Kathryn woke up angry; God she hated that! At this moment she didn’t even remember why, but the second he touched her she recalled with whom she was angry. Kathryn rolled away from his touch; she wasn't ready to give this up yet.
Chakotay’s memory became suddenly clear. Ahh, yes they weren’t even speaking last night. What the hell was he thinking? He got out of bed and shut himself in the bathroom. He briefly considered locking the door; that would really piss her off! He passed on the idea, but it didn’t matter because she never even came near the door. When he finished his shower and came back to the bedroom to get dressed; she was gone.
Chakotay reported for duty to find that the Captain had already retired to her readyroom. Well, at least it was peaceful that way. It was evident from the tension in the air, that everyone on the bridge already knew that yesterday’s minor scheduling disagreement, which had escalated into a major policy discussion, had now become more than a professional problem.
In the past year, since their romantic relationship had gone public, they had done very well keeping personal matters off the bridge. Occasionally, professional matters found their way into their quarters, but personal problems almost never got a public airing. Chakotay remembered it happening once shortly after they married, about six months ago, but the problem had been resolved quickly so that only the bridge crew was even aware of it. This one, although equally unimportant, gave ugly hints of its staying power.
“Commander, I’ll be in engineering.” The Captain exited the ready room and crossed to the lift, never even looking in his direction.
“Aye, Sir.” Chakotay was sorry the second he heard himself respond but it was too late.
It hadn’t been intentional, his anger had caused the slip of the tongue and although she never missed a step, he knew she had heard him and he knew it would only feed her anger. The rest of the bridge crew knew it too; he could feel the increased tension in the air. Well, she was off to engineering, which meant she would spend the next fourteen or fifteen hours crawling around the bowels of the ship, some thing she planned to do for most of this week until the overhaul of Voyager's systems was complete.
The argument had started as a disagreement about the engineering schedule, more specifically her part in the engineering schedule. B’Elanna had adequate coverage for the work she planned. It was true she had asked for the Captain’s help and would no doubt work herself to death also, but Chakotay saw no reason for Kathryn to take such an active role. Kathryn had argued that according to her credentials she was the most qualified engineer on the ship and therefore should take an active part in any undertaking as large as this. Since Chakotay was perfectly capable of running the ship in her absence, she saw no problem in submersing herself in this project. Chakotay had countered that this was B’Elanna’s department and she too was qualified to handle it. Kathryn did not discount the qualifications of her chief engineer, in fact she was the first to admit that even lacking the formal training that Kathryn had, B’Elanna had an uncanny instinct for engineering which surpassed any engineer either of them had ever known, including the Captain herself.
And so it had gone. Even as they were apparently agreeing on a given point, three more bones of contention would surface, until the professional disagreement disintegrated into a personal battle. Chakotay tried to shake off the anger and move on with his day; but it wasn’t easy. No one had ever been able to provoke him the way that woman could; push his buttons she called it. He almost laughed thinking of it, but, yes, she could certainly do that, and from her reaction, he wasn’t bad at it himself. A smile crept across his face. This was so typically Kathryn, the impossible attitude the long hours, the need to oversee and have a hand in everything that went on with her ship. He had lost this argument long before it even started but he had to try and that was typical, too. Yes, this would pass; maybe he would track her down for lunch. Too soon? No, but exactly what she would expect….
“Sir?” A voice interrupted his thoughts. Chakotay focused and saw Harry standing before him with a quizzical look on his face.
“Yes, Harry?” The smile vanished as Chakotay dragged himself back to the task at hand.
“I’m due in engineering in fifteen minutes.”
“Go ahead, Harry.”
Chakotay glanced at the young woman who had taken Harry’s station and forced the anger down. Kathryn always worked with the best and he got…. He stopped himself, that wasn’t fair. Ensign Milton was qualified to cover Ops. Resolving to get over this before lunch, Chakotay pulled up the console and started his day.
Harry arrived in engineering to find the place a mad house. It seemed there were twice as many crewmen on duty, teams of two and three scattered through out both levels, others coming and going from access hatches. It all gave Harry a mental picture of little rats scurrying through a maze. B'Elanna was coordinating the entire scene, moving from place to place at just under a run.
"Hey, Starfleet. About time." B'Elanna yelled as she approached him.
