Disclaimer: I do not own or claim to own Star Trek: Voyager or any of its characters, events, or episodes. They are the respectful property of Paramount.
Author's Note: Just a one-shot that came to mind, thinking about the Paris/Torres relationship and Chakotay's big-brother role in B'Elanna's life. Partly inspired by the question of "How did Voyager replace all the shuttles that got lost or blown up?" For those of you who don't know, the shuttle Tom and B'Elanna took to retrieve the warp core in "Day of Honor" was named the Cochrane, and in the episode's novelization, it was cited as being Tom's favorite shuttle. Set sometime between season 4's "Scientific Method" and "Year of Hell, Part 1." Briefly references s4's "Revulsion."
Silly Side Note: My life is complete-I made Chakotay chuckle. Brownie points for those of you who got that and laughed.
Take Care of Her
"The shuttle's prepped and ready, sir."
Chakotay looked up at Paris' lanky form, held severely in check by discipline and respect. A posture most fitting of the red and black uniform clothing the flight controller's body. Still, Chakotay knew that the sandy-haired lieutenant before him was far from the model Starfleet officer. Then again, so was he. Chakotay chuckled inwardly, suppressing a smile.
He nodded to Paris. "At ease, Lieutenant."
As Paris relaxed his rigid limbs, Chakotay tapped his commbadge. "Chakotay to the Bridge. Captain, we're nearly ready down here. Awaiting your orders."
::Acknowledged, Commander. Standby.::
Chakotay severed the line and turned back to Paris. "Where's B'Elanna?"
"She's on her way. She had a last-minute problem in Engineering. Something about "that Borg" and an overloaded circuit board or something," the pilot explained.
Despite his level gaze and formal report, Chakotay caught the warmth in Paris' eyes and the smile dancing about his lips. The conn officer's relationship with B'Elanna was no secret on Voyager. In fact, it'd become the talk of the ship, much to B'Elanna's dismay. Again, Chakotay suppressed a smile, this time at the memory of the Doctor's excited "report" to him a few days before.
"She was quite defensive, Commander. I merely remarked upon the nature of her recent relationship with Lieutenant Paris and she was instantly on Red Alert. You should have seen the way she reacted! I believe her exact words were, 'Let's get one thing straight. I don't appreciate you or anyone else speculating about the kind of friendships I have, or who I have them with!'"
The hiss of the shuttle bay's doors opening and the rapid click of boots upon the deck plates announced B'Elanna's arrival even before her angry muttering reached their ears.
Chakotay cocked an eyebrow in Paris' directed. "Better watch out, Paris. Her Klingon side's getting the best of her today."
The pilot winked at him, letting their fledgling friendship replace Starfleet protocol for an instant. "Don't worry. I can handle it. I've seen the worst of it, remember?"
Oh yes, I remember, Paris. How could I forget? Chakotay doubted anyone would forget B'Elanna's ordeal with pon farr.
Just then, Voyager's chief engineer swept into view, a flurry of black, yellow, and brown.
"Nice of you to join us, Chief," Paris joked, sidling up to B'Elanna's small figure. "I was beginning to think you'd scheduled an Engineering overhaul."
The look B'Elanna shot him could only be described as pure annoyance. "Not now, Tom, not now. I'm still restraining myself from strangling someone." She brushed her hair from her eyes and looked pointedly at her white-knuckled grip on her engineer's kit.
To his credit, Paris didn't retaliate. If anything, B'Elanna's fiery temper fueled his love for her. Still, Chakotay noticed, the pilot knew when to back off and let B'Elanna stew.
"Shuttle's been through preflight. She's ready to run."
B'Elanna nodded shortly and swept past them, disappearing through the new shuttle's gleaming hatch. Chakotay could picture her, probably rechecking all the primary systems and reassessing the new shuttle's safety parameters. He smiled faintly at the image. B'Elanna's thoroughness was only part of what made her such a brilliant engineer.
His commbadge chirped. ::Bridge to Chakotay.::
"Chakotay here," he responded.
::We're ready when you are. Proceed with the launch.::
::Oh, and Mr. Paris—::
Tom looked up expectantly. "Yes, Captain?"
Chakotay could see the smile in Kathryn's words reflected upon Paris' impish face.
"Thank you, Captain." Chakotay cut the line. "Commander, permission to proceed?"
"Permission granted, Lieutenant."
The pilot turned, heading for the shuttle. Chakotay watched him go, feeling a twinge deep inside him. Just before Paris reached the hatch, Chakotay caught sight of the shuttle's name. Cochrane II.
Tom swung around, looking back at him expectantly. "Sir?"
Brown eyes locked with blue, and Chakotay stayed silent for a moment, wanting Tom to catch the seriousness of what he was about to say. When he was sure he had the pilot's attention, he continued.
"Take care of her."
Tom's eyes darted to the bold black letters across the shuttle's hull. When he met his gaze once more, Chakotay saw understanding in the sincere blue eyes. The pilot nodded slowly, holding his gaze. "I will, sir. I promise."
Chakotay smiled and entered the protective chamber, activating the depressurization sequence once inside. He watched as the bay doors inched open and the Cochrane II's thrusters roared to life. Under Tom's skilled fingers, it rose and drifted from Voyager's protective embrace, soaring into the star-strewn blanket of space. The bay doors inched closed once more. As he initialized atmospheric restoration, Chakotay nodded slowly, satisfied.
B'Elanna was in good hands.