The Secret Logs of Mistress Janeway
Note of What Has Gone Before: Seven of Nine's continued presence away from the Collective eventually caused her cortical node to malfunction, threatening her life. Seven believed that this proved she has failed Janeway's efforts to become fully human, since she cannot escape the absolute necessity of this critical Borg implant. Only Icheb's sacrifice of his own cortical node saved her. In gratitude, Seven prepared Icheb for entrance to Starfleet Academy.
Tom Paris, B'Elanna Torres and Harry Kim were allowed to participate in a space race held to celebrate the fragile peace achieved in a local system. The race proved to bring a great many tensions to the surface, not the least of which was Torres' belief that Paris was ignoring her in favor of the race. Finally choosing her over his hobbies, Paris deliberately loses, and instead proposed marriage, which Torres accepts.
Captain's Personal Log:
It is an ancient adage that trouble comes in threes. I'm not so sure about that as Voyager tended to easily eclipse that number on a routine basis. Or they come in odd numbers. We had four Borg children, but that might be considered only one problem. And I'm certain that the number of anomalies and the amount of collateral damage to shuttle craft could be divisible by three cubed several times. But in this instance there were three problems related to my crew that I needed to solve. It's not like I haven't had to wade deeply into personal problems before. That's part of the job. My oddest intervention was between the Doctor and his holographic wife after she found out he had been playing around with Barrows, a holographic Mistress. Of course, that was another reason I believe that after the longest debriefing in Starfleet's history, the crew will be locked on a holographic Voyager with Lieutenant Barclay. But I digress.
This situation was much like Barrows being in the warp core. Though in this instance, I could see the object of my concern. I came to Sickbay for hours at a time each night to look at Seven while she regenerated. The same helplessness washed over me as I watched her in repose. There was nothing I could do for her. This was a journey she had to make alone. Thus, until she was able, I had to content myself with looking. I never failed to be astonished by her. Our Borg could easily be described as a work of art. I've seen few females who were as beautiful physically. But that beauty wasn't the only reason I was attracted to her or why I've grown to care very deeply for her. Perhaps I should have made that more clear somehow.
My mind still couldn't get around the fact that she felt I couldn't let her go because she was a failure. How such a notion would get in that beautiful head, I didn't know. As far as I could tell, I was my usual supportive, nurturing self. But I wasn't sure. Since this was an arena and a question for both the Captain and the Mistress to find answers, chats with Barrows and Chakotay were in order.
The Mistress was not very helpful with this problem.
"It's not that I don't enjoy paddling Seven," I said. "Goodness knows that butt has the best reverb I've ever run across. I just don't think advice like 'beat her harder' or 'beat her longer' or 'beat her with a different paddle' will help her feel that she is special in my eyes."
"Honestly pet, I swear you've forgotten all that I've taught you."
"Never, Mistress," I replied. "I remember that I never felt more special to you than when I had your undivided attention under the lash. I still feel that way. But I can't help but think that this is more than just a sub problem."
Barrows shrugged her lovely shoulders. "That's my best advice, Dear. You may do with it what you will."
I stared off in the distance at nothing in particular thinking. It was then that I noticed the calendar. As Barrows was in sync with the ship's internal time, I was puzzled. It was an ordinary numbered calendar, so it couldn't have been there for the artwork.
"Pardon me, Mistress," I said. "Why do you have a calendar? A calendar with a date circled on it?"
"That would be Mister Icheb's birthday," she replied. "He'll be of age then."
"Mistress!" I sputtered. Such an interest was completely out of the ordinary for her. At the Club, she wouldn't even consider membership for anyone under 25.
"I haven't changed my own rules, Dear," she replied in response to my horrified expression. "At his age, he's be finished before I'd even gotten into the room. But he has such a strong will and such a curious and open mind. I think he'll be worth watching for any signs of interest in the Lifestyle. If there is and when he's ready, he would be well worth the slow cultivation required."
I sighed in relief. "Yes, Icheb is amazing." Just when he should have been at the height of teenaged self-absorption, he makes such a generous offer that I still have trouble comprehending it.
"How can she think that she failed in my eyes when she can inspire that kind of devotion?" I wondered aloud mystified.
But she inspired attachments is everyone she was close to. The Doctor adored her and Naomi Wildman worshiped her. Even Torres gave her shelter and solace at her most vulnerable. I couldn't understand where this view of my view of her sprung.
She inspired such an attachment in me that I couldn't intervene as the young man battled with her for her life. My motives were so impure that I was incapable of making an objective decision. I would never know which one was right. Would I be sacrificing the life of an child for the sake of Seven or would I let Seven die when she could be saved because I didn't want to show favoritism? Those moments had been agonizing. I've been thanking all the deities I've ever heard of for Icheb's incredible stubbornness.
"He is more willful than any one person I've ever met," I observed.
"Yes," she smiled saucily. "Won't that be fun?"
I left her to her plans. She could be of no more help with Seven, and I didn't want to revisit the debate over whether or not I was too lenient with my Circle.
Commander Chakotay proved to have a better intuitive grasp of what was lacking between Seven and me. I brought her up over dinner about a week after she resumed her regular duties.
"No, Kathryn, you have not failed to praise Seven," he observed. "You two have butted heads, but over all you've been nurturing and supportive. But I don't think that's the problem. Nor do I think it's a Mistress thing. This is a Kathryn and Seven thing."
"Chakotay, what are you talking about?" I asked in irritation.
"If memory serves, when Seven was still in the Brig and you were trying to reach her," Chakotay began. "You tried to get her to recall Annika. It was logical, because that is the human part of her."
"Well, Seven has evolved into this incredible person, but she never became Annika," the Commander replied.
"No," I conceded. "She is not Annika. I don't think she ever will be. She is Seven, the sum of all that she has experienced. I cherish this very unique individual."
"Ah, but she doesn't think that," Chakotay said. "You know what a memory she has. What she remembers is you telling her that she needs to find Annika once again."
"That explains her exuberance while showing me her old self in Unimatrix Zero," I reasoned. "That was such an odd experience. Annika seems to be a lovely girl. I have no doubt that it is that personality which gives Seven her sweetness and thoughtfulness. But she is not Seven nor is it who I want her to be."
"Apparently, she doesn't know that."
"But she should," I muttered. "I've shown her how cherished she is in hundreds of ways."
"You know the Borg aren't big on subtle."
"Very true," I replied. "Thank you, Commander. As always, you give me clarity."
I had no immediate answers to my problem with Seven as I left Chakotay, but at least I knew why there was a problem. It was deeply flattering how carefully that woman listened to me. But I had to be more mindful of that. And I had to reverse the damage.
That dilemma would percolate on my back burner for a time. I had a dinner date with Tom Paris in a short while. I would need to focus on him.
Tom Paris' recreational feats had become such the stuff of legends, I didn't know what to expect when I met him at his quarters. I was prepared for anything from a drive-in restaurant from that 1950's era he enjoyed so much to a full fledged Roman orgy. Thus, I was surprised to find an elegantly arranged table with a pair of slender candles and very soft ambient music.
"I think I smell pot roast," I said with a smile.
"Or a reasonable facsimile there of," Tom replied with a shy smile. "I did some research and experiments. I think I got it right."
"If you have, pass it on to Neelix," I chuckled. "This is lovely, Tom. To tell you the truth, I expected roller skates or hot air balloons."
