Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything but I doubt they want this.
Feedback? Please. Shayenne
The alien face on the viewscreen was kindly and benevolent. "We look forward to meeting you and your family, Captain."
Captain Janeway smiled in response. "Myself and my mate, Commander Chakotay, are eager to make your acquaintance too, Trona."
The alien's fatherly face crinkled slightly. "Captain, we insist that we meet all of your family, not just your primary mate. How many children do you have?"
As Janeway opened her mouth to reply, Trona continued. "The Cilldara do not recognize any pair bond as valid unless there are offspring of the union. The Cilldara will only trade with recognized family units. If you wish to continue to trade with us, I suggest you bring your children."
Chakotay stepped up to the viewscreen, wrapping his arm around Janeway's waist. "My mate and I have only been blessed with one child," he said smoothly. "Our daughter will accompany us."
"Fine, fine," said Trona, softening visibly at the mention of a daughter. "We look forward to meeting your family. We will meet you all at the transporter site in three of your hours."
The screen went blank. Kathryn turned to Chakotay and put her hands on her hips.
"And exactly how do you propose to produce a daughter, Commander? Even you can't work that quickly."
"The art of negotiation, Kathryn, is to give them what they want when it is easy to do. In this case, one daughter." Chakotay smiled and hit his comm badge. "Commander Chakotay to Captain's Assistant Wildman"
Naomi's eager voice answered immediately. "Assistant Wildman here, Commander."
"Naomi, please collect Ensign Wildman and meet myself and the Captain in her ready room immediately. We have a very important mission that we need your help with."
As Naomi signed off, sounding very important, Kathryn turned to Chakotay. "Well if Sam agrees, the idea is a good one."
"What about taking baby-face Harry as your son?" Tom's irrepressible voice spoke up from the helm.
"Are you saying Harry looks young or I look old?" Kathryn tried to look stern, but was failing miserably. The idea of trying to pass Harry off as her and Chakotay's son had a smile twitching at her lips.
"I'd be careful how you answer that, Tom." Chakotay was also trying and failing to look annoyed. Harry just looked embarrassed.
Tom was saved from answering by the swoosh of the bridge doors. Naomi rushed onto the bridge, followed by her mother, Sam Wildman.
"Captain's Assistant reporting for duty." Naomi puffed her chest out as she stopped in front of Kathryn and all but saluted.
Kathryn smiled down at her. "You are very prompt. Let's move into the ready room."
As the doors closed behind them, she turned to Sam, who had the worried look of a parent who was wondering exactly what her offspring had done now.
"Don't worry, Sam, we're hoping you and she can help us. Help yourself to something from the replicator and grab a seat."
When they were seated, Naomi with a lemonade, Sam with a cup of tea, she explained the situation.
"So although Chakotay and I are real mates," and she exchanged a fond glance with the man in question, "the Cilldara will not recognize our bond unless we have children. Chakotay said we would bring our daughter. I am requesting your permission for Naomi to accompany us on the trade mission, posing as our daughter."
At Naomi's indrawn breath of excitement, she held up a hand. "One moment Assistant Wildman," we need your commanding officer's approval before we can proceed."
Chakotay spoke up. "Sam, the Cilldara have been extremely friendly in our dealings with them so far. If all goes well, they have extended the option of shore leave for the crew. But first, we need to arrange the trade for foodstuffs, B'Elanna's engineering parts and, of course, dilithium. We have no reason to believe they mean us any harm. If we did, we would not even consider Naomi's participation, trade or no trade. We'll look after her, Sam, as if she was our own." He placed his hand over Kathryn's as he said that, unconsciously caressing the back of her hand with his thumb.
Sam looked at the pair of them. Partners in command and partners and lovers in life. There was no couple aboard whom she trusted more. Then she looked down at the imploring face of her daughter.
"Pleaasssseeee Mom, please? Can I go?" Naomi could scarcely contain her excitement.
Sam bent down so that she was on eye level with her daughter. "If you go, and that's an 'if' not a 'when', you have to do exactly as Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Chakotay tell you. Can you do that?"
Naomi nodded solemnly, eyes wide.
"And you'll have to remember to call them Mom and Dad. You can't slip up, not at all. And if they ask you to leave and beam back to Voyager, you have to go immediately. Promise me you'll do that?"