"Where to Boss?" Harry laughed at the face B'Elanna made.
"Sorry." She whispered, then continued in a louder voice. "You're with the Captain."
"She's over there in my office doing some calculations. You might as well help with that cause she wants you to do the field work with her."
Harry took a deep breath and shrugged before heading toward B'Elanna's office. It was only the captain. Hell, he had worked closely with her before-- it wasn't so bad. Harry watched her face through the glass partition; she didn't look happy. He opened the door quietly and stepped inside.
"Damn!" The Captain slapped the monitor. "Harry, take a look at this, would you?" She never looked up just took a step sideways to give him access to the terminal. "Something isn't right but I just can't seem to find it."
It took Harry only a second to spot the problem, but he took his time to study the screen before answering.
"Captain, I think these figures might be reversed." He pointed to a figure about mid way down her calculation.
"Really?" She arched an eyebrow and leaned in closer to the screen. "Good call, Harry. Now why didn't I see that?" She shook her head and began punching in corrected numbers.
"What?" She was busy with the numbers and barely listening.
"Fresh eyes. You've been staring at these numbers for hours."
"True." She swung the screen toward him. "How's that look?"
"Good.." Harry scanned the screen. "Looks good."
"OK, I'll down-load this and you grab us a couple of tool bags." She handed him a padd listing some additional items to bring along. "If we go prepared, we might actually get finished some time before morning."
Harry was only gone a few minutes when the door opened.
"That was fast. Sure you got everything?" When no one answered she looked up.
"Hi, Kathryn." Chakotay stood uncertainly in the doorway.
"What can I do for you, Commander?"
"I thought maybe you could join me for lunch."
"Thank you, but I don't really have the time right now."
"Kathryn, you need to eat."
Kathryn straightened and moved away from the console; Chakotay recognized the look and had little patience for it today. What he had hoped to be an invitation to a quiet, possibly reconciliatory lunch quickly developed into another full-fledged fight.
Harry took a few minutes longer then he expected to locate some of the items on the Captain's list. He was hurrying back to the office when he heard the muffled but obviously angry voices. He could see them clearly from outside the office and even without being able to distinguish the words, it was more then evident they were arguing again. Harry stalled not wanting to interrupt them, observing as he tried to appear uninterested.
The Captain shook her finger in the air to emphasize a point and Chakotay stepped closer taking what to anyone else would have been a very intimidating stance. Her voice was louder now although the words were still unclear and in spite of the fact that he spoke more softly he was clearly just as angry as she was. They stood toe to toe, glaring at one another for a minute after the arguing stopped then Chakotay left the office slamming the door behind him.
Harry waited another minute then rejoined the Captain in the office. She stood with her back to him, shuffling a pile of padds he was certain had no relevance to the work they were about to perform.
"Captain, I believe we have all the supplies on the list." Harry wanted to be sure she was aware he was there.
"Yes, Ensign, I'll be right with you."
Harry followed the Captain as they silently crossed engineering and climbed through the main access hatch. They crawled deep into the belly of Voyager before beginning their work. With only a minimal amount of conversation they worked their way deeper, realigning, replacing recalabrating and testing each new adjustment before moving to the next. This orderly process continued for the next five and one-half hours. Occasionally, the Captain looked up to catch Ensign Kim staring at her and each time he quickly looked away pretending to be deep in though. Harry was replacing a simple relay when the sparks few and the lights flickered and the Captain had finally had enough.
“What is it, Ensign?” Speaking without looking at him, she handed him a new relay.
“Just a burnt relay.” Harry nervously took the part she offered.
“I see that, Ensign.” She had little patience and it showed. “I was asking why you've been staring at me.”
“Sorry, Ma’am. I didn’t mean to.” He finished replacing the relay and began to pack up the tools for their next move.
“Well, you were and you have been on and off for hours and you just called me ‘Ma’am’.” She fitted her tools back into the bag. “What’s going on?”
“Sorry, I was only thinking”
“It’s all right. Did you need something?”
“No. Just..” Harry shook his head and started to crawl away. “Nothing.”
“Ensign, what is it!” The anger was back full force; she grabbed his arm forcing him to stop.
