by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - Paramount owns 'em. Yup. Yup.

Set after the events in 'Someone To Watch Over Me' so you'll appreciate this more if you've seen it.

Thanks - as always - to Rebecca, Karma and Fiona. I knew a weekend with the girls would give me my inspiration. Dedicated to Rebecca for the idea, and to Anna Julia in response to her challenge.

This is silly. And fun.


Chakotay absently scratched the side of his nose with one hand as he used the other hand to access the information on the PADD he was reading. Or more accurately, the PADD he was supposed to be reading. He was finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on the work at hand.

She was staring at him.


He thought he was imagining it at first (a little wishful-thinking perhaps), but then he started catching the signs; the quick slide away from him her gaze took when he looked up, the vague look of guilt that crossed her features, her sudden intense fascination with her own PADD. He knew what was on that PADD. Tuvok's security report. As much as she may have...appreciated her old friends style of writing, it was not fascinating reading material.

Of course, he was mirroring her movements almost exactly because he was now looking at her as much as she was looking at him. A vicious circle.

Their eyes met, briefly, before both quickly looked away nervously.

Chakotay sighed. He'd had enough. "What? What is it?"

Kathryn hesitated for a moment, obviously having been deciding whether to say something about whatever was on her mind for a while. But then she must have made her decision because all traces of apprehension vanished and a confident smile graced her features. Lounging back against her end of the sofa, she threw her PADD onto the cushion between them and crossed her arms over her chest. Pursing her lips, she rose her eyebrows.

"I hear you've been giving Neelix some interesting advice."

He slowly placed his PADD down, frowning. "Advice?"

"Mmm," she nodded "I didn't know you viewed me as a religious deity..."

Realisation hit Chakotay with the force of a phaser blast. "Ah. He blabbed then?"

Kathryn continued unabated. "...although it is very flattering and God knows there have been enough rumours about you keeping me on a pedestal - not that I believed them for a second, you understand - but it would certainly explain a great deal." She paused then and tipped her head to one side. "Well?"

"Alright," he admitted "you got me." Raising his arms up he mock-bowed towards her. "All Hail Goddess Janeway - Borg butt-kicker and Preserver of the Holy Coffee Bean."

A chuckle escaped her lips before she could stop it. Struggling to maintain an expression of indifference she quickly schooled her features.

Smirking softly he lowered his hands and shrugged. "Kathryn, I didn't mean to offend you and I'm sorry if I have. I was just trying to give Neelix some genuinely helpful advice."

"Did you have to make it sound like I was some kind of monster?"

"I think 'monster' is too strong a word..."


"Okay," he apologised, trying to think up a way out of this conversation that wouldn't end with him having to endure 'The Glare' for the next week or two. "It's just that you change so drastically from one day to the next, I wasn't sure how you'd react." That probably wasn't the smartest thing to say.

Her expression conveyed just that.

He was going to have a little talk with Neelix. If he was going to suffer then he'd get the little Talaxian too.

"Well," Kathryn drawled "at least Neelix's conscience got the better of him." If possible she lounged back against the sofa even more. Uncrossing her arms she lifted the arm closest to him and rested it along the top of the sofa back.

"Are you trying to say that I don't have a conscience?" He shifted a little on the sofa.

Moving her gaze until she was looking out the viewport she lifted one hand in a half-shrug. "Well Chakotay...if the shoe fits..."

"But that's ridiculous. Are you going to blame me for the rest of the crew keeping quiet about it? And you can hardly say that I have no conscience; I'm probably putting my life at risk here, but I think you're overreacting-"

She was smiling.


He continued. "-and you didn't mean a word of what you just said, did you?"

"You know Chakotay, you're nice to look at but you're not very bright."

"Wait a minute - you tricked me and now you're insulting me?"

The smile remained as she shrugged. "So you're an easy target. Why blame me? Besides, I also said that you're nice to look at. If I'm not mistaken that's a compliment."

Chakotay leaned back a little, frowning heavily. "I think I'd rather be smart than 'nice to look at'."

She leant forward, claiming some of the territory he had just rejected and patted his forearm. "Nothing we can do about it Chakotay; you're stuck the way you are."

He pulled away from her even further. "There's no need to add insult to injury."

She suddenly realised he was being serious. She'd found a great deal of amusement in 'insulting' him but hadn't fully realised how much he was taking her words to heart.

Kathryn retreated a little. "Chakotay, I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to offend you. I was only joking-"

He was smiling.


She continued.

"-and you didn't mean a word of what you just said, did you?"

It was his turn to shrug. "You know Kathryn, you're nice to look at but-"

"-I'm not very bright." she finished for him, wondering if it would be undignified for a Starfleet Captain to stick her tongue out at her First Officer. Deciding against that course of action she instead chose another one. Resuming her confident position, she leant back against the sofa. "So, we have a game of cat and mouse. The cat chases the mouse but just as the cat reaches the mouse, the rodent turns into a cat." She paused, and seemed to move closer.

Chakotay continued. "That cat then chases the first one until they swap again, constantly changing their positions of power."

Kathryn smirked. "Until one - or both - of them realise that they'll never be able to outwit each other, which makes them both cat or mice, depending on your point of view." She exhaled lightly, almost laughing. "So the question is, what do they want?"

Chakotay seemed to ponder her words for a moment. "Cheese."

Drawing back slightly, Kathryn blinked. "Cheese?"

He nodded. "I understand that Neelix still has some of that cheese he prepared for Tomin. Would you let me join you for some cheese?"

She waved her hand around absently. "I don't know Chakotay. I hear that cheese is a little bland. No flavour," she added, over-pronouncing the 'f'.

Chakotay shook his head and grinned. "I'm sure we can find something to spice it up for you Kathryn. That must be in my job description somewhere."

Kathryn pointed her index finger towards the ceiling. "You know, if the Kadi Ambassador were here he'd probably say that we were highly immoral for even *suggesting* such a thing." She lowered her finger and pointed it at him. "I knew I hired you for a reason."


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