Her eyes met Kathryn's over Naomi's head, and Kathryn nodded, letting Sam know she understood the unspoken message. Protect Naomi, her little girl.
"Yes. I can. Captain," Naomi turned and faced Kathryn. "I am honored to be considered for the mission."
Sam nodded, giving her permission.
"Well Naomi, you better go and put your best dress on and meet us in the transporter room in two hours." Kathryn bent and held out her arms, smiling as Naomi rushed into them.
"You better hug your Dad too." Sam was smiling as well.
Naomi hugged Chakotay hard and turned to race away. Sliding to a stop before the doors could open, she turned.
"Permission to be dismissed, Captain."
"Granted." And the door closed behind her dancing figure, but not before the three in the ready room had heard her loudly proclaiming to the bridge crew, that she was "going on a 'portant away mission."
"Thanks, Sam." Chakotay slipped his arm around Kathryn's shoulders, a signal to Sam that for the moment this was personal, not duty. "We'll look after her."
"I know you will. I just wonder how she'll ever sleep after this. It's bad enough as it is."
Kathryn's brain was still ticking over the logistics of the mission. "You know, I think we'll take Harry with us. He can keep an extra eye on Naomi and it will give him some negotiation experience as well."
"Good idea. We'll also find out if the Cilldara think he's our son." He ducked as Kathryn took a swing at him.
The away team assembled in transporter room two. Whilst the senior staff wore dress uniforms, Naomi wore her best party dress and her hair was pulled back from her face. She looked adorable.
They beamed down to the appointed coordinates and were met by Trona and the Cilldara delegation.
"Captain." Trona was effusive in his greetings. "Will you introduce us to your lovely family?"
Kathryn smiled and drew Chakotay forward with her. "Chamberlain Trona, may I present my mate and First Officer, Commander Chakotay."
The two men nodded gravely.
"My chief of operations, Ensign Harry Kim."
"Ah, your lower mate." Trona nodded at Harry and turned to Naomi. "And this must be your daughter."
"Yes, our daughter, Naomi."
Naomi approached demurely and held out her hand. "Pleased to meet you," she said.
Trona crouched and ran his fingers delicately over Naomi's forehead spikes. "Do all the young of your race have these?"
"No, not all of them," replied Chakotay. "They are considered the mark of a special child." He put his hand reassuringly on Naomi's shoulder. He knew how she hated anyone commenting on her spikes.
"They are very lovely."
Naomi clutched Chakotay's hand and beamed at the Chamberlain.
Trona then turned his attention to Harry, looking him up and down. "This one is young and virile, Captain, he will give you many sons."
Harry gasped and flushed bright red as the implication hit him.
Kathryn glared him into silence. "That is our hope, Trona."
She could see Chakotay out of the corner of her eye, trying hard to keep a straight face.
"Maybe your stay on our planet will prove productive." The Chamberlain bowed low.
"Or reproductive," muttered Chakotay under his breath.
A snort from Harry. "Wait until Tom hears about this!"
As they all turned to follow Trona, Kathryn grabbed his arm. "Tom will NOT hear about this, Harry. He's bad enough as he is." She eyed Harry up and down appreciatively. "Although maybe Trona has the right idea."
As Harry blushed anew, Chakotay couldn't contain his mirth.
"What... Dad, what is it?" Naomi didn't understand the joke.
"Never mind, Naomi, it's just your mother's poor idea of a joke." Chakotay ruffled her hair.
Each holding one of Naomi's hands, the command team followed Trona. Harry, still pink-cheeked, followed behind.
Much later, after a tour of some of the highlights of the city, several large meals and meetings with various traders, the four of them were exhausted. Even Naomi was tired, having been introduced to many people. She had been admired and handed around the women like a precious jewel. She had blossomed under all the admiration and it had been hard to keep her quiet. Eventually she tired and Chakotay had to carry her piggyback a couple of times. She soon fell asleep, worn out from her exciting day, her head on his shoulder.
Trona saw this. "Captain, maybe your daughter would be happier if she returned to your ship and her own bed. If you and your mates would stay with us tonight, we should be able to finish our negotiations tomorrow, but there is no need for Naomi to stay."
Kathryn glanced at Naomi and chuckled. "Yes, we've worn her out. Very difficult to do. I can arrange for someone to care for her tonight."
