I really liked the title of this particular story because it contributes to the overall mood of denial and self-loathing, not to mention the uncertainty of the situation. It sounds like a common enough protest: "I'm not that kind of person who would do something like that." It also has a secondary meaning, that Chakotay -- the protognist in this story -- has not been kind to Seven of Nine, that he took advantage of her. There's also the idea of betrayal, that in addition, Chakotay is being cruel to Janeway.
Email address hasn't been changed in years, despite being completely hijacked by spammers and spoofers.
Disclaimer: All hail the Gods at Paramount. Theirs, not mine. This was their idea anyway. I hope they don't mind sharing their sandbox with me.
I'm very much into snarky disclaimers. I think they should be used more often :-) This was a dig at TPTB for the complete mess they made of season 7 Voyager. I had had great hopes for the season and at least one of my wishes was fulfilled, but at the time this story was written, I had all but given up hope on having a coherent, logical ending in the tradition of "The Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine."
Author's Note: I didn't want to do it, but "Human Error" made me. Thank you to Liz for the beta.
I'm not sure whether this story came out of discussions regarding spoilers for "Human Error" or actually watching the episode. I suspect the former. In "Human Error," Seven explores her sexuality and more personal relationships; the subject of her experimentation is a holographic Chakotay. While I wasn't anti-C/7, I was baffled by the very prospect. As I told Rocky, "Do they even talk to each other? Have they even shared a cheese sandwich?" So this is a spackling story, and thematically, Erosion takes the same situation from Janeway's POV and also carries forward the hint given at the end of this story that Chakotay's one-night stand with Seven developed in something more meaningful. Incidentally, "Erosion" was written in March of 2001, and this story was written the following month. The 'Liz' referred to above is Liz Logan. Liz Barr is the one who requested this commentary and jemima pereira seconded it.
You didn't expect to start your day like this.
I don't think I consciously set out to use the second-person; it just happened. I had heard a story called "The Hunter" on NPR that used the second-person voice very effectively and I knew instinctively that I wanted to do something similar. I thought the situation in this story called for a second-person POV. It requires distance and probably some amount of self-flagellation by the main character. I didn't think Chakotay could view his circumstances with neutrality; he's in the middle of a pretty long trip into guilt. Why not just exacerberate his feelings by using a more 'scolding' POV?
You didn't expect her to be the first person you see this morning.
Eh, minor grammatical error there. It's amazing when I reread stories just how many things I find that could have been written better, phrased differently, or stick out like a sore thumb. Despite many betas and revisions, I never saw this mistake until now.
You left your quarters at the usual time, nodded a few greetings and kept your comments terse, because you haven't had coffee yet this morning.
And damn, after last night, you really need that coffee.
Of course, when the Captain finds out, you're going to need more than just coffee, but of course you're hoping nothing will get out. You're hoping no one knows.
This is one of those moments when you have done something utterly stupid or regrettable and you're praying, praying, praying that no one ever finds out. Of course you know it's only a matter of time. And this also illustrates what's really going on in Chakotay's head. He regrets what he has done, but at the same time, he doesn't know how he's going to explain himself to the Captain. After all, he and the Captain do have something together, don't they? So that's my nod to J/Cers. I'd never call myself a J/Cer because I don't actually believe the relationship could work, but I acknowledge that there is at least a deep, platonic friendship between them. Also a nod to J/7ers, or anyone who thinks Janeway and Seven have a maternal relationship -- no matter what, Chakotay's screwed (literally) big time and he knows it.
You're also not stupid.
Small ship, loose mouths.
Small nod to fanon that the crew of the Good Ship Voyager is nothing but a group of gossips :-)
You don't want to think about it.
And so you're still trying to figure out what happened. Trying figure out if you liked what happened last night and here she is in the turbolift, cool as can be, regarding you with the same analytical eye she reserves for the charts in Astrometrics.
This is the first indication that whatever happened last night involved Seven of Nine.
You feel uneasy, a bit warm, but step into the turbolift anyway. Door closes and there you are, the two of you, together.
