TITLE: The Things She'd Do For Coffee

SUMMARY: Kathryn's on the coffee hunt… and things are getting desperate

RATING: PG-PG13

DISCLAIMER: Characters with a love for coffee are not mine, neither are the poor fools who have to put up with them! Story is mine though – nuff said!



"Coffee" she muttered, swinging her feet out of bed. "I need coffee."

It would be a safe assumption to say that when the ship's systems were not screaming Red Alert, Kathryn Janeway was not at her best when she first woke up in the morning. Not until she'd had her coffee. Whether it be the burst of adrenaline from the emergency alert, or the jolt from the caffeine in a hot cup of coffee, she needed that one thing to get her going.

Eyes half closed she made her way into the bathroom and activated the sonic shower. She stood there motionless while the technology did its work and then sighed loudly.

She threw her robe back on and headed into the main living area. At that point she was awake enough to realise what a sight she must be and began to laugh a little. Few people had seen their captain like that and, if she had her way, few people would.

There was the replicator. She crossed the room to it and lowered her face slightly, as if preparing to inhale her order when it materialised.

"Coffee. Black," she commanded.

But no drink was forthcoming. There was no cup and no steaming caffeinated liquid appearing on the base plate of the machine.

She repeated her order. "Coffee. Black."

This time the replicator appeared to hear her. A light clicked on and a whirring sound could be heard.

But then a second voice could be heard, the voice of computer, saying the words that spelled impending doom for the crew members on Alpha shift.

"That substance is not recognised."

She resisted the urge to scream. Instead she found her commbadge, tapped it gently, and called, "Janeway to Torres."

From halfway across the ship a sleepy voice replied, "Yes, Captain?"

"B'Elanna. It seems there's a problem with my replicator. It refuses to produce coffee for me."

A snort from the background indicated to Kathryn that her chief engineer was not alone. "Maybe the doc and Chakotay reprogrammed it." Tom's voice was faint but it was still loud enough for Kathryn to hear.

"Will you shut up?" B'Elanna hissed back to her companion. "They wouldn't dare do that. Sorry Captain, I'll have someone look at it later. In the meantime you'll have to use the one in your ready room."

The captain nodded. Even she understood the relative importance of a replicator compared to a warp core and B'Elanna was right. She did have another replicator available to use. "Understood, B'Elanna. Thank you."

"You're welcome, Captain. Torres out."

After pulling on her uniform Kathryn headed up to her ready room. Entering the back way so that she wouldn't have to face anyone on the bridge just yet she walked smartly up to the machine situated in one of the walls and demanded, "Coffee! Black."

This time she got a cup.

She supposed she should consider herself lucky. At least this time the computer hadn't told her it couldn't recognise her order. A cup was definite progress.

She tried again.

And got another cup.

Throwing the cups into the recycler she headed back out the way she had come. Her next stop would be the messhall. There she had two options, the replicator and Neelix's brew. She infinitely preferred the former but the latter would do in a pinch.

It was going to have to be the latter. The replicator here didn't even acknowledge her request. Either time that she tried.

With a sigh, she hit her commbadge again. "Janeway to Torres."

"Yes, Captain?"

"B'Elanna, we may have a bigger problem. I've now got three replicators refusing to give me coffee. This is not good."

The chief engineer wholeheartedly agreed with her. A captain without coffee was definitely not good. But B'Elanna also had her suspicions. "Captain, we'll take a look but I think I would speak to Chakotay. You know what he's like about your coffee."

Kathryn growled. "Do you want your best friend seen torn from limb to limb?"

There was a stifled laugh from the other end. "No, ma'am. That's why I won't be anywhere near when you do speak to him. Torres out."

The captain shook her head and wandered over to the counter. Peering over it she could see Neelix to one side of the kitchen and she quickly called him over. "Neelix," she told him. "The replicators are malfunctioning and I need coffee."

It should have been enough to scare anyone into producing coffee, but not Neelix. "Oh dear," he muttered. "They seemed to be working fine just a few moments ago, Captain. Perhaps I should let engineering know."

"I've already spoken to Lieutenant Torres," Kathryn tried to reply calmly. "It seems to be a ship-wide problem. But right now, Neelix, I really do need some coffee."