She tapped her comm badge and arranged for Naomi's beam up and for Sam to meet her in the transporter room. Then she gently shook Naomi awake.
"Naomi, wake up love. Time for you to go to bed on Voyager."
Naomi woke up, rubbing her eyes. "Aun.... Mom? Can I go to bed now?"
Chakotay set her on her feet. "We're going to beam you back to Voyager. Sam will meet you in the transporter room and look after you tonight. OK?"
"Yes." Naomi looked around her and realized she was still 'on duty'. She went up to Trona and offered him her hand.
"Thank you for showing me around, Sir." she said. "I have enjoyed myself." Then she reached up and spontaneously hugged him around the waist.
Disengaging herself she hugged Chakotay, Harry and Kathryn before moving away and hitting her comm badge.
"Assistant Janeway here. One to beam up." She disappeared in the familiar blue shimmer.
Trona watched her go. "Your daughter is delightful. Such a mannerly child. You are truly blessed to have her." He turned to Chakotay. "You are the father?"
"Yes." Chakotay was polite.
Trona turned to Harry. "So you will provide the sons?"
Kathryn intervened before Harry could put his foot in it. "It isn't always that simple with our race," she explained. "We do not pick the sex of our children."
"Ahh, but tonight, the three of you will sleep in the Favored Room. Those who spend a night there will always have a son."
"That is thoughtful of you, but not necessary," said Kathryn firmly. "We are happy with our daughter, and do not wish to impose on your hospitality."
"I insist." The friendly lines of the alien's face grew more forceful. "You will have to stay tonight anyhow, so we insist that we offer the best accommodations. You will sleep in the Favored Room. It is our largest and most comfortable room. Of course it was designed to accommodate those females who have more mates then you do, Captain. It accommodated one high-ranking lady and her twelve mates once. She gave birth to male triplets afterwards."
"Interesting." Harry put in his tuppence ha'penny.
"Very." Kathryn glared at Harry and he had no trouble interpreting her look. "If Tom hears about this you're in the brig," the look said.
The day ended with more food, wine, and dancing. Kathryn danced with both her 'mates' and various Cilldara. She noticed that neither Chakotay nor Harry had any trouble finding partners when she was not dancing with them. Harry in particular, was greatly in demand.
She was dancing one of the formal stylized dances with Harry when the music changed. It suddenly became slow and romantic and all around her she noticed the Cilldara moving closer to each other, in their version of slow dancing. Not wanting to attract attention, she pulled Harry closer and laid her head on his chest.
"Captain?" Harry was rigid and stuttering.
She put her arms around his waist. "Shut up, Harry, relax for god's sake. Do what everyone else is doing."
She felt his arms enclose her hesitantly and wished she had been dancing with Chakotay for this dance. It would have been nice to relax into his warm embrace and put her head on his broad chest. She sighed. There was always later. Later she would pull him into her arms and let him love her thoroughly.
Suddenly a bright light shone into her eyes. She raised her head from Harry's chest and realized they were in a spotlight. A circle of Cilldara surrounded them, and she spied Chakotay being led across to join them. She moved apart from Harry, but kept a hold of his hand, reaching for Chakotay at the same time. She didn't know what was happening, but she wasn't about to be separated from either of her crew.
Trona pushed his way through the circle surrounding them.
"It is time for the three of you to retire to the Favored Room," he said. "You will receive our ritual blessing as you depart, the blessing will ensure the virility of your mates throughout tonight, so that you will be blessed with the gift of strong sons. The three of you must join hands and follow me."
He turned and the circle of Cilldara widened, allowing the three of them to pass through, then closed behind them, so that they were walking through a constant press of alien bodies. A high chant surrounded them, and Kathryn could see them making a strange gesture; palming their hands over their bodies and up over their heads until their hands fluttered free in the air above them. The air felt different, as if the synchronicity of the gestures was somehow charging the atmosphere. She felt more aware of the touch of her uniform against her body, and the clasp of both Chakotay's and Harry's hands. Chakotay's felt warm and reassuring, Harry's twitched and jumped in her grasp like a trapped rabbit.
Her cheeks were flushed and she felt energized. She could hear Harry's rapid breathing next to her, and even Chakotay, normally so calm seemed on edge. The Cilldara didn't touch them, but the speed of their movements increased and the charge of the air around them seemed to grow, until she thought she could see sparks leaping from the flying fingers of the aliens.
