All the Devils are Here
Summary: Shortly after the events of Investigations, the command team are struggling to trust each other again. Then people start getting sick, and Janeway begins to wonder if there's something more sinister going on.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, EMH, Torres, Paris, Nechayev, OC
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 the J/C Cutthroat Fiction comp, Round 3. My prompt was to base the story on the starship quarantine code. Story is set immediately after ‘Investigations’.
Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.
- Shakespeare, The Tempest
The time is oh-six-hundred hours.
Some mornings I wish I could just silence the alarm, pull the blankets over my head and make the whole world go away. You’d cover for me, wouldn’t you? You’ve often said the job of a first officer is to make his captain’s life a little easier. Every time you say it I laugh, roll my eyes a little and pretend you’re joking… but secretly, I’m pleased.
And every time you say it, I try to pretend I’m not falling a little further.
It’s not in my nature to trust easily. Oh, I trust your training and your experience. I trust you’ll do what you can to protect your people. But what about my people? Are we still separate, or will there really come a day when we are all one and the same?
Maybe that day will only come when I truly believe it, myself.
The thing is, I thought I could trust you. I thought we were more than a command team – I thought we were friends. I believed you when you said you’d do anything in your power to support me, that you had faith in my leadership, that together we would get them all home. I believed you. But these past few days, something has changed.
The time is oh-six-fifteen hours.
There have been times when the thought of seeing you makes my step bounce a little higher, my eyes shine a little brighter. I remember when I first recognised it. The night before, I had said my goodbyes to Mark, shut his picture away in a drawer and made my peace with it. That morning I leapt out of bed, hummed my way through a shower, applied makeup with extra care. And then I caught my own eyes sparkling at me from the mirror, my colour high, and it hit me: I was behaving like a young girl stupid in love.
These days, though… These days, everything is different.
I don’t know whether my stomach is twisted in knots from nerves or if this nausea is just Neelix’s cooking disagreeing with me. Either way, it seems both body and mind are telling me that something is wrong.
The time is oh-six-twenty hours.
If I procrastinate any longer I’ll end up late for my shift, and that means less time on the bridge beside you. Up until the past few days, the idea of spending time away from you might have made me pout.
Now, though, I just worry what you might do to undermine me in my absence.
“Captain on the bridge.”
I nod to Harry Kim as I step down from the upper level, noting as I pass that he looks a touch peaky. Maybe we all overindulged in Neelix’s casserole last night.
“As you were.” I take my seat and steel myself to turn toward you.
Your eyes hold a sparkle, the way they always do when you look at me, but something rings false about it this morning. Yet your voice is as warm as ever. “Sleep well, Captain?”
“Fine, thank you,” I lie. “Anything to report, Commander?”
You give the briefest pause before answering smoothly, “Nothing of note, Captain.”
“Captain,” Tuvok breaks in, “you should be made aware that the Doctor reports two crewmen were admitted to Sickbay overnight. He has not yet diagnosed their condition.”
“Is it serious?”
I rise. “I’ll be in Sickbay. Commander – you have the bridge.”
As the turbolift doors close I watch you watching me, but it’s not the same. That tiny smile that flirts with your lips when you think nobody is looking – it’s not there. All I see in your gaze is cool speculation.
It’s my fault. If I had brought you into my confidence when this all started, weeks ago – as I knew deep down I should – maybe we wouldn’t be where we are today. Maybe you wouldn’t be looking at me the way you do now, as if we’re back in the first tense weeks of our journey together.
Instead, I listened to Tuvok and kept you out of the loop, and I’ll regret that until the day our journey ends.
I smooth out my expression as I enter Sickbay. “Doctor, report?”
“In here, Captain.”
I move into the small lab in the back, where the EMH and Kes are bent over a protein analyser. The Doctor straightens up as I approach.
“I have two crewmen complaining of severe headaches and nausea,” he explains. “I’ve scanned them and taken blood samples but so far have been unable to identify the cause of their ailments.”
