SUMMARY: Visiting guests to Voyager create an interesting situation
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, nuff said!
NOTE: With thanks to Chris, Beth and Jo for looking this over for me. Thanks also to Jo who helped me out when my computer decided to play nasty for me!

 "I still don't like this idea, Chakotay," Captain Kathryn Janeway muttered furiously to her first officer as the doctor took yet another picture of the two of them.

Chakotay adjusted his arm around her. "Come on, Kathryn," he cajoled. "You heard what Rek'eth said. And we need this deal."

"It's the most sexist thing I've heard of," she retorted back between clenched teeth.

"A smile would be nice, Captain," the doctor commented cheerfully, a little too cheerfully for his captain's liking.

"Remember the Prime Directive, Captain," the commander warned. "It's a matter of respect. If this is the way we have to go then this is the way we'll go."

"Watch your backs, people," Ensign Kim called across from the control panel. He pressed a button and the holodeck scene instantly changed. A bench appeared behind the command duo, which they immediately sat down on.

Kathryn looked askance at the rural farmland scene now portrayed around them. "Where's this supposed to be?" she questioned. "If this is supposed to be Indiana it's a lousy representation!"

Chakotay sighed, slid across to the other end of the bench, and turned to face her. "Just what is it about this mission that's annoying you so much? Is it the fact you can't be the captain or the fact that I have to be the captain and you have to be married to me? If it's the latter then let me tell you this. You can choose whoever you want to be your captain and bed partner."

Kathryn coloured. "Say it a bit louder, why don't you? And this role does not include being my bed partner."

He sighed. "Harry and the doctor both know the situation. Besides, we're not the only ones having to share, you know. I'm contemplating putting Sam, Naomi and Joe into my quarters so that Joe can have the couch. Would you rather share with Tuvok?"

"Tuvok would never pull this off," she replied. "He's a hopeless liar."

The doctor and Harry continued their work around them; the holo-scenes changing continuously. "Exactly," Chakotay confirmed, standing up and walking around to the back of the wooden bench. "At least this way you can still work in your quarters," he continued, leaning over and placing his arms around her. "I can bring PADDs back with me when the shift ends for you to work on. You'll still be in charge, just not visibly."

"That's it," Harry called over as the final scene disappeared, leaving behind only the grid of the holodeck. "I'm all done."

The doctor lowered his imager. "I should have these ready for you in a couple of hours. Then you can decide which shots you want in your honeymoon album."

"Thank you, doctor," Kathryn growled, as she exited the holodeck. She paused to lay a hand on Harry's arm. "And thank you, Ensign," she said in a softer tone. "Your hard work is greatly appreciated."

She swept along the corridors to her quarters, her first officer trailing behind. As soon as the doors slid shut behind them she sunk down on to her couch and kicked her boots off. "So, tell me, Captain. When do our guests arrive?"

"Sometime tomorrow." He sat down in the chair opposite her. "So I'll start moving my stuff in tonight, if that's okay."

Kathryn sighed. "Its not like I have a choice, is it?"

"Kathryn, if you didn't want to do this, why didn't you say so?"

"Which part?" She smiled wearily. "This pretense is not something I ever wanted to do, but the supplies Rek'eth promised just make it too good to pass up. Thank goodness he gave us some warning."

"Its only for a few days, Kathryn. I'll move out as soon as we hit warp."

She smiled across at him. "A few days. I know. And it could be worse."

"Worse?" He raised an eyebrow at her, unsure of her meaning.

"I could be sharing with Neelix." She leaned back in her seat and laughed. "Oh well, we'll live. We've been through worse. Want some help with your stuff?"

"If you don't mind. There's not much."

"Okay, get me a cup of coffee and I'll be right with you."

Three hours later, they had finally got Chakotay's possessions stored in the captain's quarters. The last box being shoved under the bed, both collapsed down on top of it.

"You said you didn't have much," Kathryn complained, rolling on to her side facing him.

"I didn't," Chakotay replied. "It's the putting it away that takes the effort. Who knew Captain Janeway had so much junk?"

