DISCLAIMER: Don't belong to me, unfortunately. All things Star Trek belong to them and Paramount. Thanks to Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan for giving life to Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine. There are lyrics to three songs in the story, none of which belong to me. The proper credit will be given at the end of the story.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't like Commander Chuckles, so any chance I have to make him look bad, I'm going to take…you have been warned.
THANKS: to Trish and Sarah for their help in making this a better story.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Epic Proportions challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Getting To Know You
By Joan


Part Three


Chapter Eight

Seven exited the turbolift on deck three and headed towards the captain's door, just as Chakotay was heading down the corridor for the lift. "Commander." She stated with no inflection whatsoever.

"Seven." He acknowledged through gritted teeth. His bad mood got worse as he watched her press the door chime and enter.

By the time he entered the mess hall, he was in a foul mood. He saw B'Elanna sitting alone at a table and headed in that direction. "Where's Tom?" He asked as he sat down.

"Finishing his shift in sickbay." She replied. "You look rather peeved."

"I am." He leaned forward and proceeded to tell her what happened in the ready room. "I can't believe she said those things to me."

"I can." She saw the startled expression on his face. "You don't see Janeway, Tuvok or me whining about being assimilated."

"That was your choice." He interrupted.

"Just like it was yours. And besides, Seven's not so bad."

"Don't give me that, you hate the Borg." He couldn't believe his friend was defending her.

"No I don't. When her cortical node was failing, I took a hard look at things and realized a lot of the reason we had never really gotten along was as much my fault as hers and in some ways more so, because I should've tried to help her like the Captain had done, not let my prejudice towards the Borg get in the way."

"I can't believe I'm hearing this." He fumed. "I was the one that risked myself to sever her from the collective and do you think she's ever thanked me … no, course not. We don't matter to her."

B'Elanna interrupted him. "Chakotay, the only reason you willingly severed her, was because you were trying to get back into Janeway's good graces. And have you ever thanked Seven for what she's done for the ship?" She held up her hand. "You don't need to answer that because I know you haven't. I'm sure none of us, but the Captain that is, has." She continued. "A lot of us know the real reason you don't like Seven is because she spends so much time with Janeway. You're jealous plain and simple. You want the Captain to be spending that time with you."

"Alright, it's true. Our feelings for one another never had a chance to develop because of her and I resent it."

She shook her head. "You had three years to get the Captain's attention, if she felt that way about you it would've happened before Seven came on board. Face it, Chakotay, the only feelings Janeway has for you are those of a close friend or brother."

"Fine, I can see I'm not going to get any help from you."

"You better watch yourself, Chakotay, if you try to push Janeway about Seven, she might just push back." She sighed as he got to his feet and stormed off.

"What's the matter with baggy britches?" Tom asked when he joined his wife after almost being run over by the first officer.

She grinned. "You better not let him hear you call him that, especially not when he's in this kind of mood, he'll have you permanently assigned to sickbay."

"The Captain would rescue me; she wouldn't leave her best pilot to rot away down there." He cockily replied.

"Don't be too sure after the joke you pulled on her."

"B'Elanna, how many times do I have to tell you, I didn't do it?"

"Keep repeating it, flyboy, and maybe somebody somewhere might take pity you."

Tom laid his head on his arms that were resting on the table and sighed. "Why won't anybody believe me?"

B'Elanna grinned. "Didn't your mom ever tell you the story of the little boy who cried wolf?" Tom just groaned as his wife laughed.

Janeway took Seven's hand and lead her to the couch. "Thank you for covering for my coffee goof earlier and for picking up on my 'safety net' about tonight."

"You are welcome. It was in my best interest not to have the Commander try to occupy your time tonight in case he had any ideas about a possible dinner date with you. He had been on his way in to see you when I insisted on delivering the report to you personally. I was surprised he did not follow me in."

"Has he said something to you before about … not following the chain of command? Reporting to him and not to me?"

"Yes, he has on occasion stopped me from seeing you." She changed the subject to something other than the commander. "Have you determined the next joke recipient?"

"Mm, I was thinking Mr. Neelix might be in line for a prank. He was just a little too enthusiastic in wanting me to relay my embarrassment from the mess hall this morning." She maneuvered Seven's head into her lap and released the blonde hair to fall freely, running her fingers through it.

"But he was the one who did you the favor of making you coffee when you, seemingly, could not." She closed her eyes and sighed contentedly.

"True, which would make my investigating Chief of Security wonder why, if I was the prankster, pull a joke on someone that did me such a huge favor. It would be illogical."

"Ah, subterfuge. Does Commander Tuvok suspect you?"

"He logically suspects everyone until they've been eliminated. But I doubt he would place me very high on his list. I've never indulged in practical jokes before." She explained.

"What form of trick are you considering on playing on Mr. Neelix?"

"Something to do with the mess hall and food I think."

Seven thought for a bit. "You could hide his cookware."

"He'd just replicate more."

