and mud had disappeared when they left the holodeck but they were still covered in their own sweat and blood and each others.

Kathryn poured them another glass of her carefully hoarded alcohol supply. "Isn't this where we start singing Klingon drinking songs to celebrate our GLORIOUS victory?"

"I don't know any I am afraid."

Janeway pretended shock, before opening her mouth and breaking into a bawdy tune.

"'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw
'ej Doq SodTah ghoSpa' Sqral bIQtiQ
'e' pa' jaj law' mo' jaj puS
jaj qeylIS molar MIgh HoHchu'"

B'Elanna raised an eyebrow, "I didn't realize that you had so many talents Kathryn."

"I get few opportunities to demonstrate them."

"Has Chakotay told you about the Maquis?"

"Not in too much detail but he did explain why he left Starfleet and joined them."

"I met a woman called Sveta in a bar near the Neutral Zone, at the time I was working as an engineer on a small freighter. I got into a fight with a group of Cardassians after they made some comments. I took out most of them but there were too many, then a Bajoran woman jumps in with a Cardassian Disruptor and we beat them." She smiled sadly at the older woman.

"We became close and she recruited me into the Maquis. It was only a few years after I left The Academy and I was angry with everything and spoiling for a fight. She was so idealistic that I began to believe in their fight, that and the fact I got to kill Cardassians made it worthwhile. My original cell got either killed or captured and then I joined Chakotay. The Maquis became the family I never had." B'Elanna broke off angry tears threatening.

"B'Elanna what was in that letter?"

The half-Klingon jumped up angrily, Kathryn just sat there calmly and poured another glass each. Otherwise she paid no attention at all to her engineers outburst, watching as the other woman knocked back the glass in one go. "Where did you get this anyway?"

"One of the planets we stopped at a while ago."

"Being the Captain gives you a few perks after all?"

Janeway smirked, "Well there has to be some compensation."

"Sveta is in a Federation prison and will be for a long time. She's one of the lucky ones."

"What do you mean B'Elanna?"

"The Cardassians got a new ally, from the Gamma Quadrant, supplied them with ships, warriors and weapons. They annihilated the Maquis."

"Didn't Starfleet step in?"

"Apparently they're scared of a war or there's a war going on with this 'Dominion' and the Klingons have withdrawn from the Kittamer Accords – sounds like everything has gone to hell.

They were good people Kathryn, people who believed in what they were fighting for! People defending their homes from people who wanted to destroy them. They're all dead!"

Carefully Janeway walked round the chairs and embraced the younger woman. B'Elanna was shaking violently as though she didn't know whether to throw things, hit someone or cry. "I will make someone pay, when we get home I swear I will."

"I'd better make sure that I get us home then." That elicited a small smile from the brunette as it was intended. B'Elanna disentangled herself from her captains' arms.

"You haven't mentioned YOUR letter."

Kathryn sat down and drank her own glass, B'Elanna started drinking what was left in the bottle. "I'd feel bad bringing up my own problems now, it's so insignificant by comparison; besides you downloaded it – you know what it said."

"Please Kathryn, tell me about it."

The older woman sighed, "Before taking command of Voyager I was engaged to a man called Mark, he knew the risks of being married to someone in Starfleet – we'd been together for several years. I knew he'd have given up on me by now and I moved on too?"

"Oh yeah, with who?"

"Not in actuality. But in my head I knew that by the time we got home, neither of us would be the same people and it would be over. Why hold onto something that is impossible?"

"I see what you mean. So why the frustration earlier?"

"It was just the finality of it, knowing it is over and accepting it is over are one thing actually being told that is something else entirely. I guess that some part of me was holding onto the idea of being engaged to help keep me from having to think of a future with anyone else."

"Did you have anyone specific in mind?"

The Captain shook her head. B'Elanna smirked, "Is that no, or no you won't tell me?"

The two women did some more drinking and then they finally went to sleep, Kathryn in her bedroom and B'Elanna passed out on the couch.

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A few weeks passed, the two women having more conversations and spending time on the holodeck but it wasobvious that B'Elanna was not coping well with the news of her losses or with her grief. During the project to build the Delta Flyer Janeway discovered that she had been breaking holodeck protocol by deactivating safety protocols and she was both disappointed and furious.

