Part 3.

Chakotay wasn't in the best of moods when he entered Tom Paris's 
office.  He'd been comming his exec for fifteen minutes, wondering 
why he hadn't showed up for their meeting.  The computer informed him that Lt. Commander Paris was not to be disturbed.  

Well, Chakotay was disturbed, and soon Mr. Paris would be, too.

The Maquis Captain's mood disintegrated when he saw Kate Janeway 
hovering over Tom's shoulder at the desk.  Tom looked up, a finger to his lips.

"I'm sorry, Captain, I forgot our meeting."  His blue eyes were 
deadly serious as he motioned the older man closer with a 
padd.  "Kate downloaded all the crew rations into my account and 
we've been trying to get it all sorted out.

The dark jaw set at the mention of Kate's name.  The two didn't miss 
the flare in the dark eyes.  He accepted the padd from his first 

"Seska is Cardassian, surgically altered to resemble a Bajoran."  He 
read and his head shot up.  Tom's finger was in front of his lips 

"What's the status of the rations, Paris?"

"It's gonna take a while.  Kate has the return paths twisting all 
through the system."  Tom was shaking his head to negate his 
words.  "You want to take a look?"

Chakotay spent a few minutes running down the salient points of the 
coming insurrection, including the fact that every room, corridor, 
alcove and head was at least aurally bugged.  Spirits be damned, he 
thought.  'Can we trust her?'  he thumbed into the padd he handed to 
Tom.  "Did you try this?" he said aloud.

The younger man's eyes narrowed as he read.  Janeway curled her lip, 
but stayed silent; it did no good to get pissed off at Chakotay.  If 
he was too stupid not to accept her help, it was his problem.  "Yes.  
It's where we started."

"Alright," Chakotay said, pulling up a chair.  "What do I do to get 
this done faster?"

Visibly relieved, Tom cast a quick glance at the tightlipped 
Kate, "You want to show him what we've already done?"

For the next fifteen minutes the three unlikely compatriots, using 
little or no verbal communication, worked feverishly to devise a plan 
of action.  

"Okay," Chakotay said at last, "B'Elanna has to know about the 
temporary rerouting.  How long will you need to restore the 
rations?"  And place a tracker on Jonas's engineering activity.

"Ten minutes," Kate said.  A smug smile settled on her face.  

His eyes narrowed.  "Paris, you dog her every step of the way."  
Chakotay knew his Mata Hari would understand his meaning, even if 
Seska was hearing a different message.

Chakotay stared at Janeway and wondered why she had just placed 
herself in more danger than he was himself.  He looked at Paris to 
make sure the younger man understood that in addition to his ship's 
duties, he was also saddled with this irritating woman.  

Absently, he stood and rubbed his brush head, remembering that Kate had called him 'porcupine head' more than once.  Oh, never to his 
face, but it had gotten back to him through Seska.

Seska.  A name  that now made his blood boil.  "Give me twenty 
minutes to brief B'Elanna.  And calm her down."  He paused at the 
door.  "Steer clear of engineering until I comm you."

"Aye, sir."

Chakotay took a measuring look at the room's two occupants and headed out, padd gripped in his blunt fingers, to the unenviable task of briefing B'Elanna.


After Tom was asleep, Kate slipped from the bed and dressed, watching for movement from the bed.  She slipped the communicator from her sweater before heading out the door.  If she didn't meet Seska, she might as well just forfeit her life.  The plans would fold for awhile and that pig would become even more pernicious.  

She moved through the quiet corridor to the lift only to find herself 
hurled against the wall, her head bouncing on the hard surface.

"Where the hell do you think you're going?"  Tom hissed.

"I have an appointment."  She pawed her bruised head, lip curling.

"What the hell kind of game is this?  Screw and run?"  Who are you 
meeting?  hung unsaid.

Kate's chin came up.  "I'm meeting my other lover."  The challenge 
was in her eyes.  What would he make out of this?

The younger man studied her, holding her head between his hands.  She couldn't divert her face from the intense scrutiny as he tried to 
sort through what she was saying, and not saying.  "Seska?" he 

This kid was good.  Janeway sighed, relief plain on her face.  Tom 
grabbed her shoulders, and shook her once, gently but firmly.  "Tell 
her you're through.  I'm not gonna share."

Kate shut her eyes on a sigh.  What an actor.  "Tom--," she began.  
She was a pretty good actor, too.  "I mean it, I'm not sharing.  You 
have twenty minutes before I come to get you."

