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Tom didn't know at what time Janeway and Chakotay had slipped back in, but as a disembodied clock chimed midnight, there they were, shaking hands and clapping shoulders with the rest of them. One thing was for sure: he was going to be keeping a very close eye on the captain and first officer from now on.
When Tom hugged B'Elanna tightly she flinched, but he had no time to think about it as Neelix grabbed him from behind and whirled him around. Twenty minutes later, the last stragglers filed out of the holodeck, some carrying plates of leftover food. Tom and B'Elanna rode the turbolift to deck four, bade Harry farewell and walked the short distance to Tom's quarters, which were en route to B'Elanna's own.
"Well, good night," B'Elanna wished Tom, formally, and made to leave.
"Hey," he protested, reaching gently for her hand. "Aren't you gonna come in?"
She drew away from him. "Not tonight, Tom. It's late and I'm tired."
"I wasn't suggesting we do anything other than sleep," he asserted, slightly hurt by the repeated rejection he'd been getting from her all evening.
"But if I stay over, I'll have to get up extra early to fetch my uniform," she contended.
It was a feeble excuse. It would only take her two minutes to get to her quarters from his. Tom began to formulate a retort, then decided he was too beat to get embroiled in a debate with her.
"All right," he said, keeping his tone casual. "Sleep well."
"You too." She gave him a tight smile that didn't reach her eyes.
He watched her walk off down the corridor and with a shake of his head stepped into his quarters, the door hissing shut behind him. Was he missing something obvious? No, he decided. No point in reading too much into her crankiness. Hopefully, by tomorrow, today's mood would be forgotten.
In the solitude of her quarters, B'Elanna undressed. Gingerly getting down on her knees, she stretched her arm under the bed and pulled out a bundle of clothing. Unfolding the material, she found the three medical devices concealed within. She left the dermal regenerator where it lay, picked up the medical tricorder and the osteogenic stimulator and inexpertly continued the treatment of her broken ribs. They hurt like hell, but, she thought with grim satisfaction, the Cardassian holograms had fared far worse.
Chakotay kicked off his boots and slumped onto his sofa. He stared at the bottle of Irish Cream on the table with mixed feelings, debating whether Crewman Fitzpatrick deserved a commendation or a week scrubbing plasma conduits. Finally – finally! - what he'd wanted for over two years had happened and yet he'd felt obligated to stop it.
When she'd leaned over to kiss him, he was surprised. She'd patted him on the back or the arm more times than he could recall – but she was like that with everyone on the crew. Her palm on his chest or face – he believed those touches were reserved for him only; but she'd never kissed him, not even platonically. So without even conscious decision, he'd made it more than she'd intended and her response had managed to both thrill and alarm him.
If – when – anything further were to happen between them, he didn't want her having second thoughts the next day and having the option to excuse her actions as a consequence of alcohol intake or a desire for comfort. Not that he thought for a moment that either of them had drunk enough to dull their wits, but it had certainly lowered their inhibitions. No, the next time they were off duty and alone, he wanted them both to be stone, cold sober, inhibitions be damned. He was only serving synthehol from now on.
He had five days until Sunday evening. Five days to think about the best way forward and hope that nothing cropped up to set things back. His confrontation with Seven, pushed to the back of his mind, intruded unpleasantly. He hoped that his decision not to tell Kathryn about the sensor issue wasn't going to cause any bad feeling. Still, a year ago, Voyager didn't even have a dedicated astrometrics lab. The mapping capabilities they had now far surpassed what they'd relied upon in the past, even if astrometrics wasn't running to capacity.
The discarded glasses stood one on each side of the bottle in front of him. In his current state of mind, the triptych looked a little suggestive. He'd have to do something about that. Sighing, he rose to clear them away, taking them back to the replicator for recycling. He noticed a faint lipstick mark on the glass that Kathryn had been drinking from. Automatically, he raised a hand to his lips and hoped he hadn't been walking around with evidence plain on his face.
The bathroom mirror would show him on his way to a cold shower.
Tired as she was, Janeway could not sleep. But it wasn't disappointment and self-reproach that kept her awake in the early hours of 2375; it was hope. Not the same hope that she had harboured a week ago, that the journey might soon be over. Now it was hope that the journey might soon become a lot more bearable – if she let it. A hope of brighter skies ahead.
She got out of bed, threw on her robe and without calling for the lights, stepped out into the living area to the computer.
"Computer, begin personal log, stardate 52000.2."
She could think of a New Year's resolution, after all.