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I really screwed myself, I really did.
I knew that Kathryn Janeway had an absolutely wicked sense of humour. Oh she wouldn't show it all the time; displaying it more to those who were closer to her simply because they spent more time with her. As the months and even years began to pass she showed more of it to the crew, but even then it was carefully maintained, scripted.
She shared it with me almost from the very beginning.
I suppose I should feel privileged and I also suppose that I do. Just not lately.
I never once thought that a particular moment would come back to haunt me so much.
Okay, I'll admit it immediately: that's an absolute lie. I knew that I would think of that particular moment a million times over whatever her response was going to be, but I never quite imagined thinking of it as I do now.
How absolutely humiliating.
That's what I get for being kind to someone. For deciding to tell her how much I support her, how devoted I am to helping her to accomplish whatever makes her happy, whether it's getting Voyager back to the Alpha Quadrant or grinding her some fresh from the airponic bay coffee beans.
I also thought that it certainly wasn't intentional. You see...after the incident (which is how we both still refer to it, by the way) on the planet...she gave me a nickname.
It was partly in jest; partly actually meant and if it was a little silly I'll also admit that I didn't mind because...well...Kathryn Janeway had given *me* a nickname. Would *you* ask for a different one?
You'd have to be tortured with three month old leola root before you'd even consider it.
Then the inevitable happened. A cure was found, a rescue was made. We came back to the ship and Kathryn resumed command. I resumed my duties as First Officer. It was difficult for the first few weeks, trying to re-establish the command walls we'd deconstructed on the planet.
I don't think we ever quite managed it.
We were definitely closer. I would use her first name at every opportunity and even though she had always said my name it seemed different. Different.
We'd spend more time together off-duty; usually in one of our quarters discussing the ship, but sometimes actually enjoying some time on the holodeck together. She could always whip me at Velocity. But I always triumphed at hoverball.
And she still used the nickname. Only in closed quarters; exclusively to tease me. It wasn't cruelly meant and I actually found it quite amusing. Kathryn Janeway was teasing *me*. Would *you* ask her to stop?
Then another inevitable happened. For all her stringent attachment to protocol, for all her will power...even Kathryn Janeway is fallible, human.
We were on the bridge, the light-hearted banter that had become so frequent of late permeating the atmosphere. Just about everyone was present; Paris, Harry, Tuvok, B'Elanna. I imagine that the Doctor and Kes were in sickbay and Neelix was in the mess hall. It doesn't matter, I suppose. I know that they all found out.
I remember that Paris was lightly jibing Kathryn about working too hard, and I allowed him to get away with it without too much glaring because, frankly, he was right. I made some comment of agreement - even the exact phrasing escapes me now - and her response will stay with me always.
"Why, thank you for your concern..."
And she said it.
She said my nickname.
I'd never seen Tom's mouth open so wide. I'd never seen B'Elanna's forehead ridges raise quite so high. I'd never seen Harry grin so much. I'd never seen a Vulcan eyebrow reach an equally Vulcan hairline.
And I had never, ever, seen Kathryn Janeway look so utterly mortified.
"I mean Chakotay!" She instantly amended but it was too late, far too late.
It has since become the bane of my existence.
Voyager is a small ship, a small community. Communities need news and gossip to keep morale up; I've long known and accepted that. I just didn't think there would be quite so much about me. I didn't think I'd have to face them all after something like that.
B'Elanna 'bumping' into me in the corridor, arms folded across her chest and a smirk on her face. "So this wouldn't have anything to do with those stories you used to tell us, right?"
Paris cornering me in a turbolift. "Come on, Chakotay. You can tell me, you know that! Man to man, one on one. Comrade to comrade. You know you can trust me."
"The last time I trusted you, you stole a shipment of ore and sold it to the highest bidder."
"Ouch. But I'm a changed man!"
"Forget it, Paris."
Tuvok making subtle Tuvokian digs in staff meetings that could be construed as perfectly innocent if it weren't for the fact that I know every single person on the command staff has an absolutely dirty mind.
Harry casually sitting next to me at Sandrines, trying the innocent approach without much success.
Neelix actually making a reference to it on his show. Is nothing sacred? It's bad enough that the whole crew knows anyway - does he have to keep broadcasting it?
The Doctor humming more than usual and looking pleased with himself as if the whole thing was his idea. "Hello Commander. And how are *you* today? Any aggressive tendencies I should know about?"
And Kes. Dear, sweet, understanding Kes...merely smiling enigmatically each time she sees me as if she knew the entire time anyway. I never could get anything by her.
Ah, but it'll end eventually. It has to. Even the nickname Tom was Christened with only lasted a few months.
I have a meeting with Kathryn about Voyager's efficiency. Not usually a meeting where something particularly exciting happens, I'll admit, but this time...
I'm not sure of the exact moment, what she or I were exactly saying...but I realised. The truth. It had been no accident. She had done it, on purpose. Kathryn Janeway had been torturing *me*. Would you torture *her* in return?
Completely infantile, of course. No redeeming aspects about it whatsoever, but it has to be done. Absolutely necessary.
Needless to say, I owe Paris big time. Not only does he now own my life, he owns my afterlife, and should I ever be brought back as a snail, he'll own the shell I carry about on my back.
Ah, but it'll be worth.
Now I just sit here, wait, watch and listen for the moment when she sits down in her chair on the bridge and a sound not dissimilar to a whoopee cushion emerges.
It's an amazing thing, technology. I've never admired pressure pads or miniature speakers so much before.
Problem is, because I know he'll still do it, I don't know how much longer that I can put up with Tom referring to me as "My angry warrior."
Maybe I should find some three month old leola root...
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