"What about hiding his spices? He has to cultivate most of them; stating that the replicated ones taste funny."

Janeway laughed. "That might upset Neelix, but the rest of the ship would be very happy." Her hand paused as she thought about it. "You know, that might be good. Just think of the crewmembers thanking Tom and Harry for something they didn't do. That could be amusing."

"What would you do with them? A scan could easily locate the substances."

"Not if they were placed in one of the biohazard containers in sickbay." She replied.

"Ah, which Mr. Paris just happens to have access to."

Janeway smiled and wiggled her eyebrows. "How did you survive your day in astrometrics?"

"Tal Celes wore earplugs and I instructed my cortical node to filter out the musical interlude. It really is a most irrational song, Kathryn, how did you ever happen upon it?"

"I remembered hearing it a long time ago during a dance while I was in school. As to why I thought of it now, I haven't a clue."

Seven sat up. "Would you like to dance, Kathryn. I can assure you I have greatly improved over my last attempt with Lt. Chapman. I have been practicing on the holodeck."

"I'd love to. Would you like me to lead?"

"That would be the wisest course of action. My practice partners all led."

"Okay. Computer, play music selection Janeway two six." They moved into each other's arms as a light instrumental began.

The couple had danced to several musical selections and found their bodies had progressed closer and closer together until they had their arms wrapped around each other's waists, and were basically standing in one position swaying to the music. Janeway lifted her head from resting on a most inviting shoulder and leaned up to meet Seven's lips … just as the door chime sounded. "Damn it."

"I will agree with that expletive." Seven sighed.

"Computer, who's at the captain's door?"

"Commander Chakotay."

Seven was suitable impressed by the string of muttered profanity that left the captain's mouth, in several languages no less.

Janeway let go of Seven and retrieved her uniform jacket. Tapping her comm badge, "Chakotay, is this an emergency?"

"Um, no, Kathryn, I um, I happened to have a thought about who is pulling these jokes and wanted to discuss it with you."

Janeway looked at Seven, "Commander, I was on my way to bed. I think it can wait until the morning meeting. If not, feel free to see Tuvok, Janeway out."

Seven raised her eyebrow at the lustful expression on the captain's face. "What of the prank on Mr. Neelix?"

"Computer, lock onto the cabinet within the kitchen containing the foreign powdered substances, and beam them directly into biohazard containment zero three in sickbay."

"Transport complete."

"Computer, erase all traces of the previous activity by Captain Janeway, authorization Janeway pi alpha nine blue, only to be accessed by a level ten clearance."

"Authorization acknowledged."

Seven frowned. "Would it not be obvious to Commander Tuvok that the captain is the only person who can completely erase the computer logs?"

"Yes, but two things you have to remember; one is why would anybody use the transporter and risk it being detected when they could walk in and take the cabinet and two, Tuvok would have to specifically look for a level ten wipe of the logs or he wouldn't find the discrepancy. But just in case … Computer, place a false transport from the kitchen to transporter room three and show a level four clearance to remove the activity."

"Ah, I see." Seven grinned. "It is good to be the captain."

"It's about to be even better to be Kathryn." The captain stated walking forward towards the smiling Borg.

"I have a feeling it is also about to be very good to be Seven of Nine." She started backpedaling towards Janeway's bedroom.


Chapter Nine

The captain walked into the briefing room and stared at the table where six silver mugs sat, positioned in front of her chair. She calmly took her seat and looked at each of her senior staff, only Neelix being absent. "Well," she picked up the one closest to her, "either all of you are worried about me being in a bitchy mood this morning or you're trying to perfect the art of ass kissing."

It was a very good thing everyone's eyes were fixed on Janeway since Seven of Nine, former tertiary adjunct to Unimatrix Zero One, blushed beet red. Janeway covered her smile with the coffee mug as Seven's expression turned to a more predatory gleam, which caused Janeway to do a little blushing of her own as both women's thoughts turned to the previous night's activities.

"Mr. Paris," the captain cleared her throat, "I hear you and Mr. Neelix had a … discussion this morning about a spice cabinet and his replicator." She could see Seven's confused expression at the mention of replicator. She had thought of that addition to the prank in the wee hours of the morning as she had lain awake watching her lover sleep.

"I swear it wasn't me, Captain. B'Elanna and I had dinner in the mess hall, then left together and I never set foot in there again until this morning." Tom stated his case.

"But," Tuvok stated looking at Harry, "according to the computer's bio scans Mr. Kim was in the mess hall kitchen at 0342 hours this morning. But there was also an unauthorized transport from the kitchen."

"Is this true, Harry?" Janeway played along looking disappointed in the young ensign.

"Well, yeah … but all I did was get some of the leola root juice out of the cooler. I couldn't sleep and it relaxes me."

Neelix enter the room and everyone that hadn't been to the mess hall for breakfast could see what the replicator part of the joke entailed. His usually outrageous clothes with the clashing colors were solid white and not a bright white, a dingy dull cream white. He actually looked rather sedate, like his personality had taken on the colorless tone. "You, Harry?"

