Disclaimer - Drag yourself up that mountain.
For Morgan, who pretty much did this with me last night.
"I don't seem to remember the walk from the beam-out site being quite so far," Kathryn muttered.
Her companion hissed - apparently in mild pain - and growled. "I definitely agree with that one."
Smirking, Kathryn glanced over at B'Elanna. It was dark by now, but the light from the two moons in the night sky was more than enough to see how heavily she was frowning.
They were on their way back from the Hawasi equivalent of a wedding. Trade negotiations with them over the past two weeks had gone very well - it was about time they met someone nice - and they'd been invited to the union of two of the main city's more noble Hawasi. She smiled, remembering Seven's raised eyebrow as the two men got married.
Oh, but it had been a grand affair. Starfleet HQ celebrations paled in comparison to what the Hawasi described as an 'average-sized' party. She'd joked that a large-sized one would probably cover the whole planet, only to discover that it did just that.
She couldn't remember the last time she'd sat on a planet at dusk, looking up at the sky while her crew danced and laughed. Well...actually...she could.
She'd just prefer not to remember.
"I'm surprised you didn't come back with Tom later," Kathryn said, remembering how very 'involved' B'Elanna and Tom's dancing had been.
The comment forced the frown off her forehead for a brief second. "Kahless, that man has too much energy. Well...I don't know if I'd say *too* much," She grinned meaningfully and chuckled as Kathryn rolled her eyes. "But it does seem rather excessive when it comes to parties. I'll just leave him and Harry to stumble back to the beam-out site in about eight hours time, thank you very much." She abruptly changed the tone of the conversation. "I'm surprised you didn't come back with Chakotay later."
Kathryn nearly stopped walking, but figured she'd never be able to make her feet move again. God she was tired... "What makes you say that?"
"Oh..." B'Elanna shrugged innocently and wrapped her arms around her body. "You and he always used to go to these functions together."
"Hmm," Kathryn deliberately matched her tone. "I suppose we did."
The tension was broken as B'Elanna tripped over. Swearing loudly - the fourth time she had done so since they left the party - she scrambled back to her feet. "I have HAD IT with these shoes!"
Looking at her face, Kathryn then moved her gaze down to her feet. "Then take them off," She suggested simply.
"I think it's a very good idea," She continued, bending down to unfasten and remove her own shoes. "If we keep mutilating our poor feet like this we'll never hear the end of it from them." Pulling her feet free she sighed in ecstasy. "Oh *God* that feels good..." Wiggling her toes, she grabbed her shoes in her hands and stood up again.
B'Elanna continued frowning at her for a moment, before deciding it was definitely a good idea and taking her own off. Growling in pleasure, she stood up with her shoes in her hands, just as the Captain did.
Grinning, Kathryn continued walking towards the beam-out site. "Just be on the look out for any big stones." It wasn't a particularly rocky area, but she didn't want to take any chances. Sighing, she looked up at the sky. "I don't know why I torture myself with these things. Okay, so they look good but it can't just be vanity..."
B'Elanna snorted, then realised who she was talking to and tamed it down a little. "I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on this one, Captain. It's entirely about vanity. Whether or not your shoes look good, they make your legs look good."
"And your point would be...?"
"That you enjoy having Chakotay ogle your legs."
Kathryn stopped walking, unable to believe she was hearing this. "Lieutenant!"
B'Elanna paused next to her. "What? I'm not saying that's bad; it's perfectly normal. Whether or not you like to admit it Captain, you are a woman. I know I certainly enjoy the way Tom looks at me."
"Yes, but you and Tom are a couple! Chakotay and I aren't even close."
"Maybe not now..."
"And that implies what?" She asked, warning that B'Elanna was treading on dangerous ground.
The half-Klingon really didn't care anymore. "That you and Chakotay used to go everywhere together. That you used to touch him all the time. That he used to call you Kathryn when he thought no one else could hear. That you'd sneak a peek at his butt when you thought no one else could see. That you used to *enjoy* each other's company rather than just going through the motions of smiling. That you-"
"How much have you had to drink, Lieutenant?"
"Quite a lot, actually." B'Elanna admitted.
"Good," Kathryn nodded, turned and continued walking, her shoes hanging from her right hand. When she realised B'Elanna wasn't walking with her, she stopped and looked back. "Are you coming or not?"
Her mind made up, B'Elanna ran over to her quite inelegantly and they continued walking together.
After about a hundred yards, Kathryn spoke. "You do have a point."
It was a while before she answered. "We did used to go everywhere together."
While B'Elanna could tell nothing from her expression, she absolutely recognised the tone of voice. "If you wanted to do something about it..."
"Not now," Kathryn told her hastily, trying to stop her pace from quickening. "Right now I just want to go back to my quarters, soak my feet, and not think about anything complicated."
Allowing the moment to pass, B'Elanna smiled with genuine appreciation. "Sounds wonderful."
Relaxing, Kathryn stopped suddenly when she recognised a particular cluster of trees. "We're here."
Nodding, Kathryn tapped her com badge with her free hand. "Janeway to Voyager. Two to beam up."
It was only as they dematerialised that she realised they were still both barefoot.
As they re-materialised she decided it was too late to worry about it. Carefully padding down from the transporter pad, she smiled at Lieutenant Mulchaey who apparently found nothing at odds with two senior officers appearing barefoot.
"Captain, Lieutenant," He nodded warmly.
They greeted him back and stepped out of the room.
"Kahless, he's cute." B'Elanna muttered after the doors closed.
"What? I'm in a relationship; I'm not *blind*."
Shaking her head, Kathryn walked into the nearest turbolift, B'Elanna a step behind. "Deck two."
The journey was spent in a companionable silence. Reaching their destination they stepped out and walked, still barefoot, along the corridor. They approached the Captains quarters first.
Bidding her Captain a good night, B'Elanna began to walk away.
Stopping, she turned around, her shoes thumping against her thighs. "Captain?"
"Would you like to come in for a chat? Some coffee? Some feet soaking?"
B'Elanna smiled, and walked back towards her. "I'd love to."
Holding up her free hand, Kathryn continued. "Only one condition: no serious conversation can take place. Agreed?"
She nodded. "Agreed."
Relieved, Kathryn opened her door and walked in.
Hesitating outside her quarters, B'Elanna frowned heavily. "We can talk about butts though, right?"
"Oh we can *definitely* talk about butts," Kathryn chuckled, her laughter spilling out from the room as B'Elanna stepped through and the doors hissed shut behind her.
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