“It’s not food poisoning, then?”
The Doctor concedes my weak attempt at humour with a tilt of the head. “There are no enzymes present in their digestive tracts that indicate a food source could be responsible.”
“It’s possible,” he concedes, “though there’s something unusual about the protein structures in their blood. There’s an odd variance in the nucleotide sequences.”
“What kind of variance?”
“I’m not sure yet. Just another pleasant Delta quadrant surprise, I suspect.”
“Well, keep at it, Doctor.” I pat him on the shoulder and move back through his office into the main room, where Lieutenant Baxter and Crewman Mendez lie on biobeds. Mendez is hunched over on his side retching into a bucket and the sound makes my own throat constrict, so I skirt his bed and move over toward Baxter.
He tries to straighten at my approach, a wince clearly crossing his features. “Captain.”
“As you were, Lieutenant. How are you feeling?”
“I’ve been better, ma’am, but I’m sure I’ll be fit for duty in short order.”
“You’ll be fit for duty when the Doctor releases you,” I remind him. “Until then, get some rest.”
“Yes, Captain.” He all but collapses back onto the pillow, and I step quickly out of Sickbay.
There’s no reason for my next stop to be anywhere but the bridge, and yet I find myself ordering the turbolift to deck eleven instead of deck one.
“Captain!” Over a year since I made her my chief of engineering, and B’Elanna still jumps like a guilty child when I enter her domain. “Is something wrong?”
“At ease, Lieutenant. I just came from Sickbay and wanted to let you know not to expect Crewman Mendez for his shift today.”
“Actually, Mendez isn’t the only one who probably shouldn’t be on duty.” B’Elanna gestures toward Susan Nicoletti, who’s sitting at a console, head supported on one hand. She looks pale, sweat dotting her forehead. “I was just about to send her to Sickbay. Did the Doctor say what’s wrong with Mendez? Is he contagious?”
“He hasn’t suggested that.”
“I’ll have someone escort Nicoletti to Medical,” B’Elanna promises.
I squeeze her briefly on the elbow and leave Engineering, comming the Doctor on the way to warn him to expect another patient.
Back in the turbolift, I hesitate to briefly wrestle with my conscience before calling for the most direct route to the ready room. “And inform Commander Chakotay that he has the bridge until further notice,” I decide. The computer chirps acknowledgement, and as I enter my ready room – I’m not sneaking around, I’m the captain – I try not to feel relief at the prospect of several hours’ alone-time. Even if the most exciting thing I have to do today is read Harry Kim’s report on subspace radiation.
The coffee doesn’t taste right.
Maybe there’s a problem with the replicators, or maybe Tom Paris has been tinkering with my recipe again.
Maybe it tastes wrong because you’re not sitting opposite me on the couch, your eyes catching mine with a silent smile as we churn through a stack of padds.
I brush the thought aside like a pesky insect and turn my attention resolutely to subspace radiation readings.
“Doctor to Captain Janeway.”
I jerk awake – was I asleep? – and the padd slips from my fingers to thud near-silently to the carpeted floor. The remnants of a dream catch at me, but all I can remember with any clarity is your dark eyes watching me, colder than I’ve ever seen them.
My fingers are trembling as I tap my combadge. “Janeway here. Go ahead, Doctor.”
“I now have four patients in my sickbay, all of whom appear to be suffering from the same illness. I regret to inform you that I haven’t yet pinpointed the cause.”
“Four?” My brain feels wrapped in wool, and I hold my eyes deliberately wide, trying to focus. “Who else is sick?”
“Lieutenant Nicoletti was admitted at 0945…”
God, that’s right, Nicoletti. I told B’Elanna to send her to medical – I check the chronometer – three hours ago. Why didn’t I remember that?
“… and Ensign Ashmore reported complaining of nausea, headache and dizziness an hour ago.”
“Dizziness?” I try to recall. “Is that a new symptom?”
“My other patients have also developed it. Crewman Mendez has fainted twice since you saw him earlier this morning.”