He blushed slightly looking almost sheepish. "Someone very wise once told me that sometimes a single rose can speak more loudly than dozens."
With that, my pilot produced a single, perfect red rose and held it out to me. I accepted the exquisite flower pulling him into my arms as I did. He responded immediately and I was molded against his firm young body. I petted his soft hair while gently nuzzling his clean shaven cheek.
"Let's eat, pet," I murmured. "Afterward, you can give me a thorough pedicure and foot massage, and you will tell me everything that is troubling you."
He sighed nodding his head. "Yes, Mistress. Thank you."
The meal was very nice. The pot roast was almost perfect as were the potatoes and vegetables. I ate with great relish. The wine was lovely as well. Tom seemed to be enjoying my pleasure. He smiled between bites and I caught him peeking at me from beneath the blond lashes.
We ate in a comfortable silence. Tom appeared content to simply enjoy his food and watch me enjoy mine. I didn't press. The leisurely repast was making him relax. There wasn't as much tension in his neck and shoulders as there was when we started eating. If I was going to get anything of substance out of my pilot, I needed him to be relaxed and completely open.
"That was wonderful, Tom," I said. "It was all I could do to keep from inhaling it."
"It's just a little replicator alchemy," he smiled. "Would you like some chocolate mousse for dessert?"
"No, pet. I'm quite full, but I'll have another glass of wine," I replied. I called for the door lock under my code as he cleared the dishes away. "I want to really look at you while you are at your task. And I don't want any accidental interruptions. You know what to do."
"Yes, Mistress," Tom said. He blushed slightly unfastening the snap at the top of his uniform. My pilot undressed for me with practiced ease. And once he was naked, he was on his knees with his left cheek resting on the carpet.
"You are lovely, my fairest of the fair" I murmured. "I'm ready for the pedicure."
Tom got to his feet in one fluid motion then set about getting the supplies he would need. I had taught the Dear Ones how to serve me as bath and grooming slaves so that they could give the service they craved even when I was not up to full fledged sessions. I understood that sometimes they needed to be in their sub space for a time. It was a complete release from the more complex responsibilities that were part of their every day lives. And it was a way to be close to the Mistress for a little while. I enjoyed the services because I often didn't have the time to pamper myself.
Pedicures were a particular favorite because it took me back todays in the Alpha Quadrant and my enormous collection of open toed shoes. Mr. Paris had balked at the notion of painting my nails at first. He thought the task would be too easy and be over too quickly. There wouldn't be any quality time with me. After he recovered from the punishment I rendered for presuming upon my schedule, he was surprised to find out that I didn't mean him to give my toes a quick lacquer with one of those nail painting gadgets. I meant to teach him and the rest the very old fashioned, almost ancient methods using tiny brushes and other implements designed for the task.
"Women didn't just do this for beautiful nails," I said as I laid the supplies before him for the first time. "It was a way to pamper themselves, to relax. I like to look at it as similar to the Japanese tea ceremony of long ago. It was not just about drinking tea."
Tom took to the nail training quite easily. I suspected he viewed my digits the same way he did a jalopy he was restoring. Not flattering, true, but it worked for him. He was better at it than even my two females. I think Seven and B'Elanna had problems because they subconsciously or consciously viewed the practice as frivolous. However, both women excelled at giving massages. Harry was passable doing pedicures, good at massages but amazing doing my hair. His shampoos and scalp massages were heaven, and I would fall asleep while he brushed my hair. Those moments made me wish I hadn't cut it. Thus, each of my Dear Ones had a specialty in very personal service. That worked out well. I knew of some Dommes who had raw hands and feet from all the attention they were receiving.
Tom arranged me on his sofa against a stack of pillows in such a way that he could move my legs and feet about without disturbing my wine. His face was serene as he began removing the old polish. I waited until he was applying the cuticle cream to ask.
"What troubles you, Tom?"
He blushed more deeply but continued moving on to cleaning away the dead cuticles before gently filing the nails. "It's B'Elanna and me. I know we should be farther along than we are after all this time, but I don't know how to get us there."
"What do you mean by farther?"
He shrugged. "Maybe living together. I thought if we had more common time, maybe we wouldn't feel so stressed around each other. There's be less fighting. I mean, it would be nice if she could slide into bed and hold me after one of those double shifts. I'd love to do that for her."
I thought of Chakotay doing this while we were roomies. It was very nice. Then I shoved the thought aside. "She objects?"
"I haven't asked her," he muttered. "Whenever we're together, we fight or we start having sex before we can talk."
I let him quiet for a moment as he gently rubbed the pumice stone over the persistent callous I had on one foot.. He relaxed again.
"What do you fight about?"
"It seems like the time I spend away from her is a sore point no matter what I'm doing," he said with a sigh. "I thought it was Harry at first. But then, when I just tinker on something by myself, I'm wasting time on inanimate objects when I can be with her. I was only doing those things, because when I am around her a lot, she tells me I'm smothering her. And it's not like I'm doing anything intimate that she doesn't know about. She's had Seven and sort of played with Barrows. I haven't done any of that. And if Harry and I get any more manly in our hobbies, we're going to kill each other."
I chuckled sympathetically. "Have you ever objected to her time with the Circle or with me?"
"Oh, no. Some of the best nights we've had were after a session," he smiled.
I tossled his hair gently. "You two were so much alike that I wouldn't have given you a chance in hell. You were both so afraid of rejection, both so angry at yourselves, I never thought anything could get in behind the defenses. You've both changed. You've just changed faster."
"I don't understand."
"My Chief Engineer still thinks ultimately, she will be abandoned," I said. "It's understandable. You have the same sort of problem with rejection. However, you've learned to trust enough to put your heart out there. I'm proud of you Tom."
"It isn't easy. I really did try to push everyone away that got too close," he admitted. He was gently blotting my toes dry. "And I know when B'Elana is too, but she always manages to push my buttons. What do I do?"
"Put your heart out there again and offer the big commitment," I said. "If you see this for the long haul, commit to it. She'll know she really does have you and the issue of your free time will be less combative."
He considered that for a moment. "Is that why Chakotay was so generous with you while he was sharing your cabin?"
"Possibly." I replied quickly then hid behind the pretense of sipping my wine to prevent a follow up in that direction.
"What about the Circle?" Tom asked in a quiet voice.
"Do you think you both need it?"
He nodded as he slipped my feet into a basin of very warm, sudsy and fragrant water. "Maybe we shouldn't, but we do."
"Tom, I've had many married couples at the Club," I said gently. "You need what you need. That may change once we're back home. It might not. You should know that I want you both with me for as long as possible."
"Thank you, Mistress," Tom sighed. "I needed to hear that." He began to scrub my feet with a salt based substance.
"What about Harry?"
He shrugged. "I need him, too. I know he needs me."
Tom looked up at me. There was a lot of mirth mingled with the weariness in his eyes. "You know I always fantasized about having a harem or at least more than one wife. Who knew I'd want a man. If B'Elanna went for triads, life would be perfect."
I smoothed a hand over his brow to erase the worry lines. "Mark my words, you commit and she will relax about everything. Trust the Mistress. Now, get to work."
