by Suz email@example.com
Disclaimer - Paramount owns characters.
It was going to happen. You knew it was.
For the tenth time in four minutes, Kathryn Janeway uncrossed then re-crossed her legs. Sitting in her chair on the bridge, she fidgited about, her eyes continually drawn to the doors that led to her ready room. Tapping her fingers on the arm rest of her chair, she sighed.
Her actions did not go unnoticed by Chakotay, nor by the majority of the bridge crew. She'd been more remote than usual for the past two nights, vanishing into her quarters as soon as her shift ended. That in itself was unusual behaviour. No last minute urgent details that *had* to be dealt with, no arguing with him and Tuvok about working too much. To be perfectly honest, she was worrying him.
Leaning towards her, he whispered her name.
She turned to look at him, but her body was still leaning in the direction of the ready room.
"Are you alright?" he continued, keeping his voice low.
Considering his words for a moment she looked over at the ready room, then back at his face. Standing, she spoke: "Commander, could you join me in my ready room for a moment, please? There's something I'd like to show you."
Trying not to imagine but liking the idea of all the rumours that comment would start, Chakotay followed her into the room. He stopped just inside the doorway when he saw what was on her desk.
Approaching the object, Kathryn ran a hand over it fondly before picking it up.
"What is that?" Chakotay asked, walking towards her and looking at what she was holding.
She looked down at the furry object. "I have no idea what it's called. I found it outside my quarters two nights ago. It's some kind of...machine."
"And this has been occupying all your time?" It didn't look big enough to be time-consuming.
"I've been having a problem with it," she admitted, turning it upside down. Immediately its white plastic eyes opened and its yellow beak did the same. Loudly, it sang:
Nearly jumping back, Chakotay swore as the little white *thing* twittered on in some language he couldn't understand before it stopped making noise.
And then it happened. Opening it's mouth again, the furball began...
"Ah, ah, ah...choo!"
Chakotay blinked, watching as its ears moved, accompanied by a whirring mechanical sound. The furball moaned in apparent anguish.
"I can't get it to stop sneezing!" Kathryn exclaimed and he watched in bemusement as she rubbed it's back. Immediately it began making a growling noise.
"*Now* what is it doing?" he queried.
"Oh, it's purring." Kathryn replied, frowning as it sneezed again.
"But it sounds evil."
"I know. I was quite taken aback the first time she did it, but I realised-"
"She?" he interrupted, and she quickly looked up and tried not to blush.
"Yes. I've decided it's female."
Again the white furball sneezed and muttered something else that neither of them could understand. Kathryn was clearly frustrated. "Dammit, what are you saying?"
Pondering the situation, Chakotay developed a plan. "Maybe we could get some help with this."
Walking onto the bridge, Furball in Kathryn's hand, they approached Ops.
"Mr Kim, we could use your help."
Blinking, Harry smiled nonetheless. "Sure Captain, what do you need?"
Carefully placing Furball on his console, Kathryn stroke it proudly. "We need you to record whatever Furball says and then run it through the universal translater."
Nodding slowly as if he were dealing with two particularly dumb people, he puckered his lips in confusion. "And may I ask why?"
"Because we want to know what it's saying," Kathryn replied slowly as if *she* were dealing with a particularly dumb person. Chakotay shook his head at Harry as if her answer was obvious.
"Ah, right, okay," Harry answered, deciding not to push the subject as he grabbed Furball.
It's ears moved and it giggled loudly. Damn near dropping the thing, Harry quickly began recording just as it spoke. "Ooohhh...waylo coco."
"Waylo what?" Harry asked, trying not to look embarrassed as he realised everyone on the bridge was watching him hold the furball.
"Waylo coco," Kathryn repeated, clearly having heard the term many times but still having no clue as to what it meant.
Harry was about to roll his eyes and mutter "of course" when Furball spoke again. This time it was a much larger variety of words before it giggled once more and burped.
Tom stared at it from his seat on the conn. "Pardon you."
Shoving the machine back into his captain's hands - and extremely glad to be rid of it - he began manipulating the controls on his console. Trying a few more algorhythms and still getting nothing out of it, he shook his head. "Sorry captain, I'm not getting anything that makes any sense." As if it were defying him, his console bleeped and Harry read the information that scrolled up on the screen. "Wait, yes...all the computer can tell is that 'coco' means 'continue'. That's all I can get." He looked up at them from his screen. "Sorry."