B'Elanna woke up in sickbay, "What am I doing here?"

"You had an accident on the holodeck." The doctor was standing over her.

"I'd better get back to work!" This was rapidly turning into her worse nightmare.

"Not yet."

"Why not."

"The Captain has asked me to keep you here."

"But why – I feel fine."

It was then that Kathryn Janeway made her appearance; she walked through the sickbay doors with a face like thunder.

"Would you excuse us please Doctor?"

"What's going on Kathryn?"

Janeway took a deep breath choosing to respond on the command level rather than the personal one, "When the Doctor examined you he found evidence of internal bleeding, fractured vertebrae, contusions, cranial trauma."

"I guess the accident was pretty serious." B'Elanna was trying her hardest to sound innocent.

"The injuries I'm talking about didn't happen recently. Some of them are weeks, even months old." A degree of coldness crept into the Captains voice.

"I'm an engineer, I have a rough job. I get the odd bumps and bruises."

"But you didn't seek treatment for any of these?"

"I don't go to the doctor for every stubbed toe."

"Some of these injuries were life-threatening B'Elanna."

"Do I look like I am dying?" The sarcasm and attitude in her voice shocked the Captain.

"The Doctor says many of the wounds were treated by someone with the medical expertise of a first-year nursing student."

This was answered by a smirk. "Oh, that's ridiculous."

"Is it? We investigated today's accident. You turned off the safety protocols during the holo-simulation. Why?"

B'Elanna sat up, "We have a micro-fracture problem. With the safety protocols on, there's no way to be sure what would happen during a real flight."

Janeway was incredulous. "You don't really expect me to believe that, do you?"

"Are you calling me a liar?"

Ignoring her engineers' antagonistic tone The Captain continued coolly. "According to the holodeck logs, you've been spending a lot of time there over the last few months. If I were to check, would I find that you've been running other programs without safety protocols?"

"Would you like to look at my personal logs as well?" She was hurt and felt betrayed, that much was obvious by her tone of voice.

The older woman sat down on the bio-bed opposite her engineer, trying but failing to catch her eye. "B'Elanna, I'm worried about you. If there's something wrong, I want to help."

"Nothing's wrong. Okay?"

"No. It's not okay, and until you decide to be more forthcoming you'll remain under the Doctor's supervision. Which means you're off the shuttle project. I'm sorry."

"I'm not."

"Now I KNOW there's something wrong!" The Captain stalked out of the room.

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Janeway overrode the lock on B'Elanna's quarters and walked in. She sat down heavily.

"Tell me what's going on B'Elanna!"

"I'm fine! I get a graze and suddenly you're panicking."

"You've been running programs without safeties."

"A few yeah but no one else has been at risk."

"I want to understand."

"You can't."

Kathryn stood up suddenly, practically tearing her uniform jacket off and threw it next to the door. "Does that help? I've heard about your snide comments about Starfleet protocol, this has nothing to do with Starfleet – I just want to help you."

"Why are you deliberately trying to hurt yourself?"

"I don't have to listen to this, I'm leaving."

"Computer seal the doors."

"You can't do that!" B'Elanna was almost angry enough to hit The Captain, her Klingon side was definitely showing but the older woman refused to back down.

"The hell I can't! We aren't going anywhere until you tell me what is going on! Are you trying to commit suicide?"

"No!"

"Then what?!"

"Because."

"That's not an answer B'Elanna." Kathryn grabbed hold of the brunettes' wrist pulling her round so that they were face to face.

"Because if I sprain an ankle or hit my head I feel something!"

"What do you mean?" Her voice was softer now.

"I'm not trying to kill myself, I'm trying to see if I'm still alive."

"Can you explain that?"

"I don't feel anything anymore, not about the Maquis, not about you, my work – anything."

"Maybe you're afraid if you let yourself start to feel something you might not be able to stop. You can't just shut off your emotions, B'Elanna. Sooner or later you're going to have to let yourself grieve."

