Warnings: Pairings are not static throughout the fic. Click here for spoilers pertaining to pairings.
Categories: Ship, Het, Humor, Romance
Pairings: Chakotay/Campbell (sorta), Janeway/EMH (not really, but don't tell), Kim/Campbell, Janeway/Chakotay
Characters: Kathryn Janeway, Lyssa Campbell, Chakotay, Harry Kim, Neelix, Mariah Henley, OCs
A/N: Written for With This Ring at Talent Night. The UT is on the fritz. Chakotay's blushing bride is a blonde ensign. An alien ambassador takes a liking to the captain. Hijinks ensue.
Credits: Thank you to Squirrelly for the beta and the ideas. Thank you to Kim for other beta and the other ideas. Thank you to AnneRose for still another beta ripe with ideas. Also thank you to CaptFic and Dakota. It's nice to have such support, ladies!
Disclaimer: Everything here was pillaged from the vault at Paramount.
"Decidedly pregnant watching for peace chance, high time to merge at the quadrangle?" Janeway laid the PADD on her desk and waited for Neelix to explain.
"The universal translator is still having trouble with the written language. High time may be noon," he said. "From what the ambassador said, it's a peace ceremony. At least three officers need to attend before we send any other delegations."
"And our fifteen days doesn't start until after this peace ceremony, I assume?" Janeway sighed. "Contact the ambassador. Find out if this ceremony has to be held at high noon, and if so when that is."
The Lanz-Lao wouldn't trade with any species they had known for less than a lunar cycle, which translated to fifteen days in Federation Standard. The universal translator, which usually worked so smoothly that the crew didn't even notice it, was struggling with the language, and the diplomats insisted that crewmembers attend ceremonies of all sorts nearly around the clock. If Voyager hadn't needed supplies so badly, Janeway would have happily left orbit and continued on their way. But, unfortunately, Voyager always needed supplies.
Chell took over in the mess hall so that Neelix could at least attempt to keep the various customs and protocols straight. Dozens of PADDs filled with invitations and cultural details littered the table in the briefing room.
The crew had arranged a lottery of sorts to determine who had to go to each ceremony on the long list. It seemed that the Lanz-Lao honored every aspect of daily life, as well as every natural occurrence on their world. They met each milestone, both those seemingly large and small, with some sort of acknowledgement. Most cultures recognized some rite of passage when children entered into adulthood. The Lanz-Lao took it one step further. Children graduating from the equivalent of Nursery School were even honored with a ceremony.
Captain Janeway, accompanied by Neelix and Tuvok, endured the peace ceremony in the town square. Icheb found the drinking ceremony to be fascinating, but it only disappointed Kenneth Dalby.
Commander Chakotay and Ensign Lyssa Campbell drew the short straws for a ceremony that the computer translated as a life affirmation ceremony. They met in the transporter room and waited for Neelix's briefing. When he failed to arrive on schedule, Chakotay hit his combadge. "Chakotay to Neelix."
"Sorry, Commander. I'm a tad bit occupied down here. Perhaps you should go on ahead."
"Anything we should know?"
"I don't think so. Just play along, and I'm sure you'll do fine."
Chakotay glanced at Ensign Campbell. "You game, Ensign?"
She grinned back at him. "What's the worst that could happen?"
They beamed down into the midst of a large gathering. Lanz-Lao outfitted in elaborate costumes hurried about, while others sat in rows of seating and whispered among themselves. Some of them pointed at the new arrivals and craned their necks to study them. A tall man rushed over to greet them, his planet's equivalent of a clipboard in hand.
"Are you the couple from Voyager?" he asked.
At Chakotay's answer he herded them into a waiting area where several aliens began draping them with bits of the local flora. The flowers gave off a strong fragrance that he hoped wouldn't cling to his uniform.
"You look good in lavender, Commander," Lyssa teased.
He returned her grin and leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Let's just be glad we missed out on the Mud Festival. Did you see B'Elanna and Harry when they got back?"
