The Hull
by Suz

Disclaimer - Yeah, Paramount.


The silence of space awed him. It surrounded him, almost drowning him with its intensity.

It was a shame that he had to work, really.

Moving stiffly, he clunked another magnetised boot further along the hull of the ship, his tricorder finally flashing. He had reached his destination.

"We're here," He said, knowing that his companion and the crew on the bridge could hear him.

B'Elanna stepped next to him slowly, her own tricorder flashing. "Taking closer readings now, Captain."

"Acknowledged Lieutenant," Her voice crackled in response.

Knowing full well that B'Elanna was perfectly capable of taking the readings and that there were only two of them there for safety purposes, Chakotay allowed his attention to wonder a little. Moving his head carefully, he took in the vastness of the view once more. He knew - scientifically - that if he got anywhere near any of those stars he'd burn up in nanoseconds, but he could feel...could almost imagine reaching out...

"So beautiful," He whispered, barely realising he'd spoken.

Her voice was warm when she responded. "Thinking of taking a step off, Chakotay?"

Ah, but that really was something. The sound of nothing except for his own breathing and Kathryn's voice echoing around his mind, inside his own helmet-encased Universe. It made him feel closer, somehow. "Just for a little while. Care to join me? I understand from B'Elanna that it's quite relaxing. When you're not suffering from Oxygen deprivation."

"Hey!" B'Elanna yelled, slightly offended, just as Chakotay heard Tom's own objection through the com link.

He smiled.

"Thank you for the offer, Chakotay," Kathryn responded, her humour evident. "Maybe next time."

Returning to her work, B'Elanna swore. "Dammit! I'm still not getting anything!"

Looking back at her, Chakotay frowned. "Try elongating the-" He paused when he heard something that sounded distinctly like snickering. "What is that?"

More snickering.

Kathryn's voice contained a heavy sigh when she spoke. "It seems that Mr Paris found the word 'elongating' amusing."

B'Elanna rolled her eyes.

Chakotay finally heard Tom's voice clearly. "I apologise Commander. It's just that...," He chuckled again "Ever since Neelix broadcasted that special on cucumbers this morning, I guess it's kind of been on my mind."

Shaking his head, Chakotay shrugged unconsciously. "B'Elanna-"

"Beat you to it, Chakotay." Her fingers were moving slowly over the tricorder in the gloves she was wearing. "I know where you were heading and I just elon...altered the trajectory of the scanner," She deftly ignored the giggle that escaped into her helmet. "It still hasn't made any difference. Captain, I think the only way we're going to get any results on the fluctuating readings is to take a small section of the hull to the science lab."

"Very well. Proceed Lieutenant."

Chakotay unholstered his weapon. "Here, I'll use my phaser."

More laughter, followed by "I BET you will!" followed by "Mr Paris..."

Smiling, B'Elanna studied Chakotay as he aimed the phaser at the hull. She spoke just before he was about to fire.

"Not just there, Chakotay. A little higher. We definitely want it a little bigger."

Silently laughing, he grinned at her but let her continue.

"A little more...just a nudge to the right...just a bit...a bit more....YES!" She sighed, dramatically, orgasmic. "Perfect," B'Elanna whispered harshly.

"Sorry to interrupt," Kathryn's voice cut in "But I now have a conn officer who has laughed himself into unconsciousness. Are we going to get that sample anytime soon?"

Smirking, Chakotay glanced at his phaser and checked that the power level probably wouldn't be high enough to do any serious damage, but would get a section of the first layer off. It would be a tough call. Grinning deliberately at B'Elanna, he spoke:

"Just a few more minutes, Captain. I'm going to have some trouble penetrating the hull."

He was rewarded by the sound of Kathryn's laughter.


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