Categories: Ship, Het, Romance, Humor
Pairings: Janeway/Chakotay Ayala/Jenkins
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Ayala, Jenkins
A/N: Written for Mixed Doubles at Anne's Rose Garden. Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay set out to unite Lieutenant Ayala and Ensign Jenkins.
Credits: This one's for Jade East, whose suggestion inspired the plot.
Disclaimer: Sometimes I wonder if Paramount's intent is to eliminate its fan base. Then I watch Enterprise and I know the answer.
"Have you spoken to Ayala lately?" Janeway asked as she set the table.
"About anything in particular?" Chakotay uncorked a bottle of wine.
"He looks sad," she said. "Didn't he get a letter?"
"Nothing's happened to his sons?"
"Oh no," he said. "Nothing like that."
"He got a Dear John letter. His wife's remarried."
"I know how that feels," Janeway said. "It hurts even when you're expecting it. Was he?"
"Was he what?"
"Knowing Mike, probably not. But he should have been," Chakotay said.
"Why do you say that?"
"His wife never handled it well when he left for even a few weeks. I expected this, but Mike's an idealist."
Janeway sighed. "I wish there was something we could do."
"Give him time," Chakotay answered.
Ayala had spent enough time moping over his wife, Janeway decided. Not that she had the faintest idea what to do to help him, but it was the least she could do. After all, it was her fault they were all stranded out here.
Then she overheard Ensign McKenzie Jenkins in the mess hall. Jenkins, the pretty blonde conn officer, was telling Samantha Wildman about her attraction to Ayala, which she assumed was doomed.
"He never even looks at another woman," Jenkins said. "He just mopes about his wife. She's a fool not to have waited, if you ask me. I can't imagine giving up a man like that."
"I agree," Wildman said. "So why don't you ask him out for an evening on the holodeck?"
"Me?" Jenkins shook her head. "I'd never even have the courage just to start a conversation. He never looks like he wants to be bothered."
"You want me to help you do what?"
She had certainly caught Chakotay off guard. "Help me fix up Ayala with McKenzie Jenkins."
"I don't know, Kathryn. Playing matchmaker can get messy."
"Just help me create an opportunity for them to talk," she said. "I think they might have a chance to be happy, but she's too shy to approach him and he's too wrapped up in loneliness to notice her interest."
"It might not work."
"Since when are you opposed to a little romance?"
"Okay," he agreed.
"Now that's more like the first officer I know and -- " She scrambled to replace the end of the sentence and failed. "Any ideas?"
"We could put them on an away team together," Chakotay suggested.
"No," she said quickly. "Nothing that involves a command decision."
He nodded. "You're right...I don't suppose Neelix has discovered any new holidays to celebrate?"
"If he has, I haven't heard yet."
Chakotay smiled slowly. "I think I have an idea after all."
It took careful planning, and the first attempt failed utterly. There were simply too many people leaving the bridge at the end of alpha shift, and controlling their movements proved no small feat.
Yet the third time Jenkins filled in for Tom so he could work a shift in sick bay, both Jenkins and Ayala entered the turbolift at the same moment. Chakotay tapped at his console and the doors slid firmly shut.
Ensign McKenzie Jenkins swallowed hard and tried not to stare at Lieutenant Michael Ayala's backside. In truth, she didn't try all that hard, but she did put forth a noble effort to be discreet.
The lift paused and the console flickered suspiciously. The doors didn't open.
"Computer, resume turbolift," Ayala said. His voice even sounded sensuous when he spoke to the computer.
"Unable to comply," the crisp voice replied.
Jenkins missed the explanation. She was stranded in the turbolift with Ayala. It was a dream come true, or at least a third rate holonovel come true.
"I hope you aren't in a hurry to get anywhere."
He was speaking to her. She tried to activate the synaptic pathways necessary to reply. She needed a witty response that invited conversation.
"Not at all."
Well, that wasn't it.
"A pretty girl like you doesn't have a date?"
Any intelligent response to that flew from her grasp.
"We might as well sit down," he said. "It could be awhile."
"Good idea." She joined him on the floor. "So, did you have plans tonight?"
"No," he said. "I never have plans."
"I'm surprised," she said, although she wasn't. "Any woman on this ship would be thrilled to date you."
He looked dubious. "Me?
"Yes, you." It was now or never. She was a Starfleet officer. She'd faced Cardassians and Kazon and the Borg. She could ask an attractive man to join her for drinks.
"Chakotay, maybe. Or Tom Paris. But I don't see any women lining up to date me."
"Then you haven't been looking," she said. For God's sake, McKenzie. "I'd love to go out sometime."
Her heart pounded a frantic message against her sternum. She was suddenly either very warm or very cold. Then his hand touched hers and she simply felt electric.
"For our second date I'll take you somewhere much nicer," he said.
She laughed. "That would be nice."
"Ayala seems much more cheerful lately," Janeway said.
Chakotay followed her gaze across the mess hall. Ayala stood at the end of the serving line, looking around for someone. Guessing the identity of that someone provided little challenge.
Ensign Jenkins hurried in the door, and he turned to her with a grin on his face.
"You did a good thing, Kathryn."
"We did a good thing," she corrected.
He started to argue, but Ayala and Jenkins had crossed the room, searching for a place to sit.
"Mike." Chakotay gestured at the place beside him. "There's room here."
"Thanks," Ayala said.
Jenkins slid into the other seat. "Good morning, Captain. Thank you. It's crowded in here this morning."
"Must be the rumor that Dalby got drunk and spaced all the leola root," Chakotay said.
"Too bad he didn't," Janeway muttered.
Ayala grinned. "I wouldn't say that too loud, Captain, or he just might."
"That would make everyone happy," Jenkins said. "Well, except for Neelix."
"You two seem happy lately," Chakotay said.
Jenkins grinned. "It must be fate. I might never have found the courage to talk to him if we hadn't gotten trapped in the turbolift that day."
"A penny for them," Chakotay said.
Janeway glanced up from her PADD. "My thoughts?"
"I can guess." The softness of his voice startled her into putting down the PADD. He sat down beside her on the couch. "Fate."
She swallowed. Of course he knew.
"My people have a saying about fate." He took her hand. "Things are where things are, and, as fate has willed, so shall they be fulfilled."
"Okay, Aeschylus," he said. "But that doesn't make the point less valid."
"Chakotay -- "
"It was nice to see a smile on Ayala's face earlier."
"It was," she answered cautiously.
"I want you to smile like that. I want the freedom to touch you, and hold you, and wake up beside you every morning."
Tears sprang to her eyes. She wanted all of that. She wanted to give him all of that.
"I don't want to pressure you, but we can't ignore where fate has placed us."
"You're right," she said. "I'm tired of ignoring how I feel about you."
He smiled, and she realized how much time had passed since she had last seen him truly happy.
"There are obstacles," she said dutifully. "It won't be easy."
"Kathryn, I know all of that, but after all these years I've come to realize something."
"None of that changes the fact that I love you. Fate may have plenty of obstacles in store for us, but let's face them together."
"I like the sound of that." She leaned over and kissed him.
This fic now has a sequel, Returning the Favor.
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, August 2003.