Categories: Ship, Het, Humor, Romance, Slice of Life, Character Study
Pairings: Janeway/Chakotay, Paris/Torres, Neelix/Nicoletti, Chell/M.Delaney, Telfer/Tal Celese, Harrison/Mannick, Harren/Henley, Lessing/Gilmore, Ashmore/Ashmore, Ayala/Jenkins
Characters: Lyssa Campbell (primary), Janeway, Chakotay, Harren, Henley, Harrison, Mannick, Ashmore, Ayala, Jenkins, Nicoletti, Neelix, Chell, Paris, Torres, Telfer, Tal Celese, Megan Delaney, Freddy Bristow
A/N: Written for Transporter Tingles at Ready Room. A transporter chief knows everyone's secrets.
Credits: Thank you to Dawn, Jade East, Anne Rose, Kim, and Squirrelly for the eleventh hour beta attempts.
Disclaimer: This is far too entertaining and respectful of canon to have come from Paramount, at least these days.
Janeway was up early. Or late, depending on perspective. She hadn't gone to bed the night before. Not for any particular reason. She just hadn't felt all that tired and hadn't seen the point in forcing herself into bed.
She heard a sound in the empty mess hall and looked up to see Chakotay crossing the room. Bless the man, he was bringing her a fresh cup of coffee.
He slid into the seat across from her. "Couldn't sleep?"
"I didn't try," she admitted.
"Promise me you'll try tonight?" He reached across the table and took her hand.
"I promise." She smiled, touched by his concern, and started to say more, but Ensign Campbell entered and they were no longer alone.
Ensign Campbell hid a smile when the captain and first officer jumped guiltily apart. Neelix would be along to start cooking any moment, or she might have felt bad for interrupting. It wasn't the first time she had witnessed a private moment between the commanding officers.
On a ship the size of Voyager, gossip could strain relationships. Ensign Lyssa Campbell could keep a secret, and between her post in the transporter room and her part-time duties in sickbay, she had plenty to keep. The transporter officer might not be the first to know when a new anomoly appeared, like those on the bridge, but she was privy to other information.
She had been the first to know when Greg Ashmore had started seeing Christine. She had been the one to beam the vase of roses into Christine's quarters. It had been the first of many deliveries over the last seven years. Noah Mannick preferred white roses. B'Elanna Torres liked red. McKenzie Jenkins was more partial to carnations, and Megan Delaney was more often wooed with chocolate.
Campbell's habit of arriving for her shift early meant that she handled any discreet site-to-site transports required in the hour before Alpha Shift. Therefore, as head of the department, she could keep such things out of the ship's rumor mill. She wondered how people had handled morning-after inconveniences in the days before transporter technology.
On nights when Dalby's homebrew made the rounds, at least one crewmember would have reason to think twice about walking the corridors in the morning, and they often came to this realization dangerously close to the time when their duty shifts began.
Freddy Bristow had recently been more than appreciative of her discretion after he had awakened in the hydroponics bay dressed, as he said, for a Betazoid wedding.
In the early years of the journey, she had rescued a number of male crewmembers from a variety of embarrassing predicaments, most often due to the escapades of a certain pair of twins. With the possible exception of Chell, who was deliriously happy to have won her hand, no one had been happier than Campbell when Megan Delaney had finally settled down.
People rarely called for a site-to-site transport without a good reason, and the few times members of the crew had used the transporters maliciously, they hadn't bothered to ask. Seska had programmed a number of transport scenarios into the computer, and when Vorik had succumbed to the mind-altering effects of pon farr, he had simply knocked her unconscious.
Medical emergencies, unfortunately, were by far the most common reason for site-to-site transports. The hostility of the Delta Quadrant all too often left its mark on the crew.
The previous night's log contained only the results of a diagnostic, which she read before Alpha Shift officially began. Then she turned her attention to the medical reading the Doctor had assigned.
"White to Campbell. I need a site-to-site -- ."
She glanced at the chronometer and tried not to smile. "I've told you before, I'm not transporting you to your duty station just so you won't be late. Ask me again, and I'll transport you to the captain's ready room. I've yet to decide if I'll transport your uniform as well."
White didn't bother to answer, or, for that matter, to close the transmission. Panting and cries of 'hold the lift' drifted over the open comm line. Campbell grinned and waited to see whether or not she received a similiar request from Boylan.
"Good morning, Ensign," Mortimer Harren said. Campbell still found the new-and-improved cheerful theoretical physicist a bit unsettling.
"Good morning," she replied. "What may I do for you?"
He pulled a jewelry box out of his pocket, opened it, and laid it on her console. A diamond far too big to be worn while in uniform glittered at her.