I use a lot of fragmentary sentences in this story. I'm going for an awkward, clipped feeling. The whole situation is awkward, uncertain, and thoughts are racing fast. Even though the narrator is a second-person POV, I wanted that same sense of urgency, rushed heartbeat, in the narrative. I think this story would have had a very different feel to it if the narrator was nicer to Chakotay, slower and more considerate, rather than driving home the point that they are stuck together in a turbolift alone.
Just like last night.
You think of what you ought to say. A million things run through your head. You consider something simple like "Good morning" or "Hello," but your mouth dries up and you realize, for the first time in years, you've lost the ability to speak.
I really like this sentence. In the moments of most awkwardness and uncertainty, even the most suave and competent people are at a loss for words. Chakotay is no different. And Seven isn't really giving him an indication what she's thinking; the two words he's used to describe her so far are 'cool' and 'analytical' -- in other words, Chakotay is in a tough, tough situation.
You hope she goes first, but you know how she is; always the difficult one, never flustered, never bothered. She probably didn't think twice about last night.
Nothing like Chakotay torture :-). Of course he's feeling self-conscious here, and he's making a huge assumption about what 'last night' meant to Seven. This is also a slight dig on my part at the character of Seven -- consider it an author intrusion :-). I hadn't quite gotten to the point of intense Seven dislike by the time this story had been written, but she was certainly starting to grate on my nerves. Hence I threw in "always the difficult one" -- and not just as a character. I found it very difficult to write Seven as well, and this is probably one of the few stories I have written that features Seven in any prominent role.
You certainly have.
You've been replaying last night in your head, a slow motion reel like those old sporting events Tom likes to watch on television, the ones that show you each move frame by frame, second by excruciating second.
Another favorite section. The placement of 'excruciating' really drives home the point that whatever happened last night was torture for Chakotay. Most of us enjoy replays of certain situations/encounters. This isn't quite that way for Chakotay.
You think about how she turned up at your door with some suggestions (you don't remember about what now) and you looked over at the table, set with candles, wine and dinner for two. The Captain had cancelled for reasons you're still pondering and so you invited her in. Asked her to have a seat, have dinner. She accepted the invitation and then you regretted it immediately. After all, the two of you have never been close, never seen quite eye to eye.
Yet another author intrusion -- this last line sums up my feelings about Chakotay and Seven very well, given what little we know of their relationship. Most of their interactions have been in the form of Chakotay reprimanding Seven; love or even friendship has never entered the equation. In fact, it probably would have made more sense to hook Seven up with Harry Kim or Tom Paris, but I digress.
But there you were, eating angel hair pasta, tossed with basil leaves and carefully diced tomatoes. Caesar salad on the side, warm rolls with a pat of butter, and a mushroom cream soup complete the meal.
Ah, here is a Seema!trademark. When my characters angst, they eat. A lot. And they don't ever eat simple things like pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when they are depressed. No, they go for six-course carefully prepared exotic meals; when the going gets tough, the tough get eating. The same thing happens in Erosion. It's very easy to write about food, especially in terms of showing how characters interact with each other. Nothing like the clang of the fork, the inability to eat, the pushing away of a plate, to show exactly what's going on in the minds of your characters.
You really outdid yourself last night. The Captain would have loved every bite and you thought about that as you twirled the pasta around your fork.
This is a nod to the J/Cers and canon that the Captain and her first officer do eat together quite often. In fact, both Erosion and this story play off dinner meals gone wrong, invitations not accepted. In other words, if the Captain had indeed come to dinner as promised, the morning after for Chakotay would have been very different. Not in the sense, I don't think, he and Janeway would have slept together, but he certainly wouldn't be caught between two women as he is now.
Conversation was stilted, but you expected that; she's not known for her social skills. So you did most of the talking and for some reason, she hung onto every word. Her eyes never left your face and you felt good about that. For a single evening, you felt completely wonderful. You might have even thought that Seven adored you, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, all right?