Now the Talaxian began to look worried. "Oh dear," he said quietly, his face creasing up in concern. "I'm afraid I just gave away the last of the coffee. I need to wait for the next lot of beans to mature. I know you normally like to get yours from the replicators so I gave it to someone else."

Kathryn leaned back and placed her hands on her hips. "And just who did you give the last of the coffee to, Mister Neelix?"

He swallowed. "Commander Chakotay."

As she stormed along the corridor to her first officer's office, Captain Kathryn Janeway began to once more reflect on how unfair life could be. Not only was there no coffee left but the last of it had gone to a man who didn't even care for coffee, a man who preferred tea of all things, a man who knew her major weakness was coffee, a man to whom she was now going to have to ask for coffee. She was never going to live this one down.

"I would say come in," he commented dryly as she plugged in her override code to his door and strode on in. "But I'd be a little late. What can I do for you, Kathryn?"

Her focus fell upon the small coffee pot sat on his desk. "That's coffee," she accused, extending a finger and pointing at it."

"Very good," he grinned. "I just got it from Neelix." He continued to work at the console on his desk.

"It was the last of the coffee," she reported.

He looked up briefly. "Was it? Damn, we better check on the plants in airponics then." She stood there, staring at him until he eventually worked it out. "You want some, don't you," he observed. When his commanding officer just nodded dumbly he knew he had her in the palm of his hand. "What are you willing to do for it?" he asked, a gleam appearing in his eye.

"Anything," she replied, knowing she was sunk. "I'll do anything to get at that coffee, Chakotay."

"Really?"

Something in his tone made her look more sharply at him. That was when she spotted the look in his eye. "Except that," she added, feeling fairly certain as to what might be going through his mind.

He leaned back in his chair, placed his hands behind his head, and laughed. "Oh come on, Kathryn, you could get some hefty replicator rations if you did. Its about time Tom's betting pool had to make a payout."

"No way," she said shaking her head firmly. "We've been down this road before. Besides, what good are replicator rations if your replicator won't give you coffee?"

"Ahh," he said, leaning forward. "I see your problem." He swept a look around his desk, eventually zeroing in on a small pile of padds. "Well, I guess you could go through these for me." He handed the padds over to her.

She ran a cursory glance over them and her heart sunk. "Reports by Seven of Nine? Are you mad?" Okay, she thought. Anything, including accepting a proposition from him would be preferable to this. Then she shook her head. Was coffee really worth either that or these reports?

He laughed. "Me? Mad? You're the one who said you'd do anything then automatically came up with the sexual favours."

"I said no such thing," she denied hotly.

"You didn't have to," Chakotay told her. "But you were thinking it, I could tell." He shook his head. "And you are far too easy for me to tease, Kathryn. After seven years I thought you might have realised that." He paused. "Of course, if you'd rather perform the sexual favours…"

"No," she said hastily. "The reports will do just fine." She held them close to her so he wouldn't change his mind. "Can I have the coffee now?"

Chakotay burst into howls of laughter. "Oh, Kathryn. You are unreal. Tell you what; go do those reports and I'll keep this hot for you. They need to be done for my meeting with Seven today anyway."

"But Chakotay…"

He stood up to escort her to the door. "Kathryn, by my estimation, you have already survived at least the first hour of the day without that poison. You can survive another hour."

"But I won't really be living," she protested.

"And I'm sure half the crew won't even be able to tell the difference," he reassured her.

Two hours later Kathryn placed the padds back on his desk with no small amount of satisfaction. "There," she said. "All done."

Chakotay smiled up at her. "Good timing as well. Seven just called me. She wants to meet with me now." He stood up and walked around the desk, picking the reports up on his way. "Help yourself, Kathryn. You earned it."

She picked up the pot and poured a cup of coffee. Her hands were shaking slightly as she slowly lifted the mug to her mouth. She could not wait to taste the caffeine.

Seconds later she was on the verge of spitting the liquid out. "Argh!" She yelled. "Its decaf!" She spun around to face her errant first officer but he had already left for the astrometrics lab. "Janeway to Chakotay!" she called.

"Yes, Kathryn?" he asked.

She swore she could hear the smile in his voice. He was taking this a little too well for her liking.

"You're a dead man, Mister."

There was an outright laugh this time. "Enjoy your coffee, Kathryn. It's the only cup you'll get for a while. Chakotay out."



FINIS