"I didn't take them, Neelix. Would I do that to you?" He added at the uncertain expression which crossed the Talaxian's face.

"Neelix," Janeway interrupted, "I know you took a lot of time to cultivate them, but did not having them hurt breakfast this morning?"

By the time 0700 had rolled around that morning, it was common knowledge over the ship that Neelix's spices had disappeared and the mess hall was more crowded than usual, with many of the diner's thanking Tom for his 'joke' when Neelix couldn't overhear.

"Well, no, Captain, as a matter of fact, there was more of a turn out than the last time the replicators went off line. But, Captain, all my spices? The food is so … so bland and boring without them. Right?" He looked at everyone in turn and they all found their PADD's incredibly fascinating.

Except the Doctor. "Don't look at me, Mr. Neelix, I can't eat." His facial and head hair this morning was lavender.

"That's not a good color for you, Doctor, it clashes with your skin tone." Neelix commented, dropping his complaints about his precious spices for the moment.

"You're certainly one to talk about clashing." B'Elanna mumbled unheard by everyone but Janeway who she was sitting beside and Seven's enhanced hearing. The chief engineer was a shiny silver this morning.

"Alright everyone, let's get down to business." The captain stated. "How are the repairs to the holodeck coming?"

Seven was standing at the main console in astrometrics, finalizing her daily report as the door swished open.

"Have you finished your report?" Chakotay asked.

She didn't bother turning around, which she knew would irritate him. "Almost, Commander."

"I'll wait on it, the Captain asked me to stop by for it." He tried to look casual in his baggy attire as he leaned against a work station against the bulkhead and watched Tal Celes move to another station.

"Indeed." Seven knew he was lying. She continued to input the report into a PADD. "Then you will be discussing the protostar that the Captain asked me to take a detailed sensor analysis on. Be sure to tell her the gravitational binding energy of the cloud is not consistent with a protostar of this size mass. Of course it could have been disrupted by a shockwave from a supernova, but none have been detected. I am sure you will have a theory of your own to present to Captain Janeway, since she was most curious about this phenomenon." She turned and held out the PADD for him to take.

He looked at it, then at her and turned a little pale. Astrophysics wasn't his cup of tea, he had barely gotten through the classes at the Academy and that was many years ago. He had been a science officer after graduating, but anthropology was his field and he knew by overhearing the Borg and the captain discussing spatial anomalies on previous occasions, he was in way over his head. "I just remembered a meeting I have with … Crewman Tomas. You go ahead and deliver your report." He turned and left the lab in a hurry.

The Bajoran watched him leave, then turned to a smirking Seven. "He's sure been acting strange lately. I was in the mess hall last night when he came in and he and Lt. Torres' seemed to have a disagreement. Then he almost ran over Lt. Paris when he left. Do you know what's going on?"

Seven stared at the doorway. "He thinks he has a right to … things that are out of his reach."

"You mean Captain Janeway? Most people know he would like to be … romantically involved with her. He doesn't hide his attraction very well. Just between you and me, I think she has much better taste."

Seven's ocular implant rose. "Indeed."

"Don't get me wrong, we'd all like to see the Captain happy and he's an okay guy, but just not … good enough for Captain Janeway. You know what I mean?"

"Is there any member on board that would be 'good enough' for the Captain?" Seven wasn't too subtle at the best of times, but she was hoping Celes would ignore that fact.

"Um, well, it would have to be someone intelligent enough to engage her in scientific conversation, someone who was nice looking, not that looks are the most important thing." She added quickly. "I found out that she likes poetry, so if the person could talk about that, it would probably be a plus, it would also have to be someone that wasn't intimidated by her." She said almost wistfully, then scrunched her brow in thought. "You know, you'd fit the bill perfectly, Seven."

Seven refrained from smiling. "Without a doubt." She replied as she headed to deliver her report, leaving the Bajoran to ponder her statement. Tal Celes was also wondering about increasing her bet in the pool Lt. Paris had going.

Later that night, Chakotay was still stung by the way the Borg had out maneuvered him yet again. Not only had she been able to take her report to the captain, the two women had once again had dinner together. He would just have to be more obvious in his intentions towards Kathryn. 'She just doesn't realize that I still have feelings for her.' "Computer, what's the current time?"

"The time is 2214 hours."

"It's not too late." He walked to the replicator and asked for a dozen red roses. "Surely this will be obvious enough for her."

There were only four quarters on deck three, the captain's, the first officer's, a guestroom, and the chief of security's. Tuvok always ended his nightly rounds on this deck, making it a habit to walk by the captain's quarters on the way to his. It caught even him by surprise to step off the turbolift and see Chakotay standing in front of Janeway's door with a bunch of roses in his hand. "Commander," the Vulcan paused beside him, "the Captain has requested not to be disturbed for anything but a red alert this evening."

"Yes, I did see she had a do not disturb on her door. I was about to override it."