The narrator lets a wee bit of snark into the narrative :-) This is also a small dig at J/C. I never thought Janeway treated Chakotay particularly well. In fact, she went out of her way to put him in his place and here, Seven is bestowing her attention on him in a way Janeway never has. Chakotay can't help but feel flattered. He is talking, hearing his own voice for ths first time in years, and Seven is actually listening. There's something very attractive about that. No wonder he's taking a second look.
A little bit of wine, well, a lot of wine, and some sultry jazz music later, you reached across the table, gently brushing the curve of her jaw. Perfect symmetry, you said. And then you asked very softly, What does your hair look like?
Another new technique in this piece -- paraphrasing conversation rather than drawing it out and actually speaking. Again, it's muting the action and instead, concentrating on the feelings and sensations of the moment. I didn't want to jolt the reader out of this completely odd tableau of Chakotay having dinner with Seven. So for that reason, I chose to write the conversation in this part of the story like this, as part of the narrative.
And she looked at you in confusion, not quite understanding. She said something about obvious. Wasn't it obvious? she asked. But you shook your head and it was a simple move then from jawbone to the wing of gold hair just above her ear. She didn't flinch when you pulled out the little pins holding the hair in place.
A "wing of gold hair" is probably one of my favorite descriptions in this story. I have no idea where I came up with it, but it just seemed to fit. You can't really talk about the way hair curves above a ear, but 'wing' seemed to have the perfect shape for the image I wanted to convey. It's still Seven's severe upsweep, but 'wing' also softens it a little making it less harsh.
You don't remember how you got out of your chair; you just did. One moment the table separated you from her, and the next minute it was you, her, nothing in between.
You touched her hair, wrapping the soft strands around your fingers and then without thinking, you leaned in for the kiss. Lightly brushing those full lips. You might have stopped then, might have pulled back, if she hadn't put her hand on the back of your neck, pulling you closer.
Ah, here's another thing I do way too often -- repeating the same words in a sentence. But in general, I do like this sentence because there's a lot of action. It's written in fragments, bursts of activity, but it's pretty accurate of the way I think Chakotay and Seven got past their initial awkwardness. It also shows that the decision wasn't entirely Chakotay's, or rather, Seven gave him some indication she wanted him, so I'm letting the guy off the hook a little bit here :-)
You were very aware of her last night. Aware of her in a way you haven't been since she came onboard. You never noticed before how her lashes curled or how her ears are perfectly shaped.
When you look at someone in an entirely new light, you see different things about them. This is the case here. Chakotay is noticing Seven for the first time as someone other than a former Borg drone, that woman in Astrometrics, etc. He's noticing minutia about her, and it's both scary and exhilarating.
You never noticed because you never thought of her in this way before.
To be honest, I don't think Chakotay thought of Seven as anything but a pain in the ass and Janeway's personal reclamation projection. For him to think of her as a sexual being or even someone he'd be interested in, it's quite the stretch. I thought it necessary to have this acknowledgement in the story.
She was awkward at first, not quite knowing where to put her hands, but she kissed you back. It wasn't an earth-shaking kiss by any means, but nice, sweet, and you - you cared all the more because you knew it was the first kiss. And so you pulled away.
By "the first kiss", the narrator means Seven's first kiss ever.
This isn't right, you said even though you didn't mean it. And she stared back at you with those deep blue eyes and you couldn't resist. You saw the flush in her cheeks and you knew what she didn't say. Her hand grabbed yours and you could tell that she didn't plan to let go. Not tonight.
Again, letting the old guy off the hook :-) Seven is taking the lead. Before "Human Error," I might have disagreed with Seven being this forward, but I think that episode pretty much erased any possibility of Seven not wanting to take control or be in control. She's reached a point in her development when she was like, "Okay, bring it on!" And hell, if she's practicing the horizontal lambada on the holodeck, she might as well put all of that newly developed skill to use. So I can see where people might object to the characterization as being too forward here, but in the context of "Human Error", it makes more sense.
Thank you for dinner, she said.