Abruptly it stopped. The press of people faded away until it was just the three of them and Trona in front of a heavy wooden door. Trona opened the door with a flourish.
"The Favored Room," he said. "We will return for you at sunrise."
Ushering the three of them into the room, he disappeared backwards and the door closed behind him leaving the three of them alone.
"Well. What do you make of that?" Kathryn breathed a sigh of relief. "I was nearly getting claustrophobic amongst all those people. At least we're by ourselves here."
"Er... Captain... maybe you should look at the room." Harry's voice sounded nervous.
She looked. The room was huge but was dominated by one enormous bed, piled high with pillows and soft coverings. It could have slept the entire bridge crew and have room to spare. The draperies were soft, billowing gossamer fabrics that floated over the bed. The only other furnishing in the room was a low table, containing a variety of food and drink. One section of the room was divided off by more hanging material. Kathryn walked over to look behind it. She found a bathroom, with a huge Jacuzzi tub, that could hold a dozen people.
"Oh my." She turned to Chakotay who had followed her and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I think we might have to find a use for this tub." She reached up to kiss him, and he wasted no time in sweeping his hands into her hair, and delving into her mouth with his tongue.
A soft cough behind them startled them out of their erotic haze and they broke the kiss but didn't let go of each other.
"Harry! Gods, I'm sorry, I forgot you were here." She looked bemused.
Harry was looking very uncomfortable. Even he had realized exactly what the Cilldara expected the three of them to do in this room, and to then see his commanding officers devouring each other in front of his eyes had a strange effect on him.
"Maybe I should beam back to the ship, Captain."
Kathryn frowned. "I'm sorry, Harry, we didn't mean to embarrass you, just for a moment I think we forgot where we were."
She could still feel the stirrings of arousal course through her body. Chakotay was still pressed against her, she guessed it was to hide his erection from Harry.
Chakotay cleared his throat. "The Cilldara expect the three of us to stay here. I don't think we should jeopardize the negotiations at this stage. That bed could sleep half the crew. There's plenty of room for three of us."
"He's right," said Kathryn decisively. "Harry?"
"Yes, Captain." Harry didn't seem too happy about it, she thought he was uncomfortable with the idea of sleeping with the pair of them.
"Well I don't know about anyone else, but I intend trying that hot tub before bed." Kathryn walked over to the tiled bath area.
Chakotay followed her. "And just what do you intend to wear in the tub, Kathryn?"
"Depends who is joining me."
She smiled at him, and ran a gentle finger down the front of his uniform. "Can I tempt you?"
One part of her mind was aware that Harry was still in the room with them, but her whole body was lazily spiraling into arousal, rousing slowly to a heightened state where she wanted nothing more than to drag Chakotay down onto that sinfully large bed and make love to him. She ran her fingers purposefully over his jaw, before drawing his mouth down to hers.
Chakotay broke the kiss. "The tub, Kathryn..."
"Yes." She gazed at him with eyes smoky with desire before walking over to the bath area.
"Harry? You joining us?" Chakotay extended the invitation. "There's plenty of room."
Harry's eyes were like saucers as he watched his Captain remove the jacket of her dress uniform and move her hand to the fastening of her pants.
"Er... no!" He almost shouted the words as Kathryn started to lower her pants. "I think I'll get some rest."
He turned away and went back to the main room.
Chakotay followed Kathryn into the bathroom. "You scared him away."
"I did, didn't I? Poor Harry. But if he's in there, and we're in here, it means I needn't wear these." She pulled the tank over her head and her panties off and stepped naked into the tub. She could feel his hot eyes following her every move as she lowered herself into the steaming water. She wanted him to follow her and stroke and explore her body, as only he knew how. She wanted him to make fierce love to her. She wanted... Her train of thought was interrupted by the thought of Harry, probably lying alone in that big bed with a pillow over his head and god knows what in his imagination. He had to be horrified; although he knew that she and Chakotay were lovers, they had been careful not to be overly demonstrative in public. He certainly hadn't seen anything like her current wanton behavior before.