"Why, Mister Harren." She fanned herself melodramatically. "I do declare, this is so sudden!"
He stared at her with the same expression Vorik used when she told him knock knock jokes. "It's for Mariah."
"And you'd like it to materialize at a particular time?"
"At dinner tomorrow," he said. "If it wouldn't be too much trouble?"
She grinned. "Bring it by at the end of Alpha Shift tomorrow and we'll program a transport you can cue manually from the holodeck."
"And this can stay between us? I mean, until..." He trailed off. The poor man was nervous.
"I'll keep it out of my logs until after you've made a public announcement." She smiled warmly and touched his hand. "I'm sure she'll accept."
Campbell aimed her most cheerful smile at the leola root stew, but it failed to reconstitute itself into chocolate ice cream. She carried her tray over and slid in next to Harry.
"Any good gossip today?" Tom asked.
She rolled her eyes at him. "Sorry, Paris, but as I've explained before, as Transporter Chief I took an oath of confidentiality."
"At least tell us who's been meeting Neelix in the shuttlebay," Tom pleaded.
She shrugged. "He's probably just doing maintenance on his old ship."
"No way," Tom said. "I saw him heading in there with a bottle of wine."
"I heard he was seeing Marla Gilmore," Harry said.
B'Elanna shook her head. "Marla's seeing Noah. That's no secret."
"Noah?" Tom laughed. "He's been with Brad for three years. I don't think Marla's his type."
"Not Noah Mannick, Noah Lessing," B'Elanna said. "Besides, I heard Neelix was seeing Ensign Golwart."
"At least she could stand his cooking." Harry turned to Campbell. "So what do you know?"
She shrugged again. When Susan Nicoletti wanted her crewmates to know about her relationship with Neelix, they would know. They would never know about Nicoletti's request for a site-to-site transport directly into her own sonic shower. What she did with creamed leola root was entirely her business.
"I want to throw Billy a surprise party for his birthday," Celes said. "I was hoping you would help."
"I'd love to," Campbell replied. "What did you have in mind?"
"People always catch on when you lure them someplace," Celes said. "But who would have time to be suspicious if they were transported to the party?"
Campbell grinned. "Perfect."
"Kathryn, please reconsider," Chakotay said, not particularly calmly, as he followed the captain into the transporter room. "It's far too dangerous for you to go over there alone."
"Then give me a better option."
"It's too dangerous for me, and not for Seven?" The captain glared at him.
"I only meant - ."
She didn't let him finish. "My decision is final, Commander. We don't have time for a debate."
Campbell ignored the argument as she studied the coordinates Ensign Kim had sent from the bridge. It seemed the captain had every intention of visiting a derelict alien transport vessel that was leaking at least three distinct varieties of radiation.
"Ensign," Chakotay said. "Keep a transporter lock on the captain."
"Aye, sir." She didn't point out the near impossibility of the task, given the radiation levels. It wouldn't stop the captain, and her job offered enough of a challenge without an even further agitated first officer hanging over her shoulder.
The captain turned to her. "I'm heading for the engine room. How close can you get me?"
Campbell studied the schematics. "Given the radiation, it would be safest to transport you to an open area on the deck below what appears to be the engineering section."
For a moment Campbell thought she'd argue, but a look passed between the two senior officers and the captain stepped onto the transporter pad.
The captain's life signs disappeared almost immediately, and for a horrible moment Campbell feared a transporter malfunction. Then the readings cleared up and she set about convincing her console that a transporter lock was possible, despite the interference.
She focused on her job, and tried to ignore Chakotay's terse communication with the bridge. Part of her mind registered that Harry was tracking some sort of overload, that B'Elanna and Tuvok were working to enhance the shields, and that Tom had orders to jump to warp at a moment's notice.
The danger to the ship was not her concern. Her only job was to keep a transporter lock on the captain despite the obstacles. If the whole quadrant blew up, fine, but she was going to make damn sure that the captain was on board Voyager when it happened.
The captain's elusive life signs vanished from her console yet again. Campbell guessed that she had entered the area they believed to be the engine room. Radiation levels were high enough to kill in a matter of minutes. She hoped the captain's task wouldn't take long.
"She's done it," Harry said over the comm system. "The reactor is powering down."
"Get her out of there," Chakotay ordered.
"I can't transport until she clears the engine room," Campbell answered. "I can't get a lock through the radiation."
"Chakotay to Janeway."
Campbell swallowed and scanned the location where she had lost the captain's life signs.
"Captain? Captain, please respond."
She recalibrated her sensors and tried to scan through the radiation-soaked engine room.
"Kathryn, do you read?"
