After almost 5 years in the Delta Quadrant, Captain Kathryn Janeway of the starship Voyager had grown to hate surprises. They usually meant that her brave crew would have to fight for their lives…again. Most people survived, but it scared her every time, since she was very protective of her crew. As captain, she was responsible for their well-being, but not only that, they were in the Delta Quadrant, and she'd stranded them there, meaning that she had to make sure that choice did kill anyone. Therefore, she was suspicious of anything unexpected.
So when the door to her quarters opened without any warning whatsoever, her reflex was to jerk upright and prepare for trouble—which nearly spilled her coffee. She steadied it carefully, then looked towards the door.
A small box sat on the ground just across the threshold.
Her muscles relaxed slightly, and setting the coffee down, she went to investigate. It occurred to her to call security because something unexpected sometimes was reason enough, but her curiosity won out. After all, it was just a box.
As she approached it, it soon became clear that, had she called security, Tuvok would have wanted her to go in for a psychological evaluation.
Emblazoned across the lid, in large inviting letters, were the words Mocha Truffles.
She almost laughed out loud. Perhaps too many years as a starship captain had made her paranoid. Suspicious of a box of chocolate!
Then she rethought. Her wary nature had not come from nowhere. Sometimes it seemed like every new alien race they met wanted to kill them or hunt them (like the latest, the Hirogen), or do something else to harm them. Perhaps this was the new one—send in weapons disguised as pleasant things that wouldn't arouse suspicion. Of course, in this case, Janeway reminded herself, it had aroused suspicion. Not like they'd expect a paranoid starship captain, though.
She studied the box. It certainly looked like what it was supposed to be, but visual scans could never be enough to determine whether something was hostile. Appearances could be deceiving.
Before she would so much as touch one piece of the delectable candy, it would have to pass rigorous tests.
Janeway had run every test she could on the box of truffles (short of calling a security ensign to be a "taster"), and it still appeared to be a container of the most alluring candy she'd ever seen.
The coffee addict and the paranoid captain within her waged a battle of wills.
Go ahead! encouraged the coffee addict. It's mocha!
Far too many things in the Delta Quadrant have not been as innocuous as they seemed, the captain reminded.
But it passed all the tests! the coffee addict insisted.
Aliens can fool our scanners, the captain said.
You're paranoid, the addict scolded.
My instincts have got us out of many tough situations, the captain snapped.
Tough situations, like a box of chocolate? the coffee addict said snidely. A box of chocolate that PASSED all the tests your paranoia put it through? A delicious MOCHA box of chocolate?
Hmm… the captain murmured.
"Oh, what the hell!" Janeway said out loud, reaching over to pry off the lid. A delicious aroma wafted upward, the beautiful combination of coffee and chocolate. She inhaled rapturously and used two fingers to lift one of the truffles out of its wrapping.
If it's going to kill me, she thought, placing it in her mouth and letting the flavor roll over her tongue, I'll die happy.
It was only after a week of keeping them in her ready room and eating one a day that Janeway wondered why she'd gotten them. They'd had a replicator signature, so someone aboard Voyager had given up precious replicator rations to give her this (either way, she'd have doubted that Neelix could make anything so good). The gesture touched her, and it suddenly occurred to her that she'd probably been eating a romantic gift from someone.
The thought made her giggle out loud, which surprised Chakotay as he walked in.
"Captain?" he said questioningly, setting a data padd down on her desk.
"I found these outside my quarters a week ago," she explained, holding up the half-eaten box of truffles. "And it only just occurred to me where they might have come from."
His mouth quirked at the corners in his usual calm smile. "It looks like someone likes you."
Janeway nodded, smiling a bit herself. "To think, somebody gave up some replicator rations for me!" Then her expression grew more solemn. "But who would, Chakotay? I'm not very close to the crew."
Chakotay shrugged. "They could be too embarrassed to admit it outright. Do you think it was Harry? Or Tuvok?"
The captain giggled and shook her head. "Neither. Harry's afraid of me and Tuvok's been trying to get me off my 'addiction', as he calls it, ever since we met."
"I didn't think so," Chakotay agreed. "Seven?"
Janeway looked up and saw that his deep brown eyes (the same color as the truffles, a part of her brain noted) were twinkling. If the first two were stupid suggestions, this was a downright joke.
"I'm not going to dignify that silly idea with a response. Chocolate is obviously irrelevant."
That got a laugh out of Chakotay. "Of course."
Janeway leaned back in her chair and lifted her hands in the air. "All joking aside, who is trying—and succeeding—to gain my favor and devotion?" she asked, dropping her hands. Then the smile dropped off her face as she remembered something that happened the last week. When she spoke next, her voice was quieter and raspier. "A romantic gesture…so soon…after Mark…"
Chakotay understood immediately, to her relief. "Kathryn," he said gently, laying a hand on her shoulder, "Maybe they were trying to make you feel better."
She looked up at his concerned expression. He only called her Kathryn in tender moments—the only person aboard Voyager who did. He was really the only person who saw her at weak moments anyway, and he was always there to support her with his quiet compassion.
"It's good to have you around, Chakotay," she said, patting his hand. He lifted it off, and it struck her like a phaser blast.
She knew who had given her the truffles, how had she not? It was obvious! He was right beside her the whole time, making stupid suggestions to cover up the fact that—
"Chakotay, you did this," Janeway said, indicating the truffles. One side of her mouth curved upward, not sure whether to smile or not.
Chakotay—calm, composed Chakotay!—reddened slightly. "It was that obvious?"
She shrugged a little, but not as if she was shrugging him off. Far from it. "You meant that, when you said that whoever sent it was trying to make me feel better."
He nodded, and Kathryn—Kathryn, not the captain or Janeway—reevaluated her feelings about romance. As her experience with the truffles had proven, the Delta Quadrant had changed her. Who says that she and Mark would have had any connection when she came home, with him thinking her dead for so long and her experiencing so many things without him? She'd been so stressed in the Delta Quadrant that she'd barely thought of him. Maybe that meant something.
That was time to move on.
Janeway let herself smile completely, and she stood up. "I didn't feel better at first. Call me paranoid, but I thought it was the newest alien invasion technique."
Chakotay smiled back. "Manipulation through chocolate?"
She held her hands up in a noncommittal gesture. "I don't know what I was thinking. But then, once they went through all the scans, I couldn't resist. They're very good." She walked around the table and stood in front of Chakotay. For a second, she felt shy, but she quickly pushed it away and put her hands on his broad shoulders. His body flinched under her hands, because it was a closer gesture than usual, but he let her stay as she said "Thank you. They did help. And you've helped."
She looked up into his kind brown eyes and felt a warm feeling run down her back. Her grip tightened involuntarily, and she had a sudden urge to not let go of him.
Chakotay glanced at her hands and slowly moved his to grasp them. He lifted her hands off his shoulders and tenderly lowered them to her sides. Kathryn wondered if it was just her imagination, or if she had really felt Chakotay's fingers squeeze hers gently before he released them.
"You should probably take a look at those reports," he said, gesturing at the data padd he'd set down at the beginning of their conversation. He smiled. "I'll see you later, Kathryn, okay?"
"Okay," Kathryn said, smiling back.
A/N I wrote this a while ago, but since it's my first shippy fic I wanted to make sure it was good, so I took a lot of time to edit it.