She frowned. Something wasn't right here. In her right mind, she would never consider making love to her first officer with a member of her crew only a few feet away. Impatiently she tried to focus her mind, tamping ruthlessly down on the overwhelming desire to make love. Chakotay was in the tub with her now, his lips traveling down her throat, his hands caressing her full breasts. Through the swirl of the water she could see he was fully aroused. That too was unlike him. Normally he was as careful of propriety as she was.
Something tugged in her mind. The Cilldara and their waving hands and energy-charged send off. That was it!
"Chakotay..." She tried to still the sensations his mouth and hands were causing. "Chakotay, listen to me."
"Hmm..." His mouth was working its way closer to her breast.
With an immense effort she moved away from him to the far side of the tub.
"Kathryn..." He followed her and embraced her, sliding his hands over her back and dipping below the water to cup her buttocks.
"Listen to me. The Cilldara. That ritual send off. I think it has affected us, lowered our inhibitions, arousing us in someway. Otherwise you know we wouldn't even think of doing this, with Harry here."
Something in her words reached him, for he dropped his hands and moved away. "You're right. Although I will always make love to you anytime, anywhere..." he looked at her hopefully.
"The ready room, the jeffries tube, the turbolift, the cargo bay... yes I know. But then Harry wasn't a few feet away probably rigid with embarrassment. Oh!" She looked at him. "Harry is probably as affected as we are."
"Poor Harry." Chakotay didn't look very sympathetic. "He's probably rigid alright, but not with embarrassment."
She tried to look stern, putting her hands on her hips, but failed. The naked authoritarian look just didn't work. "We better stop. Let's go and reassure Harry that he won't have to listen to us making love all night and then try and get some sleep."
Chakotay looked down at himself. "She said sleep, Big Man... Kathryn, he's not listening."
"Is that what you call him? It may be true but you could try a little modesty."
He got out the tub and waggled his hips at her. "Modesty isn't my strong suit."
"No, your birthday suit is. Good grief, Chakotay, put it away."
"Yeah. Harry, right?"
She pulled on her pants and tank and returned to the bedroom. Harry was lying on one side of the bed, practically hanging off the edge. There was an empty space the size of the messhall behind him.
"Harry? I know you're awake." She sat down on the other edge of the bed.
"Yes, Captain. I'm awake."
"Harry, that waving hand ritual of the Cilldara appears to be some sort of aphrodisiac energy charge. Hence the Commander and my slight loss of control."
Chakotay joined her on the bed. "It is likely that it is affecting you too."
The younger man groaned. "You could say that. I never thought I'd see you drop your pants, Captain, but gods, when you did..." he tailed off.
"Harry, it's OK. None of us were behaving normally just then. I think we should all try and get some sleep and hopefully in the morning we can finalize the negotiations and get out of here."
"I'll keep my hands off her." Chakotay added his piece.
"I don't want to spoil your night." Harry was miserable. "I can beam back to the ship."
"Ensign, you're staying and that's an order. It's only one night. I apologize for embarrassing you, but now we know what caused it, rest assured it won't happen again."
"At least not with you in bed with us," Chakotay added under his breath.
"Now." She put her hands on her hips. "Can we all go to bed?"
They settled down in the enormous bed, Harry still pressed on one edge, Kathryn in the middle a good distance away and Chakotay on the outside edge.
Once the light was out, the sound of regular breathing filled the quiet room. Kathryn lay awake. She could feel Chakotay, an arms length away. Harry seemed to be asleep. Really what would it hurt to sleep lying over Chakotay like she always did? She missed the touch of his warm skin, and the way he held her so protectively in his sleep. She shuffled over until she was next to him and rested her head on his smooth chest.
His arms rose to enclose her. "I knew you were awake." His voice was a silky whisper and his fingers ran lightly over her back. "I missed you."
"I missed you too," she whispered. " I love to touch you, and you were so far away in this stupid bed."
She turned her head and pressed her lips to his bare chest. A spark of heat coiled deep in her belly at the touch of him and she let her lips travel down over his chest to his belly.
"Kathryn, stop..." His voice was hoarse.
"Harry's asleep," she whispered back at him.
"No he's not." Harry's voice was loud in the silence. "Please you two. I know it's the ritual causing this, but it's not exactly easy on me over here alone. I'd like to be back on Voyager right now, in my quarters with Jenny draped all over me."
Chakotay chuckled. "So it is Jenny. You finally got the right twin."