"Why would you do that, Commander? To my knowledge, red roses do not constitute an emergency. Unless they have been planted on board by an alien species intent on doing harm and in that case, I would have to wonder why you are bringing them to the Captain."

"That's pretty sarcastic, Tuvok." Chakotay's voice rose.

"On the contrary, Vulcans do not use sarcasm. I am only stating two possibilities for this scenario. One that you were about to bother the Captain for no valid reason and two, you were delivering something that would suggest an emergency and be considered potentially dangerous to the Captain's quarters." He stood with his hands behind his back waiting to see what Chakotay's reply would be.

"Just what the hell is going on out here?" Janeway stood in the open doorway glaring at her first officer. She had been alerted by Seven who's Borg hearing had picked up on the argument building in the corridor.

"I was just trying to determine that, Captain." Tuvok stated, noticing but not commenting on the robe that had hastily been thrown around her body, which was obviously bare underneath.

"Kathryn," the oblivious first officer stated with a smile, "these are for you."

She ignored the roses thrust towards her and turned to her old friend. "I'll take care of this, Tuvok, carry on."

"As you wish, Captain." The Vulcan took one last look at the commander and almost felt sorry for him.

"Chakotay," she was preventing him from entering, knowing Seven was in the bedroom. She consciously tightened the robe around her, "We obviously need to have a talk, but this is not the time."

"Kathryn, I believe these say it all. I've missed you. Our relationship was put on hold ever since the … since Seven of Nine came on board. I understood at the time you needed to give her your full attention, but I believe I've waited long enough."

"Commander, there was no relationship other than friendship which developed into feelings that two siblings would have for each other. I thought I explained to you years ago that was all that would ever be between us. Now, I believe this discussion is over."

"Damn it, Kathryn, don't you think I see the way you feel about me? You've hidden it thinking that you can't have a relationship with one of your crewmembers. But that's not true, the crew will understand the love we have for each other can't be denied any longer."

"I'm glad to hear that the crew will understand. But Chakotay, it's not you that I feel that way about." She hadn't wanted to tell him this way, but even as mild mannered as he was, his ego was obviously getting the better of him.

That gave him pause, but only for a second. "Kathryn, why are you trying to deny it?"

"One more step, Commander, and I'll beam you into the brig for the night." She warned with her patented glare, noticing Seven poised to intervene if he tried to enter the quarters. "You are way outta line and I will not stand here and discuss this any further with you. I've told you how I feel and you need to suck it up and deal with it." She stepped back, letting the door slide shut and securing it.

Janeway turned to look at a very naked Borg. "Darling, you really weren't going to charge out here like that, were you?"

Seven tilted her head. "He was not taking no for an answer, Kathryn, if he had tried to force his way in, then yes, I would have intervened no matter how I was attired," she looked down at herself, "or in this case, unattired."

"Is that even a word?"

"It is now." Seven replied and Janeway smiled. "Shall we resume our activities?" She pulled at the belt that kept the robe around the captain's body.

"By all means, but first you have to tell me about the prank you've set up for tomorrow morning." Janeway let the silk cloth fall from her shoulders.

"Right this minute, Kathryn?"

"Yes, because if we get back in that bed, I'm going to forget all about it."

Chakotay tossed the roses onto the table. 'She couldn't mean it, could she? That she feels that way about someone else? Who could it be?' He paced in his quarters. "It was awfully early for her to be in bed. And why have a lock out in place …" he paled. "Computer, who other than the Captain, is in her quarters?" He inquired.

"That information is restricted."

"On whose authority?"

"The Chief of Security, Commander Tuvok."

"Override, authorization Chakotay alpha beta one two."

"Override does not have the proper clearance."

"Why not?" He was standing in the middle of his quarters with a confused expression on his face.

"In matters of ship's security, the only person with clearance above that of the Security Chief Commander Tuvok, is Captain Janeway."

He huffed and turned to storm into his bedroom, but hadn't realized in all his pacing that one of his rolled up pants legs had come undone. He tripped on the excess material and ended up on the floor in much the same fashion he had on the bridge when his pants had fallen down.


Chapter Ten

The next morning the talk around the table in the briefing room was, of course, the latest joke. It seemed that every time Crewman Markham entered engineering, a disco song would start up, multicolored lights would flash and an odd mirrored silver ball would appear above his head and follow him around.

"Disco, B'Elanna? I'm not familiar with that and why Markham?" Janeway asked even though she had been informed last night as to why the man was singled out. She picked up one of her many cups of coffee she once again had to choose from.

"Be glad, Captain, to use Seven's phrase, it is most annoying." The engineer stated as she cued up the recording she had captured the third time Markham had entered her domain. "It seems the man has hit on every female on all three shifts in engineering. And shall we say, been very successful before most caught on."

The recording started with Markham walking through the main doors in engineering and a mild beat, secondary to the lyrics, before it became more of a driving force.