Campbell prayed the captain didn't need a reminder, because Chakotay's hails were answered only by static. All she could do was continue to search for any sign of the captain at the edge of the blackout zone.
There! Campbell swallowed hard and struggled to clear up the signal. She'd have to try in a moment, whether she was happy with the readings or not. She locked onto the irratic life signs and watched the console as the captain dematerialized.
"Do you have her?" Chakotay asked.
"The radiation has affected the pattern buffer," she answered, fighting against panic. "I'm adjusting manually."
The captain materialized on the transporter pad and nearly collapsed. Chakotay leapt forward to steady her, and started to order a site-to-site.
"No," Campbell said. "Carry her. Another transport is too dangerous." She stepped into her part-time role as medic and aimed a medical tricorder at her captain.
Janeway protested, insisting, despite the evidence, that she could walk. Campbell and Chakotay exchanged a glance. Chakotay wrapped his arm around his captain, and Campbell followed, ready to assist when she was needed.
Campbell sympathized with the fear in Chakotay's eyes, but she knew better than to acknowledge it in front of the captain. She didn't know whether to pity the two of them, or envy them. Love was the best part of life, and yet as much as she wanted to find someone, she was sure it must be even harder to be forced by circumstances to ignore it when fate dropped your soul mate into your lap.
They arrived in sickbay just as the captain lost consciousness. Chakotay lifted her onto a biobed as the Doctor began his scans.
"She'll be fine, Commander," Campbell said, leading him over to the Doctor's office door. She didn't try to order him out of sickbay. The Doctor would need only a few minutes to stabilize the captain. Then Chakotay could go stand beside her biobed and hold her hand, as was his custom when the captain was unconscious in sickbay.
She wondered if he knew that the captain usually did the same, if she wasn't needed on the bridge. One of these days, the temptation to tell him might get the better of her. Tom never said anything, though, and he was closer to them both.
Would Chakotay push forward, and share his feelings, if he knew they were returned? Or did he already know? Had he seen her transport that bathtub up to the ship that day? She suspected that the object held some significance to the two senior officers.
"She's stable," the Doctor said.
Chakotay nodded, and some of the tension left his shoulders. He moved over to stand near the biobed as the Doctor outlined the instructions that the captain was sure to ignore once conscious.
No longer needed, Campbell returned to her post in the transporter room.
Harry met her there, and together they examined the transporter system to verify that it had not suffered damage due to the radiation.
"Do you really not know who Neelix is dating?" he asked.
"I'll tell you the same thing I told Tom," she answered. "If Neelix has a new lady in his life, and he wants you to know, he'll tell you himself."
"You never gossip," Harry said. "I don't know whether to admire that or resent it."
"I learned a lesson about gossip when I was a child," she answered. "I was trying to impress some older girls, and I broke a confidence. I swore to myself it would never happen again."
"That's probably a good policy on a ship this size," Harry said. "Every time I'm seeing someone I feel like I'm in a fishbowl."
"You need to date someone who's better at being sneaky," she teased. "Maybe when we get home, we could fix you up with a nice girl from Starfleet Covert Ops."
"A spy," he said dryly. "Sounds like just my type."
Chakotay followed the captain into her quarters.
"Commander -- "
"No." He removed his jacket, folded it carefully, and laid it on the table. He took off his rank bar as well, and placed it on top of the jacket.
She swallowed hard.
Chakotay crossed to where she stood. His hands moved to her throat. One at a time, he removed her pips. She could feel the backs of his fingers against her thundering pulse.
He turned away and laid her pips beside his rank bar on the folded jacket. "Chakotay to Campbell. I have some items that belong in the ready room."
The jacket and insignia vanished in the shimmer of a transporter beam.
Chakotay turned to her. "Now that it's just us..." His words trailed off as he wrapped his arms around her.
Any argument she had considered offering faded away as she felt his trembling. He didn't deserve to be scolded for his emotions.
"I almost lost you," he said. "I know I can't stop my captain from risking her life; sometimes it's necessary. But sometimes I need to hold my closest friend once she's safe again."
The warmth of his body stole through her as she thought about his words. "You'd better be careful, Chakotay."
He started to pull away.
She reached up and touched his face. "If I get a hug like that every time I risk my life, I might start doing it more often."
"I don't think -- " he began, but his words were cut off by her soft kiss.
Campbell smiled as she carried out the first officer's request and beamed the captain's pips out of her quarters. It seemed he had finally found a way to separate business from his personal life.
For more of Ensign Campbell, see Christie Golden's novels, especially Marooned, as well as several of my own fics, including Ceremony, Vulcans Don't Blush, Filling the Void, and Transplant.
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.