Harry was silent. "I'm sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have said any of that. It just seemed to happen. But please, it's hard enough to sleep without listening to you two lovebirds."
Kathryn's sigh was loud in the dark room. "I'm sorry, Harry. It's really not fair on you. Sleep, Commander, and that's an order."
"I will if you will." His breath was warm against her cheek and his hand ran lightly over her back.
She lay with his arms around her and tried to relax, ignoring the thrum in her body that promised other sweet pleasures beyond sleep.
Harry lay on the far side of the bed, wide-awake and painfully aroused. One part of him was glad to know that this heightened sense of eroticism was caused by the Cilldara. Another part of him was secretly thrilled to be privy to the Captain and Commander's very open physical foreplay. But most of him wished he were anywhere but this bed, with these people. Really, to be back on Voyager, rolling close to Jenny and losing himself in her warm and willing body was what he wanted. Another secret corner of his mind wondered just what would happen if he drew close to the Captain in the night. Would she move into his arms and sigh like she was doing with the Commander right now? Would she press her lips to his chest and drape a slim thigh over his? No, of course she wouldn't and under normal circumstances he wouldn't even entertain the thought, especially about *her*. But right now, right here, with the heightened eroticism of this place coursing through his blood it was almost believable. Almost.
Harry rolled into a ball and tried to sleep, wrapping the pillow around his head to block out Janeway's breathy sighs as she snuggled close to her lover.
The morning light, filtering through the thick drapes illuminated a touching sight. During the night, with barriers lowered by sleep and desire, the three of them had rolled together in the center of the enormous bed. Chakotay lay on his back, with Kathryn lying diagonal to him. Her head was on his chest, his arm around her, one large hand cupping her breast. Her legs were sprawled, one tangled up with Chakotay's bronze thigh, the other spread away and touching one of Harry's smooth ones. Harry lay on his side facing towards the pair of them. His head rested close to hers on the pillow, one of his arms was flung across her belly, fingertips brushing Chakotay's chest.
Had any of the Cilldara seen the tableau that they made, in that instant before waking, they would have smiled and said that it was as it should be. A night in the Favored Room, coupled with the send off ritual had produced the desired effect. There would be a son for this family.
Kathryn woke first and as she stretched, she encountered the familiar press and smell of her lover's body, but also the muscular sweet touch of someone unfamiliar. Raising her head from the pillow, she spied Harry, sleeping like a baby, his arm hot on her belly. She moved her leg away from his, but couldn't do anything about his arm without waking him. She nudged Chakotay awake instead. He was instantly alert as he always was when waking, but in the first moments of consciousness he was unaware of Harry and gathered her to him pressing kisses to her forehead.
"Harry's here," she started to whisper, but the movement had already awakened Harry, who shot up blinking like a startled owl. He looked around him, down at the two of them, and realized how close he had moved in his sleep.
"Captain, I'm sorry, I didn't mean..." he tailed off, probably wondering, thought Kathryn, exactly what it was he didn't mean.
"That's okay, Harry. I know." She stretched and tried to decide if what she was feeling the normal morning buzz of sensuality from waking up next to Chakotay or if there were any lingering effects from the ritual. Chakotay, she knew, had an erection, but that didn't prove anything. She didn't dare look too closely at Harry.
"I suggest we bathe - separately - and try and find some coffee and the Cilldara. Not necessarily in that order. I'm pulling rank and taking the bathroom first."
She could feel two sets of eyes upon her as she climbed out of bed dressed in the tank top and panties. Chakotay's she knew would be appreciative, Harry, she imagined was gawking and trying not to be caught looking.
She took a quick bath and redressed in her formal dress uniform, relinquishing the bathroom to Chakotay. He stole a kiss in passing - this was the first day in a long time that they hadn't had a few minutes to lie holding each other in the morning before facing the day.
"I'll go and find some coffee." She avoided looking at Harry and left the room to the sound of lusty male singing, loud and off-key coming from the bathing area.
Luckily for all of them the negotiations were completed quickly. Kathryn noticed the Cilldara, Trona in particular, looking at them approvingly. She also noticed that the effects of the ritual had not completely dissipated. She couldn't wait to return to the ship and pin Chakotay down in their quarters. From the looks she was getting from him she rather thought he was thinking the same. Harry was fidgety. Jenny Delaney had better be prepared for little sleep tonight. She made a mental note to ensure that neither of them had alpha shift tomorrow.
