Disclaimer: I do not own nor claim to own any of the following characters, places, or events.
Author's Note: A spin-off of my Course: Oblivion I drabble, though this one is placed directly before the actual wedding episode, "Drive." When you read enough J/C, you start to write it (thank you KJaneway115 and Cerulean Phoenix7!), and of course I threw in a healthy dose of P/T.
A Father for His Daughter…
Tom rubbed damp hands along his pants, then stopped when he realized he'd probably wrinkled his uniform. Maybe he should've worn civvies. After all, what he was about to ask wasn't exactly work related. But it concerned Voyager, and his life, and work was part of his life—Voyager too—so technically this was work related. Did it even matter? He shook his head at the convoluted logic and raised his hand.
. . .
Kathryn was smiling, lips curving up in a way that said she had a secret. He offered her a good morning as she claimed the seat beside him, which she returned in a flash of ivory teeth and sparkling eyes.
"All systems operational, Captain. Nothing more to report," a haggard-looking ensign answered upon her request. At Kathryn's nod of dismissal, the poor soul practically stumbled his way into the turbolift. His companions from ops, tactical, and sciences followed, their alpha shift replacements slipping quickly into place. Chakotay observed the smooth rotation with satisfaction.
She turned a laughing smile on him. "Another wonderful day in the Delta Quadrant, don't you think?" And she wasn't a bit sarcastic. Yep, she definitely had a secret.
"If you say so," he replied, grin threatening to break through. "Though, if you asked Tuvok, he'd probably tell you that day and night have no meaning in space, and therefore his opinion of them would be irrelevant."
She narrowed her eyes. "Mm, sounds more like Seven to me." He could tell she was itching for him to ask what this was all about by the way she fidgeted and glanced at him as he skimmed B'Elanna's Engineering report. Well, she'd just have to itch.
Patience was something he'd perfected.
. . .
Voyager's flyboy was ten feet off the deckplates, and it earned him several looks from the crewmen walking the halls of deck eleven. But surreptitious glances and quirked eyebrows were as expected as duty shifts for Tom Paris, and neither were about to bring him out of his euphoria.
He rounded the last bend and stepped into main Engineering, dodging a startled ensign as he did so. His blue eyes roved the thrumming workplace until they settled on her, twenty feet away at an auxiliary console. She was bent low over it, hair sweeping down her cheeks to brush the controls, reflections from the warp core swirling blue webs across her uniform.
Securing his grip on the bouquet behind his back, Tom swallowed and crossed the room. "Is it telling you anything?"
She started, then relaxed when she saw him. "Well it was, until you interrupted. What're you doing here?"
"Nice to see you, too."
She shot him a look and bent back down. "You'd better not be late for your shift. Chakotay climbed all over me last time."
"I won't be late. Scout's honor." He attempted to salute. When that failed, he settled for a goofy grin.
"Please," she groaned, but she was trying not to laugh. Then her smile disappeared. "Oh no. You're not here to cancel, are you? I can't reschedule, either, because I've got gamma shift—"
He silenced her with a kiss, which lasted the five seconds it took her to remember where they were. "Tom!" she whispered, shoving him back. He held up the flowers before she could kick him out.
"I thought these would look good on the table tonight. You provide the candles?"
Her mouth dropped open, and she looked at him with eyes so brown and beautiful that it nearly drove him crazy. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
"They're beautiful," she whispered, brushing her fingers along the velvety petals.
"Then I got the color right?"
She looked up. "Purple…yes. How'd you know?"
"Noah wasn't much help," he said, pulling at face as he remembered Lessing's raised hands and shaking head. "But it seems you let it slip in the mess hall once, and you know how Neelix remembers things."
"Hmm," she purred, eyes on his lips. "Remind me to thank him for eavesdropping." Then she kissed him, and her touch was soft and sweet. She tasted of heaven.
At last she pulled away, and only then to silence a snickering Nicoletti with her best I'm-the-boss-shut-up glare. That done, she turned back to him. "One problem, flyboy."
His face fell. "What?"
"I don't keep vases in Engineering."
He laughed and kissed her one last time. "Not a problem. I still have time to drop them by your quarters and get to the bridge."
"Don't forget the candles!"
He left her muttering about fire hazards and catching the flak from security. But he could hear the smile tingeing her words.
. . .
The turbolift doors hissed open, and Chakotay looked up from next month's duty roster to see Tom Paris taking his seat at the conn. Beside him, Kathryn suddenly took her hand from her chin and straightened, eyes trained on the sandy-haired pilot. Chakotay bit back a smile and fought to keep his laughter in. She was worse than a parrot at keeping secrets. But he liked the way it made her eyes shine.
Tom, for his part, either ignored or missed the Captain's sudden fascination with his back.
. . .
::Janeway to Chakotay. Commander, could I see you in my ready room?::
Chakotay shook his head and stood. Five hours—she'd lasted longer than he expected. Tom had just enough time to swivel his seat and wink before the ready room door slid into the bulkhead.
