TITLE: How To Get Stuck in a Turbolift and Still Come Out Winning!

AUTHOR: Sally

SUMMARY: Kathryn and Chakotay get stuck in a lift, again. But this time they're prepared. An entry to Astrogirl's Turbolift contest.

RATING: PG

DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Paramount. I wish they weren't. The story, however, is mine.

"What are you doing?" Chakotay leaned against the cool metallic wall and looked down at his captain. Already she was sat on the floor, pulling a padd out from seemingly nowhere and reading through it.

She looked up at him. "I made a decision," she said. "The next time the lift stuck I was going to make sure I had something to do. So when I realised that we were both going the same way I picked this up. Now I don't lose any time when we get stuck in here."

He laughed, knowing he had to give her credit for beating the crew at their own game. "Only you, Kathryn, could think like that."

"Not just me." She grinned up at him. "What have you got?"

Damn! He realised that she'd spotted the padd peaking out of his pocket. He grimaced a little as he pulled it out to show her. "Seven's latest request for more power resources for astrometrics," he commented, as he slid down the wall to sit opposite her. "Want to swap?"

"I wish I could," she said grimly. "But this particular report is from Starfleet."

Chakotay nodded knowingly. "Another of those 'commanding officers only unless you're Maquis' reports then." He sighed. "I wish I could help you with those reports, Kathryn."

She reached out and patted his arm consolingly. "Its okay."

He shook his head. "Its not. You should have a Starfleet first officer, not a miserable excuse for one."

"Well, I don't," she replied smartly. "And you are not either. Good grief Chakotay, if I had a sorry excuse for a first officer he probably would be Starfleet! Besides," she continued. "I wouldn't want one. No regular first officer would be able to live with me."

He grinned now, always reassured by her continued faith in him. "Who says I do?"

Kathryn rolled her eyes at him. "Then again…" She sighed. "No one else would put up with you for long either."

"Or our crew for that matter," Chakotay added, acknowledging the crew's latest group plan to trap their commanding officers in the turbolift for the umpteenth time that year.

"This is true. Maybe we should just stay in the Delta Quadrant. We're absolutely no use to anyone except ourselves."

Her first officer rolled onto his side and propped himself up on his elbow. "So why didn't we stop at that M-Class a few months back?" he asked, grinning.

"Because no one was trying to trap us like this at the time."

Chakotay paused. "Sorry to tell you this, Captain," he began. "But there's no trying about it. They've succeeded."

A sudden jolt made them both pay attention. "We're moving," Kathryn gasped.

"Hell, that was quick," Chakotay muttered. "I was expecting another hour at least. Something must have happened. Damn! Now I have to go to that meeting with Seven." He hauled himself to his feet and extended a hand out to her. "Hair."

"Rank bar," she retorted, as he pulled her up. She began running a hand through her bobbed haircut. "Make that uniform as well."

Her first officer grinned as he removed the Maquis bar from his collar and tugged at his shirt. "Pips," he continued, nodding to her shoulder.

She hastily removed one and stuffed it into her pocket. "Think that'll work?"

"Its better than nothing," he grinned. The lift came to a slow halt and the doors began to open. "Ready?"

"Let's go."

As anticipated they had an audience waiting for them as they exited. Kathryn turned an automatic deep shade of pink, something easily accomplished, as she pretended to desperately straighten her hair out. Chakotay, for his part, merely grinned as he attempted to tuck his undershirt back into his pants. Open mouths greeted them, the silence following them as they walked away down the corridor.

"You did put that wager on, didn't you?" Kathryn hissed as soon as they were out of hearing range.

"Of course," he replied. "I knew you had that meeting with the doc the same time as my meeting with Seven. It made perfect sense."

She laughed. "Thanks. I'm going to need that coffee when I'm done with the doctor."

"You mean, when he's through with you? Here," he reached towards her and extended a hand towards her pocket. "Let me promote you again." Pulling the golden pip out from its hiding place he carefully attached it to her collar, placing it next to its counterparts.

"Chakotay?"

"Hmmn?"

"How long can we keep fooling them?"

"As long as there are rations to be won and Tom Paris to beat, I think your words were." He took a step back from her and looked his captain up and down. "There, all presentable again."

She smiled shyly up at him. "Thank you," she replied softly.

"You're welcome." Leaning down, Chakotay kissed her softly on the nose. "Go on, you're going to be late."

"I already am late," Kathryn grouched. "A few extra minutes aren't going to do any harm."

"Well, they're going to do me harm. You don't really want your secret boyfriend assimilated because he's late to an astrometrics meeting do you? It would be incredibly inefficient."

"What? Being late or assimilated?"

"Put it this way, which would you rather I was?"

"Late," she grinned back at him. "And I guess you better get going before you become my not-so-secret boyfriend." She took a quick glance around before running a gentle hand along his jaw line. "See you later, I hope."

"No need to hope," he reassured her. "Someone's got to cook you dinner." He kissed her again before taking off down the corridor. "Later, Captain," he called back.

Kathryn shook her head before heading back to the turbolift to catch a ride down to sickbay. On her way she tapped lightly at her badge. "Janeway to Torres. You're really going have to do something about that lift from the bridge." She paused for a moment. "Its really most inconvenient to be trapped with the commander each time it fails."

FINIS