For two days all Chakotay saw of Jenny Delaney was the back of her uniform. He was begining to think that she was avoiding him and he didn't know why. Even when he had made an effort to see her in Stellar Cartography she was too busy to step to the side and talk to him. All he could get from her was that yes she was planning on going to the Prixin party and he would surely see her there. The briefest flash of a smile as he thanked her again for the video evening then she turned back to her work.
Jenny on the other hand, worked very hard to avoid the Commander. Until the Captain made her wishes clear Chakotay was off limits. She almost broke down and talked to him when he came to Stellar Cartography, but she didn't, knowing that the rumor mill would carry the tale right to the Captain. She was not going to put any kind of challange in front of Captain Janeway.
Chakotay walked into the mess hall and looked around. His eyes were first drawn to his Captain. Kathryn was at the near end of the hall, her senior officers around her, the crew wandering by to offer their greetings. He caught he eye and motioned that he was going to wander for a while. She nodded her agreement.
He turned and began to look around the room again and was drawn to the far end of the mess hall by the sound of laughter.
There in the corner surrounded by about a third of the crew sat Jenny. The group had gathered at her feet and were listening and laughing as she spoke. Her eyes glowed and her smile was unrestrained. At her side was Joe Carey who was adding his side of the tale to the mix. With one hand to her face and a shake of her head she laughed. The using her hands to calm the group she turned to Joe and said "Joe just sit there and be quiet! I started this and plan on telling it the way it happened. If I remember right you were in no condition to remember most of what happened after Tango Squadron left anyway. But then neither was I."
Chakotay edged nearer keeping out of her line of sight, to come to rest behind and to the right of her. A few eyebrows were raised and a few of the group shifted uncomfortable but he waved them off and the settled back to watch.
Joe having listened to her scolding retorted "Yes mistress Jenny." He bowed low with a flourish.
"That's better Joseph." She sniffed. "Except it's your majesty not mistress. I rule you, not own you, your wife has that unfortunate task."
Joe rolled his eyes as the group laughed. He got down on his knees and added. "Yes your majesty. Continue please, I beseech you."
The group pounced on this and began to call for the full story. Jenny waved them down again and asked for a drink. "Ok, I tell all that I know and can remember. But! I won't name names or comfirm rumors."
Chakotay stepped to the side of her chair and handed her a drink. "Thank you." She said looking to see who it was and spilling the drink over her arm.
"Commander!" She said shaking the liquid off her arm and trying to stand. He waved her off and handed her a napkin.
"Sorry to startle you. I just thought that I would bring my lady the drink she asked for." Only those nearest them could hear his words. Jenny flushed, and studiously dried her arm. Joe noticed her discomfort and leapt to her aide.
"Your majesty, you owe us a tale!"
The group was held by the drama before them and called for her to continue. not a few eyes wandered to the other end of the mess hall, looking for the Captain to walk their way. Jenny had gotten her composure back when Chakotay moved away from her. Joe settled on the arm of her chair beteen her and the Commander, to provide his support. He shot Chakotay a cool look and urged Jenny to begin.
"When I was in my second year at the Academy, I had some problems and fell behind in most of my classes. The day that I was going to drop out, Joe Carey appeared in my dorm room and told me in no uncertain terms that I was not going to drop out. In fact I was going to make up the work I had missed and that I would have a B average or better at the end of the year.
Then kicking and screaming he drug me to the library and sat me down with the top students in each class I was failing. They tutored me almost to death and I passed with a B+ average. The next year Joe was Senior Cadet and even with all the added resonsiblties he had, he didn't give up on me.
Tango Squadron took me in and made sure that I had an escort, tutor or someone to kick my butt as the need arose.
At the end of the year I was at the top of my class and wanted to pay Joe and Tango Squadron back for all their support. So my dorm and I decided we would host the May Last party for the class of 47. My dorm had enjoyed the company and prestige of having Tango Squadron hanging around. We made all the arrangements and set the party of the century into motion.