"I sure did." She laughed. "They transported up and - ."
Loud music prevented her from sharing the story. Chakotay and Lyssa linked arms, imitating the pair of Lanz-Lao in front of them, and were directed down an aisle between two groups of seats. They were showered with flowers and handfuls of grain. An alien in elaborate ceremonial garb tied their wrists together with a ribbon.
The cheering crowd threw more flowers and grain. Other couples shared enthusiastic kisses. Chakotay swallowed hard, fairly certain he grasped what it all meant.
"Congratulations! All of the new life-mates may now retire to their sleeping quarters."
Chakotay glanced down at Lyssa. "Looks like Neelix overlooked a small detail."
She was staring at her wrist. "So it seems."
They were both silent as they were ushered into a candlelit room. The bed, prominent in the small room, was already turned down.
Chakotay held his wrist up. "Is Harry going to kill me?"
Lyssa shook her head. "I'm a little bit more concerned about what the captain is going to do to me."
"I wouldn't worry about that." Chakotay tried to stifle a sigh. "The captain would be the first to tell you that she and I are only friends."
"No." Lyssa untied the ribbon. "I've seen her in sickbay, when you've been injured, and I've been in the transporter room when you've beamed back from dangerous situations. What she feels for you is much more than friendship."
"That's a bit personal, Ensign."
"I am your wife," she said. "Speaking of which, what exactly are we planning to do about this?"
"Excellent question. Explaining that we misunderstood would only complicate matters. I'm fairly certain this isn't legally binding, but while we're here, I'm afraid we have to play along."
She leered at the bed. "Is that so?"
He laughed. "In public, Ensign. But not in here."
"You sure?" she asked. She picked up a vase and studied it. "The room could be bugged."
Janeway looked up from the PADD she was reading. "Come."
The door slid open, admitting Neelix and Harry Kim.
"Tell her." Harry glared at Neelix with what appeared to be genuine malice.
"The ceremony - I didn't know." Neelix wrung his hands together. "If only I had retranslated the list after the universal translator had more information. The computer said it was a life affirmation ceremony. I didn't know."
"What didn't you know?"
"Chakotay and Lyssa are married," Harry blurted. "Neelix sent them to a wedding ceremony."
The captain hid a smile. It seemed the rumor about Harry's feelings for Lyssa contained some element of truth. "Relax, Mister Kim. If it was a cultural misunderstanding the marriage won't be legally binding."
"But - "
"I'm sure they'll be back here and laughing about it shortly." She retrieved her PADD. "Is there something else, gentlemen?"
"Um, captain," Neelix said. "It seems they are spending the night. On the surface."
"In the bridal suite." Harry stared pointedly at Neelix.
"Beam them down a cot and some extra blankets." The captain went back to her reading.
"A wedding gift from the captain," Christine Ashmore reported over the comm link as Chakotay and Lyssa watched the cot materialize.
"I told you she cares," Lyssa said.
Chakotay smiled. He knew she did, but it was nice when she showed it. "Harry cares too. I doubt that Kath - the captain included a pack of cards in her orders."
Lyssa retrieved the deck and began to shuffle. "Bet we'll be the only couple in the building playing gin rummy."
Harry Kim paced the deck. Every time he cared about a woman something happened to screw everything up. That's why he had kept it light with Lyssa. She was too good a friend to lose. But now she was married to the first officer, and accidentally or not, temporarily or not, he wasn't prepared to laugh it off as the captain had.
Ordinarily, Harry would go to the mess hall when he couldn't sleep, but he didn't want to run into Neelix. So maybe the incident wasn't entirely Neelix's fault, but Harry maintained his anger anyway. He made his way to the holodeck instead, and slid into a booth at Sandrine's.
An impromptu pool tournament had arisen, and Mike Ayala looked like a sure winner until the captain arrived. She took a pool cue from Jenny Delaney, who surrendered it gratefully, and cleared the table.
Then she slid into the seat across from Harry. "I thought I might find you here."