"When I was six, my father walked out on me. When I was nineteen, I got kicked out of Starfleet. A few years later, I got separated from the Maquis. And just when I start to feel safe I get told that all of my old friends have been slaughtered. The way I figure it, I've lost every family I've ever had."

"We're still here for you – I'm still here for you."

"You can't promise that I won't loose you."

"No I can't. In life we have losses, that's inevitable. I can promise that we won't let you keep hurting yourself or hide away – we care about you B'Elanna and you're going to have to find another way to deal with your pain."

"How?" The break in B'Elanna's voice made Kathryn wrap her arms around the engineer and pull her down onto the sofa.

"We'll figure it out together."

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Much later that night

With a sore neck Kathryn woke up, she had fallen asleep cradling her engineer as the younger woman cried. B'Elanna was awake and using her computer terminal. Kathryn yawned and tried to massage her neck, she stood stretching for a minute. She walked over to the replicator and ordered two cups of coffee, sipping hers her eyes closed in pleasure.

Holding the two mugs she walked over to B'Elanna's desk, placing one mug in front of the engineer she placed her free hand on the younger womans shoulder. The smile Kathryn was graced with was a little tired and a little sad but it was genuine.

"What are you doing?" There was a smile in the Captains voice.

"I'm writing a letter to Sveta. I don't know when I will get a chance to send it but it's mainly for me, I just needed to write some things down."

"That's healthy. Coffee?"

"Thanks." B'Elanna took a sip of the hot liquid and moaned, "Oh wow. How can you program a replicator like that?"

"If there's one thing I can replicate its coffee!"

"I've heard about the food."

Janeway laughed, "I wasn't aware that incident had been made public knowledge."

"It hasn't but I'm friends with your breakfast partner."

"That's it – court-martial time."

"Can I go back to work?" B'Elanna was suddenly serious.

"The doctor wants you in later today for a physical and if that is ok you can go back tomorrow."

The engineer nodded, seemed fairly reasonable to her.

"I have to go to work B'Elanna." She paused for a moment, "Would you like to have dinner with me this evening?"

"You just want me to do the replicating."

"Of course, besides I'd be glad of the company."

"I'd love to."

"My quarters 1800 hours?"

"It's a date." The two women gazed at each other for a moment, brown eyes met hazel.

"See you then." With a smile Kathryn walked to the door.

Suddenly she stopped and turned back to B'Elanna, "By the way Lieutenant…"

Recognising the shift into command mode Torres replied, "Yes Captain?"

"Your holodeck privileges have been revoked until further notice."

"Understood."

The Captain nodded and headed for the bridge, hoping that no one would realize half her uniform had been thrown on the floor and she had slept in the other half.

"Good Morning." Came from Chakotay.

"Commander." She indicated for him to precede her into the Ready Room. "Tuvok you have the bridge."

The door closed behind them, Janeway went and grabbed another coffee knowing he would refuse this time of the morning.

"How is she?"

"Doing better. I think this is going to be a long process."

"Do you want me to talk to her?"

"Thanks Chakotay but I think it would be better if you wait for her to come to you when she is ready."

"Is she in pain or angry?"

"She's half-Klingon, there isn't much difference. In some respects it would be good if the Hirogen turned up now – she could do with a fight."

"Was she actually trying to kill herself?"

"Intentionally no, secretly deep down she might have been."

"What else?"

"Wait until she comes to you Commander….Now what did I miss?"

While he was briefing the Captain on the recent happenings and the repair reports from The Flyer. Chakotay was watching his Captain; noting her distraction, the slightly rumpled uniform and the greater level of concern for the Chief Engineer. Inwardly he was jealous, struggling to reconcile his desire for Kathryn with his concern for his friend – they were a good match.

The Date

Kathryn had changed her clothes a number of times, she was incredibly nervous and didn't quite know why. She finally decided on uniform slacks with a bright blue blouse, a color she had been told accentuated her hair and eyes. She set the table, sticking a bottle of wine on it with some glasses. She was about to light the candles when she realised that she was probably overdoing it a little – it's only dinner Katie.

Is it?

Just dinner

Really – her inner voice was dry and sarcastic

Oh for Pete's sake Katie, now you're talking to yourself

The entry chime sounded. Kathryn raised her voice, "Come in."