He threw himself into the task. And after a lovely hour of gazing at the sleek, nude man at my feet, I had wonderfully red lacquered toenails. Tom finished with a massage for both feet using a light moisturizer. He then kissed each of the soles and returned to his original position on his knees with his cheek resting on the carpet. His shoulders were relaxed. His face was serene. My willful one was a picture of absolute and patient submission awaiting my pleasure. It was a thrilling and arousing sight.
"Thank you pet. That was lovely," I murmured. He was so tempting like that. And I was certain that he would enjoy either riding or being ridden. Alas, the responsible Mistress in me knew that he should be spending as much time as possible in pursuit of his heart's desire.
"Come here," I said softly. I drew him up to kneel between my legs. I petted his hair drinking in his handsome features. Then I indulged myself in a sweet, hot kiss. My pet impressed me further by keeping his wrists crossed at the base of his spine. He held still and offered his mouth for my demanding tongue. I pulled out of the kiss before I was driven to do more. I rested my forehead against his for a moment to calm down from the rush of need I was feeling. Then I cradled his face in my hands, and gazed into his twinkling eyes.
"I want you to go to B'Elanna, get her alone and do everything to her that is promised in your eyes right now," I said. My voice was low and husky with my own desires. "Then, tell me all about it."
"Yes, Mistress," Tom sighed with a smile. "Thank you."
"No, thank you, pet," I returned with a smile.
I returned to my quarters feeling confident and more than a little frisky. I was about to find out how much time Chakotay had on his watch when my door chimed. It was Harry. Unfortunately for me and my raging libido, he was still on duty.
"Mail call," he said. "There's a report and a letter from Starfleet that's marked important."
"Then, I'm sure it is," I replied dryly. One of the downsides of being in contact with Starfleet. I'm back on the report mailing list.
I shrugged accepting the padd. "He'll be fine -- they'll be fine when they stop making things so hard for each other."
Harry chuckled. "I hope they do. I miss him."
"He misses you, too," I replied patting him on the cheek. "Now, off with you before I act on my lesser impulses."
"I wouldn't mind," Harry replied with a smirk.
"I know Acts of Mistress aren't covered in the Postman's creed, but I still think you should be on your appointed rounds," I said.
"Yes, Ma'am," Kim smiled.
I kicked off my shoes and curled up on the sofa intent on getting whatever was on Starfleet's mind out of the way so it wouldn't interfere with my plans for later. There was a report and an encrypted letter on the padd. A message attached to the report instructed me to read it before the letter.
The report was entitled Extreme Conditions: The Affects of Indefinite Isolation on the Crew of the Federation Starship Voyager. The Research Committee of the Conference of Ship's Counselors wrote it. But the forward and the afterward were by Deanna Troi. That sent off an alarm bell. I knew that name from Picard's account of Q's impersonation. I wondered how much she knew and what effect any knowledge would have on her report. I anxiously moved on.
Apparently, copies of the official and personal logs sent by Voyager to Starfleet were sent to the Research Committee as well as Starfleet Medical in an effort to get a full medical and psychological profile of the crew. I immediately recognized that Starfleet was trying to make an assessment as to what kind of assistance we would need. However, I still felt like our privacy had been violated, and I was leery of any interpretation of our lives -- even the sanitized version.
I waded through the opening about our historic and unprecedented situation, skimmed the main body of the text then skipped to the summary at the end:Considering the monumental trauma that sent Voyager's crew to the Delta quadrant, the merging of two opposing crews and the near constant threats they faced, this is a remarkably well-adjusted group of individuals. We believe that their ability to put aside their differences and function in a highly efficient and creative manner is due in large part to the structure that Starfleet protocols provide. Captain Janeway and her command staff have set fine examples of strong, fair and compassionate leadership. Under this guidance, the crew has become very close and has managed to build rich lives despite their adversity.
At this time, our only concern for the crew is the personal stress faced by the command staff. Unlike the rest of the crew, we note a general lack of intimate relations amongst the Senior staff. Their logs talk of many hours of work and occasional recreational activity. However, with one exception, there does not seem to be the kind of emotionally and physically intimate relationships that make long term endurance of stress possible. We feel that this avoidance of such relationships may be because of the very same adherence to Starfleet Protocols. There are not many options for relationships amongst the same rank for the Command staff, and it may be a line they have been reluctant to cross. It is not for a lack of interest in these kinds of relationships. We've noted several instances where liaisons were attempted with various aliens Voyager encountered. The results of these have typically been harmful to the crewmen and sometimes endangered the entire ship.
Thus Voyager's command staff is left without an outlet for very healthy, basic needs. And they are cutting themselves off from necessary emotional and psychological support for the sake of protocols. We believe that this will eventually erode their effectiveness and possible jeopardize the ship's chances of reaching the Alpha Quadrant. It is the Committee's recommendation that Starfleet Command immediately amend the rules about fraternization between ranks in cases of extreme deep space missions such as this one.
I was dumfounded. There was a response from Starfleet Command immediately afterward.Upon reviewing this report and the accompanying logs, we concur with the Research Committee's conclusions. As this is an extreme and unique case and as we want Voyager to be given the every opportunity to return to the Alpha Quadrant, we hereby amend the protocol regarding fraternization between ranks. It is now permissible so long as it is consensual and does not interfere with ship's functions. Captain Janeway is instructed to inform her command staff as soon as possible and then disseminate it to the crew.
I didn't know what to think of that. It certainly wasn't anything I was expected. I was almost afraid to read the letter.Dear Captain Janeway: My name is Ezri Dax.
It was then I found out what had happened to the beautiful Jadzia. I was deeply saddened by the news. It was a terrible loss to all who knew her. She was someone I looked forward to seeing again. And I couldn't wait to introduce her to Seven and Barrows.I am on the Research Committee that drafted the attached report. I must say it was an interesting experience. I may never stop blushing. At first, the problem was set before us as a hypothetical ship which was stranded indefinitely in some sort of anomaly. Thus, the committee could form an opinion without any bias. Later we were given the details and formally wrote what you see today.
When I realized that it was you the report was talking about, the memories from Jadzia and Curson were just about too much for me to handle. I certainly forgot about being space sick.
Curson and Jazdia had very fond thoughts of you… very fond and warm… very, very warm thoughts. This caused me some problems with Counselor Troi, who had additional issues with Jadzia. It seems she still views her as some sort of home wrecker. Intervention from Captain Picard was needed to send this letter. Don't worry. I also managed to keep your lifestyle from her and from the committee. Though Counselor Troi senses from Picard and me that there is more to you than the logs suggest.
Captain Picard will send his own letter to you later. I suspect he has opinions about the options available to you. However, he did tell me that he wants you to be happy. I don't know you, Captain Janeway, but I know that both Jadzia and Curson have found you to be a most unique and special woman. They would really want you to be happy as well. Good luck and feel free to contact me anytime.
I was astonished by the message. I was thrilled at the thought of really having Chakotay and terrified at the same time. They had given him the most powerful weapon possible by taking away my only shield. I started pacing the room. Before I knew it, I was standing before Barrows. She considered the padd with a frown.
"Ah, poor Jadzia," Barrows murmured. "I so wanted to meet her."
"I know, Mistress," I replied. "You would have liked her very much, and she would have adored you."
"And this Ezri… very perky and sweet and innocent looking," Barrows smiled. "Somewhere deep in the cosmos, Curson is laughing his ass off."
"I think Jadzia would find the choice amusing as well," I agreed. "Mistress, what am I going to do about this report?"