'At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinkin' I could never live without you by my side;
But then I spent so many nights thinkin' how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
And so you're back from outer space
I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I'd've known for just one second you'd be back to bother me
Go on now go, walk out the door
Just turn around now 'cause you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
Did I crumble, did you think I'd lay down and die?
Oh, no, not I, I will survive.'

B'Elanna stopped the computer playback. "It just keeps repeating until he leaves the engine room." The purple Lt. Torres stated. "I banned him from coming in."

"Sounds like he got what was coming to him." The Doctor happily stated.

Janeway was smiling. "I take it he isn't a crucial part of your engineering team?"

"No, Captain." She assured her.

"Very well, I'll leave it to your discretion."

The meeting was fairly short and Tuvok asked for a moment of the captain's time after it was over.

"What's on your mind, Commander?"

"Two things, Captain. The first being the practical joker or more to the point, the jokes you are 'pulling' on the crew."

"Oops, I knew you'd figure it out sooner or later. Are you going to tell on me?" She asked him. "And just out of curiosity, how'd you figure it out?"

"No, on one condition, you undo the," he shifted in his seat, "prank on me. As for figuring it out, it was the lack of proof that led me to believe it was you. No one but the captain could cover their 'tracks' without leaving a trace. Except, of course, for the one false transporter trail."

She laughed. "Consider it undone." She gave the computer the instructions to set Tuvok's uniform pattern back to its original specifications. "What's the second thing?"

"It is more of a personal nature. I took the liberty of placing a security code on inquiries that might intrude upon certain aspects of your off duty time." He noticed her raised eyebrow, knowing that she understood that he was referring to a certain first officer and his actions of the night before.

"And did anyone try to query the computer for anything inappropriate?"

"Commander Chakotay did try to make an inquiry of who was in your quarters last night, other than yourself."

She sighed. "He wouldn't believe when I told him it wasn't him that I …" she paused, then decided that Tuvok could very easily find out about her and her new lover if he wanted to, "was in love with."

"Indeed." He replied evenly. "Perhaps you should talk to him again or I could step in if you would rather not have to deal with the matter."

"No, thank you, Tuvok, but I'll discuss matters with him again once I'm not so irritated."

"I would have that talk with him sooner than later, Captain. Jealousy is a very unpredictable Terran emotion and the Commander has already exhibited that emotion towards Seven of Nine and the amount of time and privileges you afford her." He saw no reason not to acknowledge the fact her was aware of her choice of a mate.

That surprised her. Not that he knew it was Seven, but that he thought the ship's first officer might be a problem. "I know he is at times irrational when it comes to Seven, but I don't think he would resort to any kind of deviousness. Do you?"

"Normally no, the Commander is an 'easy going' person and very concerned with ship and crew, but as I said, jealousy can be nasty and impulsive. Should I keep an eye on matters?"

"Normally I'd say no, but maybe keeping abreast of what the good Commander is doing, especially if he finds out that it's Seven I have feelings for, might be an appropriate measure to take."


They stared at one another, both seemingly waiting on something. "No dire warning about fraternizing with a member of my crew?"

"No." He paused in thought before continuing. "I know you, Captain, very well, and I am confident that you would not compromise your principles or your honor. But more importantly I know, Kathryn Janeway, and she would not act on anything of this nature without the most sincere feeling for the person in question."

She was extremely touched by his declaration. "Thank you, old friend, that means a lot to me." She leaned forward suddenly, with a thought. "I'm beginning to wonder if he suspects it is Seven?"

"I am not completely certain, but if I was forced to venture a guess, I would have to say no. The Commander does not understand the friendship between you and Seven, so I do not believe he would or could make the 'leap' to elevate the two of you into a romantic relationship."

"Maybe not consciously, Tuvok, but something triggered this sudden renewed interest in me. We had settled into a warm friendship, we've had our disagreements, one of them being Seven, but she's proven herself over and over again and he still can't or won't trust her. I'm beginning to think his subconscious senses something and it is more likely that he feels he's protecting the 'captain' from a threat."

"No, Captain, I disagree. I've seen the looks on his face when he thinks no one is watching."

"Seven said the same thing." She leaned back and laid her head against the chair, staring up at the ceiling. "Damn, this could be … unpleasant."

"Possibly, but there has been an average of 150 crewmembers on this ship for seven years, we have dealt with unpleasant before and will undoubtedly deal with it again."

A few minutes later, they left the briefing room and saw Seven coming back to the bridge from the direction of the commander's office. The smug expression on her face made Tuvok and Janeway exchange a slightly worried look with one another.

It wasn't until after she had logged off duty and headed for astrometrics that Janeway was able to find out what had transpired. Upon leaving the briefing that morning, the commander had requested Seven to divulge the knowledge of just who it was the captain was seeing.

"Kathryn, when I asked him why he wanted to know, he said that you were just trying to make him jealous and that you did not need to. He said he had always been waiting on you to admit your feelings for him. And there was no need for you to use anyone, it would just hurt them. He was going to warn them away."