"That's okay Harry," Chakotay replied, clapping the young man on the shoulder with his hand "at least that's something."
"Speak for yourself," Kathryn muttered "I want to know everything it's saying. But I do appreciate your help Mr Kim, thank you."
Finally feeling appreciated, Harry smiled. "You're welcome captain."
"Well then Captain," Chakotay said, turning to face her "where to now?"
"What the hell is it?" B'Elanna asked, prodding it carefully with a hyperspanner as it sat on the railing that surrounded the warp core.
The Captain attempted a fake grin. "Well...we don't know actually. We're sort of hoping you can tell us." As she spoke B'Elanna turned her head slowly to look at the Captain in amazement. Kathryn quickly pushed on. "But what we really want to know what it's saying."
Standing straight from her previously bent over position, B'Elanna frowned. "Saying?"
As if in response the creatures beak whirred open. "Waylo coco."
B'Elanna was already reaching for a phaser when she realised it was the little white monster sitting next to her warp core that had made the noise. Her initial shock passing, she approached it again warily, admitting to herself that it was quite intriguing.
"Someone hand me a tricorder," she ordered and five seconds later glanced up to see ten people holding out tricorders. "Umm, thanks," she said sheepishly as she took the one provided by Nicoletti.
Scanning the nicknamed Furball she 'hmmmmed' at the readings. "This is very old technology Captain. From the standards I'd say sometime in the twentieth Century. I can't get you a perfect date, but the design is definitely from that era. It *was* made on Voyager though. This...*thing*...was obviously replicated. Painstakingly so, I might add. Whoever made this knew what they were doing."
Kathryn rolled her eyes. "That's all very fascinating Lieutenant, but is there any way you could let us know what it's saying when it speaks?"
The engineer stood again and looked at her Captain, only to discover that her entire engineering staff were crowded around the warp core, trying to look at what she was working on. "Have you tried running it through the Univer-"
"-sal translator, yes." Chakotay answered. "We only got one word."
Shutting the tricorder, B'Elanna stood again and handed it back to Nicoletti. "I'm not sure how I'd be able to help any more Captain. I'm sure I *would* be able to actually, but it would take me a few weeks and I'm pretty sure your curiousity won't let you wait that long." She smirked as she finished speaking and crossed her arms over her chest. "I'll tell you who might be able to help you though."
"Seven. Kahless knows how much information *she's* picked up." Clearly she didn't like the idea of suggesting that particular member of the crew, but she had a point.
"Good idea. Thanks B'Elanna," Chakotay remembered to say as the Captain picked up the furball and they quickly left engineering.
Watching them as they left, B'Elanna waited until the doors hissed shut behind them before turning back to face her staff who were all still cluttered around the core. Deliberately placing her hands on her hips, she asked one question:
"Let me guess - you all want one, right?"
Three sneezes, two burps, and one unidentifiable conversation later, Kathryn, Chakotay and Furball entered Astrometrics. Seven of Nine looked up and turned from her console to greet them.
"Captain, Commander." She nodded and then studied the object the Captain was holding.
The Captain approached. "Seven, we need your help."
"I assume it has something to do with the device you are holding in your hand."
"You assumption is correct," Chakotay responded as he and Kathryn stood on opposite sides of Seven.
"Then how may I be of assistance to you?" Seven queried, turning back to her station to continue her work.
"Well..." Kathryn began "we were hoping that you may remember something about this device. Perhaps something you might have assimilated."
Pausing once more, Seven faced them again to closely study the object. "It is possible...although highly improbable that the Borg would have assimilated information regarding this object. And even if they had, the information would have been deemed irrelevant and therefore any references would have been erradicated from the Collective mind."
"Makes sense..." Chakotay admitted. "Why would the Borg want to know about something as technologically simple as this?"
As if in response, Furball muttered ominously.
"I think you hurt it's feelings Chakotay."
"It doesn't have any feelings to hurt, Kathryn."
"That's what *you* say. Why don't we ask Furball and get her point of view?" Furball muttered again. "You see? Case closed." As if remembering something, she faced the ex-Borg. "Oh, thank you for your help anyway Seven."
She nodded, wondering why the edge of her lips kept trying to go upwards.
"Well than Chakotay, who to next?"
"The Doctor; I'm having you commited."
