The Halloween Surprise

 

by Cath

Rated G

Disclaimer:

Paramount/Viacom owns Janeway and Chakotay. No copyright infringement is intended. I was watching a programme the other day about mistaken identity, so I pinched the idea. Another VAMB Secret challenge this time written for Katlady.

 

Commander Tom Paris perched on the side of the desk and looked down at the quivering ensign seated there.

Will you stop worrying about it Hdjuck! She doesn’t bite you know. Well not much and not hard unless you do something really stupid like call her Sir."

"Already done that Sir. I’ve been here two weeks and already I’ve called her Sir and lost her laundry and deleted a briefing Padd, then sent it out blank."

"Oh! You have been a busy bunny. What laundry?"

"Her dress uniform, it never came back from getting altered and I can’t track it down."

Tom did his best not to look disappointed. "Is that all? Well that’s no great hardship, they’re horrible anyway. Just order a new one from stores."

"Are you harassing my staff again Mr Paris?"

Tom leapt to his feet and turned to see the smiling face of Admiral Janeway.

"Would I do that Admiral?"

Kathryn raised one eyebrow Tuvok style, nodded to Hdjuck and gestured towards her office door.

"Give me ten minutes before you put anyone through, please."

"Yes Admiral." The ensign relaxed from sitting to attention. Working for Admiral Janeway was a plum assignment but it was going to kill him……. he just knew.

Tom followed her through the door. "You’ve instilled a healthy dose of fear in the young ensign, Admiral."

Kathryn laughed as she walked over to the replicator. "It won’t hurt him!"……. Do you want coffee Tom?"

"No thanks, I just called in to give you this." He handed over an envelope.

"Oh an invitation, and on card too! Very nice! You are pushing the boat out for your dad!"

"Well, it is a big birthday and the first since we came home. B’E thought we should make a fuss and have a Halloween party at the same time. He’ll grump and moan but he’ll love it really……You’ll come then?"

"I wouldn’t miss it for the world, Tom."

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Kathryn was barely out of bed when the door chimed.

"Kathryn Janeway?" the delivery man read from the card. He was holding a large bouquet of long stemmed roses.

"Yes," she answered. "Are those for me?"

"Don’t sound so surprised," he quipped looking down admiringly at the short silk wrap she had thrown on over her nightdress to answer the door. "Somebody loves you." He winked and handed over the flowers.

Kathryn blushed, thanked him and hurriedly closed the door.

She opened the card which was pinned to the wrapper. It read ‘To Kathryn with love.’

Who on earth could be sending her flowers?

What a lovely surprise, and peace roses too, her favourite. Her mind immediately jumped to Chakotay. As far as she knew he was the only one who knew of her fondness for this particular flower.

She quickly glanced at the calendar, nothing special there. It wasn’t her birthday or any anniversary as far as she could remember. The only significant date coming up was Halloween, and she couldn’t remember any tradition for sending flowers for that.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

In the year since they had come home she hadn’t had much chance to socialise with anyone least of all Chakotay.

His short relationship, if you could call it that, with Seven hadn’t survived two weeks in the Alpha Quadrant. The giant pool of ‘other fish’ had been too much of a temptation to Seven but Chakotay didn’t seem terribly bothered by that and had thrown himself enthusiastically into putting down a few roots and starting his new life.

She thought back over how she had spent the last year. Debriefing after debriefing, followed by more seemingly never ending questions. You would think Starfleet had never had a report in the seven years they had been away. Their wonder at the technology and data she had acquired on their epic journey through the Delta Quadrant threatened to drive her to distraction.

Then there were the endless public relations ‘opportunities’ she had been asked to attend. If she had gone to them all she wouldn’t have slept a wink from landing until now.

But a real date…………she realised she hadn’t had one of those since she came home, which in turn meant since two weeks before she had left Earth to retrieve Tuvok…… and that was with Mark.

Good God! She hadn’t had a date in eight years. There had been offers of course, plenty of those given her current ‘Hero Status’, but either they were from men she didn’t particularly fancy or from married ones chancing their arm, and she wasn’t that desperate for casual sex.

Chakotay….now he was different – tall, dark and sexily handsome, with a pleasant, reserved manner laced with a wicked sense of humour and now, as she realised that she could look at him at last in a totally different way, available and perhaps attainable.

She looked at the roses as she arranged them in a vase. The heady scent filled her nostrils as she leaned closer. She smiled and held the joy of his gift to her like a beautiful secret between Chakotay and herself.

The alarm startled her, throwing off the thoughts that more than threatened to become inappropriate, she hurried to get dressed. She was already running late.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Once at the office she buried her head in her Padds and pondered on what to do. Should she call him and thank him for the flowers? Did he want to see her and had sent the flowers as an overture? Or were they just a friendly gesture? She hoped not. Her imagination was working overtime.