This might have been a cue for her departure, something you'd say if you're leaving, but that's not what Seven has on her mind at all. By this point, Chakotay isn't fooled either. He knows Seven is going to stay.
And then she kissed you again. On the cheek, on the chin, on the neck. Soft little kisses. You held her close, feeling the warmth of her body through the oh so thin material of her suit. Your hands found their perfect resting spot: the little dip at the small of her back. You liked the way holding her made you feel.
He's coming around, oh, he's so coming around.
You discovered that she was self-conscious; she flinched when you ran your fingers over the curved silver metal above her eye. So you did the only thing you could do; you told her she was beautiful. She regarded you with her patented look of skepticism. Her cynicism didn't bother you because you knew from experience that most women don't believe you when you tell them that they are beautiful. You say it to make them comfortable, you say it because it's true, and last night, you said it because you wanted to.
This is another awkwardly phrased paragraph that in other stories, I'd rewrite. But here, I think it's okay, because I do want this story to read awkwardly. The characters have no idea what they are doing. They aren't quite sure of themselves, and that narrator is there taunting poor Chakotay, but even the narrator is uncertain about what's really going on between these two.
You were gentle because you knew that this was important. Knew that this was the next step in exploring her humanity and in a way, you were proud she had chosen you. Or did you choose her? Did it matter?
Bringing Chakotay back into the equation now. Before, it seemed that all of the impetuous for the encounter was being put on Seven, but the narrator brings Chakotay back now, reminding him that he isn't an innocent man in all of this, that he could have stopped Seven at any time, but he didn't. He kept going. Plus, Chakotay has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He knows Seven is a virgin and he's flattered she picked him, and he likes the idea of being her teacher. It's a revelation that he later kicks himself for, but it's very true.
Somehow, you got her out of that suit of hers, cursing the Doctor every single second it took, and then you ended up on the bed, kicking off the covers as the two of you rolled across it. It never occurred to you that her skin could be that warm, that smooth, that flawless - free from all trace of Borg technology. And then you remembered the Doctor's dermal regeneration treatments and realized that some scars are below the skin, hidden where you can't see them.
And here, the narrator is also reminding Chakotay that Seven has a lot of baggage, but hell, so does Chakotay. They both have emotional wounds, and Seven has physical ones. But they have been both hurt by the same woman -- Janeway. Chakotay, because he does care for her very deeply and has told her so in every which way he possibly can, and Seven because of her forced de-assimiliation. Yes, it's a stretch on the latter because Seven does grow into her own humanity, but Janeway made a decision that was expressly against Seven's wishes ("You will return this drone to the Collective."). So there is a kinship there between the two characters, but Chakotay doesn't see it in himself, only in Seven.
You realized she had much to learn, realized you had so much to teach her and for a moment, you felt strangely powerful.
Ah just a moment here for Chakotay to indulge in some ego-building. Poor guy didn't get quite enough of it on Voyager, so I threw him a, um, bone here.
But then you relented and knew that it wasn't about you; it was about her. And so you did your best and you were rewarded when she closed her eyes and shuddered in your arms.
This sentence bothers me and should be rewritten. What I'm trying to say is that Chakotay put his ego and own desires/needs aside, and decided to focus on Seven. Very big of him. But the sentence just comes across completely wrong -- as if Chakotay is trying to complete a homework assignment or something. I don't know. It's a disturbing sentence on many levels.
Later she left, saying something about needing to regenerate, and you lay there alone in the bed, clutching a handful of sheet and looking at the indention in the mattress where that long, slender body had pressed up against you.
Guilt strikes poor Chakotay again, but he cannot, simply cannot, forget Seven. Sorry, Janeway, this isn't the Blond Alien Babe of the Week, but rather the Blond Alien Babe of the Forever Future.
So you couldn't sleep. You stayed up all night, paced your quarters, and realized that when the Captain found out, there would be hell to pay.
The rule about fraternization, inconsistent as it is, applies consistently to the Captain and the First Officer. Everyone else can make their own rules.
