Summary: Even the captain deserves a vacation once in a while.
Characters: Janeway, Gilmore, OFC
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Janeway looked like she couldn’t wait to get off the ship at the beginning of Tsunkatse. And right at the end, she looked pretty damn bright-eyed. Here’s why.
Part One: Ladies' Night
If they had any idea how much I hate the sight of every last one of their faces right now, they’d be scandalised.
It takes everything in me to hold back from a run as Chakotay escorts me to the shuttlebay. Keep your stride measured and the conversation light, ship’s business, nice and normal. Never let him see how hard you’re grinding your teeth just to keep from snarling at him, at all of them, to just. Fuck. Off.
Oh, thank God, the shuttlebay.
Even the captain deserves a vacation once in a while, he teases with that smile that’s always invoked my own smile in return, but for the past few months has made me want to rip his face off. And I manage, just barely, to toss off a light remark in farewell – even as I think, you have no fucking idea – as he turns into the corridor.
And I’m free.
At least for the next few weeks.
I’m not entirely unencumbered, of course – Tuvok would never let me take the Delta Flyer out completely alone – but I’ll be off-loading Ashmore and Sharr on Pendari II, and Crewman Gilmore’s hardly going to give me any trouble, is she? She’s terrified of me, and rightly so. And that’s exactly why I chose her.
Well, that, and the fact that if she’s under my watchful eye, she won’t be repeating the other mistake she made when we encountered the Equinox.
“Ready to depart, Captain,” Gilmore says meekly once we’ve run through the pre-flight checks.
“Good. As soon as we’re clear, punch it to warp six.”
It’ll take us just under a day to reach the Pendari system at the Flyer’s top cruising speed. I’ve brought a few padds containing official business, but mostly I have books: a few classic novels, some poetry, a Klingon romance I borrowed from B’Elanna. As Voyager shrinks in our rear vision I pour myself the first of many coffees, kick my boots up on the science station console and switch on B’Elanna’s racy novel.
It’s a mistake, I realise half an hour in as I’m running a finger inside the collar of my suddenly-too-warm turtleneck. I have no illusions that I’ll be using this shore leave escapade to work off a little of my frustrated tension, but I’ll be stuck on this shuttle for twenty-four hours before I can go hunting. Working myself up even more is not a good idea right now.
God, what I wouldn’t give for a good, rough fuck. Michael Sullivan couldn’t even take the edge off. All I wanted was a man’s hands wrapped around my waist, a hard cock driving between my thighs. All he wanted was to lay his head in my lap and read me obscure poetry. The novelty was wearing off long before I finally got him into bed.
I blame Chakotay for that.
There’s no reason to be embarrassed, he’d whispered to me across the bridge console, his face so close to mine I could see the downturned edges of his smirk. It’s nice to see you having a little fun.
And any foolish hopes I’d had of taking a little something just for me – something I could enjoy without being judged – fled.
Fuck you, Chakotay.
This train of thought is souring my mood, so I flip off the padd and stomp into the Flyer’s aft compartment, muttering something to Gilmore about taking a break.
Still, even when I’m lounging in the aft section, my jacket and boots kicked off and another steaming cup of my favourite rich blend in my hand, I can’t help brooding.
It’s not just Chakotay I’m pissed at, though he’s definitely the main cause of my bitchy mood these days. Tuvok seems more unbending than usual, Tom and Harry more juvenile, Seven more strident, the Doctor more irritating, Neelix more… Neelix … God, I really do need this break. The only person I can stand spending time with lately is B’Elanna, and that’s only because her solution to every frustration is to hit something. And that’s just fine by me. We’ve been clocking quite a few hours in her martial arts program of late.
That thought sets me off on memories of last night’s workout session, when we fought back to back against an army of Klingon warriors, emerging victorious, bloodied and panting. She’d grinned at me, hair a mess and white teeth bared, sweat beading that gorgeous tawny skin. I remember following the trail of a bead of perspiration as it slid from her throat to catch on the sharp slash of her collarbone. I remember wanting to lap at it, to wrap my fingers around her slender bicep and draw her in against me –
Captain, are you all right? she’d asked, and I realised to my horror that I’d actually stumbled a step toward her. I made some excuse about overdoing the exercise and waved off her offer to take me to sickbay, and all the way back through the corridors to my quarters, my face burned with the paralysing fear that she’d read exactly what was going through my mind in that moment.