Barrows was irritatingly serene as she considered me. "There was a time when I would have told you to get away from this man any way possible. I found him to be a threat to your Circle and to me. He persuaded you to violate your vow more than once."
I still blushed at that transgression despite the passage of time. "I know. But why don't you feel that way now?"
"The Commander has proven to me over and over again that he cares deeply about you," she replied. "He has been extremely patient and resourceful learning your every mood and strength and foible. And he has respected them all as he respects your command." I nodded thinking about how easily he handed my ship back to me after I recovered from assimilation. And he moved back to his quarters with no hint of resentment. He just thanked me for allowing him to get that close to take care of me.
"He knows you well enough not to pounce on this as an opportunity to push you toward an open commitment," Barrows said. "He will watch and wait and wait for quite some time."
"But?" I asked feeling the negative comment in the air.
"If you remain reluctant to move further in the relationship with the most daunting impediment gone," Barrows warned. "He may come to believe that you only think of him as a Delta Quadrant liaison. That you never intended it to be anymore than a crutch until you get home."
"He wouldn't think that, would he?"
"He might after a time. And that would hurt him, Kathryn," Barrows said. "The question for me is do you want him as much as he wants you?"
I blushed hotly. "Yes, Mistress. I want him. I was enjoying him living with me too much. But I can't give up the Circle. They need and want me, too. And I need and want you, Mistress."
"I know, pet. And I don't fancy giving you or your delicious ones up, either," she replied. "I also haven't seen any evidence that the Commander minds sharing you with us."
"But if I commit, won't I be even more 'his' and wouldn't that make him more possessive?" I wondered. That was the great fear in all of this.
"If he feels more secure with your relationship, I think he'd be inclined to share more -- not less," Barrows replied. "He was living in the same quarters and he was still willing to share you."
I was shaken to hear my own words of advice. And I knew them to be the truth.
"Now, go and talk to him," Barrows said.
I concurred that I should tell him about the report before I reviewed it with the senior staff. This wasn't something to spring on him suddenly. I would have my hands full with the reactions from my crew without throwing him into the mix. I scheduled a staff meeting for 0900 hours. I met Chakotay at 0800.
I nervously sipped at my coffee while he reviewed the padd. His face was neutral throughout most of it. Then the expression became incredulous. He sipped his coffee for a moment. Then his dark eyes met mine. It had been a long time since I 'd seen his eyes that guarded.
"What do you think?" I asked.
He smirked ever so slightly. "It's one less thing to worry about being court martialed for."
"Yes." I replied.
"You've been lenient as far as crew relationships went, anyway," Chakotay said. "I think this will put some minds at ease. Maybe spur some real commitments. That could be good for the stability of the crew."
"That's very true," I said waiting.
"And it could open some doors for people who thought their situation was impossible," he said quietly. His eyes were searching mine intently.
"It would have to be well managed," I countered.
"Of course," he said. "There would have to be guidelines. We can't have the crew distracted from their work despite the temptations."
"There would have to be good examples for them to follow," I said. "Roles would have to be respected."
"The senior staff would have to know that eyes will be upon them with this and how to deport themselves," he said. "It should change nothing of their current working relationships… or any other relationship."
"It could be good for morale… seeing the senior staff happy," I said.
His eyes warmed. "It could be good for everyone."
"I'm not sure how this should proceed and I don't want this in committee," I said.
"I think just a few common sense guidelines and then a slow, deliberate course of action would suffice. Judge comfort levels... find ways of making people comfortable," he said.
"I agree," I said. "Well, let's discuss it in the general meeting. Meanwhile, we have scheduling to do."
"Yes, Captain," he said softly.
The staff meeting was very interesting. Of the group at the table, only Tuvok kept his eyes solely upon me. The other's eyes were darting back and forth between Chakotay and me like we were in a tennis match. Their gazes reflected a mix of surprise, amusement, confusion and some concern. I finished the report then set the padd down.
"Before I take the comments I know are coming, let me allay your fears. First off, this is not going to be a license for orgies in the turbolift. The usual guidelines for public behavior have not been lifted. And there will be further guidelines as the situation demands," I began. "Second, this is not meant to undermine any of the wonderful close friendships and working rapport we have on board. I don't want this to become a vessel of isolated pairs. I think the intent was to make this ship even more of a family. As far as I am concerned, none of the relationships you value on Voyager will change because of this…."
Harry visibly relaxed from the clench he was in. He nodded at me.
Okay, comments… questions?"
"Well, that something I never expected to hear from Starfleet," Tom said. "I wonder what else they'll be expecting to study when we get back."
"Try not to think about it," Harry said. "It'll give you nightmares."
"Tuvok, do you see any problems?" I asked.
"Not at this time," he replied. "There are a few on my staff who have entered into relationships. This rule may ease their anxiety. Thus far, no one has behaved in a disruptive manner. I don't foresee that changing."
"That's pretty much how it is on my staff," Torres said. "I don't think this new rule will be a problem."
"That's how I thought it would be," I said. "If any arise, you're to let me know immediately."
There was a murmured assent. We went on to other ship's business. Those in my Circle relaxed probably because they saw no discernable difference in Chakotay. I made a note to talk to them individually and collectively within the next couple of days. At that moment though, I had unfinished business on behalf of Tom Paris.
B'Elanna joined me for lunch in my Ready Room. She was still wearing her smock and the half vexed look of someone who thought they had no time to be social. I had her remove the smock and sit quietly with her tea. After a sip or two and a few deep breaths, she relaxed and smiled.
"Are you going to start dating publicly now that you can?" She asked.
I rolled my eyes at her. "Please, this thing is going to be strange enough. I don't need that kind of humor."
"Has he said anything about it yet?"
"No, but he's made his position abundantly clear," I said.
"What are you going to do?"
I shrugged. "Whatever I have to do, I suppose. But I want to talk to you. You know that I loathe interfering in other's relationships, but since Starfleet felt they could, I thought, what the heck."
My Engineer looked at me almost owlishly. "You don't think Tom and I belong together, do you?"
"I think you do if you think you do," I replied. "What I don't think you should be doing is trying to intuit from the cosmos what the other really wants. You need to spend some very quiet one on one time together and ask each other."
Torres sighed. "But shouldn't we know this stuff? We've been together long enough. And why is it so much work?"
"No you shouldn't," I said. "And hard work makes you strong and helps you grow. I think it's the same for relationships. Find some time together -- no matter where, and do some growing. That's my two cents."
"Thank you. I will," Torres said. "Now that there's that rule, there's no telling who will come after him. He is a catch, after all."
"He is indeed."
I don't know why I approved of the race. On the surface, it appeared to be just a bit of folly. But there was a tension on board. The encounter with the Borg still reverberated though the crew. On the heels of that was Seven's ordeal and then the report and edict from Starfleet. We were all on edge. Thus, I viewed the race as a timely diversion. It turned the crew's eyes off of each other and onto something else for a while.
I needed a distraction from my First Officer. My outlook on Starfleet's pronouncement swung from excitement to panic. The reaction from the non-Circle crew was something I still worried over. For his part, Chakotay was wisely keeping distant though he remained as warm as ever when we interacted. But the distance did not keep me from wanting him or vice versa. I think it made the desire more intense. His gaze at some moments seemed powerful enough to burn my clothes off. Not looking at his mouth was becoming increasingly difficult. One of us would break before long, and until we could work out how to proceed, I felt that any intimacy could make things very messy.