Finally, they reached an agreement. Food supplies, B'Elanna's engineering components and a small quantity of dilithium were transported to Voyager. She turned down the offer of shore leave for the crew, citing the need for departure. In reality she was concerned that the Cilldara would not approve of some of the pair bonds that had formed on Voyager. Many of the crew was now in relationships, and to her knowledge none of them, diverse as they were, met the Cilldara's idea of a family unit. In addition, if others of her crew were subjected to that charged ritual, who knows what would eventuate and she didn't want people coerced in any way.
She thanked her lucky stars she hadn't taken Tom with them instead of Harry. She didn't want to think what might have happened then. At least she could trust Harry to keep his mouth shut.
Naomi entered the mess hall for breakfast and looked around her. She was bursting to tell someone about her away mission, but her Mom was on early shift and so was Seven. Neelix was busy cooking breakfast and had just waved at her.
She saw Tom, B'Elanna and Jenny Delaney sitting together at one of the tables and went over.
"Can I sit with you please?"
"Sure." Jenny scooted over to make room for her on the bench. "How was the away mission?"
It was the best thing she could have said. Naomi launched into an animated discussion of Trona, the Cilldara, and everything anyone had said to her. The adults listened with half an ear until one thing she said made more than a passing contact with Tom's brain.
"Hang on, what did you just say, Naomi?"
"Chakotay told Trona that having forehead spikes meant you were a very special child, and Trona agreed..."
"No, after that." Tom was leaning forward in anticipation.
"Trona looked at Harry and said, 'this one is young and puerile...'"
"Puerile?" B'Elanna stifled a giggle. "Did he really say puerile?"
"Maybe not," said Tom. "Do you think he said puerile or virile, Naomi?"
"Virile." She was definite. "What does virile mean?"
B'Elanna looked at Tom as if to say, 'watch it, buster'. "It means strong and handsome. Like Harry."
Jenny grinned. "I agree."
"And Chakotay." Naomi nodded wisely.
"What did they say next, Naomi?" Tom steered her back to what he wanted to know.
"He said that Harry was young and virile..." She looked to B'Elanna for confirmation of the new word. "And would give Aunt Kathryn many sons."
"He said what?" Jenny's eyes were like saucers.
"Why did he say that?" Tom wanted confirmation.
"He said that Harry was Aunt Kathryn's lower mate... what's the matter?"
Jenny had laughed and a mouthful of Neelix's latest attempt at oatmeal had splattered all over the table.
"Nothing." Jenny wiped her eyes.
"And what did the Captain say?" B'Elanna's eyes were nearly as big as Jenny's.
"She said that they were hoping that would happen."
"What did Chakotay say?" Jenny was listening as avidly as Tom.
"He didn't say anything, but he looked like he was trying not to laugh. And then Harry said, 'wait till Tom hears about this' and Aunt Kathryn said, ' he is not to hear about this' and ordered Harry not to tell you... oh..." She tailed off. "I guess that means I shouldn't have told you either."
"Too late." Tom's eyes were dancing with merriment.
"Please Tom," Naomi was upset. "Don't tell her I told you or she'll never let me go on another away mission ever again."
"He won't tell, Naomi." B'Elanna glared at Tom. "I won't let him."
"Then what did they say?" Tom changed the subject back to what he wanted to know.
"Then we went on a tour and I met lots of people and we ate pink berries and lemon flavored icy stuff and everyone wanted to touch my forehead spikes thinking it was lucky after Uncle Chakotay said I was special..." she drew a breath and Tom interrupted yet again.
"Did anyone say anything about the Captain and her two mates?"
Naomi wrinkled her head as she thought. "One of the ladies said that they were lucky and would sleep in the Favored Room tonight and that they would then have a baby."
"Maybe you should start to worry, Jenny." Tom was teasing.
"All three of them together?" Jenny was slightly worried although she would never admit it.
"Yes. She said it had a really big bed."
Even Tom's eyes were on stalks at that piece of news. "Holy cow. Wonder if Harry is even alive this morning. Imagine sleeping next to the Captain all night."
B'Elanna glared at him. "More likely imagine sleeping next to Chakotay all night. You think he would let anyone else near her?"
"No... he wouldn't.... would he?" Jenny wasn't talking to anyone in particular.
