THE THREE BETAS (A Beta Reader Appreciation Day story)

By Shayenne

Disclaimer: None needed. Characters are totally unrecognizable in this.

Rated Suitable for everyone. Trust me.

Feedback link deliberately omitted.

The Zendom List recently resurrected an older idea of a Beta Appreciation Day, one in which you express public and undying gratitude to your beta. What an excellent idea! Well, not as good as sending chocolate, of course, but nearly.

During my time in fandom, I've been lucky enough to be betaed by the best, by people who don't blink an eye at my excursions into other pairings, and encourage me to branch off into writing Original Stuff, and then polish the results. I'd send them all my publication beer money, but I've already drunk it...

So, to my betas, past and present -- Dakota, Autopilot, Cassatt's SO Johnny, and especially Brianna Thomas and Mary S. -- a huge and heartfelt Thank You!!

And also to those people who are always ready with a pithy comment when asked, praise or otherwise, whose willingness to pass an honest opinion is very much appreciated -- Penny Proctor (EJ Andrews), Diane, KJ, YCD, Cress, Sangerin, and especially Cassatt.

This story is unbetaed!

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away from here, there lived a fanfic author called Shayenne. And far, far away from her, there lived three betas. Dakota lived in the Midwest, where the tornadoes swirled and the hot tub was always full of fish. Brianna lived in the icy frozen east, north of the 49th parallel, in a strange place where they wear torques? toupees? tourks? condoms? ah....

[Shayenne remembers, and writes triumphantly]

Touques. And Mary S. lived on the balmy west coast, where the trains always run on time.

On this day, a day very much like any other, they sat down at their computers, and opened their email, and there it was. Yet another story from Shayenne, needing a beta. Their collective groans rattled the rafters, but each of them, in their own indomitable way, bent to the task...

New Passageways
By Shayenne
Rated NC17

[New Passageways? Brianna mumbles, hey, when I called a fic 'New Passageways', you groaned and made me change it. Said you thought it was going to be about anal sex. Change it, damn you!]

"I've decided it's time to redefine parameters." Kathryn Janeway gazed up into the dark eyes of her first officer.

[Mary thinks, at least she didn't say obsidian eyes. Dakota wonders about changing the capitalization of first officer.]

"Yes, Kathryn?" Chakotay suppressed the surge of hope that surged unbidden in his chest.

[A surge that surged? What about using 'flare' for one of them? Mary offers politely. Dakota gets out the red pen. Brianna shudders and reads on thinking, at least she isn't writing in first person this time.]

"Starting now." Janeway stalked towards him, and ran caressing fingers down his chin, to the top of the turtleneck. She slipped one underneath, and ran her fingerpads over his chest.

[Brianna ponders and tries to imagine how this is physically possible. Is she hanging upside down from the ceiling? Is she standing on a chair? How can the captain, who is about 6" shorter than her first officer, possibly get her arm down the top of his turtleneck far enough to carress his chest? And come to that, she slips one what underneath? One chin? And if she slipped one underneath, how come suddenly she's running her plural fingerpads over his chest? Brianna dashes off a pithy and accurate retort. Meanwhile, on the west coast, Mary is wondering the same thing, and Dakota's red pen is going berserk, sloshing back and forth in the hot tub.]

Chakotay didn't stop to question further.

[What do you mean, 'question further'? screams Dakota. He hasn't questioned anything so far. In fact he's acting like a stuffed trout. She scoops the fish out of the hot tub and reaches for the red pen again.]

He moved towards the Captain, pressed her back against the bulkhead, and leant towards her.

[If she's close enough to him to have her hand stuck down his front, then he can hardly move further toward her, not without breaking her arm, points out Mary reasonably. By the way, it's 'toward' not 'towards' and 'leaned' not 'leant', adds Dakota. Write American, you Aussie brat, or we'll throw you out of the country. She thinks about changing the capitalization of Captain.]

"On my terms, Kathryn." His dark eyes glittered dangerously.

[All three betas sigh happily at this indication that Chakotay is alive. Brianna adds, we've already established he has dark eyes. Can't you comment on some other portion of his anatomy? She offers a few suggestions, most of them below the waist.]