Ironically, the new rule from Starfleet had a separating affect on more than just Chakotay and me. People I'd noticed fluttering around each other beforehand had retreated to neutral corners. There was a lot of furtive watching going on. While I was glad that the Commander and I weren't the only ones who felt suddenly exposed, I also believed it was creating unnecessary tension. The race provided the perfect ship-wide distraction from relationship melodramas.
And it was an exciting race. I enjoyed the heady excitement with the delegates. I even made a few side wagers, because I was so confident of Paris and Kim and then Paris and Torres. They all looked adorable in their racing togs. I had to remember those for a later time. The change in co-pilots surprised me. I was sorry for Harry, but I knew about Torres' foiled efforts to get time on the Holodeck with my dense pilot. I figured that in the Delta Flier's confines, the troubled pair would have to talk.
Of course, nothing that happens on Voyager ever unfolds as expected. Harry survived the terrorist attack with courage and resourcefulness. But once again, his confidence in choosing women was severely undermined. I knew I'd have to set some time aside to help him sort through this misconception of himself once and for all. But then there was Paris and Torres.
They came to me first. I was in my Ready Room reading the post race reports and planning our next course. B'Elanna was smiling so hard, I thought her face would break. And dear Tom had the happiest, goofiest expression that I'd ever seen on the man.
Tom told me they talked finally and about everything while they waited to be rescued. Each was surprised that the insecurities they had came from places the other never suspected. And when they were all talked out, they came to a decision.
"We want to be married," Tom said. "And we still want to be in the Circle."
I nodded. "Very well. I'm happy for both of you and very happy for me. When?"
They looked at each other then giggled. "As soon as possible," Torres said.
"Well, my social calendar is open save for the unforseen alien attack or temporal anomaly," I said. "I am at your disposal. Shall we tell the Bridge crew?"
"Yes -- no," Tom said. "We should tell Harry first."
"Yes, we should," Torres said. They both looked more solemn.
I called Harry in and had him sit with me on the sofa. He looked mildly alarmed already.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked.
"Nothing," I said. "Tom and B'Elanna have something to tell you."
He looked at them expectantly though he was still clearly nervous.
"We're getting married," Tom said gently. "As soon as possible."
Harry nodded then let out a slow breath. "Congratulations."
His voice was a little shaky.
"Harry, they aren't leaving the Circle," I said. "And for the record, no matter what happens with Chakotay, nothing will change between us."
"It won't, Harry," Torres said. "We had a long talk, Tom and I. We don't want to lose any of you."
Tom moved quickly across the room to sit beside Harry and they were soon embracing. Harry buried his face in the curve of Tom's shoulder and held on tight.
"I'm glad you're both happy," Harry said quietly. "Congratulations."
Torres came to kneel before them. "Thanks, Starfleet. We want you to be involved. We want you to stay involved."
Harry turned to look at her, but Tom didn't let him go.
"Involved in the wedding?"
She nodded. "And beyond. I swear nothing will change. I like the effect you have on Tom."
Harry smiled a small smile blushing slightly. He turned to Tom.
"Be my best man?"
Harry nodded finally really smiling. "How else will you get there on time?"
They all embraced. I was getting misty and also very warm.
"Let's tell the crew before this turns into something else entirely," I said.
The Bridge crew looked up immediately upon our exit. We all must have looked conspiratorial. Seven was already there running a diagnostic. Neelix and the Doctor exited the turbolift just as we assembled before them. Chakotay looked at us with a mixture of curiosity and dread.
"Don't look so alarmed," I said quickly. "This is good news. I'll let the happy couple explain." Paris and Torres looked at each other then at the assemblage.
"We're getting married," they gushed.
There was a gasp. Then applause led by Chakotay. Seven actually squealed with apparent glee. Then she promptly lost her mind.
Everyone looked at our Borg, but just for a moment. Maybe she was really, really surprised, I supposed though I was intrigued that she would make such a fascinating noise.
Chakotay rose to hug Torres. "Congratulations," he said softly then kissed her on the cheek.
"Thank you," she smiled squeezing him. "Would you give me away?"
Chakotay eyed Paris sideways. "If you really want to?"
"When are the festivities?" Neelix asked.
"I thought we'd just do it tomorrow in the Mess Hall," Torres said.
"No!" Seven nearly shouted. "That is insufficient time to plan. We we'll need to obtain the dress and the invitations and the band…"
"Invitations?" Tom asked. "What band?"
She was on Torres in a flash. "We must go to the Holodeck immediately to begin designing appropriate attire…"
"Well, I was planning on wearing my dress uniform…." Torres said.
"That is unacceptable," Seven replied. She sounded normal, but there was a wild look in her eye that I had seen before in other females.
"They don't want to wait, Seven and the ship's resources…." I offered.
"Please, Captain, allow me… 72 hours… I have considerable rations and I'm certain I can obtain more," she pleaded.
I was personally afraid, but I let none of that show. "I think it would be a good idea to let Seven run with this, B'Elanna. After all, a good wedding coordinator is hard to find in these parts."
I pulled my Engineer aside. "Go with her. I'll explain what's happening later."
"Okay, Seven. Let's go get a dress," Torres said.
"Excellent! Mr. Neelix, come along. We must discuss the reception," Seven said. "Doctor, would you be adverse to singing at the ceremony?"
"Try and stop me," he smiled. "Let's talk about some selections en route."
The four disappeared into the turbolift. The eyes on the Bridge were on me.
"What just happened?" Tom asked. "I've never seen Seven look like that."
"I've seen this condition before. It's best to just let it run its course and be grateful she doesn't have enough rations to build a cathedral," I replied.
"Condition?" Harry asked. "What condition?"
"Wedding Psychosis," I replied. "Suffers are typically the brides themselves, but it can affect those around the bride as well. They become engulfed in the pageantry of the ceremony and celebrations surrounding it. Annika may have had the potential for the psychosis, but it's compounded by all those assimilated females who have had it as well."
"Great," Tom muttered. "So she's super psychotic."
"Yep," I sighed. "I would have her sedated if she got out of hand, but it appears she has an ally in the Doctor. We'll just have to ride it out."
The ordeal was not really that difficult to endure. Seven was psychotic, but she had the organizational skills and decisiveness of a Borg. There was no torturing with endless selections of swatches or appetizers. The event was scheduled and organized and in production within hours. Our time was rigidly accounted for in order to fit in all the pre-wedding celebrations and accommodate our duty shifts. It was decreed that the bachelor party would be later that very day so that Tom could rest the night before the wedding. The bridal shower would be the afternoon before the wedding. Seven was extremely vexed that there could be no rehearsal dinner, but she compensated with a large reception in the Holodeck that included dancing to a 'live' orchestra. The choice of the Holodeck also allowed for Barrows to attend -- a thoughtful detail that pleased both Torres and me.
I worked my duty shift and the next one so that Tom could be properly feted by the males of my staff. It seemed that it wasn't going to be too raucous of an affair. Icheb was invited as was Tuvok, so I did not expect an orgy. It was 0200 when I got to my quarters. I winced to notice that I had a message waiting for me. Then, I was curious as to why they didn't just call me on the Bridge. It was from Torres and Paris. The file was labeled 'Tom's Wedding Present' and the note read 'Enjoy, Mistress.'