Janeway stood for a second or two waiting on the punch line, when it was obvious Seven was serious, she sighed. "He's lost his ever-loving mind." She moved beside her lover. "By the way, what caused that smirk on your face?"

"I informed him that he was the most delusional individual I had ever met. Then left while he was trying to, I believe the correct phrase is, pick his jaw up off the floor." Seven turned back to finish her last few calculations and launched the sensor sweep that would run during the night looking for an M-class planet, and logged off duty. "What are we going to do about the Commander?"

The 'we' in Seven's inquiry made her feel warm and not so alone, like she had felt so many times during this journey. "I told Tuvok I would have another talk with him when I wasn't so irritated. But I'm wondering if the saying 'actions speak louder than words' might get through to him quicker."

Seven's eyes sparkled with mischief. "I know an 'action' that would relay your feelings extremely quickly."

Janeway snickered. "No doubt, but I've never been much of an exhibitionist, Seven, and I'm not about to start now. Come on, love." She headed for the door. "You promised to make dinner tonight."

As the door to the lift shut, Seven asked, "What did you have in mind for the Commander?"

"Neelix's monthly morale party is tomorrow night on the holodeck, I was thinking if you're agreeable, we would go together."

"I … I would most certainly be agreeable, Kathryn. I must admit you have surprised me. I did not think you would be willing to let the crew know about us yet."

"Computer, halt turbolift." She turned to face her lover. "Seven, I told you I was not going to hide 'us', though I will acknowledge a certain reservation, but that's only because it's not in my personality to parade my private life to my crew. Not because we're a couple."

"What about the trepidation you felt about how the crew would react to you being with me?"

Janeway smiled. "I got over it. I'm not going to lose you, I love you."

Seven tilted her head and kissed the captain. "I love you, also."

"Computer, resume." As they stepped out of the lift, they saw a flash of black round the bend in the corridor and heard a thump followed by a muffled curse. They peered around the curve to see a figure sprawled on the deck. "Chakotay, do you need a hand?"

"No, I'm fine, Kathryn." He blushed. "I roll my pants up but every once in a while they fall down and trip me, if I'm not paying attention."

"I see." She started to ask him why he didn't just trim the excess length off, but if he couldn't think of it; she wasn't going to suggest it. She was still a bit peeved with him. "Well, carry on, Commander."

Janeway and Seven were sitting on the couch together after dinner. "Do you have another joke in mind, Kathryn?"

"Not a one. You?" This time she had her head in the Borg's lap and was feeling very content as Seven ran her fingers through the auburn mane.

"I do not believe so."

"Maybe it's time to undo them before anyone else figures it out."

"It will be a shame to be deprived of the Commander falling on his face; I shall miss that."

Janeway laughed. "Well, I could just remove the lock out on his uniform pattern and see how long it takes him to realize it."

"That is very devious, Kathryn." She gave her a stern look. "I wholeheartedly approve."

The next morning the captain and Seven arrived first to the briefing room. Tuvok came in next, then the others began to file in.

"It seems things are back to normal." The chief engineer stated.

"Yeah, B'Elanna was actually a little disappointed." Tom added.

"Well, I'm not." The Doctor sat down. "That mustache was driving me crazy."

"Tuvok?" Harry questioned.

"I am also 'prank free', Ensign." He answered.

Neelix was also his usual colorful self. "Well, one thing isn't back, my spices are still missing."

"Two things." Chakotay walked in and sat down.

"What about in Astrometrics, Seven?" The captain asked.

"The console is non-musical once again."

"Engineering, B'Elanna?" Janeway sipped her coffee.

"A disco-free zone I'm happy to report, Captain."

"Good, things seem to be getting back to normal, with one or two exceptions." She added when she noticed Neelix about to mention his loss again.

"Tuvok," Chakotay leaned forward to address him, as they were seated on the same side of the table, "did you ever find any proof of who this prankster was?" He shot a glare at Tom.

"No, Commander," he glanced at Janeway and then around the table, "I found absolutely no proof to lead me to the identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators." Technically it wasn't a lie since it was a 'lack of proof' that led him to the captain.

The next night, the party had been going on for a while. Tom, Harry, B'Elanna, the Doctor and a few others were assembled in a loose huddle. All were waiting for Seven to show, except Chakotay who was waiting for the captain.

"So what's the current odds on who Seven is seeing?" Nicoletti asked.

"Well, it's 32 to 1 on Neelix." Several people who had just taken a swallow of their drinks, choked. "Hey, I don't make the odds until someone actually places a bet." Tom continued. "Uh, 16 to 1 on Chakotay, 12 to 1 on Harry and the Doctor."

"Me?" Harry squeaked. He'd never gotten completely over his crush on the Borg no matter how much he insisted he had.

Tom laughed. "Let's see, 8 to 1 on Crewman Markham, seems everyone's heard about his exploits in engineering thanks to the practical joke, 12 to 1 on Tuvok even though he's married and a Vulcan, 16 to 1 in favor of Tal Celes, seems a few people were speculating on just what it is they do all day in the lab." He wiggled his eyebrows.