She was finding it very difficult to concentrate on her work. Her eye fell on the card lying on the desk where she had put it yesterday. That was it! She would call him, mention Owens party and ask if he was going. Better still she would call him and invite him around for lunch at the weekend first. Better see how things went between the two of them first before turning up together in front of a crowd.

Before her courage deserted her she turned to her terminal and linked to his.

A big smile lit up his face as he saw her. "Kathryn, how are you? It seems like ages since we spoke!"

"It is! That’s what I was calling about; I wondered if you would like to come over for lunch at the weekend?"

"That would be great, Saturday, Sunday? I can do either. I’m having a break this weekend; it’s been hectic this term."

"I’m seeing Phoebe on Saturday so it will have to be Sunday, come about eleven, then we can catch up." She turned as her aide signalled another call was waiting, "Chakotay I have to go, a busy morning. See you Sunday?"

"Yes, looking forward to it already! Bye Kathryn."

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Chakotay arrived hidden behind a flowering shrub with a bottle of wine tucked under his arm.

"Let me help you with that" she grinned, taking the bottle.

"Gee thanks," he quipped back. "I’ve had this for you for a couple of weeks," he said nodding at the plant. "I wanted to make sure it was established before I gave it to you to put in your garden."

"It’s lovely Chakotay! The berries look like tiny little tomatoes."

"That’s what I thought too."

"But, more flowers, you’re spoiling me! The roses were quite enough." She gestured toward the vase.

"Roses!" He looked puzzled. "Not guilty, unfortunately."

Kathryn laughed a little uneasily, surely he was teasing.

"I’m afraid I can’t take the credit for those – though I’ve thought of doing it often enough."

"But they’re peace roses…who? And the card…..." she stopped her face flushing as she realised what he would think if he saw the inscription. She reached for it…..too late.

"To Kathryn with love" he read aloud, honestly I only wish it had been me."

"Err….um," she stuttered her face turning crimson.

"You asked me to lunch because of the flowers, didn’t you?" He looked crestfallen.

"Of course not! Well that spurred me to contact you but I’ve been trying to find a way to break the ice for ages and the flowers did that."

"You’re sure…………… I could go." He offered reluctantly.

"Don’t be silly, anyway I’ve already prepared the meal."

He grinned, "Perhaps I should go then."

She laughed, glad that the awkwardness had passed.

"Shall I open the wine?" he asked.

She nodded and he followed her into the kitchen.

They both relaxed as they sipped the wine and managed to spend a pleasant afternoon getting re-acquainted on a personal level that they had never managed before on Voyager.

Kathryn was delighted; this was Chakotay she was having dinner with. Oh they had had meals together many times before. Many of those in the privacy of her quarters, but this was different she realised. She wasn’t his boss any more and she didn’t have the mind numbing responsibility that had permeated her every moment on the ship. She could relax and enjoy the company of ‘Chakotay the Man’ and a very attractive man at that she thought, now that she had finally let herself think along those lines.

He did his best to make her laugh with horror stories of his students and one or two anecdotes of the times they had been at the Academy. It was a wonderful day and all too soon it was time for him to leave.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

The next morning Kathryn woke with several questions on her mind.

Did Chakotay have a good time yesterday?

Who sent the flowers?

How was she going to find out?

And did Chakotay really have a good time yesterday? Oh God, she hoped so.

It didn’t really matter who had sent the flowers she realised, they had served a very good purpose. At least they had if the other questions were answered with a yes.

She arrived at the office a little early. Hdjuck was already there. He snapped to attention as she arrived.

"At ease, ensign, before you sp………….what ever is the matter Hdjuck?" One look at the boys’ crestfallen face stopped her in her tracks.

Err…………it’s about the flowers…….the roses, he faltered.

"You know who sent them?"

"I did!"

"You what?"

"Well not from me," he quickly explained after a look at her shocked face. Commander Paris asked me to send some to his sister Kathy and you’re Kathryn and I mixed the Kathy’s up, I didn’t know she was Kathleen………..and I’m really, really sorry Admiral."

He had discovered his mistake earlier this morning when Tom had called to find out what had happened to his sisters flowers.

Kathryn looked at the young ensigns worried face, "Don’t worry about it Ensign, I might have known Mr Paris would have been involved in it somehow." She patted his shoulder reassuringly, "try to double check in future, it was a nice surprise this time but you might not be that lucky again."

She wondered if Chakotay had heard. She called him several times that morning but there was no reply. She was reluctant to leave a message in case she had misinterpreted his enthusiasm for her company the day before, but decided it would only be polite to acknowledge personally how much she had enjoyed their lunch date.

By late afternoon she still hadn’t heard anything. Why hadn’t he called? Perhaps it was only a meal to him the day before and he had been embarrassed by her mistake over the flowers. Yesterday she had had such high hopes of a change in their relationship, but now she wasn’t so sure.

