I NEVER SAID I COULD TANGO -- PG-13
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"Are you sure this is a good idea, Harry? I mean… it seems a bit frivolous and I really don’t know how many of the crew would be willing to go along with it." Kathryn Janeway frowned through narrowed eyes, drilling the ensign with misgiving.
Harry remained resolute in posture and voice. "Yes, ma’am, Captain. Several of us have discussed it for days and at our last count, I think there were more than fifty crew members who said they were interested; even Tuvok said he’d be willing to give it a try! Jenny and Megan Delaney volunteered to organize and emcee the event."
Janeway’s scowl became a gentle smirk and her fingers began a rhythmic tap on the desk in front of her. "The Delaney twins, you say? Is that why you’re so interested in this?" Harry’s on-again, off-again adoration of the sisters was no secret within Voyager’s small community.
He lowered his head as the color washed over his face. "Uh – no, ma’am." He paused and cleared his throat before looking up at her again. "Actually, it was the Doctor’s idea."
"The Doctor?" Janeway swung out of her chair and walked around the front of her desk as Harry took a couple nervous steps backwards.
"Uh… yes. It seems that he’s been tutoring Seven in some of the finer social graces and thought a ballroom dance function including the rest of the crew might help her feel more at ease with what he was trying to teach her." The young man’s shoulders sagged in relief as he finished delivering his message.
Janeway continued her grilling, pacing back and forth around Harry. "So why didn’t the EMH come to me himself?"
Harry’s body tensed again and he gulped and licked his suddenly dry lips. "Actually, the doc was just going to go ahead and do it, without asking your permission. I just thought, as a matter of protocol, that you should give it final approval." He twisted his body in an attempt to keep apace with her and his face contorted with concern. "I haven’t gotten him into any trouble, have I?"
The captain reached over to him, gently taking him by the shoulders before he twisted himself into a pretzel. "No, of course not, Harry." Her face softened into a smile. "The crew frequently does things of a recreational nature without need for my approval. I see no reason why you needed to ask my permission with this idea, either."
Harry remained in place, his face again clouding over with a sense of concern.
"There’s something more?" she asked, sensing that the young man’s chore wasn’t completed yet.
"Um… yes, ma’am. I…we… well, we wondered if you might be interested in joining us," he finally managed to get out.
"Me?" she asked, her eyes opening wide before she fell into a peal of laughter. "Oh, I don’t think so, Harry – I made enough of a fool of myself four years ago with that disastrous talent night fiasco of the dying swan! Never again…" She pushed her hands out in front of her as if to push away all memories of that catastrophe.
Harry reached out for her in a final plea, jerking his hand back just before he grabbed for her arm. "But, Captain – we’re counting on you. And someone is already interested in asking you… that is, if you’d be willing…"
Janeway turned to him, her face aglow. "Why, Harry – that’s so sweet! Yes, of course I’ll do it… I’d be delighted to go as your partner!"
The young man’s face twisted in embarrassment. "Er… it isn’t me, Captain – I’ve already promised Jenny and Megan I’d help them."
Now it was Janeway’s turn to shake her head uneasily. "Of course – I should have guessed that." She looked up, her smile suddenly wide with pleasure. "Tuvok – I know he doesn’t really want to dance but…"
"Uh… no, ma’am; Commander Tuvok has agreed to be Naomi Wildman’s partner."
Janeway counted off various pairings on her fingers as she continued thinking. "There’s Tom and B’Elanna and Neelix is with Samantha and then I’m sure the Doctor will continue in his mentoring role with Seven. That leaves…" She looked at Harry as it came to her who was left amongst the senior officers. "That leaves… Chakotay and me?"
"Why not?" Harry smiled broadly. "You two are a natural! Why, I’ll bet he’s got some hidden talent you never knew he had, Captain – even after all this time!"
Janeway’s eyes narrowed as she pursed her lips. "Is this a set-up, Harry? Has Tom got another little betting pool going?"
Perspiration dotted Harry’s forehead as he backed away. "No… no, ma’am! This… this is just… um… something for… er… fun… ma’am!" He almost ran the remaining steps to the doors of her ready room. "Uh… we can count on you then? We’ll be in holodeck two at 2000."
Janeway shook her head in defeat. "Yes, you can count on me, Harry. At ease, Ensign… and dismissed."
The doors opened but Harry stopped them. "Um… one more thing – I think that Commander Chakotay will be contacting you more or less officially about being his partner."
Janeway’s head jerked up and she looked at him with a startled stare as the doors closed.
Fifty-four heads turned in unison as if following the beat of the music. But it wasn’t music that drew their attention but a painful groan coming from their captain, whose body was bent over.
Those closest to her heard the soft apology from Chakotay as he leaned down, his arm around her, trying to comfort her. "I’m so sorry, Kathryn – I just can’t seem to get the hang of anything but a simple two-step."
