Title: Slide
Author: Jesse
Contact: chartreux...
Rated: PG
Disclaimer: Paramount can kiss my ass. How's that for a disclaimer?
Feedback: Hell, yeah.
Author Comments: I, in no way whatsoever, have any respect for TPTB. Not after that Chakotay incident. It was sooooo uncalled for. Not to worry, though. My one paragraph makes sense of Seven's whole train of thought! ;)
More Comments: Title taken from Dido's "Slide". Very pretty song. :)
Story: Takes place soon after "Endgame". Still on Voyager, but hanging around Earth.

*

Seven looked at the box in front of her. "You have brought me a gift," she intoned, looking up to her guest.

"That's right," smirked Chakotay.

"I didn't get you anything," she replied.

The Commander laughed. "You weren't supposed to get me anything. This was a surprise. For you."

"May I ask why?"

Chakotay sighed and looked heavenward. "Just because you're you, Seven," he smiled. "Are you going to open it?"

Seven frowned and looked back to the box on the counter in front of her. She picked it up gently, fingering the ribbons decorating the paper ever so lightly, as though they were fragile to touch. She sighed and began to rip the paper. She hesitated slightly before opening the box and looking inside.

"Do you like it?" he asked.

She pulled the contents out of the box. Parts of the fabric fell from her fingers and developed into a flowing red dress. Seven looked up to Chakotay, a little confused.

"I thought it was about time you starting dressing a little differently. With all this change you're doing inside," he stepped up to her and pulled her close, "I thought maybe you should be changing a little on the outside, too."

Seven smiled, more at the closeness than his words. "Thank you," she said. Although this new arrangement with the Commander still made her a little anxious, she was beginning to enjoy it. If she had known more about romantic relationships earlier on, she wouldn't have waited so long to single out the male on Voyager most proper for her to get involved with.

Chakotay pressed a kiss to her lips and slowly pulled away. "Go put on the dress. I'm taking you out tonight."

She nodded and pulled from his embrace. As she moved into the next room, Chakotay sighed and smiled.

*

Tom entered sickbay, a little late for his shift, expecting to be berated. He stepped up to the Doctor and spoke, preparing for the worst. "Evening, Doc."

The Doctor turned slightly to acknowledge him, then moved back to his console. "Lieutenant," he said, a distant sound in his voice.

Tom squinted. "Uh, what would you like me to start on?"

There were a few moments of silence before the Doctor looked up from his console and actually fixated on his assistant. "What?" was the response given.

"Is something wrong? You're acting a little strange."

The Doctor sighed and switched off his monitor. He seemed to be going to say something, but decided against it at the last second. "No, nothing's wrong," he said as he got up from his chair, "In fact, everything's wonderful."

"Now that's sarcasm if I ever heard it."

The hologram stopped and glared at the lieutenant. "It doesn't matter, anyways. In a few days we'll all be off this ship and running around Earth. Separation is inevitable. Who knows if any of us will even be back on Voyager," he grabbed a tricorder and added distastefully, "Maybe some of us will get lucky and be shut down into oblivion."

Tom eyed the Doctor suspiciously. He ventured a question, "Is this about Seven and Chakotay?"

The Doctor grimaced and made a low groaning sound.

"I should have known," Tom replied, "I thought you'd be happy that she's happy."

"Of course I am," the hologram said definantly. He caught his tone and sobered, "I'm just…." He shook his head, "It just doesn't make sense."

Tom nodded, "That's true. I never saw it coming."

The Doctor sighed and set the tricorder down. "It doesn't matter. Not anymore." With that last, self-defeating statement he left his assistant and walked out of Sickbay.

Tom watched him go. He could be right, he thought. Maybe it doesn't matter anymore.

*

The Doctor strolled down the corridors, grumbling to himself. He wasn't sure what he was feeling anymore. When Seven had first let him down, he was hurt. Then he became angry. Now, he wasn't so sure. Apathetic acceptance, he mused.

Perhaps it wasn't the fact that Seven was seeing Chakotay romantically. He always thought he could deal with his crewmate being involved with someone other than him. But in those scenarios he and Seven were still interacting on a basis of friendship. Ever since she had started to date Chakotay, she began to slip away from him. He rarely ever saw her anymore. And when he did, the situation was darkly uncomfortable.

He sighed. That bothered him. He did something he vowed never to do; he frightened her away.

He stepped around the corner and halted at the sight in front of him. The two people foremost on his mind were walking, arm in arm, towards the holodeck. The Doctor watched from afar, staring not at the couple, but at the woman in particular. She wore a long red dress, an outfit he had never thought she would be comfortable enough to wear. He smiled sadly. She looked beautiful, and he wished so badly that he could be the one to tell her that.

He turned and walked back the way he came, before his shipmates would notice his presence.

*