She looked up to see B'Elanna outside shifting nervously from foot to foot. She smiled at the younger womans nervousness. "Are you planning on coming in?"

"I'm thinking about it."

"Take your time B'Elanna." Kathryn said, "I hope you like Merlot."

Watching the Captain bend over to pour wine, B'Elanna admired her shapely rear. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry, "Yeah that'd be fine." She finally crossed the threshold. Kathryn looked up when she heard the door close, catching the engineer still staring at her.

B'Elanna flushed slightly making her dusky cheeks slightly darker. Kathryn allowed her gaze to travel over the younger womans body, watching as the blush increased, finally locking eyes with the brunette she smirked. "That color looks good on you!"

"I…thank you. You look… amazing!"

It was the Captains turn to avert her gaze and flush. You're acting like a teenager Katie

"I brought you these." B'Elanna held out a bunch of fresh flowers.

Kathryn took the bunch, lowering her face she smelled them. They were not replicated which meant that they were from Hydroponics. "And what precious items did you trade for these?"

"It's a gift, I don't have to tell you."

"Thank you, they are lovely." Not as lovely as you

"You're welcome. Now what did you want for dinner?"

The dinner was fabulous, the two woman discussed every subject from science to The Academy. They ended up on the sofa and were now on the second bottle of wine. The conversation moved onto more personal grounds, discussing their homes and family, past relationships and more. It was surprising how comfortable this all felt.

"My sister Phoebe would get a kick out of talking to you, you two would get along like a house on fire."

"I'm not really the kind of girl you take home to meet your family." She added hastily, "Not that…"

"Where on Earth did you get such a low opinion of yourself?"

"Why are you angry with me?"

"I'm not!"

"You sound angry!"

Kathryn got up pacing angrily for a few moments, "I'm angry for you B'Elanna."

She dropped onto her knees in front of the younger woman, "Do you have any idea how incredible you are?"

"What are you saying?"

"You're beautiful, funny and absolutely brilliant. Don't, please don't put yourself down." The sincerity in Janeway's voice was clear, the older woman reached out and took her engineers hands in hers.

"Kathryn." B'Elanna smiled tremulously at her Captain; she slid onto the floor, still holding on the other womans hands. "What ARE you saying?"

"When I saw you lying there in the sickbay, I realised that I had come to care about you." She paused, "A lot more than I'm supposed to."

B'Elanna pulled her hands gently from the older womans grasp. She placed them both on the side of Kathryn's face, her eyes interrogating hazel depths. One hand slid further back to push the auburn hair behind her ears.

"Oh really? And how long have you been feeling like that?"

Now that the engineer had broken the touch barrier Kathryn let her own hands roam. One settled on a hip and one on a hard muscular thigh, gently caressing. "It seems like I've always felt like this."

"I'd forgotten what this feels like."

"And what is this B'Elanna?"

The stocky engineer leaned closer to her captain; one hand sliding around the back of Kathryn's neck, the other caressing her ribcage.

"I'm falling in love with you Kathryn Janeway."

Their lips met in a kaleidoscope of sensation, she might have been 70,000 light years from home but suddenly Captain Janeway felt like she was there.

The next morning

Janeway walked onto the bridge with a spring in her step, flashing a mega-watt smile she greeted the bridge crew. She didn't notice the exchanged incredulous glances that her senior staff exchanged – they hadn't seen her that cheerful in a long time.

Chakotay inwardly died; keeping his calm serene Indian façade intact he greeted her and began his days work.

Meanwhile in Engineering B'Elanna Torres whistled as she scheduled repairs for the day, this behavior was not at all what people expected from the volatile half-Klingon but no one was about to say anything about it. They all knew what her temper was like, so they would preserve her good mood as long as they could.

Two hours later, "Janeway to Torres."

"Torres here Captain."

"Are you free for lunch Lieutenant? I have something I would like to discuss with you."

"Of course Captain – I have something to finish up here, in about 90 minutes?"

"Great I'll see you there Lieutenant."

"Ok Captain, Torres out."

The door of Janeway's quarters had scarcely closed when B'Elanna found herself pinned against the wall. Then she was being kissed fiercely, hungrily – when the two women parted to breathe.