"I don't think that's particularly funny..."
"Someone does apparently. Come here little fella...um...girl. It's good to know someone appreciates my twisted sense of humour. 'Waylo coco'..."
"God, Chakotay. Don't encourage her."
By the time the turbolift came to a halt and they stepped out, Furball was purring happily in Chakotay's grasp. "What can I say Kathryn? She hasn't sneezed once since I took her from you. I obviously have a way with women."
Furball began snoring. Kathryn pinched her mouth together before forcing it open to respond. "Yes, I really must commend you on boring the poor thing to sleep..."
"At least she's relaxing, which is more than I can say for..." he thought about stopping there and possibly leaving his head attached to his shoulders. But she had probably figured out what he was going to say anyway. He might as well end his life with a full sentance. "you."
"Oh not this conversation again..."
"No, it's not 'this' conversation again. It's merely me stating that you should relax more and that's it. End of conversation."
Shaking her head, she paused in the corridor to face him. "No it's not. If you tell me that I should relax more then I have to retaliate."
"Because I don't need to relax more."
"Yes you do," he told her with absolute honesty.
Resting her hands on her hips, she rolled her eyes. "Alright, maybe because I have a reputation to maintain."
"That's utter bullshi-"
Her exclamation of her old friends name certainly drew them out of that conversation. Chakotay turned slightly to see the Vulcan approaching from the opposite direction. "Captain, Commander. May I ask what you are doing with that...object?"
Grabbing Furball from Chakotay she quickly pouted at him before turning her attention back to her security officer. "Actually, maybe *you* can help us Tuvok. Do you know anything about this or who left it outside my quarters?"
"I'm afraid I have little data to offer you, Captain. I assume you have ensured that it is not a weapon of some kind...?"
Chakotay spoke. "We've scanned it several times and confirmed that there are no potentially dangerous materials."
Tuvok nodded. "Then I do have a course of action to suggest."
"Go on." Kathryn insisted as Furball sneezed again.
"It is a child's toy, correct?"
"We assume so."
"Then the...logical...course of action, would be to take it to a child."
Within five minutes Naomi Wildman was added to the list of Furball devotees. She sat around a mess hall table with Kathryn and Chakotay, unable to stop from fawning over the toy which was laughing in glee.
Chakotay shrugged. "Makes sense Kathryn. If you can't figure out how something technological works, give it to a child. They have the inspiration of ignorance."
Kathryn rolled her eyes. "That's enough big words out of you for one day, Chakotay. You can just go back to saying 'Yes Captain' now."
While they were involved in their conversation, Naomi was involved in her own with Furball. As she continued to play with it the sneezes stopped and it talked to her - although still in its' native tongue'. Until...
"I love you."
Naomi gasped. "I love you too."
Chakotay halted mid-sentance. "Did you hear that?"
Kathryn frowned. Indeed she had. "Yes."
Chakotay brought his dimples on-line and magnified them to full force. "Now, I wonder where Furball has been learning phrases like 'I love you'?"
"Oh you have an over-active imagination, Chakotay." she informed him, but neither of them noticed the stunned Ensign who had just walked passed their table stumble out of the room.
It was all over the ships in minutes. Kathryn and Chakotay - of course - were completely oblivious to what was awaiting them on the bridge. After having managed to pry Furball out of Naomi's hands (with Neelix's help), they were now entering the turbolift.
She sighed. "Well at least we know how to keep it happy, but we still have no clue as to who put it outside my quarters."
He nodded. "If you really want to know that badly Kathryn we could check the internal sensors from a few nights ago, find out it anyone spent any length of time hovering outside your quarters..."
"You know, I think I don't want to know if someone has been." she smirked, patting Furball once more. "I might find it rather...disturbing."
His eyebrows rose, quite plainly showing that he knew she was lying. "Of course you will."
Grinning, she stepped out of the 'lift as the doors opened. It took her a few seconds to realise what was wrong but then it began to sink in: no one was talking. Everyone on the bridge was staring at them. "What? What is it?" she asked, trying not to touch the back of her head in case her hair was sticking out everywhere.
Tom lounged in his seat, his arms crossed over his chest. "Oh...we just heard something interesting."
"Interesting?" Moving further towards the centre of the bridge, she surveyed her crew and realised that the Doctor was there. "Doctor? What are you doing here?"