"I do not," she leaned over and punched him lightly on his chest.

"Hey!" he groaned. "No fair. Hmph, perhaps I should have this bed?" He padded it with his hands. "This is really comfy."

"No way, mister. This bed is mine!"

He raised an eyebrow and grinned at her. "Technically, this bed belongs to the captain, and tomorrow I become the captain."

"You wouldn't dare kick a woman out of her own bed, would you?"

He pretended to think about it for a moment. "Who said anything about kicking you out? I was thinking about sharing."

Her only response was to attempt to smother him with a pillow. He managed to grab it and throw it across the room.

They were still for a while, too exhausted to move anymore. Finally Chakotay took a breath and said, "If you don't mind, Kathryn, I'd like to sleep here tonight. I think…"

"I told you," she reminded him hastily. "You're not the captain just yet."

"Will you let me finish?" he asked her, grinning. "I think we should get as many people as possible moved into their temporary quarters tonight. We don't know what time Rek'eth is going to bring the Ambassador aboard and I think we should try to look as natural as possible."

"Mmm, you do have a point there, perhaps. Okay, give Joe and Sam a call. They can be in before Naomi's bedtime if we pitch in and help."

Slowly, Kathryn sat up and swung her feet over to the edge to the floor. She walked over to the doorway, found her boots and sat back down on the bed, on the side where Chakotay still lay. Tugging on the first boot she threw him a look over her shoulder. "Going to lay there all evening, are you?"

He moved his arms so that he was able to lean his head on them. "I don't know. I've got a great view here."

She twisted around and leaned over him. "Well, mister. Unless you get up, we won't be able to get Joe and Sam moved in."

He smiled up at the eyes that were suddenly very close to his. "Why? If I don't move then it means I won't be using my quarters tonight which means they can still move in."

With an obvious effort she pulled herself back away from him. "Do you really want Sam complaining that that Naomi was kept up half the night because it took so long to move them?"

"She's been through worse."

"Argh!" Kathryn cried, wrenching on the other boot. "You have absolutely no conscience, do you?"

He sat up then. "And there I was planning on actually giving up this magnificent bed to you tonight and taking the couch."

Getting Joe and the Wildmans moved in proved to have a domino effect. As the Wildmans vacated their quarters others moved in. By the time Harry began the gamma shift watch nearly half the ship's complement had moved in to their new quarters.

And true to his word, Commander Chakotay slept on the couch in the captain's quarters.

The following morning Voyager received word that Rek'eth would be bringing their guests onto Voyager that afternoon. Kathryn spent the morning in her ready room, trying to do some last minute work before she was stripped of her authority. After a brief lunch at her desk she was reluctantly forced to return to her quarters.

"Any last minute words of advice for your replacement?" Chakotay jokingly asked her as he walked with her.

"Don't destroy my ship, perhaps?" Kathryn replied wryly. "Really, Chakotay. I'm still not sure about this. The women on this ship contribute a lot to the running of her. Putting them in a limited capacity is going to hurt us."

"I think we'll be okay. It's just your role that was causing us the problem, according to Rek'eth. Can't be having a female captain."

"And I still say its sexist!" she retorted. "And the male captain just had to have a female escort who's not a working crew member." She shot a look across at her first officer. "Oh go on, Chakotay. Admit it, you're loving this, aren't you?"

They stepped into the turbolift and he turned to face her. "Well, Kathryn..." he began. "Do you remember all those years ago when I asked you about serving under me?"

Her eyes widened. "I am not serving though."

"No." His eyes twinkled. "But you might be under…"

She clamped her hands over her ears in an attempt to block his comments. "Chakotay!" she exclaimed. "If you weren't my best friend and such a fine first officer, I'd have thrown you into the warp core long ago. On any other vessel you'd never get away with making such comments to your captain!"

"I know." He grinned again. "Anyway, as soon as we get back to OUR quarters I'll be the captain and I can say what I like to myself."

She led the way out of the lift, shaking her head. "When this is all over, you are so dead, mister."

"Can't wait," he replied. Swiftly overtaking her, he reached their shared quarters and typed in the access code. "Right, madam. Out of that uniform, now!"