My fatigue was suddenly gone, but I slipped into a nightgown and settled into bed with a glass of red wine. The file opened on Tom's darkened living room. Then his doors flew open and Harry stumbled in followed closely by Torres and Seven.
"Hey," Harry exclaimed. "What the hell…"
Seven easily grabbed the Ensign from behind pinning his arms around his back. Torres quickly gagged him before he could think to turn his head. I could tell he was shouting a lot of expletives as Torres lifted his legs and they carried him into the bedroom. Harry may have been intrigued but he was also pissed at being handled that way. He fought but that seemed to amuse the women who still managed to shackle his wrists and remove his boots.
"Harry, I'm shocked," Torres purred. "You're usually such a slut. But the way you're carrying on, you'd think your virtue was at stake."
He muttered an oath and his dark eyes glittered with anger, but that didn't stop them from cutting his clothes off. They were right. He was a slut. Mr. Kim's member was rigid and dripping. Still he struggled while they unshackled then re-shackled his wrists over his head once he was on the bed. His ankles were also secured so that he was spread eagle.
"Something's missing," Torres mused.
"We have not wrapped the gift," Seven replied.
"Quite right," Torres replied. She produced a length of red ribbon.
Harry grew still at that point though he was still breathing hard. He watched them in fascination while Seven and Torres gently wrapped his erection in the soft, stretchy ribbon. They both petted him until he calmed.
"That's better," Torres purred. "We'll light some candles. Tom will be along soon. He'll just love this surprise."
I could tell B'Elanna felt heady with power. She leaned over and kissed Seven suddenly. The Borg responded enthusiastically. Harry moaned in response.
"No, you're for Tom tonight," Torres said. "And we have to save this for the Mistress, Seven."
"I agree," Seven said. "But I look forward to it."
They lit the candles then left. Harry made a half hearted attempt at breaking free of the shackles, but soon relaxed closing his eyes. Then the doors swished open in the adjacent room. Tom must have noticed the candles.
"B'Elanna, I thought you and Seven…."
He froze in the doorway. "What in the world are you doing here Harry?" He asked softly.
Harry gamely tried to explain, but the gag kept his words to an agitated mumble. Tom moved to the side of the bed where he saw the note placed on the Ensign's abdomen.
"Dear Tom, I thought I'd get you something that you'd really want and would really use," Tom read. "Love, B'Elanna."
He chuckled absently tossling Harry's hair. "That explains the wild goose chase. What a woman. So generous and so very smart… I do want you and I will use you, but I don't think you'll mind."
Tom carefully removed the gag then traced Harry's lips with his forefinger. I could tell that the Ensign had wanted to say something when the leather was removed from his mouth, but the pilot's voice and touch mesmerized him. The first kisses were gentle and tender, but Harry moaned anyway.
"Let me go, Tom," Harry gasped between the gently probing kisses. "Please, I want to hold you."
Tom's kisses grew deeper and more intense in response. Harry was moaning helplessly then.
"That's better," Tom murmured above the Ensign's lips. "I plan to enjoy this gift as presented… save for the ribbon. No wonder the Mistress loves having you this way. You are beautiful."
He indulged in another lengthy kiss as if he couldn't help himself. Harry was arching off the bed at this point. His face was a picture of pleasure. Tom broke the kiss then began to undress. Harry watched intently occasionally straining against the shackles.
"How she get you like this?" Tom asked.
"I was ambushed by B'Elanna and Seven," Kim replied blushing. "Those women are really strong."
Tom nodded with a smile. "I forget that sometimes, too."
Tom settled himself alongside Harry. "Time to unwrap my present," he murmured fingering the ribbon.
"Please," Harry gasped. "Let me go. I want to touch your skin."
A gentle tug at the ribbon was the only reply. The Ensign had to give up on coherent speech then as Tom carefully untied his rigid member then massaged the skin to soothe where the ribbon made marks. While he cupped and stroked, Tom again sought the kiss he craved. This time there was surrender in the captive he was given. I could see the moment that Harry gave in.
Tom felt it as well. He tore free from that lush mouth to tongue his way over his friend's flushed skin. The pilot murmured appreciatively as he traveled down Harry's firm torso. The nipples and navel received lavish attention before that weepy erection was finally addressed. As always, Tom showed a great deal of skill working that hard flesh while savoring every bit of the experience. When Harry came, I thought he'd rip his arms out of their sockets. Tom smirked at his boneless buddy. It was easy for him to release the ankle shackles and reposition his captive with him in such a languid state. By the time the Ensign was alert once again, Tom was already pounding inside him. Their eyes were locked on each others when Tom came. Afterward, they lay in each other's arms in a peaceful sleep. I was left torn between heat and tears and too tired for either. I let my mind rest and went to sleep.
By morning I had had enough of the self-imposed exile from my First Officer. I still wasn't going to attack him, but I missed his company. Thus, when I saw Chakotay having breakfast in the Mess, I approached him with my tray.
"May I join you?" I asked.
He smiled. "Please."
I felt eyes upon us but paid them no heed as I attacked my breakfast. "How was the bachelor party?"
"It was different," Chakotay replied rolling his eyes to the ceiling. "It was a guy thing."
"A guy thing?"
"We sat around and drank and made fun of Tom," Chakotay said. He seemed a little sheepish about it.
"Icheb was drinking?"
"A soft drink," he said. "Seven has been crazy enough lately without extra help."
"Did you have a good time?"
"Yes," the Commander replied as if he were surprised. "Tuvok told the funniest story about Tom."
Chakotay shifted in his chair. "Let's see if I can do this right. My impression of Tuvok isn't as good as Harry's."
He looked me dead in the eye with that same clear, objective gaze Tuvok preferred.
"It was early in the course of Voyager's journey through the Delta Quadrant. At that point in time, it was crucial that we secure whatever aid we could find. Therefore, when we were contacted by the Kilani, we accepted their envoys with all of the pomp and circumstance our limited means provided.
"The Kilani were a kind and knowledgeable people, who appreciated the gesture and were sympathetic to our plight. They had brought a sizable delegation with them, and as the Captain began negotiations, several members of their party expressed a desire to return to the surface of their world.
"We offered to beam them down, but in this offer we uncovered an eccentricity peculiar to their culture; a disapproval of transporters, which they believed, could move the body, but only by leaving the soul behind.
"We apologized, of course, and the Kilani, displaying their immense maturity, did not count it against us. Instead we offered them the use of our shuttle, and soon Lieutenant Paris and I were escorting the Kilani Undersecretary of Extra System Affairs and his staff. As a matter of protocol, the Kilani brought their own pilot along, a young woman named Petcha. She soon caught the eye of our ship's navigator.
"I will be frank. I found Petcha pleasing to the eye. The Lieutenant clearly found her more so. He struck up a conversation with her, discussing the various flight capabilities of the shuttlecraft. On the pretense of showing her how the controls operated, he encouraged her to sit in his lap, moving her hands over the controls as they began their descent. This, despite the fact that there were a duplicate set of controls at the copilot's station.
"I will not repeat their conversation, which was an exchange of innuendo and double entendre. Suffice it to say, after an hour and a half, one tires of hearing such phrases as 'easy on the entry,' and 'Are you ready to go down.' By the time we had reached the Kilani spaceport, I was relieved when the Undersecretary and his security chief offered to show me the facility, while the Lieutenant left with the pilot to share a beverage.