By the time she reached home that evening she had convinced herself that, it had all been a figment of her imagination. She was so desperate for him to notice her, to see her as a something other than his Commanding Officer, to see her as a woman in fact, that she had completely misinterpreted his actions. She felt a surge of disappointment that threatened to choke her. What on earth had she been thinking of, that he would be attracted to her when he could have his pick of any of the hundreds of bright, young attractive women he associated with every day? She was destined to be that dried up old maid from the future.

The message light was winking on the consol as she walked into her study. Shrugging her jacket off she sat and looked at it for a while before pressing the key to activate it. Chakotays face appeared on the screen, he looked tired and his face was a little swollen.

"Kathryn I’m so sorry I didn’t call earlier, I meant to catch you first thing before you left for the office but I stupidly cracked a tooth on the nuts I had for breakfast and I had to go get it fixed before lectures. Unfortunately, I reacted badly to the hypospray as you can see," he touched his cheek. "Anyway I’m feeling a bit groggy so I’m going to lie down for a while. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed yesterday. I’ll call you later okay, bye."

His hand reached out to touch the screen as his image winked out. She reached out a hand as if to touch his when the message alert signal startled her. It was Chakotay! Quickly she pressed the key to connect again to his terminal.

"Hi", he said smiling.

"Hi", she replied feeling her lips curving upwards "Are you feeling any better?"

He reached up to his cheek, "Much thanks. You however, look worn out and I bet you haven’t eaten yet."

She held up her hand to stop him before he launched fully into his ‘mother hen routine’. "I’m fine, busy day that’s all, and no I haven’t eaten, yet!"

"Neither have I" he said "Come have dinner with me Kathryn?"

"Are you feeling okay to cook?"

"Yes, I’m fine! The nap worked wonders, and I have to eat anyway. I’ll meet you at the transport station," he offered.

"All right then! Thank you! Just give me time to change, say half an hour?"

………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

It was almost dark when he met her. He took her hand as they walked in the dusk down the lane from the station. The air was summer sweet with the scent of lavender and honeysuckle.

He walked Kathryn past his gate and around the side of the house and hopped over the garden wall. He leaned across and swung her over to stand with him. For a moment they stood together, Chakotay with his hands about her waist, Kathryn with her hands on his shoulders.

"You forgot to mention wall climbing in your invitation."

"It’s easier than walking through the house when I’ve set the dinner in the garden." He gestured towards the patio where he had set the table with flowers, two glasses, a bottle of wine and a bowl of floating candles, which flickered in the semi darkness. They walked over and he pulled out a chair for Kathryn to sit.

Kathryn smiled across the table at him; she was thrilled and not a little hopeful. He had gone to a lot of trouble for a simple dinner and things looked quite……. romantic.

"You know I thought a lot yesterday after I left your house?"

"You did? About what?"

"About the things we were talking about! About us having dinner together! About our friendship among other things."

He raised his hand to stop her speaking and gestured at the table.

"We’ve shared a lot of meals over the years Kathryn, in the mess hall, in our quarters, on the holodeck and now here on Earth. We’ve had the mood lighting, the soft music and the wine. We’ve seen the worst of each other and the best."

He leaned over the table to pour out the wine, and then put down the bottle and threaded his fingers through hers as he had years ago.

Kathryn felt her heart thumping so loudly she wondered that she could hear his voice.

He cleared his throat and then continued. "We’ve even had a little of the romance." He smiled at her, his eyes glinting in the candle light.

"You know I’ve cared for you for a very long time Kathryn. I couldn’t say when it first started but given our circumstances I knew there was nothing I could do about it. So I never saw much point in telling you. The time never seemed right anyway. As time went by the feelings muted into this wonderful friendship we have. In fact I thought they had gone, until Quarra, when jealousy leapt up and poked me right in the eye."

She looked at him startled; she had never suspected he felt that way at the time.

He paused and looked into her eyes. "I thought I’d lost you forever then, and I tried to move on."

The tears glistened under her lashes. She shook her head, "Never."

He picked a pure white rose from the vase on the table and handed it to her. "It’s the most beautiful rose in my garden Kathryn," he told her, "It’s called Eternity and that’s what I would like to have with you."

A tear escaped and rolled down her cheek and he reached out a hand to brush it away. "If that’s all right with you?" he said.

She turned her cheek into his hand and whispered. "Oh, yes."

"Then we’ll have this dinner and go into the house and I’ll kiss you and we’ll look for that mystery and romance and burning passion that’s always been threatening us?"

"Yes………please," she said smiling happily through her tears; she’d never experienced anything so wonderfully romantic in her life.

"I love you Chakotay."

"I rather hoped you did because I love you too."

06/10/05

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