|Note: this was an April Fool's Day 2004 fic challenge on the JetC40 list.
“It Takes Q to Tango”
See you tonight. I’m looking forward to this special evening. Wear something black.
“Something black? I thought this was a date, not a memorial service.” Kathryn mumbled, shaking her head and tucking the tiny piece of paper into her desk. It had magically appeared in her quarters sometime during the night, as had the seven others prior. After weeks of anticipation, the date for Voyager’s ‘First Annual Mystery Ball’ had arrived and Kathryn was well past second thoughts and deeply entrenched in third or fourth thoughts.
“Morning, Captain.” Tom Paris fell into step beside her, a smile on his face. “Have you figured it out yet?”
“Figured what out, Mr. Paris?”
“Who your date is for tonight, of course. I mean, you did toss your name into the hat with all the rest of us.”
“And I’m already regretting it, Tom. I just don’t-”
“Trust Neelix? He’s not that bad, once you get to know him. Maybe a little …”
“I was going to say ‘sneaky’, but unorthodox suits him just as well.”
“That’s what has me worried. Of course, you’ll be with B’Elanna.”
“Of course.” His answer prompt, and very smug.
“I could have you thrown in the brig for bribery, you know.”
“But you won’t,” he grinned.
“How many Eldorian crystals did it take?”
“Forty-seven, but who’s counting?”
“Someone, apparently,” she answered wryly. Detouring off toward the turbo lift, she waved over her shoulder. “See you tonight.”
* * * *
“Captain on the bridge!”
“At ease, Mr. Kim.” Smiling, she reached for the data padd her first officer was holding out.
“Good morning, Captain.” He smiled back, a twinkle in his eye.
“Commander. You’re looking smug this morning.”
“Don’t tell me you bribed Neelix, too.”
“I’ll never tell. Now, about those reports from Engineering …”
The rest of the shift was spent keeping blissfully busy, and Kathryn was able (almost) to keep her mind off the coming debacle. At promptly 20:30 hours, she arrived at the entry to the holodeck, having no idea what, or whom, to expect. What she didn’t expect, was to be greeted by …
“Kathy! I thought you’d never arrive. My heart has been … what’s the word?”
“Q, let me go.” In spite of her request, Kathryn held on to him, as he held her bent backward over his arm.
“Pining. That’s it, my heart has been pining, ere last I saw you.” He kissed her soundly and stood up, a rakish smile on his face. “You have to admit I’m good.”
“I have to admit nothing of the kind. Get off my ship.”
“Kathy, Kathy, Kathy, you’re so predictable. ‘Q, go away; Q, get off my ship’. My goodness, one would think you and Jean-Luc were in cahoots. I should be insulted.”
“You know the old saying. Don’t go away mad-”
Q rested a hand over his heart, affecting a sad, forlorn expression. “You wound me.”
“Trust me, Q, I’d love to do more than wound you.”
“You don’t really mean that,” he smirked. “Come, we have a party to attend.” Grasping her hand, he tucked it under his arm and led her into the holodeck, festively programmed to resemble a late 19th century grand ballroom.
“Captain! You look lovely tonight,” Harry Kim gushed, blushing as he spoke.
“Thank you, Ensign.” She wondered why no one seemed to question her escort, yet everyone present was quick to compliment her on her attire.
Q pulled her closer. “Drink, Kathy?”
“No thank you, and don’t call me ‘Kathy’.”
“Ah Kathy, that Irish temper of yours brings out the fire in your eyes.”
“That’s it. I’ve had quite enough.”
“So soon? Our date is only just beginning.”
“You- you’re my mystery date?” For once in what was a truly rare occasion, she was speechless.
“Ta da!” Q sang, holding out his arms to show the he was, indeed, the piece de resistance.
“Heads will roll for this one.” She turned to leave, and bumped in to Tom Paris, B’Elanna on his arm.
“Going so soon, Captain?”
“You did this, didn’t you?” She narrowed her eyes at him, all the while planning his court-martial.