Smooth.  Whoever was listening knew there wouldn't be much time for 
their clandestine meeting.  Tom pressed her comm badge onto her 


"You're moving up in the world," Seska turned from the view port, a 
smirk quirking her face.

"That's a matter of opinion."  Kate took a few steps into the room.

"You got cozy pretty fast."  Seska moved away from the star vista to 
sprawl on one of the lounges the room offered.  "You reject my offer 
and a few hours later, you're screwing the enemy."

"Listen, Seska," Janeway's ire was not manufactured, it was all she 
could do not to crush the bitch's wind pipe with her thumbs, but it 
would take a duranium spike to crush a Cardassian wind pipe.  "The 
kid was getting too close.  He had to be distracted.  At that age, 
there's one sure-fire way to distract a human male."

"You were awful cozy with him all day."

Janeway sighed.  "My plan backfired."  She sprawled on the other 
lounge.  "I just wanted to distract the little twit.  Now Chakotay 
has him stuck to my butt like glue."

"Glue?"  Seska's mouth twisted.

Janeway ignored the remark.  "I don't know what I can do to help you 
now with this shadow following me everywhere."  She rubbed her brow, 
trying to sound concerned.  

"Doesn't matter," Seska said.  "We're close enough, we can move on 
without you."

The human nodded, and Seska stood to end the meeting.  "How about a kiss good-bye.  We **are** supposed to be breaking up," she purred in confirmation of the audio surveillance.

Kate stood toe-to-toe with Seska, shaking her head.  "I hardly think 

Whisking by her, Seska said, "Too bad.  I'll keep you posted."

Of course, Seska lied:  Kate was out of the loop.

Tom and Kate were inseparable for the next few rotations; it was 
safer that way.  Chakotay never had such an unlikely shadow, but it 
was safer for all three to travel in a clump.

Harry and B'Elanna immediately installed an interference scramble 
into the aud-vid links to Tom's quarters and Chakotay's ready room.  
It didn't take long for Michael Jonas to come along and try to 
reinstate the link.  From engineering.  B'Elanna was so angry she 
nearly confronted him then.  With her fists.  Then her human self-
restraint exerted itself and she reported the incident to Chakotay.

As long as the command boys tolerated her on the bridge, Kate was 
there to stay.  But after the third day, she was ready to take a turn 
at the helm.  Something Tom wouldn't give up without a fight.

"Tom, you need someone with combat flight experience to relieve 
you."  She stood on the deck, hands on hips, feet braced apart, the 
glare of fight in her eyes.

"You haven't had a Delta Cert in over ten years.  Fleet vessels have 
changed a lot in that time."

"Warp drive's the same,' she argued.  "They've just moved the key pad around."

"That's a little simplistic."  Tom folded his arms in front of him.

Christ, she hated when he got condescending about flying.  Hot shot 
son-of-a-bitch.  "Flying is flying.  You learn the controls, maintain 
awareness of quantum physics and vector geometry, and you engage the engines."

"There's a little more to it than that."

"Not much." 

Even though this little pissing contest had gone some ways to reduce 
the oppressive tension on the bridge, Chakotay was compelled to 
intervene.  He flicked an eye to Ayala at tactical and Harry at ops, 
aware of their avid expressions.  "Let her fly the ship, Tom," he 
broke softly into the battle of wills.  He shrugged into the narrowed 
eyes of his exec, "I'll take responsibility."

Knowing that morale would not be served by a smirk of triumph, Kate 
eased into the helm, a bland mask carefully in place.

Chakotay felt Tom's hard stare for a long moment before the younger 
man eased into the seat beside him.  The Captain knew they would be discussing it later.  Tom always wanted to discuss things.  Later.  
He rubbed a knuckle over an eyebrow.  

The older man knew this was do or die time.  Three rotations, Kate 
had said--they were well into the third.  Everything she had 
indicated would happen, happened.  

The thought was barely done , when Janeway called out, "Warp engines are off-line."

Chakotay and Tom were on their feet and on the way to the helm, when the lift doors opened to expel Suder, Seska and Dalby wielding 
disruptors the size of compression rifles.

Pulling a phaser from the back of his waist band, Tom raised it to 
Seska.  But Suder already had his weapon trained on the first 
officer.  Kate saw the feral look in the Betazoid's eye and moved 
between the disruptor and Tom a moment before the obscene surging of energy sliced through her shoulder.

Ayala cut down Suder from behind, as Harry nailed Dalby with a phaser on heavy stun.  Two down and one to go.

