Summary: Chakotay decides to settle an old score and assert new influence at the same time, but the results surprise him.
Characters: Chakotay, Janeway, Tuvok
Codes: Janeway & Chakotay, Chakotay & Tuvok
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Written for #fictober2018 Day 6 prompt: “I’ve heard enough. This ends now.” Episode addition to Investigations.
“This may be the first time I’ve been summoned to my own ready room, Commander.”
Her tone strikes the balance between levity and steel; the perfect blend, just like the coffee she orders from the replicator. She takes her time with the first reverent, exaggerated sip, and he intuits from the performance that she’s goading him. Subtly, but deliberately.
“It seemed like an expedient way to get your attention,” he answers through a grim smile, “Captain.”
“Well, then,” she lowers her voice, “consider it yours for the next five minutes. I have a lot of work to –”
“It can wait,” he says flatly. “This is important.”
Her eyes narrow. “You’re treading dangerously close to insubordination.”
He opens his mouth, but is – perhaps fortunately – forestalled by the chime. “Come,” he barks instead, and enjoys her irritation at his high-handedness just a little too much.
This isn’t the time for emotional one-upmanship, even if he’s well aware the captain doesn’t baulk at resorting to such dirty tricks. He’ll have to keep himself in check if he doesn’t want to lose this confrontation.
Tuvok steps into the ready room, eyebrows cocked a little higher than usual. “Captain?” he asks politely.
She waves him in impatiently. “It seems Commander Chakotay has something to say to both of us, Lieutenant.”
The Vulcan moves to his captain’s side and stands at ease. “Should I have come armed?” he inquires.
Amusement flashes across the captain’s eyes and the comment has the desired effect; her stance loosens and there’s the hint of a chuckle in her reply. “I don’t think that’s necessary. Well, Chakotay,” she almost smiles, “the floor is yours.”
“Thank you.” There’s a shade too much sarcasm in his voice; he breathes in, deep and slow, centring himself. “I want to address the Jonas situation – specifically, why I was kept out of your plot to expose him. I’m the first officer of this ship, yet you chose to take Tom Paris into your confidence instead of me. God, even Neelix knew what was going on before I did –”
He stops abruptly.
“Chakotay,” the captain says softly, moving to rest a hand on his arm, but before she can go on, Tuvok speaks up.
“If you’ll permit me, Captain?”
She nods, stepping back.
“Commander,” Tuvok continues, “as I stated previously, it was my recommendation that you not be included in the plan to expose the saboteur.”
“Yes,” he says impatiently, “and you gave me some cock-and-bull story about wanting to spare my feelings because you suspected the spy was a Maquis. Well, I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now.”
“That is not quite accurate, Commander. I was not concerned for your feelings, but for the safety of this ship. I merely wished to ensure the success of our plan, and I judged that to involve you would potentially compromise that.”
“How?” he demands. “You served with me for months, Tuvok. When, in all the time you’ve known me, have I allowed personal concerns or feelings to override my judgement when it comes to the safety of my people?”
Tuvok opens his mouth.
“And Seska doesn’t count,” Chakotay adds flatly. “You said yourself that you had no idea she was a Cardassian spy. You can’t blame me for misjudging her when you did, too.”
“I don’t intend to, Commander. And to answer your question, I have not observed you placing your feelings above the safety of your people, either on Voyager or on the Val Jean. However, that does not preclude the possibility. Humans are by nature ruled by instinct and emotion, which are far less reliable foundations than logic to determine the correct course of action.”
The captain turns to give Tuvok a flat-eyed stare that matches Chakotay’s. Wisely, the Vulcan moves on.
“Indeed, your reference to your people is evidence that emotion is at the core of your motivations. You feel loyalty to the former Maquis on this vessel. It was, therefore, not a stretch to surmise that you would prefer to defend the saboteur’s innocence, even at the expense of logic. Furthermore –”
But Chakotay cuts him off with a slashing motion. “I’ve heard enough,” he snaps. “You’ve been trying to undermine me since the moment we set foot on Voyager and I’m done with it. I don’t care if you resent me for usurping your rightful position as first officer or resent the Maquis as a whole. This ends now.”
Tuvok’s eyebrows knit. “You are ascribing an emotional motivation to me, Commander, which I do not possess.”
“Gentlemen.” The captain’s voice cuts through the rising tension, and both men fall silent, though Chakotay is clearly struggling with his composure. “Let’s take a breath,” she continues, more calmly. “Tuvok, I think this is something the commander and I should discuss in private. You’re dismissed.”
The Vulcan nods and exits smoothly, and the captain gestures toward the couches beneath the viewport.
“Join me, Commander?”
He finds himself following her to the upper level, taking the seat she indicates, resting his hands palm-down on his thighs. The anger that had begun to boil up in him at the Vulcan’s implacable smugness eases to a low simmer.
He doesn’t know how she does that. How she calms him simply by being near; how she tempers his aggression and eases his ire. He does know that he gravitates toward her, maybe because of it; that he finds excuses to be close to her.
And it stings him bitterly that she doesn’t trust him.
He glances up, realising she’s been watching him, her eyes gentle.
“I’m sorry,” she says honestly. “Tuvok is Vulcan; he can’t possibly understand how humans can rely on instinct to make the right decision. My instinct said I should have taken you into my confidence about the plan, but I let myself be swayed by logic instead. I’m sorry I didn’t trust myself. That I didn’t trust you.”
He feels like an idiot with the way he came to Janeway for advice on how to discipline Paris. He’d been trying so hard to respect her faith in the younger man, to help him work through his discontent. And all along they were playing him; manipulating him into the expected performance, the way Seska played him.
“Do you trust me now?” His voice is still harsh. “Have I sufficiently proven myself to you, Captain?”
“Chakotay … of course I do.” Her hand hovers over his knee and alights on it with a gentle squeeze. “And you have nothing to prove to me.”
His heart gives a sudden double-thump and the back of his neck begins to prickle. He stands abruptly.
“Am I dismissed?” he asks.
After a moment she nods. “Dismissed, Commander.”
He all but runs out of the ready room before he’s forced to put a name to the emotion, the instinct, that had almost overtaken him the moment she touched him.
It’s ironic, he thinks as he schools his face to impassivity and returns to his seat on the bridge, that Tuvok’s logic fails him so spectacularly when it comes to understanding Chakotay’s motivations. Because what the Vulcan doesn’t understand is that Chakotay’s loyalty to his former crew could never surpass his loyalty to the captain.
And if there’s a subtler, more dangerous flavour to it than that, Chakotay has no intention of exposing it.