The EMH hesitated. "I have to admit something Captain. I'm the one who left you your little 'present'." They both looked at Furball as he continued. "You've been under so much stress lately that I thought a pet of some kind might help you to relax. Unfortunately this was the closest thing we had in the database but I thought it would suffice. After replicating it - which took quite a while - I deleted all references to it from the computer. I apologise for my actions, Captain, although I don't apologise for the result."
Turning back to Chakotay, she handed over Furball knowing she would be in good hands. Immediately Furball began purring. "Honestly dear, you're so easy..." she muttered, just loud enough for Chakotay to hear before looking back towards the Doctor. "I have to say that I am quite disappointed in you Doctor. You deleted information from the ships database without authorisation." He looked suitably ashamed. "But I have to ask...what 'result' are you referring to?"
Harry approached from his station. "You know. The...'result'."
"I'm sorry Harry, I don't know what you're talking about."
Tom uncrossed his arms and walked a few steps towards her. "But while you were in the mess hall just now..."
"Yes? I quite clearly remember being in the mess hall."
"Well...Chakotay said he was in love with you! I heard it from his own lips!" Tom insisted, worrying about how this would affect his credibility if he turned out to be wrong.
Kathryn's mouth hung open. "Oh! So you heard...and you think...oh good God." She pointed a finger up at the ceiling before wagging it towards Chakotay. "This explains why Parsons had that grin on his face when he walked passed us on the way to the turbolift."
"I knew he looked a little too happy about something..."
"Sorry to rain on your parade," Kathryn informed them "but Commander Chakotay was merely repeating something that Furball said."
Tom refused to believe it. "But...it's so obvious that he's in love with you!"
Placing her hands on her hips, Kathryn advanced towards Helm Boy, trying to decide if she should listen to him or drop-kick him into the nearest brig. "Oh? How so?"
"He calls you Kathryn!" he declared, looking pleased with himself.
"He's my best friend, Mr Paris. He's bound to use my first name."
His smile deflated somewhat. "But he gets so worried about you when you're injured or missing."
She shrugged. "Again, that would be covered by my first answer. He's my best friend."
"But it's not the kind of worry that comes out of friendship alone, Captain. We've all seen the looks between you, the changes of tone in your voices when you speak to each other, you way you invade each others personal space at every possible opportunity. The way you stare at each other's butts when you think the other one isn't looking." Both Kathryn and Chakotay's faces turned red at that one. "The way he stares longingly at your hair, the way you can't keep your eyes off his hands..." he paused for breath "and the way you both sulk for months after having an argument! It's obvious to everyone on this ship, Captain. The only one who doesn't accept it is you!" Finally having said his piece, Tom took a step back nearly gasping for breath.
There were a few minutes of silence.
"You've got to admit it Kathryn," Chakotay said softly "he does have a solid case."
Kathryn pursed her lips. "Mr Paris..."
He headed towards the turbolift. "Don't worry Captain. I know the way to the brig."
She stopped him with her words. "That's not what I was going to say."
Tom paused and looked back. "It wasn't?"
"No. I was going to ask if you could hold onto Furball for a moment. There's something I need to do."
Nearly shouting "Aye Captain" he raced across the room and relieved the Commander of his burden, which began twittering something in its own language.
Approaching Chakotay with her hands behind her back, she stood in front of him. Chakotay wasn't sure if he should start running or not.
"Commander Chakotay, I am going to give you an order. This particular order quite clearly crosses the line between our professional and personal relationship, but as I am your Captain I expect you to follow it to the letter."
He nodded, mutely. She moved even closer and brought her arms to her sides. "You are to kiss me Commander."
Chakotay looked stunned for a moment before realising what an opportunity he was being given. "I'd be happy to oblige Captain." He moved his head down.
"Oh, and Commander..."
He paused. "Yes?"
She wet her lips. "Make it a good kiss. That's an order."
The words "Aye Captain" were lost as their lips met.
Sometime later when they resurfaced, they pulled apart a little way to study each other. Kathryn decided not to comment on the goofy grin that was on his face, as she was pretty sure she had one to match.
Chakotay squeezed his arms around her a little tighter and spoke quietly. "Are you waiting for it too?"
She leaned forward, smiling, her voice just as low, "For what?"
His dimples came into force as the smile grew. "The applause."
And then it started.
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Suz's Voyager Fanfic