This is a dig at Voyager again, because if there are issues with fratenization, then there's no way that Tom and B'Elanna can date. Granted, they aren't in the same line of command -- ie, neither commands the other one. But for a while there, Tom did outrank B'Elanna and then vice-versa. Technically, one of them could have been in command on an Away Team the other was a member of. On a ship in Voyager's circumstances, either it made sense to have everyone pair up or no one at all.
So you start the morning with a headache and Seven is the last person you want to see.
Echoes back to the beginning, just in case, you dear reader, didn't realize just what a bind Chakotay has gotten himself into. I find that I'm very good at beating my readers over the head with the proverbial bat.
It occurs that to you that you might get a reputation, the kind you don't want; the reputation that says you're the type of man who takes advantage of those serving beneath
It's funny how you can see how your writing evolves over the years and I'm seeing things in this story I probably wouldn't do now -- such as liberal use of the word 'that'.
him. So you figure you ought to say something before it's too late.
You know you shouldn't, but you do anyway; you start with a cliche.
I'm awful with the cliches and incidentally, this is also another author insertion. If I think about about to do something stupid or write a stupid piece of dialogue, I'll come right out and tell the reader, "Beware, cliche! Approach with care!" It's a self-criticism in a way, of not being original enough to come out with something that's not a cliche, but at the same time, allowing for the fact that this is an awkward, uncertain situation and it's hard to be creative at the same time. Might as well say the first thing that comes to mind, the first thing that comes naturally, and voila, it's usually a cliche.
"About last night," you say. And Seven regards you coolly.
I'm also trying to count down on the number of sentences starting with the word 'And'.
If you hadn't seen it for yourself last night, you would think that her facial muscles are frozen in place, that that quizzical and slightly superior expression never quite changes; she is, even in this moment, impassive. So you try again. "We need to talk."
There you ago, another cliche. I'm not completely heartless when it comes to cliches. I think they have their time and place, and they became cliches for a reason: they describe an event or feeling very well. So I went ahead and used another cliche here: "We need to talk." It's just slightly below "There's something I need to tell you" in upping the angst or sap factor.
"I agree." Cool, clipped, utterly without emotion. You marvel at the coldness.
There's the nerf bat of redundancy again. In case you didn't get it the first 80 million times, Seven is cool. I think I must have used that adjective a half a dozen times to describe her in this story. I have no doubt it'll show up once again in this story in relation to Seven. Sometimes, I feel I should use my thesaurus more often...
In fact, you're slightly perturbed by how fascinated you are by Seven's sheer emotional control. Unfortunately - or fortunately - you wear your feelings across your face, where everyone can see them. It's the reason why you never really took up poker; everyone knew when you held a good hand and when your cards signified a fold in the first round.
I actually know nothing about poker. This is just a brief, glib throw-away line about Chakotay. I'm also stretching when I write Chakotay 'wears his feelings across his face' -- that is not true. He is usually expressionless and stoic -- but we call that bad acting more than anything else. So there's a little bit of author desire in the above paragraph. I want Chakotay to come out and say what he's thinking or at least look like something that's going on inside of his head. Another way to read it is that once again, Chakotay is thinking of himself in different terms than the rest of the world views him. Obviously, we all see ourselves one way and the world sees us in another way. Either way you want to take it is fine. Myself, as the author, I prefer to think Chakotay does have feeling and emotion and that today, in this uncomfortable position, he's for once letting it all play across his face (or maybe I'm just lusting for David Duchovney's emotive facial contortions during his nine years as Mulder, but I digress into another fandom entirely).
"About last night," you say again. And this time she turns and faces you directly.
Nothing like repeating a cliche at least twice in a story, dear reader.
"You wish to discuss our intimate relations," she says.
Here, I think Chakotay needs to have some kind of reaction and while he's monosyllabic in his response, he needs something more. If someone says, "You want to discuss our intimate relations?", the answer would have to be a pretty emotional, "Well, hell yes." But then again, this is Chakotay and despite my pipe-dreaming earlier, he really isn't going to be much more expressive or give out much more than that. He's already in a bad, bad way and Seven's not helping matters any.