Her jaw dropped. "In my own good time." She took off her jacket and paused. "There's no real reason as to why I need out of my uniform immediately, is there?" She watched him shake his head and began fiddling with the collar. "After all, all you really need are these." She held out her four small pips to him.

There was a silence as he looked down at what she offered to him. With this small act she was effectively handing complete control over to him. It was such a small act but it was incredibly significant.

"Starfleet pips?" Chakotay groaned, in an effort to lighten the atmosphere. "Never thought I'd see the day I'd wear these."

"Get used to it!" she laughed, as she began to fix the pips onto his collar. Once the task was completed her fingers lingered on his jacket for just a moment more. "Knock them dead, Captain," she smiled shyly at him.

He grasped her hand and kissed it lightly. "I promise not to destroy her," he whispered, unable to withdraw his gaze from her face.

A pinkish colour tinged her cheeks. "You better not."

The moment was interrupted by Harry's voice coming over the comm. "Bridge to Captain Chakotay. Your presence is required in transporter room two."

Chakotay looked down at the woman before him. "I guess its show time." He dropped her hand. "I'll be back later, okay, to collect you for the dinner?"

She nodded. "I'll be right here."

When Chakotay arrived back at their quarters that evening he found himself stopping just inside the door in amazement. Kathryn was waiting for him, standing staring out of the window.

"Wow," he finally managed to say. "You look fantastic."

She turned at the sound of his voice and smiled. "Do you like it?" she asked awkwardly smoothing down the side of the dress she wore with her hands.

"Like it? I love it. How come I've never seen it before?"

"I replicated it this afternoon. Figured I should have something worthy of the captain's escort." She said the words lightly but Chakotay could tell there was something bothering her.

"Kathryn, look," he began. "About earlier…"

"Chakotay," she smiled. "Its okay." She stepped forward to him and laid a hand gently on his chest. "Its awkward for the both of us. This is a difficult situation and we just have to accept it. Its only for a few more days."

But Chakotay only shook his head and sighed. "I have a feeling that I kind of overstepped the mark earlier. I'm sorry."

"I've a feeling we both did, Commander," she replied, deliberately stressing his proper title. "Why don't we put it down to practicing getting in character and leaving it at that? Is that okay?" He nodded silently and she stepped away from him. "Now, you better get ready. I've laid out your dress uniform on the bed."

He smiled back at her as he entered the bedroom. "Thanks, I appreciate it." "No problem. What else could I do this afternoon?"

The door slid closed behind him. "Were you that bored?" he called through.

"Only for the first hour or so," she yelled back. "Thanks for sending Harry by with those reports."

"You're welcome. I knew I wouldn't get to them and I thought you might want to get a head start on them."

"I certainly appreciate it. How are our guests doing?"

"Everything seems okay so far. I had Tuvok give Rek'eth and the High Ambassador a tour of the ship."

"And the crew?"

The door opened and Chakotay reappeared in his dress uniform. "No complaints so far."

"B'Elanna and Joe?"

"No broken noses so far. I think B'Elanna actually understands why she had to hand over engineering to him."

"Good," Kathryn laughed. "Well, I suppose we had better put in an appearance on the holodeck. You ready to go?"

"As ready as I'll ever be." He crooked his arm to her, she took it and they stepped into the corridor. "You realise," he continued as they strolled along to the turbolift, "That the crew are going to get quite the eye full tonight seeing us like this."

"What's wrong with us?" she asked him. "Besides us appearing arm in arm and colour-coordinated to boot?"

"That was quite imaginative of you, Kathryn."

"As Seven and Tuvok would both say, it's the logical choice. Do you think it worked? I've never worn red and black before besides in uniform."

They were now standing in the turbolift, with no one to see Chakotay rake his eyes up and down her body and no one to report that Kathryn was blushing under his scrutiny.

"I think it works wonderfully. In fact I almost envy you not having to wear this thing." He tugged at the bottom of the long tunic of the Starfleet dress uniform.

"I'd like to see you attempt to wear this, mister."