Janeway rubbed her right ankle and bit her lower lip as she tried to stifle any other sounds. But her short breaths and shiny eyes told him that she was truly hurting. "It’s okay, Chakotay – you’re trying and that’s what is important." She tested her weight on the injured ankle. "See? I’ll be fine."
"But you’re limping," he observed. "Come on – we… uh, you… deserve a break for awhile. Let’s sit this one out, shall we? Besides, it’s more fun to watch the doctor and Seven show off their terpsichorian skills." He guided her off the dance floor to a nearby table with two chairs.
Janeway sighed as she sank into the chair. "I’m sorry; it’s probably just as much my fault."
"Why? Just because you always want to lead?" His eyes danced with merriment as he teased her. "Once a captain, always as captain!"
Janeway rose from nursing her sore ankle and not-too-gently thumped his arm.
"Ow!" he exclaimed, feigning great injury.
"Serves you right – that’s borderline insubordination, mister!" she harrumphed, going back to tending her injury. "And what kind of Indian are you anyway? You can’t start fires, you can’t dance…"
"But you must admit I have some pretty sneaky moves, Kathryn." He leaned closer to her and inched his arm behind her and began running little circles up and down and around her back.
"Stop that, Chakotay – someone might see you," she whispered as she shivered at his touch.
He pulled his arm out and folded his hands together on the table in front of him. "There – how’s that? Everything is nice and proper."
She could tell he was hurt. "Chakotay, you know that I don’t mean to put a damper on your fun. But it’s just that – well, I still don’t think we should be so blatant about our feelings for one another."
He shook his head and smirked. "Well, the way things are going between us out on that dance floor, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about." He reached down and rubbed her foot. "Are you sure you’re all right? I really clipped you pretty good that last time."
"I’m okay," she nodded. "Let’s just hope that the last dance they get us to do tonight is a conga line or something like that. And I’ll make sure there are at least six people between us!" Her eyes sparkled with a tease as she stood. "Much better now – I guess I’ll cancel that appointment with the doctor." She put out her hand to him. "Come on; we don’t want the rest of the crew to think we’re quitters, do we?"
He took her hand and let her lead him back into the fray. "Maybe I should take off my boots first," he grinned.
"What? And take away my challenge? Let’s go, Commander!" she smiled, once again forgetting who was supposed to be leading whom when it came to ballroom protocol.
As soon as they reached the dance floor, the music stopped; they hadn’t heard it reaching its final crescendo and finish.
"We certainly timed that right, didn’t we?" he smiled down at her as she began to lead them away again.
"Not so fast, Captain!" Harry’s voice rang out over the shuffling dancers, calling them out. "We’re going to finish the evening with a little dance contest and I’m sure you and Commander Chakotay will want to be included."
Janeway’s face feigned a serious demeanor. "Why, Harry, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you just want to embarrass us some more."
Harry tried to keep from laughing, but finally succumbed to uncontrollable chortles and Jenny took over for him. "We certainly don’t want that, Captain. No, you won’t be singled out at all. Everyone will join in together and then Megan and I will watch and tap couples on the shoulder as they are eliminated."
"And I’m sure we will be one of the first to be eliminated," Chakotay whispered in Kathryn’s ear as Harry and Jenny walked out of hearing range. "Come on – we’re supposed to be helping build crew morale with our participation."
"And telling me that we’ll be one of the early outs is supposed to make me feel better?" she growled back at him but her eyes gleamed, continuing his teasing mood. Other couples were filling up the cleared dance area and she took Chakotay’s hand, pulling him along. "We might as well get this over with."
"That’s the spirit," he smiled at her, moving his hand from hers and finding the small of her back.
Kathryn tensed at his touch. "Just try to be careful of my right ankle and left instep – I haven’t had time to see the EMH about my recent injuries in the line of duty."
"Duly noted," he smiled back at her. "I’ll try to get the message to my feet." He looked around as the other couples shuffled nervously. "Wonder what’s taking our ‘hosts’ so long? I thought they were going to start this right away."
As if on cue, Jenny Delaney called for everyone’s attention. With a wink at Megan and Harry, she outlined how the contest would go. "Everybody, this is a single elimination process. Harry has provided us with a five-minute soundtrack that has about four or five different types of music on it. You can do whatever dance step you want until the last one. We will stop the music at that time and tell you what you’re supposed to do. However, the main thing about this is just to have fun. And remember – the winners get two free hours of holodeck time, no rations needed! Okay – here we go…"
The music started with a simple 4/4 time. Chakotay’s fingers pressed encouragingly into Kathryn’s back as she reached up to his shoulder, their free hands finding each other. "Here goes nothing," he smiled to her as he swung her into a simple box step.
The music and minutes passed with excruciating slowness. Janeway and Chakotay forgot to think about their dancing, constantly scanning the people around them and awaiting for the fatal tap from one of the judges to allow them to mercifully sink into anonymity. But no one came and the music stopped. There were only two other couples besides them left on the dance floor: Mike Ayala and Susan Nicoletti and Tal Celes with her partner, Noah Lessing.