He entered, and Kathryn was already looking at him. She wasn't even pretending to work. He clasped his hands behind his back and leaned slightly forward. "You wanted to see me?"
She folded her hands on her desk and seemed to consider something in her pursed lips and calculating gaze. But then it was gone, and she was on her feet and heading for the replicator.
"Coffee, black," she demanded of the machine, and gulped the steaming liquid as soon as the mug solidified.
"You've been awfully chipper today," he remarked. "Want to tell me what has you so excited?"
"I was beginning to wonder if you'd even noticed." She descended the stairs and leaned against her desk, fingers curled around the turquoise mug.
I always notice your moods, Kathryn he wanted to say, but instead raised his eyebrows and stared at her.
She worked her jaw for a long moment, then straightened. "Tom asked for my permission to marry B'Elanna."
"Well, it certainly took him long enough."
She shot him a look. "You don't sound surprised."
"Before or after you had your coffee?" he joked.
Her brow wrinkled in amazement. "My coffee? That's all you're curious about?"
"Is there something wrong with that?"
She set her cup aside. "Chakotay, I just told you that your closest friend on this ship is getting married. I thought you'd show a little more excitement."
"Married? You didn't say anything about that. Just that Tom asked for permission to propose."
"Well, I'd say that's as good as marriage, don't you think?"
"They've been dancing around it for nearly three years now. Who's to say they won't wait another three?"
"You didn't see Tom's face when he asked me. He looked ready to—"
"Jump out of his skin?"
She squinted. "How did you know?"
"He asked me first."
Her lips parted. "Last night?"
"He was so nervous he actually knocked on the door."
She chuckled, and he wished he could bottle the sound and save it for the bad days. "He knocked? I haven't done that since…well, since I don't know when. He really knocked?"
"I'm afraid I didn't make it easy for him once he was inside, either."
"What do you mean?"
"Well I couldn't just give him permission without hearing his intentions. Didn't you ask him some questions first?"
She lifted her chin. "That's none of your business. And besides, he should have come to me first. It looks like I'll be having a chat with Mr. Paris about the chain of command on this ship."
"Really?" and now he was serious, looking at her softly but solemnly. "I don't think he did anything wrong."
"Last time I checked, I was the captain around here, which means that I hold the final word on any marriages or proposals."
"Normally, I would agree with you. But this's B'Elanna we're talking about."
A muscle jerked in her jaw. "Chakotay, I thought we were past this. Voyager is a Starfleet ship. Maquis, Federation—they all report to me."
"I'm not talking about Maquis and Starfleet. I'm talking about father and daughter."
That stopped her. She snapped her gaze to his in a flash of understanding. "I'm sorry, Chakotay. I should have known."
They were quiet for a moment, letting the silence mother any old wounds brought to the surface. She'd retrieved her coffee, fingers snugged around the cup and shoulders hunched towards the steam ribboning into the empty air. He could see that she'd retreated into herself by the glaze over her eyes, but he didn't mind; she'd allowed him to stay. He would stand there forever, if he could.
"So what did you ask him?" she asked over the mug's rim. "You said you didn't make it easy for him."
He smiled at the memory. "No, no I didn't. But he rose to the occasion."
"And I can't tell you."
"Oh, c'mon, Chakotay. You can't tell me? as a friend?"
"Not as a friend, and not as the captain."
But he could see the sparkle in her eye.
. . .
He found her in her office, elbow deep in padds and lip thoroughly chewed with concentration. B'Elanna looked up as he entered, relief washing through her brown gaze. "You're a sight for sore eyes," she said, rolling her shoulders. "I've been up to my ridges in these reports for the past three hours, and I think half of them are from Seven."
"Let me guess—more suggestions on how to improve warp core efficiency?"
"That and a dozen other things. I swear, it's her goal in life to make my life miserable. I think it's a conspiracy."
"Yes, between her and the Captain. While Seven finds problems with everything that's fine, Janeway sashays into the nearest nebula and short circuits all my relays, which in turn gives Seven more imperfections to point out, and while I'm busy keeping this ship from falling apart, Janeway's in Astrometrics looking up the next anomaly!"
He raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, don't do that. It reminds me of Tuvok."
"Sorry to upset you."
Her scowl softened. "Sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you. It's been a long day." She picked up a padd.
"You doing anything tonight?"
"Well, Tom and I are having dinner. Why?"
"Are you looking forward to it?"
She looked up. "What is this, an interrogation? Don't tell me he was late again."
"No, he was right on time. I came to bring you this."
Her gaze darted between him and the chip. "What is it?"
"Three hours of holodeck time. Saturday night, holodeck one. Isn't that the one you've been trying to clear for your weekend with Tom?"
She smiled and accepted the chip. "Thanks, Chakotay. That…thank you."
"He's changed a lot in six years."
"So have I," she said quickly, flicking her eyes to his.
"I think we all have," he agreed quietly. A moment more, and he turned to go. Her hand on his arm stopped him, and before he could say a thing, she was hugging him. When she let go, he saw the tears shining in her eyes.
"Thank you," she mouthed, and he suddenly couldn't wait to walk her down the aisle.