"When we completed the survey two hours later, I attempted to check in on Mr. Paris, and but he did not answer his call. I repeated my request and was greeted by silence again. I became concerned. The security chief agreed to aid me in my search, and we soon had the resources of the entire planet devoted to finding Voyager's wayward member.
"Through a careful analysis of bio readings, we were able to distinguish the minute differences between human and Kilani. The Lieutenant was located in a nearby but disreputable sector of the capital. As a precaution, an assault team went with us to the designated location. We moved quickly and cautiously to an old door in a dirty hallway. With heavily armed soldiers on either side, the door was kicked in, and we entered the room phasers drawn.
"Inside we found Lieutenant Paris, totally nude, engaged in vigorous intercourse with the young Kilani pilot on top of a table. They were surprised to see us, and scrambled to disentangle themselves. The Undersecretary arrived and strode up to his nervous underling. He considered her, and then our Lieutenant. He turned, smiled and called out: 'I hope you brought enough for everybody.'"
I almost lost my coffee. "I can't believe he said that."
"It was in retaliation for the impressions," Chakotay said. "Tom's was really good. Harry's was even better. Harry did a great impression of me, in fact."
"Anyone else?" I asked with a raised brow.
Chakotay chuckled. "Harry had you down to the mannerisms."
"I see," I replied. "I don't suppose you'll tell me what he said."
"Can't… bachelor parties are privileged."
"You told me what Tuvok said," I countered.
"That's different," he said really enjoying the moment. "I hadn't crossed my heart to that one."
"Very well," I replied. "There are those with less resolve than you who will tell me what I need to know. How did it wrap up -- if that isn't confidential."
"Tuvok, the Doctor and I left when Tom and Harry decided to teach Icheb the joys of belching," Chakotay chuckled. "To the boy's credit, he wasn't going for it. I don't think they could have gone much longer. Seven had strict orders as to when he should be back in his alcove."
"Sounds like quite the high brow evening."
He smiled at me. "When do the ladies get together?"
"About thirteen hundred. Ours is to be a tame affair as well as Miss Naomi Wildman will be in attendance."
"How about Barrows?"
"Alas, no," I sighed. "We're doing this in my Ready Room, so we must behave."
"A prim and proper bridal shower," he mused. "I'd like seeing that as much as the other."
I smirked at him. "I'll keep that in mind."
Ensign Wildman strolled up to our table then. She was smiling broadly. "Hello, Captain. Commander..."
"Good morning, Ensign Wildman," I smiled.
"I want to thank you and Seven for inviting Naomi to the bridal shower," she said. "I've never seen her so happy."
"I couldn't entertain without my assistant," I said.
"Can I bring anything?"
"We've got everything," I said. "Just bring an appetite."
"Great and tell Seven I found the gift registry," she said hurrying on.
Chakotay rolled his eyes.
I noticed the glances. They'd grown from curious to pleased as our conversation progressed. The Commander was not slow on the uptake. He had noticed as well.
"I'd better get to work," he murmured draining his cup.
"Thanks for the company," I said.
"My pleasure, Captain," he said. "How about dinner -- if you aren't busy with the wedding."
I thought about it gazing into his intense dark eyes. "When and where?"
"How about here tomorrow night?"
He left me there to finish my coffee. There was no great cataclysm though I was certain that some crewmen nearby heard us make the date. All looked normal as I eyed the room surreptitiously.
"When are you and Commander Chakotay going to get married?" Naomi Wildman asked.
That I didn't spit my drink across the room could only be attributed to my Starfleet training and having Barrows underfoot for all that while. Very little could shake me up of late, but I was startled. No one else noticed the question as the rest of the women in the room were oohing and aahing at B'Elanna's latest gift.
"Why would you ask that?"
"Because," Naomi replied. "I heard people saying that you look happy when you're with him. People that are happy together get married, right?"
"Sometimes," I replied. "What people did you hear talking?"
"My mom and a lot of crewmen. I hear a lot of talk because no one notices me in the corridors," she said.
"That's a mistake on their part," I said.
"Oh, I don't mind," she replied noisily slurping her drink. "I get to hear a lot of stuff."
"Well, I don't know if you should be hearing 'stuff' without a context," I said. "I want you to ask Seven or me if something confuses you."
"Okay. Well the crew people like when you two are together. They think you should be happy," she said.
"Yes," she said with certainty.
More oohs and aahs erupted. Naomi clapped at the pretty nightgown Torres held up.
"Well," I said diplomatically "He hasn't asked me."
She considered that for a moment. "How about if he asks you to dinner."
"If he does, I'll strongly consider it. Let's go toast the bride."
When the last present was opened, I called everyone's attention. "I won't drone on and on here. Seven has us all on a very tight schedule. I believe that next we have to weave the lace for B'Elanna's gown."
There were some chuckles at that. Seven glowered at me.
"I just want to say that among the most remarkable things to happen on this remarkable journey has been the growth and transformation of my Chief Engineer. I am very proud of how you run your department and how good a friend you have become to all on board. And I am very pleased that you have found happiness and made a home here with Tom," I said raising my glass. "To B'Elanna… may you have a long and happy marriage."
My Engineer was batting back tears as she stood up.
"I have to say I never expected all of this. I am overwhelmed by the support I've found on Voyager. You are all the family I've never had," she said quietly. "Captain, you have been everything to me. I'll never be able to express how much our relationship has meant. And Seven… this party, the dress and the reception… I'm astonished by all your hard work."
Torres reached beneath her chair and pulled out a long box. "First, I'd like to ask if you would be my Maid of Honor. You've more than earned the title."
Seven stood up blinking back tears. "I would be honored, but shouldn't that be reserved for your closest friend… or a sister…"
"That brings me to the next thing," B'Elanna said. "I wasn't overly fond of you when you first arrived. You're a know-it-all, you can be very irritating and are often even infuriating. But somehow, you slipped under my skin. You've been a caring and giving friend. So you put the annoying and infuriating with the caring and giving and you have a sister."
Torres pulled a colorful sash out of the box. "Since we've started our own family on Voyager, I thought I'd start my own house. Seven of Nine, I would be honored if you would join the House of Torres."
Seven was crying then. She took a deep breath and donned the sash. "I would be honored to be your sister and I'll stand with you at the ceremony."
There were cheers amongst the tears as the women embraced. I feared that my heart would burst it was so full. Seven retreated to a corner to compose herself. I gave her a few moments before I joined her.
"I think about establishing such an attachment with one of my more difficult officers and inspiring such affection that a young man would risk his life to save yours. We've all been willing to risk ourselves for you," I said. "You have exceeded all expectations I could ever have, Seven. I couldn't imagine or want you being anyone other than who you've become."
She started crying again. So I found myself holding and calming her. I'd forgotten how much crying can occur at really joyous occasions. I couldn't wait to see what the wedding would be like.
The schedule was very tight. Thus, we had to forgo the ritual Barrows and I had planned for the bride. It would have involved staking a naked Torres out spread eagle on a table. Then after some very calculated paddling and whipping, she would be gang banged by me, Barrows, Seven and the Ensign. I know I would have enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed anything at that point. There had been no carnal pleasures for me since that danged edict. Barrows would have as well, but I doubted that Torres could relax enough and I knew that Seven would be in the fullest grip of the psychosis by then. Besides, such rituals are really for those who are leaving service. Something to remember the group by. Torres and Paris would be back after their honeymoon.