He looked up at her. She was smiling kindly at him, no trace of worry in her expression. "How can you be so calm?" he asked.
"It's only a simple misunderstanding," she answered. "They won't let the situation get out of hand."
"Lyssa doesn't even know how I feel about her," Harry said. "I know she thinks Chakotay is attractive. What if - "
The captain reached across the table and touched his hand. "Nothing is going to happen."
"How can you be sure? Have you given Chakotay any reason - " His words broke off as he realized what he'd said. "I'm sorry, Captain."
"No, that was a fair question." She fiddled with her combadge. "Maybe not one I care to answer, though, and I'd recommend against asking it again."
"Harry!" Tom and B'Elanna crossed the room to join them. "Drowning your sorrows?" Tom slid in beside the captain, draped an arm around her shoulder, and winked at Harry. "Don't worry. Chakotay only likes redheads."
B'Elanna kicked him under the table.
Both Harry and the captain laughed at his yelp of protest.
"Gin!" Lyssa declared triumphantly once again.
"I'm going to have to turn in, Ensign. I can't spare any more rations."
"You have a wife to support now, Commander. The captain will have to find someone else to pay for her coffee habit."
"Tell her that and you really would be risking life and limb. One more hand."
The Lanz-Lao didn't believe in letting newlyweds sleep in. A giant gong began to sound before the sun even took its first peek over the horizon. The celebration breakfast was served at dawn, and the couple from Voyager was the subject of great interest. Chakotay wrapped his arm around Lyssa protectively as women pressed forward, seeking to touch her belly and ask her if she was yet with child.
He had to admire the way Lyssa handled the situation. B'Elanna might well have hit someone by now. Tal Celes would have died of embarrassment, and Megan Delaney would no doubt have embarrassed him quite thoroughly by this point. Megan certainly wouldn't have been content to play cards the night before, either.
He wondered what Kathryn would have done. For a moment he was back in the tiny room, less the cot, with Kathryn waking up in his arms. He pushed the thought away.
If the away teams hadn't been chosen so randomly, he probably would have been with Kathryn. Despite the fantasies that brought to mind, he was glad that wasn't the case. He and Lyssa could return the ship and annul the union. With Kathryn, this would have meant something to him. He could never annul a union with Kathryn, even one made accidentally. It would be an affront to his very soul.
Chakotay turned his attention back to the young woman beside him. Good sport or not, the color was beginning to rise in her cheeks as one particularly nosy alien asked her if her new husband's performance had been satisfactory.
"He gave me everything I wanted, and more."
"Please," Chakotay said, pushing thoughts of his depleted rations aside. "My wife and I would like to find our seats."
The captain beamed down for the celebration breakfast just in time to hear Chakotay refer to Ensign Campbell as his wife. She knew they were just playing along, but her gut ignored the knowledge and went right ahead twisting itself into a painful knot.
Harry Kim tensed beside her when Chakotay readjusted his arm around Lyssa's waist. Chakotay's possessive stance was hard to miss, and she could see that Lyssa was blushing at something one of the Lanz-Lao had said.
"Commander!" she called, giving the pair an excuse to turn away from the crowd. "Congratulations are in order, it seems."
"So it seems," he replied.
She forced down an urge to touch him and smiled at Ensign Campbell instead. "Congratulations, Ensign. So tell me, does the Commander snore?"
Lyssa grinned. "It'll be in my report, Captain."
They sat down to breakfast. The Lanz-Lao Ambassador of Trade sat to Janeway's left, and a miserable Ensign Kim was on her right.
Directly across from her, Chakotay appeared every bit the adoring husband, especially when the Ambassador prodded him with questions. With his arm around Lyssa's shoulders, he described their first date. "We went sailing," he said. "A beautiful moonlight cruise on Lake George."
The captain swallowed hard and avoided his eyes. She had no right to be angry. He hadn't really taken the pretty ensign sailing; he was just borrowing the setting for his story. Still, she wished he had named a different lake. There were thousands of lakes on Earth. There were other perfectly good lakes right there in New York. Not to mention all of the fine lakes on other planets all over the Alpha Quadrant.