“Me?” he asked, with boyish innocence. “Why Captain-”
“If you say one word about me ‘wounding’ you, so help me I will.”
B’Elanna interceded. “Captain, Neelix did all of the planning. The rest of the crew had nothing to do with it. I promise.”
Kathryn looked from one to the other, and then back at Harry Kim who was observing from the sidelines. It was quite apparent that no one was budging from their story, and the only recourse was to make a somewhat graceful exit. “I’ll deal with Neelix tomorrow. Enjoy yourselves.” With her head held high, she swept regally from the room as the crew looked on, holding their collective breath.
“Is she gone?” Neelix asked, stepping cautiously out from behind a potted plant.
“Yes. Relax, everyone,” B’Elanna called out.
“Well, that was fun,” Tom said, sarcastically.
“Torres here,” she said, tapping her commbadge. “The fox has left the henhouse. Out.”
“The … what? B’Elanna, where did you learn that?”
“Your old data captures from the twentieth century.”
“How quaint,” Q smiled.
“Time for you to leave,” Harry said.
“Now don’t be hasty.”
“Computer, delete Q.”
The image of the Captain’s nemesis blinked out of existence as the crew applauded.
“Too bad you can’t do that to the real Q, eh Harry?” Tom glanced around the room. “Well, this is a party, isn’t it? So … let’s party!” The sounds of merry making rose as glasses clinked together, and the crew settled in for a long evening of relaxation.
* * * *
Kathryn exited the turbo lift on Deck Seven, walking slowly towards her quarters. In spite of what she’d said to everyone else, she’d had her hopes set high for this evening. She knew there was a good chance she’d end up with Harry Kim, or Tuvok, or even Neelix, but Q? Not in a million years. After all, she only wanted an evening away from it all; an evening to unwind and let her hair down. She should have known better, she should have followed her instincts and simply stayed out of the crew camaraderie.
Her wrap was draped over her arm, and she pulled it aside to key in the security code to her quarters. It was dark inside. Hadn’t she left the illumination at seventy percent?
“Computer, raise illumination to full.”
“Unable to comply.”
“I overrode the codes, Captain.” The butter-smooth voice came from the dark, and she turned to find her second in command, dressed in formal attire, extending a deep pink rose in his hand.
“Chakotay?” Her voice held puzzlement, and her eyes reflected it.
“I hope you’re not angry. At least, not at the crew.”
“You did this?”
“I had some help,” he grinned.
“Wait, my mystery date-”
“Is me.” Chakotay was terribly non-apologetic about it all.
“Was a hologram. It’s amazing what Engineering can accomplish in a short amount of time.”
“Especially when ‘Engineering’ has a crack holo-program designer like Tom Paris working with her, right?”
“It’s quite simple, actually.”
“I don’t like being set up, Commander.”
He took a step closer, so close that she was forced to look up. “Let me change your mind.” His mouth brushed hers, softly and gently, teasing from side to side until he heard the catch in her breath. It was then that he deepened the contact, coaxing from her a response that left no doubt as the where he stood.
“Chakotay…” she whispered.
“Dinner first, then we’ll discuss the rest of the evening.”
“Just one question?”
“Certainly,” he replied, taking her hand and seating her at the tiny, perfectly set table for two.
“Why?” she asked, placing her napkin in her lap and looming over her shoulder.
“What better way to celebrate the day?”
“The day? What day?”
“April 1st, Kathryn. April Fool’s Day.” He grinned as she watched comprehension dawn on her face, erupting into a chuckle when he realized that she was already plotting retaliation.
“I’ve been had.”
“And it was so nice to have had you,” he laughed.
“Usual stakes?” she asked, already resigned to her fate.
“Of course.” Pouring her a glass of finely replicated wine, he raised one eyebrow, silently urging her to speak.
Smiling sweetly, she raised her glass in a toast. “As always, to your health, to my health, and …”
They chorused in unison, “Loser gets on top.”
~ The End ~
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