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Rated T for moderate language
The Rule of Thirds
A/N: A thank you to Delwin
The buzzing swarm of photons had zoomed into engineering, holocamera in holographic hand, and begun directing her staff as if they were guests at a wedding and the warp core was the bride.
"Ah, Golwat. If you could just stand there . . . off to the left a little . . . That's it! And if you could just stare up at the intermix chamber . . . Perfect!" The blue glow of the core reflects off the Doctor's shiny scalp, giving him an air of kinship with his Bolian companion.
Cameras are not welcome in engineering. Certainly not since the Doctor's covert shot of B'Elanna's foot stuck in a plasma injector.
"Doctor." The commanding tone Voyager's chief engineer employs would be enough to send most of her colleagues scurrying for safe harbour. But not the Doctor. Oh, no.
"Lieutenant Torres," he says cheerily. "And how are you on this lovely morning?" He doesn't wait for her retort. "Don't worry, I'll get you in the next one. I —"
"There won't be a 'next one'," B'Elanna snaps.
Golwat begins to desaturate, and sensibly edges out of the frame.
"But it's for my latest photographic essay," the Doctor blathers on. "I've entitled it —" and he pans a hand across the air in a wide arc, " 'A Day in the Life of the Warp Core'."
B'Elanna scoffs. "Surely you have something more important to do?"
"But it's my day off," he declares.
Why the hell does a hologram need a day off? "Well," she calls dismissively over her shoulder as she heads to the upper level, "some of us have work to do. So, if you could get out of the way, I'd appreciate it."
She realises that her 'request' has been ignored when, ten minutes later, she comms down to Vorik. The Doctor's grating voice filters through on the channel, obscuring some of the Vulcan's report. B'Elanna peers down over the railings, seeking out the interloper. As suspected, the hologram hovers right on the spot he'd been dismissed from before, attempting to cajole Ken Dalby into posing for a snapshot. Dalby's having none of it; he looks as pissed off as B'Elanna feels. Vorik looks . . . mildly unsettled when he spies B'Elanna overhead.
"Doctor!" she yells down. "I already told you. This is a bad place for your little project."
He looks up, the picture of innocence, and has the gall to smile. "Don't worry, Lieutenant. I'm making sure to stay out of your way."
"But I can hear you from up here. Take your camera and go someplace else!"
"But my essay is entitled 'A Day in the Life of the Warp Core'," he argues.
"Well, why not make it 'A Day in the Life of a Warp Nacelle'," B'Elanna suggests. Helpfully, she thinks.
Dalby smirks. Vorik raises an eyebrow and gives a subtle nod of approval. The Doctor looks indignant.
There's an unwritten rule in engineering: B'Elanna rarely has to ask twice. Three times? That's unheard of.
The Doctor's on the upper walkway now, for an aerial view of his subject. Right in her workspace. And the routine level three diagnostic she's running is not going well.
"Doctor, I've told you twice already. No one can focus on their work while you're waving that holocamera around. Get out of engineering!"
Still he makes no attempt to leave, instead, pointing the lens in her direction. "I just need to capture a few more images –"
Steadily magnified for the last twenty minutes, her temper reaches flash point. The next few milliseconds are a blur. She wrenches the holocamera from the Doctor's grasp, draws it back past her shoulder, and launches it forwards over the railings.
"Duck, Mr. Vorik!" cries the Doctor, without delay. With typical Vulcan exactitude and reaction speed, Vorik bows his head and dodges the missile that impacts on the bulkhead, millimetres above him. The shattered camera bounces onto the floor. The Doctor is rendered speechless. Finally.
Heads tilt. Bodies shift. All productive activity stops.
B'Elanna sees red again. This time it comes in the form of a uniform, striding through the static sea of gold. Shit. But better Chakotay than the Captain.
"I'll replicate you a new camera, right away," B'Elanna promises the still silent Doctor. "I'm sorry."
In truth, she's not all that sorry. At least not for destroying the holocamera, though she does regret the replicator rations she'll have to sacrifice. And Chakotay does not look amused. But the little display has reinforced to all witnesses that when B'Elanna gives an order, she expects it to be followed – on the first time of asking.
The rule of thirds is not there to be broken.