I don’t want to fuck my chief engineer, for Christ’s sake.
Well, okay, maybe a little – she’s smart and feisty and gorgeous, after all. But frankly, at this point I’m so touch-starved I’d fuck anyone who paid me some attention –
Okay, even that isn’t true. I may be desperate, but I still have enough wherewithal not to go to the one person who’d give me everything I want, and more, the instant I crook my little finger at him.
And, God, is it tempting. So many nights I’ve lain there craving him, or paced my silent quarters to distract myself, or thought ‘the hell with it’ and got as far as hurrying down the hallway to his door before I come to my senses.
Because it’s the ‘and more’ that stops me every time.
“We’re approaching the Pendari IV docking station, Captain.”
Marla Gilmore’s timid voice interrupts my failed attempt to concentrate on the list of supplies I’ve half-heartedly agreed to bargain for on Pendari. I switch off the padd in relief. “Good. Hail the station.”
I converse briefly with the stationmaster, who directs us to a docking port close to the transport station and runs us through the rules – no stealing, no fighting, no trafficking – and transmits a list of the Pendari tourist attractions. As we dock, it occurs to me to ask Crewman Gilmore how she plans to spend her time here.
“I, uh, don’t have any plans, Captain.”
“Oh. Well, there seem to be some museums and galleries in the capital city, if that interests you.”
Gilmore gives me a deliberately blank look, and I can’t help a slight twitch of my lips.
“I’m told the city of Larach is known for its entertainment,” I offer. “Particularly its nightlife.”
Gilmore’s lips curve upward. “Thank you, Captain.”
Feeling friendlier now that we’re here and I have a fighting chance of getting laid sometime in the next three weeks, I pat her on the shoulder as I breeze past to disembark. “Check in with me every twenty-four hours or so, Crewman. And enjoy your stay.”
“You too, Captain,” she returns, and the knowing undertone in her voice makes me turn to give her a piercing stare.
“Something you want to say, Crewman Gilmore?”
She shrinks visibly, dropping her gaze to her suddenly shifting feet. “Uh, no Captain. Nothing.”
I glare at her just long enough for the colour to rise in her cheeks. Her sigh of relief is audible as I march away.
What to wear, what to wear…
I’ve spent my day shopping – something I’ve rarely enjoyed in the past, but not having had the chance to do it since the Alpha quadrant, it’s been surprisingly enjoyable – and my purchases are spread out over the bed in my hotel suite. The concierge gave me a rundown of Larach’s most popular entertainment venues. I’ve luxuriated in a bubble bath, slugged down a couple of strange alien liquors from the minibar, made up my face, and now it’s time to go out on the prowl.
I finger an emerald silk dress that made me smile when I tried it on – strappy and slinky, it hugged my every curve – but decide it’s too formal for the bars I intend to visit tonight. Then there’s the second-skin, soft leather pants and loose, shoulder-baring blouse; I hold these up against me and cock my head to one side, studying my reflection. No, I decide, tossing them over a chair. Tonight, I have one goal in mind. And I have the perfect outfit to achieve it.
I shimmy into the fine-knit dress, a shade bluer than my eyes, tugging the cashmere-like fabric this way and that until the skirt hugs mid-thigh and the neckline scoops low – too low? Who cares? – over my cleavage. Knee-high black boots with a heel modest enough to walk in comfortably but high enough to give my stride the necessary swagger, a light jacket with hidden inner pockets for my credit chips, tricorder and type-1 phaser, and a chunky, beaten-silver bracelet complete the ensemble. For a moment I wish my hair was still long – I’d love to pile it up and expose my neck – but it can’t be helped.
And, scrutinising my reflection, I don’t think it’s going to matter. God, if Chakotay saw me in this outfit, the dress would be in a pile on the floor so fast –
I cut that thought off right there. Slinging the jacket over my shoulder, I stride, long-legged and snake-hipped, out into the night.