“Your hypothesis, Doctor?”
“It would seem we are, indeed, dealing with a viral infection.”
“Considering you now have four patients, I assume it’s contagious.”
“Make that five.” The Doctor sounds grim. “Lieutenant Foster has just been escorted in. Excuse me, Captain, I must attend to my new patient.”
“Of course. Janeway out.”
I reach for the coffee I abandoned half-drunk hours ago, sipping it absentmindedly; as the cool liquid touches my lips I feel my stomach lurch. Hastily I shove it across the low table beside me, pressing a hand to my mouth until the nausea subsides.
When I’m certain that nothing I’ve ingested in the past twelve hours is about to make a reappearance, I smooth my uniform and stride out onto the bridge.
You rise from your chair – not mine; you never take mine – and a frown briefly crosses your face. “Captain, are you all right?”
“Fine. I’ve just heard from the Doctor. We have five crewmen ill with what he suspects is a contagious infection. I think we should consider –”
“What kind of infection?” you interrupt, your frown deepening.
“He doesn’t know yet.”
The tension in your bearing has me flashing back to a memory: you, standing in my ready room five days ago, late in the evening after we got Tom Paris back from the Kazon. You stood so close to me, your body rigid with anger, scowling down at me as you told me scathingly, devastatingly, that your faith in me had been severely shaken.
Nothing has been the same since that night. And as your trust in me was tested, so is mine in you. Days spent in the company of your cold politeness mean I no longer look forward to our working dinners. Yesterday at the senior staff briefing I deliberately proposed a plan you should have taken issue with immediately, but you simply stared at me silently and were first to leave the room. If aliens boarded the ship today, I’m not sure I’d trust you to stand at my back.
This is no way for a captain and her first officer to be with each other.
I sink into my command chair, thumb and forefinger rubbing absently at the gathering ache in my temple, watching you as you turn to pace the bridge. You’re agitated, running a hand through your hair. This is the most animated I’ve seen you since that night in my quarters, and I have no idea what’s prompted it.
You turn to me, muscles bunched in your jaw.
“In my ready room.” Without waiting for a reply, I rise from my chair and walk quickly back across the bridge.
I can feel your reluctance to follow, but by the time the ready room door slides shut behind us you’re standing at ease, your gaze impassive, locked on a point above my head. With an inward sigh, I punch our standing order into the replicator. Maybe some caffeine will ease the pain in my temples. At the very least, sharing a drink together might help bridge the distance between us.
“Join me?” Carrying my coffee and your herbal tea, I tilt my head toward the long couch under the viewport and wait for you to silently take your place at one end.
“What do we know about this illness?” you ask, accepting the tea.
“The patients have complained of headaches, dizziness and nausea. So far only humans seem to be affected, but that may be because none of our alien crewmen has been exposed to it yet.”
“Kes has,” you point out.
“True. But if this is a Delta quadrant virus, perhaps she’s naturally immune.” I tap my fingernails on the side of my mug. “The Doctor said he’d found an unknown variance in the infected crew members’ protein structures. I’m going to assign Ensign Wildman to assist him in investigating it.”
“Sam Wildman is pregnant. Should she be exposed to an unknown active virus?”
“Ensign Wildman is the chief science officer and has a great deal of experience with xenobiological research. And she’ll take every precaution.”
You nod tightly. You’re the captain, I can all but hear you say. “Am I dismissed?”
“Not yet, Commander.” I sip my coffee, mentally phrasing my next statement. “On the bridge just now, when I mentioned the virus, you seemed agitated. Is there something I should be made aware of? Something you’re not telling me?”
You stare at me as though in disbelief, then smooth out your expression, straightening your spine. “No, Captain. There’s nothing I’m not telling you. Nothing you need to know.”
I don’t believe you for a moment, but the tension crawling across my skull is becoming unbearable and I’m beginning to regret the coffee. “Dismissed, then, Commander,” I mumble, barely noticing you leave.