Lets fast forward to Stardate 47315.18. Those of you that were at the academy after the class of 47 all know this date. May Last 47. The year that the Academy had a closed campus for 48 hours."
The group around Jenny started to murrmer and stir as the date sank in.
Right there in front of them were two of the principle players in the May Last 47 legend. May Last 47, when Zephran Cocheran's ship was flown.
Jenny saw Tuvok at the edge of the group and knew he was listening. Chakotay moved to the other side of Jenny and casually sat on the arm of her chair. His eyes met Tuvok's and he shook his head. Tuvok backed away from the group and Jenny relaxed. Chakotay knew the reason she had paused. He had been an instructor at the time of the party and knew that there were still outstanding charges on some of the activities of that night.
Chakotay cleared his throat. The group quieted. "I think it is a known fact that the vessel in question was flow that night. It was also brought back and to this day there has been no proof offered that any Cadet was involved in that flight. Jenny would you care to continue?"
"Thank you Commander." She flashed him a smile and took a deep breath. "As I was saying, it was 1800 hours and the inner quad was ours. There was food enough for all of Starfleet, drink enough to cripple the Klingon Empire and music from all the know worlds. There were even 6 portable holosuites.
The senior class was allowed onto the quad and the party began. For the next six hours the senior class was fed, pampered, entertained and lead to recovery from their finals. Awards were given, wagers settled and traditions handed to the next senior class.
The party began to wind down about 0030 and the last award was announced. Best senior stunt. The award had not been handed out in 20 years no senior class had been deemed worthy of the honor until then. The class of 47 had, had no drop outs. No cadet that had entered as a freshman had been academically or proceduraly dropped. They had from day one contended that anyone who had made it into the Academy should graduate.
This brought jeers from the class itself. That was no stunt they contended, a stunt per definition was an unusual ar difficult feat performed or undertaken chiefly to gain attention or publicity. There had been nothing difficult or unusual to warrent the award. There was a heated debate, which spread through the quad like wild fire. The next thing anyone knew, Zephran Chochran's ship was seen lifting off. Starfleet Control tracked it through it's whole flight. It was beamed back onto it's pylons without anyone in it. To this day no one knows for sure who piloted the ship. That was a stunt avowed the seniors.
The other incident that contributed to the closure of the campus was when one of the freshmen held hands with the son of the Getwen Ambassador. On Getwen holding both hands is the final vow in a marriage. The Terran cadet did not know this, all she wanted to do was dance with the kid."
Joe smiled at Jenny and said. "How was she suppose to know that? The kid didn't look to upset about her holding his hands. Wonder why the ambassador got so shook up?"
The group broke into laughter and began to talk amongst themselves. Chakotay leaned down and whispered into Jenny's ear. "It was you wasn't it?"
She turned and whispered back. "No it was my sister. She just wanted to dance with the kid and he wanted to dance with her. He knew there would be no marriage though he did try for a wedding night just before they were hauled into the Commandant's office."
She felt his warm breath on her cheek as he laughed and contained a shudder. She turned back to the group and raised a hand to get their attention. "Now you know most of what happened that night. Joe and I would like to answer all your questions... BUT... well there are still a few charges outstanding and as witnesses to some of the events we are bound to remain silent."
The group moaned and began to call out questions. Tuvok was slowly making his way to the front of the group.
"Come on and dance me Joe." She said, standing and taking Joe by the arm. "We need to make an escape from this rabble."
"As you were Lieutenants." Said Chakotay. "I think this matter needs further looking into. Lt. Delaney will you come with me?"
Jenny gasped. Was he gonna bust her and her sister for what had happened? She knew that the charges could not be followed up on without the injured parties present and couldn't believe that Chakotay didn't know it too.
She squared her shoulders and released Joe. Joe offered to come with them and was told no.
"My office now!" Said Chakotay in a command voice.
He followed her out of the mess hall an hand on her arm guiding her. He noted that she moved with an easy grace even in 4" heels. Her soft musky purfume trailed behind her with the chiffon scarf that was draped across her throat and over her shoulders. When they entered the lift she called for deck two.