Armed with a palm-sized electronic map, I’ve checked out three bars already and discarded them as too grimy, too prissy, and too loud, but this one looks promising. The music has a good beat to it but it’s not overwhelming, there are just enough patrons to give the place a lively look without fearing I’ll be crushed, and everyone seems to be having a good time. I perch on a high stool at the bar, order something from the top shelf that has a pleasant, mellow curl to it, and turn to survey the crowd.
There’s a likely sort over there. Tall, dark and well-built, as most Pendarans seem to be. I eye him appreciatively. When he glances in my direction I slowly cross and uncross my legs with a half-smile. His eyes spark in interest and he starts to make his way over to me, but is waylaid by someone and never arrives.
Oh well, the night is young.
A man leans on the counter beside me, his arm brushing my shoulder. “Excuse me,” he apologises.
I appraise him; he’s attractive in a bookish, reedy sort of way, and he has warm eyes over a hooked nose. I smile and test the waters. “Where are you from?”
He says he’s from Brekon, a planet several systems away, and has regular business dealings with the Pendarans. We talk about the scarcity of neutronium in this region – fortunately it’s not a mineral on Voyager’s wanted list, or I’d feel obliged to turn this into a business conversation – and by my third drink, he’s playing with my fingers.
His palm slides against mine, the tip of his finger playing in the spaces between mine, and I can’t help a shiver as the barely-there touch prickles my nerves and tightens my skin all over. My pulse picks up. I splay my fingers as he strokes them delicately, and just as my patience disappears and I’m about to suggest we get out of here, he gives a low grunt and some kind of sticky, web-like substance spills out from his fingertips and trickles unpleasantly over my wrist.
My companion groans and slumps in his chair. His eyes are heavy-lidded and there’s a dreamy, sated expression on his face. “Thanks,” he manages, patting my hand clumsily.
“What the hell?” I snatch back my hand, wiping it hastily on a paper napkin.
Well. They teach you at the Academy that every species is different, but I must admit I’ve never come across this particular variant of sexual gratification before.
It certainly puts a new spin on hand jobs.
Mr Fingers slides off his stool and leaves without a backward glance, and I slump dejectedly, elbows resting on the bar top. I’ve just been finger-fucked in public, and I didn’t even come.
“Brekoni,” a low, throaty voice offers from beside me, rich with amusement. “One squirt and they’re done.”
“Lucky me,” I snort, turning to look at my drinking companion.
She’s a half-head taller than I am, willowy, with long dark hair, skin the colour of mahogany and almond-shaped green eyes. Apart from the feathered eyebrows and the dappled skin on her temples, she could be human – but then, I’ve just re-learned a valuable lesson in assuming all humanoids are built the same.
She’s looking at me with a curling half-smile, that green gaze sweeping leisurely over my body. When her eyes meet mine again, her smile widens.
“Hello,” she murmurs. “I haven’t seen you in here before.”
“It’s my first time.”
“So you’re a virgin.”
I smirk, tilting my head in Mr Fingers’ direction. “Not anymore.”
She laughs, the sound rich and husky, and it sends an unexpected but pleasant shiver down my spine.
I turn my body toward hers, returning her frank appraisal. “I’m Kathryn.”
“Nayana,” she replies. “Where are you from, Kathryn?”
“A planet half a galaxy away.”
Nayana’s feathered eyebrows arch. “Sounds like there’s a story there.”
There’s a clear invitation in her voice, but I find I like the mellow sound of it so much that I don’t want to talk. I just want to listen.
“There is,” I murmur, “but right now, I’m here to escape it.”
She leans a fraction closer. “Are you here alone, Kathryn?”
“Yes. Are you offering to keep me company?”
Cool fingers rest on my knee. “I’d like that very much.”
I stare down at her hand, long nails tracing slow patterns on my bare knee, and am vividly transported back in memory to my sophomore year at the Academy, to the Trill woman I met in a bar, who’d sat so close and smelled so good. She was the first woman I’d been with, and I can still remember the softness of her skin and the way she touched me so deftly, as if she knew how to play my body better than any man ever could.
Nayana reminds me of her.
I lay my hand over hers, and she turns her own palm-upward, her fingertips cool and soft against my wrist. My breath is starting to come in shorter bursts, and all I can think about is those slender hands on other parts of me.
