A Sweet Madness

by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - Paramount own the names. Not the characters.

Part eight in the Delta Quadrant 90210 series. Earlier parts can be found at: http://members.tripod.com/~SuzVoy/deltaq.html

*

'It's easier to believe
In this sweet madness
All this glory and sadness
That brings me to my knees.'

*

Working a triple shift when he was already in a foul disposition hadn't done much to improve Chakotay's mood. His plan to bring Kathryn and Paris together had seemed like a good idea, but since it had become known that they were dating - for lack of a better term - his life had quickly transformed into a living hell.

It had been bad enough before, when he and Kathryn hadn't been seeing anyone. On the occasions where they'd have dinner together in the mess hall, someone would inevitably look at them in a way that said "what a shame."

Now, everywhere that he went he could feel a trail of pity hanging off him like a badly made cloak.

So, rather than dwell on the crew's 'sympathetic' view of him he worked harder. Of course he realised that throwing himself into his work would just add fuel to that particular fire, but if he worked hard enough then exhaustion would set in and he wouldn't have to think about it too much.

The Captain didn't know he was working himself so hard; if she did she would have put a stop to it immediately. That was why Chakotay had spread his shifts between the bridge, engineering (B'Elanna knew better than to bring certain subjects up), and any other section that needed help. He'd even considered helping out at waste recycling, but that was when his 'inner-Doctor' had reminded him (quite condescendingly) that he wouldn't be much use to anyone if he couldn't stand.

He hated it when his conscience made a good point.

So, he tumbled into his quarters and feebly pulled his clothes from his body. His bed had never looked so inviting but he had the distinctly uneasy sensation that he wouldn't be able to sleep. That wouldn't stop him from trying.

Then the door beeped.

That would stop him from trying.

"Just a minute." Mumbling to himself he dug his night clothes out of the drawer and quickly pulled them on, despite the muscles in his body screaming for rest. "Come in."

The doors opened to reveal Seven of Nine, looking as inquisitive and immaculate as usual. Did she never get tired?

"Commander."

"Seven."

She moved into his quarters and the doors hissed behind her. "How are you?"

Chakotay blinked at the question, not sure if he had heard correctly. "Tired. You?"

"I am well," she responded "although I was not referring to your physiological state."

"Then what were you referring to?"

She hesitated, standing tall, hands carefully held behind her back as always. "I am aware of your difficulties in accepting the recent development of some kind of romantic association between Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Paris."

"Seven, that was wordy even for you."

"You are changing the subject."

Maybe. "Look, Seven...I'm not having any particular 'difficulties' in dealing with their relationship."

"Really?" She questioned, almost harshly. "Then why are you working unnecessary shifts in various departments throughout the ship?"

"How did you-"

"You were not especially efficient at 'hiding your tracks', I believe you would call it."

Did he really have to face this right now? He was too damned tired. "I give. Let's just say you're right. Why did you come to see me about it?"

Moving further into his darkened quarters, she sat down without invitation and frowned at the floor. "I wish to help."

Watching her, Chakotay sat in the chair opposite hers and spoke quietly. "Help? Why?"

Still frowning, she rose her eyes to meet his gaze. "I...consider you a friend Commander. I am uncertain of how to explain it, but it is not a pleasant sensation seeing you suffer in any way."

To say that he was surprised would just about be the understatement of the decade. Genuinely touched, a rare heartfelt grin touched his mouth. "Thank you, Seven. I think of you as a friend as well." As she nodded, he continued. "How do you believe you can help me?"

Any doubt and confusion on her features fled, leaving her brow as smooth as usual. "Through copulation," she stated boldly.

Chakotay's all-consuming exhaustion vanished in a nanosecond. He couldn't have heard that right, surely... "Pardon?"

"Through copulation," she repeated, just as boldly.

Yup, there went his cheeks. He only hoped she couldn't see the duskiness in the darkness of his quarters. "Uh, Seven..."

"Your face is flushed."

Damn.

"And you are tugging on your ear. I have observed you performing this action when you are uncomfortable about something. Are you uncomfortable now?"

He hadn't even realised he was doing it. Quickly lowering the offending hand, he wished he could also remove the equally offending ear. "Seven...*where* did you get the idea to...umm...copulate?"

She was unembarrassed but curious. "From Lieutenants Paris and Torres. When they were lovers they informed me on several occasions that copulation could be comforting."

He rubbed his hands over his face. Of course. Removing his hands he studied her innocent face. "I won't lie to you - sex can be comforting. But it's usually something that's done between a couple in a relationship. We've only just discovered our friendship."

"Do you find me unattractive?"

How the hell was he supposed to answer that one? "No, not at all. You're very attractive. But we're friends and sex could seriously complicate things. Not to mention the more serious issue that I don't think it's something you're ready for."

"Why not?"

Chakotay had the uneasy impression that this could go on all night. "Seven, I'd love to continue this conversation but I've just finished three shifts and I'm-"

"-tired," she continued, nodding. "I will leave." Standing, she took a step towards the door before thinking of something. "I still wish to help you in some way."

Smiling up at her tiredly, Chakotay spoke. "Actually, Seven, I think I may have an idea. You're going to have to change though..."

*

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"How does it feel?"

Seven fiddled with edge of her pyjamas. "Smooth."

Chakotay laughed, sitting on the edge of the bed.

Frowning, she walked towards him from the doorway. "What are you laughing at?"

"Nothing. It's just that that's such a 'Seven' thing to say."

"And that is amusing?"

"I don't mean to offend you," he answered, seriously.

"You have not," she told him before turning her eyes to survey the bed. "We will not have a great deal of room."

"No." Chakotay agreed. He could see from her disapproving frown that she was still dubious that physical contact even without sex could be comforting. "Have you slept since you've been on Voyager?"

"No," she replied, moving to the other side of the bed "I have been unconscious due to injury or the application of a sedative, but regeneration is still my main form of rest."

"Is it safe for you to sleep without regenerating?"

"Yes. As long as I regenerate for six hours once every cycle it will cause no loss of efficiency that I am aware of."

Chakotay really had no idea what a cycle was, but he nodded and patted the mattress. "Come on then. Sit down."

She did.

"You could relax a bit..."

She did.

He smiled.

"Lie down."

Shifting on the bed she leant backwards, carefully placing her head on the pillow. He mirrored her pose and pulled the covers over them.

"What now?" She queried.

"We sleep," he told her, although he had to admit that there really wasn't much room. He was slightly concerned that he might fall off...

"Very well," she replied and promptly shut her eyes.

Closing his own eyes, Chakotay let the exhaustion overwhelm him even as he balanced on the edge of the mattress.

Next to him, Seven of Nine slept for the first time since she was six years old.

*


'Let me be empty
Oh and weightless then maybe
I'll find some peace tonight.'

~FINIS

Song lyrics are from 'Angel' by Sarah McLachlan

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