With her head resting on B'Elanna's shoulder, Kathryn panted, "I'm sorry but it's been far too long since I saw you."

"Less talking more kissing."

The Captain was happy to oblige, more than happy in fact.

They fell onto the sofa kissing and caressing, they spent the whole lunch break like that. "God I feel like I'm fifteen again."

Kathryn smirked and smoothed her soon-to-be lovers' disheveled hair. "I know what you mean. "I'm making out with someone totally forbidden in a stolen minute waiting for an authority figure to walk in on us."

"You are the authority figure Kathryn."

"That's the problem." She kissed B'Elanna softly, "It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't."

"Kathryn we are far from Starfleet, none of us would begrudge you a relationship."

There was the glint of tears in Kathryn's eyes, "I've spent my whole life devoted to Starfleet, upholding the things I was taught. This is a court-marshal offense B'Elanna."

"I have always believed that the guidelines and regulations are far more about upholding the principal behind them than the exact wording." She reached over to refasten Kathryn's uniform, they were almost due back at their stations. "As I understand the actual regulation concerned, having a relationship between superior and subordinate is not actually forbidden. Hiding it is!"

"While that is technically true B'Elanna such relationships are allowed pending reassignment of one of the officers to stop any potential conflict of interest. In the case of Captain or Commander that is not really possible."

Fastening the Captains collar the engineer pressed a kiss to her throat, smiling as the older woman moaned.

"It'll work out Kathryn. There are no Starfleet regulations to cover our situation, not even the most uptight admiral could deny you this."

"I hope you're right."

With a final kiss the two women left, back to the grind of everyday life in the Delta Quadrant.

18.10 hrs

Coming off shift late due to an emergency B'Elanna hadn't had time to change, she jogged lightly down the corridor, rounding the corner she slowed as she caught sight of Kathryn lounging casually against the wall waiting for her.

"Sorry I'm…" She paused looking at the other woman who was also still in uniform with a slightly red face and trying to control her breathing. "You're late too. Did you run all the way from the bridge?"

"I didn't want to be late," Kathryn opened the door and led B'Elanna inside.

"Um, my holodeck privileges have been revoked."

Kathryn took her hand, "Yes but mine haven't!" She laughed as the half-Klingon raised her eyebrows, doing a Tuvok-like expression of surprise.

"Computer, program Janeway Alpha One."

B'Elanna watched as the black and yellow grid turned into a grass valley, under sun and blue sky. She turned round and picked up the picnic basket she had stashed behind the door earlier, still holding onto the half-Klingons hand she said, "You ready?"

"Where are we going?"

Kathryn laughed, "Does it matter."

"Not really, I'd follow you anywhere." This earned her a brief kiss.

Ten minutes later they reached the bottom of the valley, they reached a small group of trees next to a stream. Kathryn sat down on the soft grass pulling B'Elanna with her, sitting side by side they kissed.

Kathryn's tongue sought entry to B'Elanna's mouth, access that the other woman was pleased to give her. She giggled as the half-Klingon pushed her to the ground, covering her body with her own. "Kathryn Janeway, was that a giggle I just heard?"

The giggle was heard again as Kathryn pulled her engineer tighter on top of her, running her hands over her stocky form and deepening their kiss. B'Elanna tangled fingers in auburn hair running her other hand up and down Kathryn's ribcage, brushing lightly against the side of her breast; feeling the older womans intake of breath through the kiss.

Kathryn broke the kiss moaning her engineers' name. Grabbing a handful of hair she pulled B'Elanna's head back, giving her lips access to the dusky throat – enjoying the noises that came from her loves throat, as she used lips, tongue and teeth on the sensitive area. She rolled the half-Klingon onto her back and bit a little harder.

"Kah'less." Was the cry from B'Elanna.

Kathryn leaned over her and smirked, "No, just me." Laughing as B'Elanna started kissing her and undoing her uniform jacket. Seconds after it was tossed aside her comm. badge chirped. "Chakotay to Janeway."

There were two simultaneous curses; one in English and one in Klingonese. Kathryn kissed B'Elanna quickly and got up to answer her commander.