“Kathryn,” she breathes my name like she’s sighing, “did you come here looking for a man?”
I nod, curling my fingers over hers.
Nayana tilts a little closer. “Why?”
“Because –” I hesitate.
Because I’m lonely. Because I’m desperate for someone to touch me, and because the one I want is forbidden to me. Because it’s been so long and I just want to feel. Because anything else is too complicated.
“Because it’s simple,” I finally answer.
Her fingers are sliding upward along the inside of my arm as she leans in to whisper in my ear, “I can give you what you need.”
She smells like lipstick and alien liquor, and as I turn my head, her soft mouth drags slowly across my cheek.
“Do you want me, Kathryn?”
My throat is dry. “Yes.”
“Come with me,” she says, slipping off the stool, and I follow without another thought.
Nayana sheds her cloak and drops it carelessly onto a chair, turning to face me. The lights are low in here. It’s just another anonymous hotel room that could be anywhere, and I could be anyone.
She steps toward me, her fingers sliding into my hair, and as she kisses me I sigh in relief.
“Little Kathryn,” she whispers into my mouth. “So beautiful. I want to make you come apart.”
My hands are already mapping her curves, testing the ease with which I’ll be able to remove her clothing. Her fingers tighten in my hair, tipping my head back. I gasp, and she smiles, her teeth digging lightly into my lower lip.
I find the fastener at the back of her dress and yank down on it. The fabric slips from her shoulders and I wrench my head from her grasp, bending to suck lightly at her collarbone. Her hips push into mine and she starts backing me toward the wall.
I resist, pushing back lightly, and she gives that gorgeous throaty laugh and circles my wrists, holding my hands behind my back as she manoeuvres me backward. She’s strong, and it excites me, but I’m not ready to give up my control so easily. So I allow her to think she has me bent to her will until we reach the wall, and then I twist out of her grasp and shove her against it, her face pressed to smooth plaster, my knee pushing between her thighs as I lean into her back.
“You’re stronger than you look, Kathryn,” she purrs, eyeing me as I stretch up to kiss her bare shoulder.
“So I’ve been told.”
“But perhaps not as strong as you think.”
It’s my only warning. An instant later our positions are reversed, and my hands flatten against the wall as she holds me fast with one palm in the middle of my back, the other stripping me efficiently. I’m left standing naked except for my shoes. Nayana slides her free hand upward along the inside of my thigh. My knees tremble.
She curves the other hand around my waist, inching higher until she cups my breast. Fingers tweak my nipple, hard, and I gasp. Her laughter is smug, her teeth nibbling my earlobe. “You’re mine now, little Kathryn,” she murmurs. “Mine to do with as I please.”
Oh, no I’m not.
My leg curls behind her knees, sweeping her feet out from under her. In an instant she’s on her back, eyes wide. I press the flat of my arm on her throat, leaning in, my breath rasping.
“I don’t want to fight you, Nayana.”
“Then fuck me,” she grits back.
She spreads her legs beneath me, and I give into the desire that’s been building inside me since the moment I first saw her, pushing my thigh up against her centre. Her moan and the way her eyes slide shut send a rush of heat through me. I take the loosened neckline of her dress in my teeth and drag it downward until her breasts are exposed, nipples hard and chocolatey against her tawny skin. Sucking on one draws forth an approving moan. Closing my teeth over it makes her buck up against me. She’s rubbing her core against my thigh and I can’t resist pushing the hem of her skirt upward, my fingers questing between her legs.
I find, to my delight, that this humanoid isn’t built so differently after all.
I’m on my back, spread out over the bed. Nayana crouches over me. Her long hair is loose, a silky dark curtain sweeping my shoulder, and she has three slender fingers inside me. My lips are swollen. My shoulder is bruised where she gripped me as I stroked her until she cried out.
Now it’s my turn.
She bends to trace her lips over each begging, wanton line of my body, her fingers curling lasciviously inside me, and I drop my head back on a moan. This feels so, so good.
By the time her mouth is pressed between my legs, her tongue drawing tight, delicious circles on my heated flesh, I’m arching my back. My fingers clench on the sheet. My teeth are gritted, moans strangling in my throat. And then Nayana raises her head, one hand snaking up to my breast.