"Belay that." said Chakotay. "Deck nine."
"I thought we were going to your office. May I ask where we're going?"
"I thought that you might enjoy a walk through the arboretum and some quiet. You sure stirred them up back there."
"Isn't the Arboretum a bit public for a dressing down?"
"What? You don't think that I'm going to discipline you for your story, do you?" He looked at her trying to read her expression. "Halt lift. Jenny, I just thought you would like to get out of the crowd for a while. As for what happened May Last 47 I know most of it, I was an instructor at the time. The charges will follow Tango Squadron without ever catching them and the Ambassador is a grandfather now so those charges will never be followed through on."
"That still doesn't explain why you took me away from the party."
"I was being selfish, I wanted some time with you and that seemed like a good excuse."
"That's an interesting turn of a phrase, Commander. I didn't know that anyone needed an excuse to spend time with me." She stepped back from him and raised her chin. "Deck five." The lift started to move and she looked at him. She didn't know if she should be flattered or insulted.
"Halt lift. I'm sorry Jenny. I didn't mean that way. I thought that we could talk awhile and get to know each other better."
"Why would you want to do that? It's obvious that you and the Captain have some form of a relationship. Why risk it to get to know someone with my reputation? Or are you looking for a little spice in your life? Either way I could loose big time, either gaining the Captain's wrath or adding to the reputation that I have fought for the last four years."
"My and Kathryn's relationship have nothing to do with me wanting to get to know you better. As for your reputation. I don't think that it's warranted. I find you to be an attractive, caring woman. You are a mix of professionalism and fun that I frankly find intriguing." He had moved close to her. Using his eyes and words to sway her decision. "Jenny, won't you come talk to me?"
"I'm sorry Commander. I don't think that would be a good idea. I need to get back to my friends and I'm sure you will be missed. Computer, resume."
As the doors opened she turned to Chakotay and smiled. "I'm flattered that you want to get to know me but I don't think it would be a good thing for either of us. Thank you for the offer, Good evening."
She walked the short distance to the mess hall with him a few paces behind her. She returned to the corner where her friends were and was swamped with questions. Joe elbowed his way to her side and took her onto the dance floor.
"Well?" He asked.
"Well, what? He didn't jump on me about the story. He wanted to take me to the Arboretum and talk, get to know me better."
"Why didn't you go?"
"He used the story as an excuse and dragged me out of here with everyone watching. My reputation doesn't need that and I don't need to end up on the Captain's shit list."
"So what are you going to do?"
"I don't know. Until I know that the Captain doesn't want him I can't spend time with him even if he asks."
"Poor, Jenny." Joe pulled her into a hug for a minute. Then he relaxed his grip and they finished the dance. Jenny didn't lack for partners of company after that. Everyone wanted to know what had happened. After an hour of insistant questions and being acutely aware of Chakotay watching her, she pleaded an early shift and retired to her quarters.
Chakotay stood at the other end of the mess hall with the senior staff. His eyes drawn again and again to the woman in the red gown. As she danced with one partner after another he noticed that she kept a proper distance between herself and her partner and only danced once with each man. When she was sitting with the group, he saw that she was pale and quiet, answereing questions but not offering any conversation. Her eyes never once straying to meet his.
He was drawn into a conversation with Tom and Harry and when he looked up again she was gone.
Joe walked to the far end of the mess hall intent on setting a few things straight with Chakotay. He had promised Jenny, that he wouldn't say anything. But he had promised himself a long time ago that he would protect her if he could.
"Commander, may I have a word with you?"
"Sure, in fact I was just going to come talk to you."
"Really, may I ask about what.?"
"What about her? Besides the fact that you have set the rumor mill going at warp speed and she looks like death. Ordering her out of the party was real subtle. Needing an excuse to spend time with her was worse. Between the two she's done in and wishing she could be anywhere but here. Any thing else sir?"
"I guess not Lt."
"Well then, if you will excuse me, sir. I have a friend who probably needs a shoulder to cry on."