"I’m sorry, Captain. It’s none of my business but…”
“Harry, something is obviously bothering you and it looks like we are going to get nothing else done until you tell me. So go ahead, whatever it is.”
“As I said it’s none of my business, but if you really want to know..”
“Go ahead.” She acknowledged him with a nod.
“It’s just that – well that didn’t seem strictly professional—that, er, argument you and the Commander had in engineering.”
“It wasn’t.” The Captain turned away and began crawling to the next site.
The silence returned. For the next hour they worked quietly only speaking when one of them needed assistance from the other.
“I’m sorry.” Harry was packing up his tools again. “I didn’t mean to intrude; I was just concerned. None of my business I know, but, well it looked serious.”
Kathryn turned back to tell him to drop it and mind his business but when she studied his face she saw how real his concern was. He truly didn’t mean to intrude but he was seriously worried.
“Harry, its OK.” Kathryn sat down and smiled for the first time all day. “You’re right it was more personal then professional. In fact..” She touched Harry’s hand. “I’m so angry at him right now I want to put him out the nearest air lock. And I would dare say he isn’t feeling much better about me.” Kathryn saw the concern deepen on Harry’s face. “Nothing is going to change. I still love him more than life, but right now I need to be mad at him, for a while, anyway.” She laughed. “Come on, let’s get some work done.”
Harry just nodded and they moved on to the next junction. She could see he felt better but also that he was still preoccupied with trying to understand what was happening. She let him mull it over for almost an hour, then she sat back and tried again.
“Harry, it isn’t conditional.”
“Captain?” He looked up confused.
“Love, Harry. It’s not conditional. Just because, at the moment, I think he is the most illogical, ignorant, bastard in the universe and among other things he might tell you that I’m a pigheaded, self indulgent bitch..” She had to laugh at his wide-eyed expression. “I love him, Harry. It doesn’t hang on whether he agrees with me or if I’m happy with his decisions—it's not conditional, Harry –it just is and that’s not likely to change. So stop worrying about us and let’s get this finished.”
Harry’s improved mood seemed to be making Kathryn feel better too. They worked for another two hours, but now that the conversation was lighter the time passed quickly.
“Harry, where the hell are we?” Kathryn was hot and tired.
“Ummm..” Harry laughed and consulted the padd he carried. “Well, if we followed this correctly we are on deck 8 section 4. I hope so anyway, cause if it that isn’t the primary EPS conduit we just messed with then we are in big trouble.”
“Then let’s hope you're right.” Kathryn laughed. “I think we've done enough for one day.”
“I think, we've done enough for two days!” Harry slapped his tool back in the case.
“Wise guy.” Kathryn looked around. “OK, this way.” She signaled him to follow.”
“OK.” He shrugged and followed her. “Why?”
“We need to come out in section 1.”
“If you say so.” Harry shook his head and followed her down the tube.
“Hydroponics. I need to get something there before I go home.”
“Oh? You going home?”
“Of course I’m going home. I told you not to worry.”
“Good, ‘cause, don’t take this the wrong way but…” He let her get a little ahead of him, just to insure a safe reaction.
“What?” She stopped and turned back to him.
“It’s not that you're old or anything, so don’t think I mean it that way..”
“This fight you had with Chakotay. It kinda felt like watching your parents fight. Ya know like they're gonna split up and if they do who is gonna take care of us kids?”
Kathryn stared at him for several long seconds before she burst out laughing.
“Oh, god, Harry are we that bad?!”
“It felt that way. Well, maybe only to me.”
“Come on, let’s go get ‘daddy’ a make up present.”
They dropped from the Jeffries tube just inside the cargo bay. Kathryn knew exactly what she wanted and headed straight for the peace roses.
“So, it’s you.” Harry gestured toward the flowers. “Kes told me they were special but would never tell me why.”
“It is now. Kes grew them originally for Chakotay.” She clipped a single flower and smelled it. “He always brought me one when I needed a little comfort or that extra lift. They’ve become a symbol with us, I guess. One rose says more than all the apologies ever could.”
“Yes, it is. And now its time to go home and set your world right.” She laughed and walked past him, calling back over her shoulder. “Harry, you will return these tools to engineering for me, wont you? I have something important to do.”
Harry smiled and nodded. It was the least he could do for the woman who kept his universe in order.