"She wore this amazing blue dress," Chakotay said. Her blue dress. "I'd never seen a more beautiful vision."
"He gave me this." Lyssa stretched forward to show the Ambassador her necklace.
It wasn't hard to guess that Harry recognized the piece of jewelry, although he said nothing. The captain hoped that the Ambassador didn't notice.
"So tell me of the mating practices in your culture," the Ambassador said. "Was your bedchamber adequate?"
"It was," Chakotay answered slowly.
Lyssa blushed and stared at her meal. Harry started choking on his.
"Those things are considered very private in our culture," the captain said. There was absolutely no way she was going to listen to Chakotay discuss mating behavior over breakfast. "At least as they pertain to individuals. Our chief medical officer could answer your questions, if you like."
The Ambassador smiled. "Or perhaps you could answer them privately, Captain."
Now it was Chakotay's turn to choke on his breakfast. Lyssa patted him on the back and admonished him about chewing his food properly as the captain agreed to meet the Ambassador later for a tour of the gardens.
Lyssa probably should have been ashamed of herself, she realized, but she had rather enjoyed Harry's jealousy at breakfast. She hadn't been sure he felt anything more than friendship before. Now she knew.
Captain Janeway was another matter. Most of the crew knew that Chakotay had feelings for the captain, and Lyssa was among those few who knew those feelings were returned.
She frequently worked shifts in sickbay, and often witnessed private moments between the command team. On one particular occasion, Chakotay had been unconscious on a biobed, coated with filth from an alien freighter. The captain, thinking herself unobserved, had pressed her lips to his temple.
"You almost got yourself ejected into space," she had whispered, a shimmer of tears in her eyes. "Please, Chakotay, don't ever do that to me."
Lyssa had waited discreetly in the Doctor's office, and had then emerged to suggest that the captain be decontaminated if she had accidentally come into contact with the commander's uniform. Neither had acknowledged the smear of grime upon the captain's face.
She witnessed the captain's discomfort at breakfast, and wondered if Chakotay noticed as well. He knew the captain well; he certainly couldn't miss it. The Lanz-Lao didn't give them time to discuss it, however. An elaborate Reaffirmation Blessing followed breakfast.
Chakotay realized with horror that he was going to have to kiss Lyssa, right here in front of Kathryn and Harry. The Ambassador was watching them eagerly; no doubt anxious to learn how their species did such things. He felt a white-hot stab of his own at the thought of the Ambassador imitating his technique later, with Kathryn in the garden.
He watched as the alien in ceremonial garb grew nearer. The other couples had brought the ribbons from the previous ceremony. He turned to Lyssa, alarmed, but she smiled and showed him the ribbon.
"Good thinking," he whispered. "I'm impressed."
She grinned. "Don't be. I also have the deck of cards and a napkin from breakfast."
Then it was their turn, and the official was binding their wrists together once again. He bent down and kissed Lyssa softly, feeling like a twelve-year-old boy playing Romeo in the school play.
She reached up and slid her fingers into his hair, holding him to her for an extra moment. She didn't deepen the kiss, but Chakotay didn't want to know how it looked from Kathryn's perspective. A dose of jealousy might be good for Harry; perhaps the ensign needed a push to make his move. But the situation with Kathryn was more complex, and he had no desire to make her doubt his feelings, even for a moment. At least this charade was nearly at its end.
The last thing Kathryn wanted to do was stroll through gardens with the Lanz-Lao Ambassador of Trade, but she had already accepted the invitation. She suspected that fending off his advances would burn a great deal of energy. At least the universal translator had melted into the background where it belonged.
The gardens would have been lovely with Chakotay by her side. He would have slipped his arm around her waist, and they could have taken the time to enjoy the grass beneath their feet and the wind in their hair.
With the Ambassador, she found herself trying to apply diplomacy to a wrestling match.
"So tell me, Captain...or may I call you Kathryn?"