"You're still a pig, flyboy." B'Elanna told him.

"But I'm your pig." He put his arm around her shoulders. "And the favorite is 2 to 1 that its," he paused, "the Captain."

"Kathryn?" Chakotay choked out. "That's ridiculous."

"Why?" B'Elanna asked. "Janeway was who I bet on. They spend so much time together and the Captain has always taken a personal interest in her."

"I agree." Nicoletti said. "There's just something between them."

"I don't see it." Harry stated.

"Neither do I, Mr. Kim." The Doctor said. "I'm sure it's a maternal bond they have for each other."

"None of you men want to see it since it would take two of the prettiest and most eligible women 'off the market'." B'Elanna smirked as the holodeck doors opened and the pair in question walked in. "See, I told you so."

"Just because they arrived together doesn't mean that they're 'together'." Tom said.

"Exactly." Chakotay added stubbornly. "It has to be something that proves it beyond any doubt."

They watched Neelix walk over to the newcomers.

"Captain, Seven, you both look wonderful." The Talaxian stated with a smile.

"Thank you, Neelix." Janeway said. "You've outdone yourself again." She stated as she looked at the program of the ballroom decorated in the motif of North America in the 1930's.

"Thank you, Captain, I believe it's called the Big Band era." He turned to them with a serious expression. "I think you both should be aware of a … well, some people have started placing bets on …" he hesitated again, "on who Seven has been dating."

"It's alright, Neelix, we're aware of Mr. Paris' extracurricular activities." The captain assured him.

"Tell me, Mr. Neelix," Seven eyed the table of food that she knew the cook had prepared and brought into the holodeck, "were you able to procure the location of your spices from Lt. Paris and Ensign Kim before your preparation of our banquet?"

"No. Are you sure it was Tom and Harry, Seven?"

"I do not have any proof, but who else? Are they not known as the ship's practical jokers?"

"You're right about that." He answered as his eyes narrowed. "I'll just have to have a talk with them later on. If you'll excuse me, I need to go bring a few things in from the kitchen."

Janeway watched him walk away. "And you said I was devious."

"I did learn from the best, Captain."

"Mark Neelix off, Tom, he was mainly talking to the Captain, not Seven." Harry stated as they watched the Talaxian walk away.

The group was huddled together still. "Hey, Markham is headed their way." The Doctor watched the tall blonde haired man.

"Ooh, I wonder what the Captain said to him." Nicoletti grinned. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone turn that pale before. I'm surprised he doesn't need to go change his pants."

"That's two people off your list." Harry stated.

"Damn." Tom sighed. "I bet on Markham."

"You can take me out of the running also." The Doctor stated dejectedly.

"Me too." Harry added a bit wistfully.

"That leaves Tuvok, the Captain, Tal Celes and you, Chakotay." Tom listed the remaining names that had bets placed on them.

"Don't look at me." The commander said as he continued to scan that crowd. But he was looking for anyone approaching Kathryn not the Borg. "Tuvok's headed that way."

"Why, Tuvok, I'm surprised to see you here." Janeway said; her voice in direct contradiction with her statement. "You normally volunteer to man the bridge just so you don't have to attend."

"I thought it prudent that I be available tonight. You are no doubt aware of the…"

"Betting pool?" Janeway interrupted.

"I thought as much. Do you plan on providing an outcome tonight?" He questioned.

"I believe it is safe to say we will be putting to rest the speculation." She watched Seven move towards the food and Neelix and chuckled. "After a bit of fun that is."

A Vulcan eyebrow rose. "I expected as much, which is why I am attending the festivities and why you are not in the least, surprised to see me. Though I must admit that you have surprised me in the last week and I had thought that I knew you as well as anyone could."

She raised her glass of champagne that a holographic waiter had delivered in salute. "Here's getting to know people we thought we knew." They continued to watch the groups of crew that were paying particular attention to their resident Borg.

"Say, Tuvok, I don't suppose you would dance with Seven. That would really throw them."

"I refuse to be a party to Mr. Paris' betting pool." He looked rather impish for a Vulcan. "But I will 'tweak' the Commander and ask you for a 'turn around the dance floor', Captain."

"Hey, what's she doing?" Harry said as Seven moved away from the captain and Tuvok and was slowly making her way down the food table to where Neelix stood. When she got to his side, she placed her hand on his shoulder and leaned over to say something that made him also smile.

"Look at that. She actually smiled at Neelix." Nicoletti said in wonder. "I don't think I've ever seen her actually smile before."

"And Markham is moving that way too; maybe the Captain just chewed him a new one for what he was doing in engineering." Tom added.

"Well, there's another surprise." The Doctor was amazed. "I wasn't aware our Chief of Security could even dance."

Chakotay fumed at the sight of the Vulcan dancing with the captain before remembering the night he was sure someone was with Kathryn in her quarters, Tuvok had been in the hall with him. "I think I'll go cut in."