“Are you enjoying this, Kathryn?”
“God. Yes. Please don’t stop.”
“Then don’t hold back,” she orders, pinching my nipple sharply to hear me suck in a breath. “If you like it, let me know.”
I’ve never been a screamer – years of sneaking boyfriends into dorm rooms and shared quarters, of thin bulkheads and propriety, have taught me to be quiet – but something about Nayana opens me up. On the next flick of her tongue I’m crying out, my body writhing as the tension coils in my belly. Her fingers press deeper into me as she nips and sucks and laps, and I shatter like glass.
When the edges of my vision begin to sharpen again, she’s lying beside me licking her fingers one by one and wearing nothing but a lascivious grin. My whole body is limp, floating on bliss.
“I think you needed that, little Kathryn,” she smirks.
“Oh,” I curl my arm around her waist and draw her close against me, skin to sweat-slicked skin, “you have no idea.”
A gentle chirping rouses me to wakefulness. Sunshine streams through the window and for a few moments I struggle to remember where I am.
Nayana, my body reminds me. Fantastic, overwhelmingly satisfying sex.
Smiling widely, I stretch my arm across the mattress, but find only cool and empty sheets.
The chirp again, and I roll languidly out of bed, enjoying the unfamiliar stretch of my inner thighs as I pad over to my jacket. I fish my combadge out of the inner pocket.
~Gilmore here, Captain. Checking in as ordered.~
“Good morning, Marla.” I wander over to the mirror on the wall, noting the reddened marks on my neck and chest, the half-lidded smile in my eyes. I look exactly what I am: well-fucked.
~Uh… good morning, Captain.~
I can hear the hesitation in Gilmore’s voice, her surprise at my obvious good mood, her decision to push the boundary ever so slightly.
~Did you enjoy your night, ma’am?~
“Yes, thank you, Crewman,” I reply crisply. It wouldn’t do to let her get too comfortable, no matter how luscious I’m feeling right now. “Do you have anything to report?”
~No, Captain. The Delta Flyer is locked down and no messages have been received.~
“Very good.” I lean into the mirror, noting that the lines that had begun to bracket my mouth have smoothed away. “Unless something urgent comes up, I’ll hear from you again in twenty-four hours, Crewman. Janeway out.”
I tuck the combadge back into my jacket pocket and wander into the bathroom. The signs of female occupancy are here – shampoo, cosmetics, the scent of flowers – but Nayana is not. I take the opportunity for a quick shower, and as I’m tugging on a silk robe I’ve found in the closet the door to the room slides open and Nayana strolls in.
“Good morning,” she smirks.
I saunter across to her, untying my borrowed robe as I go, and wrap my arms around her waist. “It is now.”
Her hands are cool as they slide under the robe and onto my bare skin, and she gives a low hum of approval as I stretch up to kiss her. It starts hungry and ends lazy, and as I lower my heels to the floor she traces one finger down the side of my face.
“Are you hungry, little Kathryn?”
“Yes,” I hook one finger into the belt of her tunic and start walking backwards, tugging her with me, “but not for food.”
The backs of my knees hit the edge of the bed, and Nayana laughs, pushing me down and lowering her head to curl her tongue slowly around my nipple. I shiver, laying my arms above my head and pressing upward with my hips. My eyes follow her as she moves back to strip off her clothes, every movement economical, graceful. And then she sinks down beside me and her hands and mouth begin to move over my body, and in just a few minutes I’m gasping and spiralling into delight.
“Where did you disappear to this morning?” I murmur sleepily as we lie tangled together afterward, my fingers tracing the fine lines of her shoulder.
Nayana’s eyes are closed, a half-smile on her lips. “I had some business to take care of.”
“Do you have any more business to take care of today?”
Her green eyes open and I smile at the avaricious gleam in them. “Nothing that doesn’t involve you.”
Yes, I think as my fingers begin to travel with purpose and Nayana utters a delighted, shuddering sigh, I definitely needed this vacation.
“And just where do you think you’re going?”
Nayana lounges in the bedroom doorway and I glance up from buckling the strap on my shoe.