"Begin," she states flatly. In the past, you hated the way she gave directives, the way she seemed ignorant of protocols - or maybe she simply ignored them - and you would constantly find yourself correcting her. But now, you find her terseness oddly endearing. She is the epitome of the opposite that you desire. Mind twister, isn't it?
'Mind twister' is another mea culpa from me to you, dear reader. I knew the line "She is the epitome of the opposite that you desire" was a confusing sentence and not at all clear in its meaning; hence, I just went ahead and called a spade a spade (love those cliches!).
You know who you want, know you can't have her, so you settle on the exact opposite.
Chakotay is already coming around, and it's here where again, I give a nod to the J/Cers and at the same time, hammer the final nail into the coffin (whoa, another cliche!). The word 'settle' was picked very intentionally. It means a decision has been made. Chakotay himself may not be aware of it, but he has already given up on Janeway and has moved on to the next best thing.
There is something vaguely desperate about that and you don't like the way it makes you feel.
You wonder if you hate yourself.
You wonder if you hate her.
I'll leave it to the reader to decide who this her refers to: Janeway or Seven.
You wonder how you're going to get out of this gracefully.
This is another technique I like to use -- short bursts of short sentences. It's a way of getting through thoughts and actions quickly and with maximum impact. Or so I'm deluded enough to think.
"Not here, not now," you tell her hastily. Your timing is impeccable; the turbolift doors open and Seven steps out. She takes a few steps and then turns, looking almost shy, soft. You're amazed at the transformation as she looks back at you.
"Thank you," she says.
This comment is out of character for Seven, and I even thought that as I was writing, but then I said, "What the hell" and did it anyway. Why? Because Seven is changing and she took a big step when she tried out a holodeck program, when she made a move on Chakotay, and why not have her suddenly saying things like "thank you", maybe even shyly? After all, she doesn't really know how to have this kind of conversation, and this one statement is the first hint that the reader gets that Seven doesn't blame Chakotay for anything and that she's okay with what happened last night. There wasn't going to be a long conversation between the two of them, not here, not now, and I'm not entirely sure there ever would be such a conversation; I can see these two just falling in together, not really thinking about what they are doing -- they just do. So in that context, while "thank you" sounds odd coming from Seven, it fits in a lot of what I was thinking and what I wanted to convey about her state of mind.
You're confused now.
Again, authorial mea culpa, acknowleging that the statement from Seven might sound odd or out of character.
Hell, who wouldn't be? You take a step closer, putting your hand against the edge of the turbolift door to keep it open. You see no one in the corridor and realize that yes, Seven does mean you. She's still looking at you with a thin-lipped smile, the best she can possibly offer you. So you take it at face value and know she doesn't hate you. At least that's something.
You wonder about the appropriate response. You wonder about a book that gives you the proper etiquette in situations like this.
I'm not sure where the 'book' came from. It's the 24th century, so the term 'book' stands out. It's another sentence where the word choice could have been better.
You've never had this many questions before. Well, maybe, but not with Seven. Never with Seven.
"Are you available for dinner tonight?" her voice is light and the words roll off her tongue in a smooth and natural cadence. You remember her with that golden hair streaming down to her shoulders and that distant hazy look in her eyes. You remember touching her cheek and running a light finger over her shoulder before settling your lips against the curve of her neck. And you remember her hot breath against your cheek.
Chakotay is obviously thinking with the head that is not on his neck...
You think this is a bad idea. You think about your reputation.
You say yes.
I leave it to the reader to decide why Chakotay said yes. Did he say it for lust? Did he say it to get back at Janeway? Did he say it for himself because for once he can have the upper hand? Does he know enough about Seven to be in love with her yet? I have my own thoughts on the subject, but I think it's best to leave it open for interpretation.
Again that sweet smile and you wonder if she practiced that last night when she was supposed to be regenerating.