Lying on the grass for a second to catch her breath, B'Elanna jumped to her feet and went to rummage in the picnic basket. Finding a bottle of champagne and two glasses she grinned, pouring one for each of them, she tossed her own jacket on the floor and followed it with her long sleeved shirt and boots. Comfortable in the heat now she lounged back against a tree watching The Captain fully in command mode, talking animatedly to her first officer – it was something she always loved to see but she couldn't normally watch her like this.

Kathryn was aware that she was being watched and it made concentrating on what Chakotay was saying harder than usual. "Commander can this wait until tomorrow, we'll bring Tuvok in and discuss this more formally."

"Why not tonight?"

"I have other plans for tonight Chakotay. Janeway OUT!" Terminating the conversation abruptly she knew her Commander would be a little confused on the other end.

Tossing her communicator back on top of her jacket, she rejoined her love on top of the lush grass. Taking the proffered glass she sat between the other womans thighs, leaning back against her chest. She smiled as eager arms came around to encircle her and lips grazed the tender skin of her throat.

"So where are we Kathryn?"

"Sorry I got sidetracked, this is my home. The house is just over the side of this hill."

"Do you bring all of your dates here?"

"Historically no."

"No?"

Another wry laugh, "Phoebe and my mother often joke that the day I bring someone home will be the day that I resign my commission and come back for good."

B'Elanna laughed at her and finished her champagne, not because she was thirsty but because she wanted full use of both arms. One hand caressed Kathryn's hip and the other toyed with the hem of her shirt. Her lips returned to the tender skin of Kathryn's neck, nuzzling her hair out of the way, she kissed and nipped her way down to where her turtleneck began.

"Mmmm B'Elanna." Came the expected moan. B'Elanna growled in frustration as she couldn't push the neck of the shirt down as far as she wanted. Rather than cooling Kathryn's passion it ignited it further, she pulled away from her engineer and turned to face her.

"Kathryn?"

With a grin Kathryn grabbed the hem of her shirt with both hands, she began to pull it up over her body.

B'Elanna leant forward and ran her hands across the captains stomach, then reaching to help pull the long sleeved shirt from her captains body leaving her clad in her sleeveless undershirt, she tossed it aside. Running her hands up Kathryn's bare arms, she thrilled as goosebumps greeted her touch and erect nipples invited it.

"That better?"

"Yes Ma'am." She said with a laugh pushing Kathryn back onto the verdant grass.

She went back to kissing Kathryn's throat, this time trailing her lips down to the collarbone, nipping rather harder in that location, utilizing the lower neckline of this shirt. Meanwhile Kathryn ripped the back of her lovers' shirt out of her trousers, reveling in the feel of the soft skin that was revealed to her touch. This continued for some minutes.

It was when B'Elanna began to pull Kathryn's shirt up and kiss her stomach, that Kathryn stopped her. That was enough to elicit another low growl from the half-Klingon. She laughed and pulled her in for a passionate kiss. "I brought you here for a picnic." She panted.

"I'm not hungry." B'Elanna initiated another kiss, "Are you?"

Returning the kiss Kathryn moaned, "Not for food."

"So what do you want?"

"Computer – initiate Janeway Beta673."

B'Elanna watched as they materialized in Kathryn's quarters, the luxury carpet was almost as comfortable as the grass had been.

"So what do you want?"

Kathryn looked at her engineer and took her by the hand leading her into the bedroom, pushing her onto the bed and straddling her hips; she leaned down and whispered in her ear "You! I want you."

"You've got me."

It took what seemed like seconds for the two women to rid themselves of their clothes, Kathryn took a moment to survey the perfection before her. The half-Klingon lay naked on her bed, dusky skin looking darker in the dim light. Her lips were slightly parted; her hair was messy, her chest heaving and her thighs slightly open in invitation.

"Like what you see?"

"Oh yes."

The next morning

Captain Kathryn Janeway woke up in the arms of her Chief Engineer. Naked she stretched like a cat, wincing as over exerted muscles complained. They were still far from Earth, still in a dangerous area of space but at least they had each other now. Though how she was going to explain this to the crew she didn't know.