“I’m hungry, and I desperately need a change of clothes,” I reply. “Besides, you might not have plans today, but I have some work to do.”
She walks toward me, all rolling hips and long, long legs. “Can’t it wait?” she wheedles, straddling me and wrapping her arms around my neck.
I think about Voyager’s long list of needed supplies, some of them rare and expensive, and sigh. “Not really.”
Nayana tilts her head to one side, studying me. “Maybe I can help.”
“Know where I can get hold of five isotons of dilithium crystal?” I joke.
Her green eyes turn smoky. “Maybe. What’s in it for me?”
I give her a sharp look. “What do you want?”
“Well,” she stands, holding a hand out to tug me upright, “why don’t we start with lunch at a little place I know? I’ll introduce you to a friend of mine who might just have some dilithium, and we can take it from there.”
I lean into her, enjoying the way her arms slide around my waist. “As long as I can get a change of clothes first, it’s a deal.”
She waves a hand airily. “No need to go back to your place, little Kathryn. I’ll buy you something new to wear.”
My eyebrows arch. “That won’t be necessary.”
“But I want to,” she purrs, her mouth hovering over mine. “You deserve beautiful things. And besides” – she licks lightly at my lower lip – “just think of the fun we can have in those changing-rooms.”
She does have a point there. And if she really has a friend who can supply Voyager’s needs, I’ll put up with a lot more indignity than being dressed up and paraded like a doll.
“All right,” I murmur, sliding my hands up to her breasts to make her shiver. “It’s a deal.”
The centre of Larach City is all sharp angles and reflective glass. The streets are swept clean, no evidence of the debris I noticed as Nayana and I hurried back from the bar last night. It could be a different city altogether.
Nayana leads me into a store that boasts approximately three pieces of clothing in its shopfront, immediately pulling me over to the Pendari assistant who lounges against a marble desk.
“My friend needs something nice to wear,” she orders. “Cost is no object.”
For the next hour I try on dresses and pants and skirts, modelling them for Nayana, whose fashion sense seems to be extremely discerning. Each time she rejects an outfit and I strip off, her hands are smoothing over my skin, cupping my breasts, sliding upward along my thighs, until finally I can’t take it anymore.
“Lock the damn door,” I beg breathlessly, and her smile widens as I rest my ass on the narrow bench and guide her head between my legs.
Twenty minutes later, flushed and beaming, we leave the store with arms full of packages.
I’m still on a high as we enter the airy café where Nayana’s friend Strake is meeting us. He’s Pendaran, tall and muscled with hawkish eyes that rake unabashedly over my figure. I dislike him immediately.
“Very nice,” he addresses Nayana.
“Only when I want to be,” I retort, sweet as poison.
Strake laughs. “Feisty. That’s a good sign.” He rests his elbows on the table, waiting while the server pours our drinks. “So, what can I do for you, feisty one?” he continues when the three of us are alone.
“I need five isotons of dilithium crystal, as pure as I can get it.”
Strake’s brow furrows. “That’s a lot of dilithium. You planning a long trip?”
“You could say that.”
I watch Strake’s eyes flick to Nayana. “I can get it for you, but it’ll cost.”
“What do you want?”
“Three thousand credits.”
The replicator in the Flyer should be able to produce that with ease. I start to smile.
But Strake isn’t finished. “Genuine Pendaran mint, no synthesised crap. And twenty kilotons of aricibyte, or fifty of bakrinium, as long as it’s good quality.”
Well, shit. Where am I supposed to get those?
Leaning casually back in my chair, I try to read the Pendaran’s expression. “What you’re asking is impossible. There’s no aricibyte within ten parsecs, and fifty kilotons of bakrinium is preposterous. Make it twenty and you’ve got a deal.”
“Thirty, and not a kilogram more.” I cross my fingers that Ashmore and Sharr have managed to find enough bakrinium on Pendari II. As for the credits … I guess I’ll just have to sell something.
Strake grins. “Deal.”
“Fine. I’ll have it for you in three days.”
“Now that business is settled,” Nayana interjects silkily, “why don’t we go somewhere else for a drink?”
Strake grunts approval. “Come with me.”
As we stand, I glance around the café, spotting a familiar face at a corner table. Marla Gilmore offers me a tentative smile and I raise my hand in acknowledgement.