"Which are?" she whispered.

"These." Chakotay's body pressed her into wall of her quarters, his dark hands already running over her lean curves, hidden under the red and black uniform.

[Lean curves? Oxymoron. Brianna mutters away to herself and wonders if 9.30am is too early for a glass of wine. She has a feeling she'll need it, and more, to wade through this drivel.]

He bent his head and kissed her. He felt his erection prodding into her stomach, sending a liquid rush of desire down to her sex, she felt it deep within her. His tongue curled languorously into her mouth, seeking, and finding, the curves and wet, moist places, dueling with hers, mating and dancing in erotic foreplay. His hands stroked, with increasing urgency along her arm, dancing along bare flesh to insinuate its way under the short sleeve of her dress. He raised his head and groaned.

[All three betas groan along with Chakotay. Brianna drops her head to her folded arms and mutters, can you please start just ONE sentence with something other than 'his'? Mary points out that Janeway was in uniform, not a dress, in the preceding sentence, and what a whopping POV switch that one was, in mid sentence no less. Dakota shuffles commas around like a deck of cards. Brianna swallows her bile and says in a restrained tone, please, decide how many hands he is using. She adjusts her touque and reaches for the wine bottle.]

"Kathryn I have to have you now."

[Cliché, screams Brianna. Dakota adds a comma left over from the sentence before, and suggests moving the paragraph break.]

Swiftly he stripped off her uniform,

[Mary raises an eyebrow, oh-ho, back to the uniform are we?]

it puddled at her feet, the jewelled colours vivid against the grey Starfleet carpet.

[Dakota rearranges the non-American spellings. Mary and Brianna, being Canadian, take a nanosecond longer to notice, pause for a moment in sympathy, then slash through them anyway with the red pen.]

Grasping her hips, he drove himself into her with one sure thrust.

[Oh, per--lease, says Brianna. Whatever happened to foreplay? I suppose she'll come, screaming his name, in the next sentence. Mary points out he's still dressed, and hasn't even undone his fly.]

She clenched around him, screaming his name. "It's coming!"

[Brianna shakes her head. I knew it! Come on, whatever happened to realism? Mary glares; how about 'I'm coming'? You're always telling me to drop the references to trains. Dakota leaves the hot tub in disgust, in search of ice cream.]

Against her back the bulkhead was being repeatedly slammed, shaking the walls of Deck Nine.

[Mary makes an acerbic comment about passive voice. In the kitchen, Dakota checks the Star Trek encyclopedia to see what deck the captain's quarters are on, and removes the capitalization by remote control. Brianna simply pours more wine, and scrolls ahead to see how much more is left.]

He emptied himself into her, and his limp cock slipped out of her, to lie stickily against her thigh.

[Maybe use his name here to break up the he/she/his/her, suggests Brianna, in a restrained tone of voice, that doesn't betray the fact that she suggests this on numerous occasions every beta, and she really wishes that Shayenne would LISTEN for once. Mary says, you really do have a thing about the stickiness of sex, don't you? Can't you leave it out, just once, or at least let poor Kathryn have a washcloth? Dakota returns with ice cream and a new red pen, wondering what idiot issued Shayenne her Green Card, as surely she must have fudged the basic education requirement . She thinks about calling the INS to complain.]

Kathryn snuggled into his chest. "I think I can live with those terms," she whispered.

(((FIN)))

[All three betas breathe a huge sigh of relief, and turn to their keyboards. Brianna wrings the last few drops out of the wine bottle. In spite of the dross they've just suffered through, all three manage to offer encouraging comments about the story, and with great tact and honesty point out that really, Shayenne has written far better stuff in the past, and that this story, in particular, has considerable room for improvement.]

Back in that world of far, far away, Shayenne received her email. She scrolled rapidly through the comments, winced a bit, then returned to read them all slowly and carefully. She opened her story and sat down to make the suggested edits.

And lo and behold, when she had finished, thanks to the Three Betas, she had a decent story.

The End. (Really).

Shayenne says: In spite of my flippant story, I REALLY DO very much appreciate the time and effort that all my betas, past and present, have put into my stories. It takes time to beta a story properly, and these people really do give their all. Thank you. Very. Much.

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