"Chakotay," B'Elanna stopped him, "do you really think that's a good idea? You are kind of clumsy in those baggy clothes."

That froze him in his tracks and he settled back to watching and waiting.

Markham's name had been permanently struck from the pool as it was obvious by the way he departed Seven's general vicinity after only a few words from her. That depressed Tom once again. He knew he'd be lucky to break even now that his guy was out of the race. And if it did turn out to be Neelix or Tal Celes he'd lose his shirt.

An hour had passed since the captain and Seven had joined the party. They had split up and mingled, sat together to eat and split up yet again.

"You may have to resign yourself to the fact that maybe Seven isn't dating anyone, Mr. Paris." The EMH stated.

"Don't say that, Doc. Not dating was 8 to 1 odds; I'm going to be out a bunch of rations if that's the case." Tom replied.

"Look, we've done nothing but stand around watching Seven since she got here." B'Elanna said irritably. "If we're just going to continued to stand here, I'm going to go over and ask her who it is. It's obvious she knows about the betting and is playing with everyone."

Chakotay laughed. "That would mean she would have to have a sense of humor. The Borg wouldn't know how to laugh if her life depended on it."

"I wouldn't be to sure about that, Commander." Tuvok had made his way to the group when the captain had subtly nodded at him. It was the signal that the two women were about to answer everyone's questions and he had wanted to be within reach of Chakotay in case he took the news badly.

"Love, would you care to dance with me?"

"Is it time, Kathryn?"

"I believe so, don't you?"

Seven looked around, then looked back at her date. "Yes, I concur." She let the captain take her hand and lead her out onto the dance floor, just as a song was starting.

'I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.'

Seven's arms were wrapped around the captain's shoulders, Janeway's around the Borg's waist, their heads gently resting against each others.

'I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.'

The two heads pulled back and light blue eyes looked lovingly into eyes that were several shades darker blue. Janeway smiled and Seven smiled back at her.

'The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of the people going by
I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?"
They're really saying "I love you".'

The captain's eyes sparkled and leaned up slightly to kiss her lover. Not a passionate kiss, but one that left very little doubt as to who it was Seven was dating.

'I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Oh yeah.'

"I believe we have everyone's attention." Janeway stated.

Seven laughed. "Was that not the intention, Kathryn? To let them all know that you are mine and I am yours."

"So it was. Are you ready to head out, love?"

"Oh yeah." Seven mimicked the last line of the song as they slowly walked out, arms wrapped around one another.



The next morning as the captain and Seven left the mess hall, they overheard Neelix who had cornered Tom and Harry. "I want my spices, gentlemen, and if you return them today before lunch, I won't say a word to Captain Janeway."

"We didn't take them, Neelix; we don't know where they are." Tom tiredly stated. He had been up late last night paying off the winning bets, which he belatedly realized had been all female.

As the mess hall door shut behind them, Seven asked, "Are they ever going to reappear, Kathryn?"

Janeway just chuckled as they headed towards the turbolift, which Chakotay had just exited on his way to breakfast.

'I can't believe she'd rather be with that Borg instead of me.' He thought as he saw them coming towards him.

A polite nod from the three of them and Seven and the captain stood, waiting on the next lift and watched as the commander's pants fell a split second before he followed. Both women managed to hold their laughter.

Tuvok stepped off the lift to see the spectacle and all three walked towards the downed man.

"Commander, are you hurt?" Janeway managed in an even voice.

"I believe I found the culprit, Commander. Your belt malfunctioned." Seven picked up the item in question.

The Delany sisters exited the mess hall and joined the growing crowd around the humiliated commander.

"Commander," Tuvok's brow furrowed as he leaned down to get a closer look at the design on the unfortunate man's boxers, "I hadn't realized you were such a … fan of Captain James Kirk."

Several snickers and muffled laughter could be heard from the growing crowd. The captain had to cover her mouth completely and turned for the safety of the turbolift, with Seven following.

The blonde woman looked back as they entered the lift and in a voice that would be heard by all, stated, "I did not realize the Commander had a 'thing' for all captains."

As soon as the doors closed behind them, Janeway lost it. She laughed until tears were streaming down her face and she had trouble catching her breath, she even had to support herself by leaning against the side of the lift. Seven had halted their progress to give the captain time to compose herself before getting to the bridge. "That was priceless, Seven, how did you think to do that to his shorts?"

"Me, Kathryn, I assumed it was you." Seven replied. "It seems we have another practical joker in our ranks."

Remembering the twinkling she had seen in Tuvok's eyes and the way he announced to all, the design on the commander's underwear, Janeway smiled. "Indeed."

The End

Song credits:

In The Mood was written by Joseph C Garland and Andy Razaf; performed by The Andrews Sisters
I Will Survive was written by Dino Fekaris and Frederick J Perren; preformed by Gloria Gaynor
What A Wonderful World was written by George Weiss and Bob Thiele; preformed by Louis Armstrong

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