“Who’s that girl?” Strake asks.
“A … friend of mine.”
Nayana links her arm with mine, her lips close to my ear. “I thought you were all alone, little Kathryn.”
I stiffen awkwardly. Only a fool wouldn’t immediately figure out that Nayana and I are intimate. And Marla Gilmore may embody several qualities I don’t approve of, but foolishness isn’t one of them.
Trying to disentangle myself as casually as possible, I shrug. “We’re not exactly close.”
“Good,” Nayana murmurs. “Because I want you” - she winds her arms around my waist, pulling me close – “all to myself.”
I step back, but it’s too late. Gilmore has risen from her table and is approaching us, eyeing my companions.
“Ca-“ she begins.
I interrupt hastily, suddenly sure I don’t want to be addressed as ‘Captain’. “Hello, Marla. How are you?”
“Fine, thank you, ma’am.” Her gaze wanders over Strake’s tall, muscled form and over to Nayana, willowy and smirking as she deliberately twines her fingers into mine.
Annoyed at Nayana’s presumption, and more so at my own embarrassment, I brazen it out. “This is Nayana and Strake. We were just … discussing a trade.”
“And now we’re going to celebrate.” Strake is openly ogling my crewman. “Why don’t you come along, Kathryn’s pretty little friend?”
Gilmore shoots me a loaded look. “Uh…”
“I’m sure you have plans,” I cut in pointedly.
“Yes ma’am,” she replies smartly, a hint of relief in her eyes. “Excuse me.”
As Gilmore hurries away, I watch her glancing back at us, a worried frown creasing her forehead.
These drinks are much too strong, and I am far too tipsy for this time of day.
Strake annoys the living hell out of me. He seems to have only two topics of conversation: the prowess of Tsunkatse fighters, and the sex appeal of every woman he sees. After three or more hours of it, I’ve had enough.
“Let’s go,” I murmur to Nayana while Strake is off ordering more drinks.
“Are you bored, little Kathryn?” she curls a smile at me.
“Let’s just say,” I slide my hand onto her knee, “there are other things I’d rather be doing right now.”
Nayana dips her head, her breath tickling my neck. “Sounds like fun,” she purrs. “Your place or mine?”
I slip off my stool, my hand catching hers. “Whichever is closer.”
As we near the door, there’s a loud crash from behind us, and we turn to see Strake landing a hard punch on another Pendaran’s jaw. His victim springs up, grabbing a chair and swinging it wildly above his head. Within seconds, the entire bar has erupted in violence.
I tug on Nayana’s arm to get her moving, but she hisses between her teeth and pulls her hand from mine, calling back to me, “We have to help him.”
She has a point; if Strake is badly injured, I probably won’t be getting my dilithium. Sighing, I tug off my jacket and wade into the fight.
“You fought well,” Strake tells me admiringly as the Pendari doctor waves a regenerator over the bleeding gash on my cheekbone. “Better than I’d expect from your size.”
I glare at him. He’s hunched on the next bed, jaw swollen and bruised, nursing a broken arm. Across the clinic, Nayana is shrugging her shirt off so a medic can heal the abrasions on her shoulder.
“Fighting wasn’t my idea,” I growl at him. “What the hell was that all about, anyway?”
Strake shrugs. “He insulted my vehicle.”
“And that was enough reason to start a bar fight?”
Strake mumbles something in reply, but I’m not listening anymore. Nayana’s shirt is completely off now, and I can see the slender brown line of her back and the curve of one pert breast. As though feeling my gaze, she turns her head and peeks at me over one shoulder. Her hands, which she was in the act of raising to cover herself, lower. From this angle I can almost see the dark-chocolate bud of her nipple –
“Hold still,” my doctor snaps at me.
“I’m fine,” I mutter distractedly, brushing his hand aside and sliding off the bed.
Nayana’s smile widens as I approach.
“Are you almost done here?” I let one finger trail down the length of her spine, enjoying the resultant shiver.
She glances at the medic, who’s finished healing her wound. “Am I free to go?”
At her medic’s nod, Nayana shrugs on her shirt and slides gracefully to her feet.