But Seska had her disruptor under Chakotay's chin.  Kate shook her 
head to dispel the haze of pain.  The three had discussed exactly 
this situation at length in the last three days.  Kate coughed to 
clear the rising bile.  "Seska, this isn't going to work."

"Of course, it is.  Give me the ship, or I'll kill Chakotay."

Tom knelt by Kate, blood from the wound rolling between his 
fingers.  "You're going to kill him anyway," he said as his eyes 
flicked over Harry and Ayala.  He was aware of everything in the room 
at once, but the loudest sound in his head came from Kate's labored 
breath.  He looked back at Seska and shrugged.  "Go ahead and drop 
him, then we'll drop you."

In that instant, Chakotay felt the faltering of determination that 
Tom saw in Seska's eyes and he went limp.  The surprised mutineer 
lost her grip on the Captain as he hit the deck and rolled.  Three 
phasers fired, converging on her position with stunning energy.

"Torres to Chakotay."

"Chakotay, here."

"That son-of-a-bitch, Jonas is down here bleeding--the damn warp 
drive is off-line.  Impulse is jumping in and out.  What happened up 
there?  Weren't we supposed to have the upper hand here?"

"We've been a little busy, B'Elanna," Chakotay rolled to his feet and 
moved over to Tom's side.  Harry was already beside Kate with a med-
kit.  The first officer was administering a clotting agent and a pain 
killer.  "Ayala, get anyone up here you can to get this garbage to 
the brig."  He put a hand on Kate's shoulder and she turned toward 
the Captain, blue eyes glazed with pain and pain killers.  "Thanks, 

"You're welcome," she whispered.  She moved her head heavily to rest her pale cheek on Chakotay's hand.  It felt warm, and Kate felt cold, 
cold and in pain.  Her shirt was starting to feel sticky.  And she 
was tired, she thought as she closed her eyes for just a minute.

Chakotay sighed when she lost consciousness.  The lift doors opened 
bringing  security to haul the insurgents away.  He disengaged 
himself from Kate and stood.  "Attention, all hands.  This is Captain 
Chakotay speaking.  Seska has not, repeat, has NOT succeeded in 
seizing **our** ship.  She and three of her cohorts have been 
subdued.  I will deal with them swiftly and severely.  If any crew 
member wants to join Seska and her mates in the brig, they may report there now.  Captain out."

A stunned and groggy Seska tapped her own comm badge.  "Initiate 
Seska Omega 6-4-8 Psi."  She, Suder and Dalby disappeared in a 
transporter glitter.  

Kim grabbed his console.  "Captain, shuttlecraft Cochrane is powering 
up.  There are four life signs on board.  Shuttle bay force field is 
off-line.  Command protocols cannot be overridden."  Chakotay stared at the young, frantic ensign who finally let out a sigh of 
frustration as he rammed the heel of his hand into his 
console.  "They're gone, sir."

Chakotay stood for a few moments with his palm on his forehead, as if the hand was holding him upright.  Blinking back to awareness, he 
turned to look down at Kate, unconscious in Tom's arms.  "Harry, can 
we get a transport to sick bay?"

"Negative, Captain.  Transporters have been compromised."

With a look that frightened Harry for a minute, Chakotay slapped his 
comm badge. "Captain to EMH."

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

"We have a disruptor wound on its way to you."

"A disruptor wound?  From what source?"

"Mutiny.  Captain out."

"Can't you carry me, Tom," came a mewling sound.  Chakotay turned to the uncharacteristic tone and shook his head. 

"You're too heavy, Kate."  That wasn't true, but he sure wasn't going 
to tell her it might do damage to her already ragged shoulder.

"Maybe Chakotay can turn me into a bird."

"You **are** too heavy," Chakotay agreed and went to the command seat throwing himself into it.  Unsteady fingers began to rub his temples.


Kate spent two days in sick bay having her shoulder and collar bone 
regenerated.  The ball and socket had to be totally reformed, new 
muscle knit, nerves and blood vessels reconstructed.  She was 
unconscious through most of it.

When she was released from sick bay, she slept in Tom's quarters at 
his suggestion.  She was too out of it to wonder why. The first day, 
she slept around the clock.  Less after that.  Neelix brought her 
meals and Harry made sure she got to sick bay for continuing therapy 
and treatment.  

