All It Takes
by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - Paramount, yeah.

Part 18 of the DQ90210 series. Earlier parts (except 17 at the moment) can be found at: http://members.tripod.com/~SuzVoy/deltaq.html

*

When she stepped into her quarters after her shift ended, all Kathryn wanted to do was sink into a hot tub and drift quickly into unconsciousness.

She didn't expect to discover Tom sitting on her couch, resting his feet on her table on which also rested two cups of coffee.

Thank God. If Tom was here she didn't need to think.

Smiling, she walked towards him.

He forestalled her greeting with an immediate "We need to talk."

Christ, she recognised that tone of voice straight away. "You're ending it," She stated accusingly, stopping on the other side of the table.

Tom looked up at her. "With good reason."

Sighing, she stepped around the table and sat next to him. "Tom, I know things have been rather hectic lately, but you're completely overreacting."

He smiled enigmatically, then, as if he knew some secret that she didn't have a clue about. "I think this hardly qualifies as overreacting, Captain."

And she knew then that he meant it. It was the use of her title that did it. After all this time...all they'd done...he still couldn't locate the barrier between the Captain and Kathryn.

But then, that was likely. She had difficulty finding it herself.

"I'm not who you want, Captain." He shrugged as if it were that simple.

"Really?" Kathryn asked a little smugly. "And what makes you think that?"

"A little birdie told me," Tom responded, then chuckled as she frowned. "When you were injured in the shuttle accident and we beamed you back to sickbay...I was there, with Doc, helping you. Seven was there. We all heard it."

Kathryn was utterly confused. "Heard what?"

Pulling his feet down from the table he leant forward, staring at the coffee cups. "The name. You said his name."

The faint amusement around her lips was lost. The colour drained from her face. That was...not...what she had been expecting to hear. "Well...that doesn't necessarily mean anything-"

"Don't bullshit me with this, Janeway," He almost hissed, and in that instant Kathryn saw the side of him that was Owen Paris.

Like father, like son.

Neither of them would take any crap from anyone.

She continued to pile it on anyway. "I was half-unconscious, Tom. Just because I whispered his name...it doesn't change a thing!"

"No, and that's the hell of it." He grinned insincerely. "There was never anything to change."

"Tom," Kathryn continued, trying a different avenue. "What about *you*? Is this right for you? You have to think about yourself."

"Believe me, I am. More than you know." He laughed with self-deprecating humour. "Me? I'll be absolutely fine. I've suffered through worse than you, Captain."

Kathryn really wasn't sure if she should take that as a compliment. And she really couldn't believe that he wanted to end this. Reaching out, she touched his hand. "Tom..."

Pulling his hand away, he turned to face her. "There's someone else you're meant to be with. And you're going to be with him."

It was the wrong thing to say.

She drew away, defences snapping up. She didn't appreciate being dictated to. "Lieutenant-"

"Don't," He pleaded. "Don't. You still don't get it, do you? That's what kept him away all this time. That's what kept him from really trying."

"It's hardly my fault he's too much of a coward to do anything about it." She knew, immediately, that she shouldn't have said it. That it had angered him. That she didn't really mean it.

"For the record," Tom informed her "And don't you dare tell a single soul about this...but I happen to think that Chakotay is one of the bravest men I've ever met." Closing his eyes, he sighed and then reopened them. "Look, we both know Chakotay's dumb. A stupid ass, sometimes. But you can't blame him for an aspect of his personality. It's not like he does it on purpose! He just does. It's who he is."

"And what if I don't want who he is?" Kathryn shot back.

"I'll tell you want you want," He leant forward. "You want him...with a little more balls. Well guess what, Kathryn Janeway? He already exists. Who joined the Maquis and slaughtered dozens, possibly hundreds of Cardassians? Who took a huge gamble and decided to ally his crew with yours? Who helped to integrate that crew? Who quit a career with Starfleet to fight for something he believed in, a fight he would almost certainly lose? The only thing he has *ever* had a problem standing up to is you. The great Kathryn Janeway. I guess that shows just how much you mean to him after all."

Standing up, pushing away, looking down at her shocked features, he continued.

"You want to know how to really get a reaction from him, Captain? Piss him off. Make him angry. That's all it takes."

TBC

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