And in reality, I don't think that I could have pulled off so many gear changes. From shared confidences with Naomi Wildman to a gang bang to presiding over a wedding would have been too much for even Barrows to handle.
Before I knew it I was in my dress uniform standing in the dressing room conjured in the Holodeck. The reception area was just beyond the double doors. Torres was looking at herself in a long mirror with disbelief. She was beautiful. Seven had fashioned an elegant dress of candlelight lace and a very simple lace veil.
"You make a lovely bride," I said softly.
Torres smiled at me. "I just can't believe any of this... getting married... being this... this Fairy Princess. It's not anything I could imagine."
"You deserve it," I said.
"Yes you do," Chakotay said as he entered the room He was stunning in his dress uniform smiling at us. I almost swooned.
"You look beautiful," he said.
"So do you," she replied. "You both do."
"The Captain is lovely," Chakotay murmured with a slight bow. His eyes smoldered at me.
To my surprise and chagrin, I blushed. "Where's Seven and Naomi?" I asked by way of changing the subject.
"We're here," Naomi said. She looked lovely in a lovely deep rose colored gown with a red short velvet jacket. Her hair was arranged in adorable curls. She held a little pink basket of red and pink rose petals and was beaming.
"Naomi Wildman," I said with a big grin. "You are beautiful."
She curtseyed and giggled. Then Seven walked in.
"Seven," I said -- gasped actually. "You look... I mean... wow...."
We all gaped at the dress Seven was wearing. It was a strange sort of lurid pink shiny taffeta that bunched in the oddest of places and had ruffles erupting at bizarre angles. And it had a bustle... like Seven would ever, ever need a bustle. Icheb wandered up behind her in a nicely tailored black suit. He looked Seven over with a curious expression.
"A most unusual choice of attire," he commented. "Is it customary to wear such a costume?"
"Yes," Seven said solemnly. "It is customary that the bride's maid's dresses not distract from that of the bride."
"You have succeeded most efficiently," Icheb said.
"But I must object to my role in this ceremony," Icheb continued. "I have researched this and discovered that ring bearers are at least ten years younger and one meter shorter."
"I am aware of the limitations of the choice, but you are a male and a minor, so you are the only logical choice," Seven replied. "You must comply."
Well, I had enough of that. "Chakotay, you have things in hand here. I'll go check on the groom."
I barely caught the Commander's glower as I beat a hasty retreat.
The other dressing room was just across the hall. There, I found Paris and Kim in their dress uniforms looking nervous and wonderful.
"My goodness," I said. "You two are a vison."
Tom smiled then reached to embrace me. Both men enveloped me for a moment and I reveled in their strength and youth.
"How is B'Elanna?" Tom asked.
"Beautiful," I replied. "And nervous. Let's get on with this celebration. You two have a life to begin."
"Mistress," Tom whispered in my ear. "Thank you."
"That's why I'm here," I replied. "Let's begin before Seven loses the rest of her mind."
The ceremony was flawless save for some surprise at the height of the ring bearer and confusion over Seven's attire. The Doctor sang beautifully. Most of the crew was there. For those who weren't, it was piped into the rest of the ship. Arrangements were made for attending crewmen to relieve those on duty for the reception. Everyone looked beautiful. Mistress Barrows was in an elegant gown of deep red in a style of ancient Greece. Her hair was piled high on her head. She was a vision who managed to seat herself next to Vorick.
I'll always remember the reception as filled with dancing and Naomi Wildman's laughter. Everyone was dancing and the combinations were amazing. Naomi danced with almost every man there. She looked especially cute with Tom though she was hard on his feet. Every time I looked up, Barrows was being swept by in someone else's arms. She danced with Vorick who must have added the practice to his studies. She danced with Tom and Harry and the Doctor-- they were especially impressive together-- and even with Chakotay. Seven danced a lot as well with almost every male in the room. I was particularly touched when Tuvok glided by with B'Elanna in his arms.
I enjoyed just watching it all. My wonderful, brave crew laughing and celebrating a couple's new life. I was content with that and my champagne. But Seven would not be swayed from protocol even at this late stage. I had thought the line dances were enough. They had been enough to put poor Naomi Wildman in stitches on the floor. But she was not finished yet. Soon there was a crowd of women gathered for the tossing of the bouquet. I was on the outer edge of it, barely able to see above the heads of the women crowded in front of Torres. She stood with her back to them with the Doctor acting as emcee.
"Okay, you eligible ladies... The one who catches the bouquet will be the next to marry," he said. "Let her rip on the count of three, Lieutenant. And give it some english. One.. .two... three..."
There was a gasp from the women as the bouquet sailed over their heads and straight at me. I had to catch it or it would have hit me in the face. Immediately, I smelled a rat -- or a number of them -- but I smiled just the same. It would mean some good natured ribbing for a while, but no more. Unless, Seven knew the other half of that custom....
"Now, gentlemen line up to catch the garter," The Doctor said as my heart sank. "The lucky man get's to put it on the limb of our fair Captain."
Barrows led the whooping and clapping. I was pleased to see that a goodly number of men went up for the honor while Tom and his wife made quite a show of removing the garter. Chakotay was as I had been -- at the back of the crowd. I didn't know whether to be relieved or annoyed. The little garment would never be able to make it back there. What was he thinking.
"On the count of three," the Doctor said. "One... two... and... three..."
Tom tossed high and the bugger had to have been weighted somehow. It cleared the crowd, and Chakotay merely had to reach up to grab it. The crowd went nuts. Suddenly there was a chair in the middle of the dance floor with the Commander beside it. Kim and Paris escorted me over one man holding each arm.
"If he sees your in for the long haul, he'll be less combative," Tom said in my ear.
Why do they choose the most inconvenient times to listen to me? I descended gracefully into the chair and allowed my glass and the bouquet to be removed. Chakotay kneeled. Again the crowd cheered led by Barrows. What a sadist. I daintily raised my skirt to my knee. They had planned this, I realized. At least my Circle had. Both Torres and Seven insisted I wear the skirt. They would pay.
Chakotay hesitated. I raised the skirt a fraction higher.
He leaned forward so I could hear him. "I hope you have on underwear," he said for my ears.
"You aren't going that far," I said through my smile.
I offered him my right leg. He deftly slid the garter up. When he got a quarter up the thigh, I gently smacked his hand and shook my finger. Again, the crowd went wild. Then the music began. Chakotay rose gracefully then extended his hand. I couldn't have refused even if I wanted to. I was swept into his arms in full view of my entire crew and we danced. At first, I kept my eyes down, but I could feel his on me. I had to look at him though I knew how I felt was clear on my face. I had to. My eyes met his. Chakotay smiled at me. His eyes were so full of love and happiness. It made me feel brave. I smiled back. In the corner of my eye, I saw Naomi Wilman clapping. Chakotay held me close then dipped me to everyone's glee. Then the dance floor filled once again.
Chakotay glided me off the floor to a corner. He gave me another glass of champagne then took one for himself.
"I don't suppose you're ready for some public necking?" he asked.
"No, but only because it would lead to public copulation. It's been far too long," I said quietly.
He slipped his arm around me as we watched the celebration. "Let's start small then. I'm a patient man."