“I believe we’re closer to my place, little Kathryn.” She curls an arm around my waist, guiding me to the clinic exit, and whispers in my ear, “The closer, the better. I like a good long fuck after a fight.”
When Gilmore comms me to check in the next morning, Nayana is in the shower and I’m nursing my second cup of the Pendaran version of coffee. I order her to report to the Flyer at 0900; Pendari II is too far away for combadge transmissions, so we’ll need to use the shuttle’s subspace array to contact Ashmore and Sharr.
Nayana exits the bathroom on a cloud of sweet-scented steam and I stand to meet her. She takes me in her arms and I kiss the water droplets from her bare shoulder.
“Mm,” she sighs, “as much as I’d love to continue this, I have work to do today, little Kathryn.”
“Me too.” I pull back and stretch up to kiss her briefly on the lips. “Are you busy later?”
“I’m free for dinner,” she brushes her fingertips across my collarbone, “and whatever happens after.”
I run some quick calculations in my head; if we leave for Pendari II by 0915, we can be there and back by 1800 with whatever cargo my ensigns have bartered for. “It’s a date.”
“Later, then,” Nayana promises, dipping her head for a longer, lingering kiss, before stepping back with a smile.
I’m still smiling when I clip my combadge onto my shirt and comm the Delta Flyer for automatic transport. Since I haven’t been back to my hotel room for two nights, I replicate a uniform and dress quickly before Gilmore materialises on the Flyer’s pad.
“Take your station, Crewman.” I slide behind the helm. “Let’s make this snappy.”
We’re silent for some time, but when I flick on autonavigation and stand to freshen my coffee, Gilmore ventures, “Captain, may I ask you something?”
She doesn’t answer immediately, so I glance at her and notice she’s worrying at her lower lip.
“Those traders you were with yesterday,” she says hesitantly, “I, uh, hope you don’t take offence at this, Captain, but I … followed you to that bar –”
“I beg your pardon?”
Gilmore stutters at the ice in my voice. “I – I’m sorry, Captain. Something just didn’t sit right with me, so I …” she pauses, then rushes on, “Ma’am, before we left I was expressly ordered to look out for you. So that’s what I was doing.” She tightens her shoulders.
“You were … ordered … to look out for me?” I place my coffee cup deliberately on the console and glare at her. “May I enquire who gave you that order?”
Gilmore ducks her head. “Commander Chakotay,” she mumbles.
Damn it, Chakotay! Are you spying on me? Can I not just have one thing? One thing that’s all mine, and nobody else’s damn business?
“Well, Crewman,” I grit through my teeth, “consider that order rescinded. I’m perfectly capable of looking out for myself, no matter what my overprotective first officer would have you believe.”
“Actually, ma’am, I’m glad I did follow you.”
She’s almost quivering, but she stands her ground. “You got into a bar fight, Captain.”
I’m about to let her feel the full blast of my fury when suddenly the entire situation strikes me as ridiculous. The corners of my lips twitch.
“Yes,” I answer, “I suppose I did.”
The tension eases slightly. Gilmore looks like she wants to say something else but is clearly thinking better of it.
I cock my eyebrow at her. “Permission to speak freely, Marla.”
“I guess I just wanted to know,” Gilmore bites her lower lip, “did you have fun?”
I can’t help it; a grin blossoms on my face. “Actually, Marla, since we arrived on Pendari I’ve had nothing but fun.”
She smiles back at me. “If you don’t mind me saying, Captain, that’s what Commander Chakotay was hoping for.”
My grin fades. “It sounds like you two had quite the conversation.”
Her face freezes. “Uh, no. Not really, Captain. He just, uh, mentioned that he hoped you’d enjoy your shore leave.”
I’m starting to feel the ire, so ever-present of late, surging up again, so I breathe in deep before I speak again. My voice is tightly controlled.
“If I ever find out, Crewman,” I stress her rank, “that you’ve been discussing what I do on shore leave with Commander Chakotay or anybody else, I’ll ….”
What? I wonder suddenly. What could I do to this woman that hasn’t already been done to her, by me or by her former captain?
“Just don’t let me catch you telling tales out of school,” I finish, somewhat lamely, and at her jerky nod I stomp back to the helm.