"I'd prefer to be called Captain."
"So tell me, Kathryn, in your culture is it socially acceptable to have physical relations without a bonding ceremony?"
Oh no. "Our culture incorporates a number of smaller cultures. That sort of thing varies by individual."
"So it can be socially acceptable?"
"That depends on the individuals involved, and their beliefs."
"But one wouldn't be ostracized from society."
"If the individuals in question are unattached, then no. Not under most circumstances."
"So if you met someone in your travels - " His hand slid down her back.
She stepped away rapidly and studied some nearby foliage. "I am the captain of a starship. It would be inappropriate, especially if that someone was a diplomat or a planetary official. It could be seen as a conflict of interest."
"But if it were to benefit your ship?" His smile officially evolved into a leer.
She smiled back sweetly. "That would be most inappropriate."
"A beautiful woman like you could build up quite an empire charming diplomats," he said. "It's a shame that your species doesn't allow you the full advantage of your gifts."
"Indeed," she said.
"So we will not speak of business," he said. "I am far more interested in culture."
Yes, culture, that was it. "Our Doctor is an accomplished singer. Perhaps you'd enjoy a demonstration."
"Perhaps I might." He stepped towards her, his hand again reaching towards her posterior. "Would you be attending this demonstration?"
"His concerts are very popular with the crew." She turned and backed down the path. "I probably wouldn't be able to get away from the bridge."
"A shame. Perhaps you would accompany me to a performance of our symphony instead?"
She feigned enthusiasm. "I'd be delighted. I must invite our Doctor as well. He wouldn't want to miss such an opportunity."
The Ambassador stepped in front of her just as she realized she had backed herself into a corner. She considered the diplomatic repercussions of a knee to the groin while she smiled sweetly at him.
"Kathryn, we must not miss this opportunity to get to know one another better." He leaned in closer.
She pushed him away. "I'm sorry, Ambassador. That would be inappropriate."
"Your crew need not find out," he said. "My rooms are not far from here."
"As lovely as that does sound, my security officer would never let me hear the end of it. We'll have to make do with the concert. When did you say that was?"
"I'll have to consult with my assistant," he said, temporarily defeated.
The captain smiled sweetly again.
"Trust me, Harry," Tom repeated. "You have nothing to worry about. Chakotay would never take advantage of a situation like this, even if he wasn't carrying a torch for the captain, which he is, and even if Lyssa was interested, which she isn't."
"You didn't see them down on the planet," Harry said. "Not only did I have to sit through a whole breakfast while they were all lovey-dovey, but there was a reaffirmation ceremony afterwards, and she kissed him. And I don't mean a little peck."
"You said the Ambassador of Trade was watching; I'm sure that's all it there was to it."
"I just wish they were back."
Poolside at the honeymoon lodge, Chakotay and Lyssa relaxed busily under the watchful eyes of far too many Lanz-Lao.
"I feel like an exhibit at the zoo," Lyssa whispered.
"At least Harry went back to the ship," Chakotay said. "I was afraid he was going to garrotte me with that necklace of yours at breakfast."
"When were you and the captain at Lake George?" Lyssa rolled over on her side to face her temporary husband.
"We've used that holodeck program a few times," he answered. "Why?"
Lyssa shook her head. "You should have named a different lake. If looks could kill..."
"You think the captain was upset?"
"Do you think she accepted a date with that lecherous ambassador because she was paying attention to what he asked?" She watched as his jaw clenched. "Now you're making that face."
"The one the captain wore at breakfast."
"Am I disturbing you?"
The Doctor looked up from his medical journal. "Captain!"
She treated him to the same smile she always used when she wanted something. He noted with interest that it was particularly effective when she was dressed in an evening gown. "Do you have plans this evening, Doctor?"
"Plans? No, I can't say that I do."
"Good. In that case, could I interest you in accompanying me to a performance by the Lanz-Lao Symphony?"