Tom was staring into the distance.
"Tom... Tom..." B'Elanna waved her hand in front of his eyes. "You will NOT use this information. You will not get Naomi into trouble."
"No... But imagine what I can do to Harry."
The away team returned and barely managed to exchange pleasantries with Tuvok before they all rushed away to their quarters. Tuvok raised an eyebrow. He had no idea what could be so urgent that the Captain and the Commander had to retire to their quarters before even glancing at his security report. Harry too, scurried off down the corridor, paging Jenny on his comm badge as he went.
It wasn't until beta shift that any of them surfaced. The Captain and Commander, sated if not rested, strolled onto the bridge.
"Good afternoon Captain, Commander." Tom was at his most urbane. "I trust you slept well?"
"Yes, thank you, Tom."
"You never know," Tom continued. "The beds in these alien places can be so different to what you are used to. I wonder how Harry slept?"
The command team exchanged glances. Tom's comments were a bit too close for comfort.
The bridge doors swooshed open to admit Harry. Rather than looking rested, he looked utterly exhausted.
"Captain. Sorry I'm late."
"You're not, Ensign. You're on time."
"You look tired, Harry." Tom again. "Busy night?"
Harry looked startled and blushed. "No," he said, heading for his station.
There was silence for a few minutes, then Tom spoke up again. "So, did the Cilldara think that Harry was your son, Captain?"
"No. They did not." Kathryn was short in her answer. A lesser man would have dropped the subject then, but Tom was not one to back off.
"What did they think? I've been hearing some interesting things about the Cilldara family units."
"And I've been hearing some interesting things about Lieutenants who might soon be demoted... again." Kathryn rose. "Tuvok, you have the bridge. Commander, my ready room." The two of them left the bridge.
In a flash, Harry had left his station and was over at the helm. He grabbed Tom's turtleneck and pulled him out of his seat. "Okay, blabbermouth. Care to explain what you are rambling on about?"
"Harry.... Harry...." Tom's voice was strangled by the grip on his uniform.
"Ensign Kim. You will return to your post immediately." Tuvok's voice was calm.
"In a minute, Tuvok. I just want to beat some sense into Tom here. " Harry gave Tom a shake for emphasis. "Now, exactly what are you talking about?"
"Nothing..." Tom tried to grin around the grip on his throat. "Just wondering exactly what the Cilldara thought your relationship was to the Captain."
"Why does that matter to you?"
"Just concerned for your welfare, my friend. I would hate to think you had an uncomfortable night on the floor."
"And exactly why are you suddenly so concerned for my welfare? How many replicator rations do you have on the outcome?" Harry was still mad.
"None... Well, not many." Tom was being scrupulously honest, even as he saw his life pass before his eyes.
The bridge crew was so caught up in the drama being played out in front of them, that no-one heard the doors of the ready room open. Captain and Commander stood framed in the doorway, watching the little scene unfold. Kathryn turned to Chakotay and raised one eyebrow in question. He nodded slightly in response and she moved across the floor of the bridge.
Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw her approaching and gulped, releasing Tom. He stood up, waiting for the inevitable tongue-lashing.
"Harry..." Seemingly oblivious to the tension on the bridge, and seeming not to notice Tom's rumpled uniform and blue coloring, the Captain ran one hand up Harry's arm to his shoulder. "Poor Harry, you must be exhausted. After all, we didn't get much sleep with the Cilldara." She dropped one eyelid in an audacious wink. "And you bore the brunt of the Captain's demands for... " She tailed off and walked around behind him, running a hand along the back of his neck. "... The negotiations."
Harry tried not to look startled at the demonstration. He concentrated on Tom, who was sitting mouth agape at the helm.
"Take the day off, Harry, to recover your strength. After your sterling... performance... the other night, I think the Commander can take the Ops station today. He wasn't nearly as active as you were in... the negotiations."
The red alert klaxon could have sounded at that moment and no one would have noticed. With a final rub of the back of Harry's neck, the Captain and Commander disappeared back into the ready room.
"Well. " Harry was the first to break the silence. He smiled. "Guess I better do as the Captain says and build my strength back up. After all, you never know when she will require my... negotiating skills again."
And he turned and left the bridge.
© Shayenne, August 2000 Please email me to post/distribute elsewhere.