'Sweet' is not a word commonly associated with Seven, so again, I back it up with Chakotay's thoughts abut whether Seven was practicing. What, did you want me to use 'cool' again?
She walks away and you focus on her retreating figure for a second longer than appropriate. You note the sway of her hips and it bothers you that you never noticed the way she moves before.
Once again, Chakotay is coming around. And everything he's noticing about Seven is very physical. Obviously, in that outfit, how can it not be physical? All of the men on that starship would have to be blind not to notice. But it also gives a good hint as to Chakotay's actual state of mind on why he's agreeing to have dinner with Seven. I admit I'm being unfair to Chakotay, that I should give more depth and emotion to his attraction, but really, until the end of season seven, he gave us no reason as to why he would be attracted to this woman. So, in a phrase, I'm not that kind. Lust it is for now. Other stories talk more about their relationship in a way that's something more than physical. But at this point, working within the bounds of canon, TPTB didn't give us much more motivation for Chakotay. Yes, I understand that my job as a fanfic writer is to put the motivation in, but it's a stretch, a big stretch. So I suppose it's easier to focus on the physical attraction first, accept that, and then move on to something more.
You step back and the turbolift doors close. The next stop, the doors open revealing the Captain.
Uh oh... I wasn't sure when I was writing just how Janeway would make her appearance in this story. But having already written "Erosion," I felt it was best to keep her rather peripheral to the overall Chakotay!self-flagellation theme. We already know from "Erosion" how Janeway feels, but at this point in the story, she doesn't know about Chakotay and Seven and Chakotay certainly doesn't want her to know what's going on either. So again, I go with the clipped dialogue, friendly enough on the surface, the type of words you'd exchange with a good friend, but weighted down with so much more.
You greet her with a nod because you still don't trust your mouth to form the right words.
"You look like you could use some coffee, Commander," the Captain says pleasantly. You notice the empty steel mug in her hand. "Join me?"
"Sounds good," you say, even as your stomach lurches at the thought.
You don't dare to look at her because you know the minute your eyes meet, she'll know. So you keep focus straight ahead and when the turbolift doors open again, you let her exit before you.
Chivalry, you think, but it's really an excuse for something else.
It's been a long time since you've kept a secret from the Captain.
You don't like how that makes you feel.
Again, short sentences, short bursts, short words -- all done on purpose to convey the speed of Chakotay's thoughts. When you're actively avoiding a subject, or feeling guilty, there's a sense of urgency -- especially when you're face to face with the person you're trying desperately to avoid. So I tried, through the narrative, to convey that same feeling of "Ohmigod, I'm in an elevator with my own tuuuuuw love and it's going to be so high school when she finds out."
The Captain tells you, over her shoulder, that yesterday's problem in Engineering took longer than expected but that she enjoyed working through the issues with B'Elanna; it reminds her of the days when she was a pure scientist. And then she apologizes for missing dinner again. You tell her not to worry. She smiles at you and says she hopes dinner was delicious, even without her. She's teasing and you know it. You don't answer this comment.
Ha ha, Janeway has no idea how delicious dinner was :-)
In the Mess Hall, as Neelix places a steaming mug of coffee in front of each of you, you can't really concentrate on what the Captain is saying.
Janeway already had a mug, so I'm not sure why Neelix brought her another one :-) A small detail that got by my beta reader and myself.
You're distracted by the cool, elegant figure standing by the windows.
Seven is back, and whatdoyouknow, she's cool. I told you you'd be seeing this word again.
You inhale sharply, try to listen to the Captain, but you can't help it if your thoughts wander; you're already anticipating tonight.
I use the phrase "inhale sharply" a lot in my stories and it's about time I bought a new phrase. Also, this last line of the story makes it very clear as to what direction Chakotay is leaning and it provides a nice lead-in to Erosion, which continues this story, albeit in Janeway's POV.
~ the end ~
That's all, folks! Thanks for reading along and thanks to Liz Barr for asking me to write this up. It was a lot of fun and made me think about this story in a more analytical way than I have before. Thanks again!
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