Tom stayed away, sleeping in his office.  At first he wanted to stay 
close to the bridge, wanted to make sure the helm was well manned at all times.  But he was beginning to run down and needed a full 
night's sleep, even if it was on his own couch.  What he really 
wanted to do was crawl into bed behind Kate, pull her body against 
his and fall asleep with his nose buried in her soft hair.

With a tired smile tipping his lips, he keyed the code to his 
quarters and quietly called for lights to 20%.  The smile turned into 
weary surprise when he saw Kate asleep sitting on the couch.  She 
wasn't wearing much, undershorts and a tee-shirt. Tom's undershorts 
and tee-shirt.  It was amazing--she **could** irritate him in her 

Tom was curious and gingerly sat on the couch to pull off his boots.  
The gentle rolling of the effort had the desired effect on 
Kate.  "That you, Tom?" came the sleep filled voice.

"Uh-huh."  The first boot hit the floor followed by a sock.

"I was waiting for you."

"Uh-huh."  He wanted to say **no kidding**, but that seemed too harsh.

"Doc will kill me if I slept sitting up again."

The second boot was off.  "Again?"  Tom turned to Kate, but she 
wouldn't look at him.

"Yah.  I wanted to talk to you."


"Why haven't you been sleeping here?"

Let's get to the point, shall we?  Tom was getting good at holding 
his tongue.  "Necessity.  There's a great big mess to clean up."

Kate smiled at that , but shook her head to dismiss the reason.  At 
last, she raised her eyes to Tom.  The brightness surprised the 
younger man until he realized that lurking tears caused the 
brightness.  Tears?

"I've had a lot of time to think while I've been laid up.  Harry's 
been so good.  And Neelix has been treating me like a sick child.  
But, I've had a lot of my own company.  Too much."

Well, that would be enough to drive anyone to tears.  Tom scolded 
himself to be more charitable.  Shut up and listen, his princely self 
said to his rude self.

"I thought a lot about the night that started the whole nightmare.  
And it seems like a damn dream."  She looked at the floor, unsure of 
what to say next.  "I have to admit to some digital stimulation."

There it was.  Tom didn't pretend to misunderstand, leaning back on 
the couch with a sigh.  Kate stayed forward and continued, "I also 
know I can't stay here, in your quarters, without you in bed with me."

A small laugh hiccoughed out of Tom.

"What?"  Kate turned an irritated face on the younger man.

"I was just thinking the same thing."


Tom laughed out loud and held his right hand up to swear, "Honest."

She was not convinced.  "I have to use the head," she grumbled and 
hoisted herself from the couch.  Tom followed her into the bedroom, 
staying there to get undressed.

When Kate came out of the bathroom, she looked anywhere but at the naked man. 

"Which side," Tom asked from the foot of the bed.


"Which side of the bed do you want me on.  I want to hold you, but I 
don't want to aggravate your shoulder."

That got her attention, blue eyes snapped at bluer, looking for 
mockery, finding none.  Hers showed open yearning, hoping Tom's words meant more than their face value.  Tom was stunned by the depth of feeling he found there.

"Take the side by the door," she finally answered.

He did so, placing his pillow and tossing Kate's extra to her.  She 
caught it with a grimace, the quick motion bringing a 
twinge.  "Sorry," Tom said, chagrin plain.

Kate just shrugged and pulled back the sheet.  She lay on her side, 
the extra pillow against her stomach, effective in hyperextending her 
shoulder and easing her need for anything more than an analgesic at 
night.  She stiffened as Tom slid in behind her, his arm easing 
between the pillow and her abdomen.  "Do you mind?" came a murmur close to his ear.  

"Hell, no," Kate's answer was a whisper.  After a few tense minutes, 
she asked, "Why?"

Tom heard the raw vulnerability, and he knew the answer to the 
question.  "Trust."  He paused.  "I can be an arrogant SOB when it 
comes to fairness and trust.  I trusted Seska because Chakotay 
trusted Seska.  And I never trusted anyone less than I trusted you."  
Kate tried to pull away from his revelation, but Tom hauled her 
back.  "But, you stood by me, even after all the shit I threw at 
you.  I didn't, and don't, deserve your trust and loyalty."

"So, you're here on an errand of mercy."  Kate's voice was frosty.

"No, purely selfish reasons."  He placed his lips gently on the 
healing shoulder.

"Uh-huh?" she prompted.

"I wanted to go to sleep with your butt on my lap, and wake up the 
same way."

"You say the sweetest things."

"Smart ass," he said, pushing his nose into the soft, sweet 
hair.  "Shut up and go to sleep."


The end.