"I'd be delighted, Captain." He retrieved his mobile emitter, fiddled with the controls, and emerged from his office in a black tuxedo.
Harry Kim decided to take Lyssa's shift in the transporter room. At least it was something to do, and it beat his other alternative, which seemed to be a Woodcutting Ceremony. That sounded about as appealing as the Mud Festival. With all the ceremonies on the schedule, the transporter room would be busy. Also, he would know when Lyssa and Chakotay beamed back up.
The captain stepped closer to the Doctor when the Ambassador greeted them. The Doctor took the hint and wrapped his arm around her waist. He took the Ambassador's outstretched hand and shook it vigorously.
"Ambassador! It's lovely to meet you in person." He glanced at his captain. "Kathryn's told me so much about you."
She hid a smile at the Ambassador's expression.
The Doctor sat between the captain and the Ambassador. "So tell me, what sort of instruments does your symphony feature?"
The Doctor proved to be a delightful companion. He asked almost as many questions about the musical culture of the Lanz-Lao as the Ambassador asked about the sex lives of Voyager's crew, and the captain thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
The final reaffirmation ceremony, nearly identical to those which had gone before, followed dinner. "Now that the life-partners have shared three meals as bonded couples, they may now return to their homes as one."
Chakotay and Lyssa didn't wait to be sure that they were free; they transported back to the ship immediately. As they stepped off the transporter, Chakotay realized that another couple was arriving behind him.
Kathryn materialized on the Doctor's arm. "I see the newlyweds have returned," she said. "Aren't you supposed to carry her over the threshold?"
Lyssa stepped away from Chakotay, crossed the room swiftly, and grabbed Harry's arm. She produced a length of ribbon from her pocket and carefully tied it around his wrist. "That's much better."
She looked radiant. Harry just looked stunned.
"It is," Chakotay agreed. "Captain, if you could spare a few minutes we need to get a marriage annulled."
The ready room door slid shut behind the two ensigns. They both seemed happy, now that things had been set right. Janeway laid aside the PADD with the signed annullment and turned to Chakotay, who was staring out the viewport.
"It could have been worse," he said.
He swallowed. "It could have been you."
She watched his reflection in the transparent aluminum, unsure of what to say.
That couldn't be a tremor in his quiet voice. "Do you really think I could have pressed my thumb to that PADD if it had your name on it?"
The day had been full of deception. She was alone with Chakotay now, and there was room only for honesty. "I'm not sure I would have asked you to."
He turned, his eyes seeking hers. She stepped closer and slid her arms around his waist. His arms closed around her. "Oh yes," he said. "That is much better."
She felt the warmth of his breath against her, and the soft touch of his lips on her hair. Could she have this, and still be the captain? It seemed a silly question. She stretched up and pressed her lips to his, parting her lips as he deepened the kiss.
So much expressed itself in that kiss. Tenderness. Passion. Love. Words were inadequate. Perhaps that was the reason for kissing.
"Kathryn," he whispered. "Will you marry me?"
She looked up into his eyes. This was Chakotay, and there was only one honest answer.
Voyager hadn't even left orbit when Tuvok took command to perform the ceremony. The captain figured it was best that way; Neelix would still be too distracted by the Lanz-Lao to plan anything outrageous.
The crew not only accepted the relationship between the commanding officers; they welcomed it joyfully. A number of the female crewmembers gathered around her outside the holodeck before the ceremony.
"Do you have something borrowed yet, Captain?" Lyssa Campbell held out the ribbon from the Lanz-Lao ceremony.
"Thank you, Ensign. That is perfect." The dress uniform was old and she had replicated a new pair of earrings. She smiled. No one but Chakotay would see it, but she definitely wore something blue.
Afterwards, the Doctor called for a toast. Crewmember after crewmember raised their glasses to the happy couple. Ensign Mariah Henley stood, and looked at Neelix instead.
"My grandfather had a great many sayings. There's one I never would have thought might be useful, at least not literally." Ensign Henley grinned. "Translate twice. Marry once."
This transformative work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, June 2003.