"Oh spirits, no. Can you see Tom Paris' face?"

Kathryn grinned. "Yep."

The lift doors opened and they stepped out. Beginning to walk the few yards to the holodeck Kathryn was pleased to see Tuvok approaching from the opposite direction.

"Is that the High Ambassador?" she asked in a low voice.

"Yes. And that's his escort, Matreya."

She sighed. "Why do I suddenly feel small and dumpy compared to her?"

Chakotay slipped his arm around her. "There is absolutely no reason to feel that way, Kathryn," he murmured into her ear. "Besides being beautiful and intelligent, do you know what else you are?" Kathryn shook her head mutely. "You are the captain of a star ship and I'll bet you anything that Matreya has never been that."

Kathryn smiled up at him. "How do you always seem to know the right thing to say?"

"Years of practice perhaps?" he suggested, winking at her. "Come on, let's go and play gracious hosts to our guests."

It was young Naomi who got the honour of introducing Kathryn, Chakotay and their guests to the assembled crew in the holographic banquet hall. Assisted onto a chair and prompted by Icheb she cheerfully called out their names without faltering.

The High Ambassador was impressed. "They are lovely children," he commented.

"Yes," Chakotay replied. "We're hoping there'll be a match there eventually.

Kathryn blinked, astounded at Chakotay's comment. Naomi was only six, how could Chakotay talk like that?

During the dinner, Chakotay continued to amaze Kathryn with how easily he was able to lie about their circumstances. Not once did he falter, stumble or contradict himself. And then the conversation turned to Icheb and Naomi again.

"They are the only children on board Voyager?" the Ambassador asked. When Chakotay confirmed this, his next question was to ask why.

The acting captain thought about it for a moment. "I think the main reason is that we're on a very long mission and that we've often traveled through dangerous space. Many of our people are wary about bringing up children in the kind of environment."

The Ambassador nodded. "Yes. Your first officer, Tuvok, informed us that you are many miles from home. My aide, Rek'eth, tells me that this was unexpected. However, I am surprised, Captain, that you have no offspring to inherit your position."

Kathryn held her breath. Chakotay looked distinctly uncomfortable. Finally he said, "Its an awkward subject."

"Ahh." The Ambassador nodded again and then lowered his head towards Chakotay's. "Mistress Kathryn is unable to conceive. I am sorry for your loss."

Those within hearing range, notably the senior officers, were stunned into silence. Kathryn's face flamed red as she looked down at the table. Chakotay's arm slid discretely around her waist. "Well…" he began.

"Fine Sir. You continue to surprise and impress me," the Ambassador cut in. "There is many a man where I'm from who would have traded her in for a woman fit enough to bear offspring."

This time everyone, except their guests, noticed Kathryn tense visibly. Chakotay's arm tightened around her and she gradually began to lean into him. "No," Chakotay said, quietly but firmly. "I could never do that. Kathryn is my heart, my soul. I would rather have her than a hundred children."

The Ambassador smiled. "Its very noble of you, Captain. But who will inherit this beautiful vessel should anything happen to you?"

Keeping his arm around Kathryn Chakotay began carefully to answer him. "In our culture, one does not need to be related to inherit. Should anything happen to me then I know this ship will be good hands with Commander Tuvok."

"And Kathryn?"

"She'll be taken care of."

"Still, it is a shame."

Suddenly a new voice spoke up. "You said earlier you had children, Ambassador," Tom Paris commented. "I would love to hear about them. My wife and I are expecting our first child and I'm not quite sure what to expect."

For the first time since the subject had come up, Kathryn raised her eyes from the table. Catching Tom's eye she smiled gratefully at him. In return the helmsman winked at her, causing her to smile even more. Never had she ever been more appreciative of the young man.

Although Tom's question had managed to get the conversation away from her Kathryn still felt uncomfortable and was unable to say little. Eventually she made her excuses and retired for the evening, escorted to her quarters by Icheb. When Chakotay returned a few hours later he found her fast asleep. He quietly retrieved his pillow and blankets and made his bed on the couch, asking the computer to wake him early the next morning.