Kathryn rose on her tiptoes and strained to whisper into Chakotay’s ear. "I think they’re patronizing us, Chakotay. There’s no way we could – or should! – still be in the competition."
"Especially since we haven’t done anything but a box step," Chakotay chuckled.
"Maybe they cut us some slack because you haven’t stepped on my feet for five minutes!" she retorted with a crooked smile. "I think that’s probably set a new record."
His hand, which had never left her back, pulled her a bit closer and he began making small circles in the indentation of her waist. "Or maybe you just forgot about trying to lead and let me take control – maybe you really like for me to take control." A feral expression gleamed in his face.
His murmured words sent a sensual spiral through her body. She shivered and sighed at the thought: Chakotay, firm and demanding, allowing her the luxury of total submission. Was that what the dance was all about?
Harry’s voice suddenly broke into their reveries. "For our final three couples, we’re going to ask them to try something that they might not have danced before but I’m sure all of them have at least seen it performed before and can figure out some moves. Let’s see what they can do with… a tango!"
Animated conversations immediately began throughout the room and only died down as the strains of the music rose from a slow, soft beginning, building into a throbbing deliberate tempo.
The other two couples began swinging into the demands of the dance as Janeway and Chakotay stood momentarily, their eyes frozen in fear – this certainly wasn’t what they expected!
Kathryn’s alternated between an initial shocked pale to a deep crimson as she gulped. "I can’t do this, Chakotay. It’s… it’s too sensual for us to participate in something like this. Besides I’ve never done this dance before!"
"It’s simple, Kathryn – we just separate and move closer to each other in time with the music. Watch what I do and repeat my movements," Chakotay whispered, pushing her away from him. "Back up about five meters and go with the music."
She followed his instruction but still felt very foolish. To make matters worse, they were still in uniform and nothing could possibly look sillier than two inept partners attempting to dance to the primal rhythms of this music. But as she watched him, she realized that Chakotay just might have found his forte as his muscular body became energized by the music. Kathryn followed his exaggerated twists, the hips thrusts, the imperious pounding of his feet – their uniform boots at least were good footwear for the dance.
Suddenly, his arm swooped around her, forcing her into a wide arc that left her breathless. Her eyes opened wide as she looked at him, seeing how the hypnotic music claimed him, how dark passion seemed to possess him. Oblivious to the other dancers and the audience drinking in the performances, she, too, fell victim to the demands of the pulsing tempo.
His hand pressed into her back, urging her torso backwards, lower and lower into a deep dip. Her body followed his urging as she bent backwards, her pelvis pressed into the heat of his, her head almost touching the floor. To balance her arching body, she drew up her right leg, only to suddenly feel her knee jamb itself into something both hard and soft – the delicate tissues of Chakotay’s crotch.
His body immediately went into self-preservation mode as his hands dropped their precious burden and flew to cradle his injured parts. Kathryn’s dead weight fell from his grasp and she plummeted to the floor, her rounded rear hitting the hard surface with a very ungraceful thud.
"Ungh!" groaned Chakotay, doubled over in pain.
"Ouch!" moaned Kathryn, who managed to roll to her side and pull into a fetal position.
"Ooooooooo!!!!!" cringed the rest of the crowd in the room before freezing in time and space.
The EMH rushed to their sides, his med tricorder immediately assessing the extent of their injuries. "Lie still for a few moments," he instructed them as his proceeded with his evaluations, as if they needed to be told what to do.
Satisfied that there was no serious injury to anything but their pride, he stood up and addressed the still-shocked circle surrounding their command team. "It’s all right, people. They’ll be fine – they just need a bit of time to recoup."
A collective sigh of relief echoed throughout the room as Chakotay and Kathryn managed to struggle into seated positions. Tom and B’Elanna ran to their sides, helping them into standing positions, albeit neither of them stood too sturdily.
Their eyes caught one another and tentative smiles curled across their faces. "I guess that eliminates us, doesn’t it?" Kathryn grinned.
Chakotay still struggled for breath and composure. "Never again," he managed to mutter.
They supported each other as they began a few tentative steps towards the doors of the mess hall. A few claps became a boisterous round of applause as they weakly waved back to their fellow crew.
Still with their arms holding onto each other, they cautiously made their way down the empty hall towards the turbolift. As they entered the lift to make their way to their quarters, Kathryn pulled back and looked at him. "Chakotay, I hope you didn’t mean that you would never try to do the tango again – you really were doing quite well on the dance floor."
Chakotay leaned back against the wall of the lift and pulled her close. "Oh, I might be persuaded to try some of the moves again," he winked at her. "But only in private."
"And only if there are plenty of cushions around us," she laughed heartily in agreement.
His eyes pierced her with the same primal desire she’d seen as they danced.
"Oh, I’m sure there will be, my dear Kathryn – all around us! And there won’t be any wrong moves… or toes stepped upon."
"That doesn’t sound like much fun," she teased back at him.
"I don’t know," he leered, bending down to kiss her slowly. "Have you ever done a horizontal tango?"
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