The Grain of The Wood
by Suz

Disclaimer - Paramount own them, I guess.

Contains spoilers for 'Fair Haven'. You know, that 'Janeway holo-lover' episode that UKer's haven't seen yet. This was written before the episode was shown and before I've seen it. Thus, it's been rendered entirely uncanon. Who cares?


They sat opposite each other in the mess hall, not really talking. Tom just happened to be sitting at Chakotay's table because the room was packed and he had a spare seat.

They mumbled a few words to each other in greeting, but Chakotay was engrossed in the PADD he was reading with the hand he wasn't eating with, and Tom was contemplating modifications to his latest holoprogramme while trying not to think about recent events there.

It was Jenny Delaney's voice that shattered the quiet moment from the next table. Above the quiet murmurs of the mess hall, she could quite clearly be heard telling her sister the latest news "-yeah, well I bet the Captain's spending all of her free time in the holodeck. Have you seen her with that hologram? I bet they were sucking face five minutes after they met."

Her sister, Megan, grinned. "Nothing wrong with a six-foot vibrator, Jen."

"True," She conceded "But it should never be able to talk back."

Megan laughed then stopped suddenly when she realised whose table she was sitting next to. "Umm...I really have to go Jen. See you later." Leaving her tray on the table, she bolted out of the room.

Frowning, Jen looked at her sisters tray. Then looked at Chakotay's table. Eyes wide, she too then bolted out of the room.

Tom Paris viewed the scene without a trace of amusement. Sighing inwardly, he moved his gaze to the other man.

From his reaction, Tom deduced that it was the first time Chakotay had heard about it which was quite surprising. Chakotay was usually first to know about practically everything thanks to the Maquis 'underground' that still operated. True, no one was planning a mutiny, but their information could definitely come in handy.

Chakotay was sitting as before - one hand holding a fork, the other holding a PADD that he was apparently reading.

Tom knew better.

The tightening of Chakotay's fingers around the PADD could be seen in the whiteness of his knuckles.

Resuming his meal, Tom remained silent.

It was several minutes before Chakotay spoke. "I don't know if I should be glad..."

Swallowing a piece of food that he wasn't really tasting, Tom frowned. "About?"

The older man finally moved, meeting Tom's gaze. "That you didn't tell me."

Lowering his eyes for a moment, Tom fiddled with his cutlery before looking back up, discovering a need to defend himself. "We've never been 'best buddies', Chakotay. We've barely tolerated each other."

"At first," Chakotay nodded slowly, saying all he had to say on that matter. "But I thought that we agreement. Unspoken. About..."

"...her," Tom finished for him.

Trying to hide any trace of emotion that might have been showing, Chakotay lowered his face. "What's he like?"

Paris shrugged. "Your height. Dark hair. A bit slimy looking..."

"I meant his personality."

"A bit of a swine, but in a nice way."

"A nice swine?" Chakotay asked, lowering his PADD to the table. "It's your programme isn't it?"

"Yeah," He answered, trying not to sound proud.

"Then he must be a swine of the charming variety."

Tom grinned. "Chakotay...are you saying I'm charming?"

He lifted his eyes. "Paris..."

"Sorry," He responded, pleased that he could still get a reaction out of him. "But, yeah, he is charming. You know, if people are going to visit my programmes I have to make the characters likeable."

Nodding his agreement, Chakotay studied his meal. "I...I've been expecting something for a while." He continued but it was apparent from his frown that even Chakotay didn't know why he was having this little heart-to-heart with Tom Paris. "Even told myself that I'd be happy. I just didn't expect...this."

Ignoring the growing sense of guilt, Tom leant forward a little. "Maybe if you said something..."

"She wouldn't listen."

Starting to get angry at his impassivity, he tried again. "But-"

Chakotay actually smiled and spoke with the voice of experience. "She's Kathryn Janeway. She's not going to listen. Besides, I couldn't ask her not to. I don't have that right."

Tom shook his head, knowing Chakotay had a point, but still convinced that he could do *something*. Before he figured out a response, Chakotay spoke again.

"What's his name?"


Leaving his tray and his PADD where it was, Chakotay stood. "Thanks," He said, then walked out of the room.

Pulling another mouthful from his fork, Tom felt the food make it's way down his throat like a dagger. He really hoped Chakotay wasn't going to do something stupid. He really thought...

...that maybe he should do something stupid himself.


The hologram was in the the hell it was. It wasn't hard finding him at all, because Chakotay had ordered the computer to remove all the other characters.

The door slammed noisily behind him, and the hologram turned part-way through a greeting, but hesitated. "You work with Kathryn. You wear the same clothing."

The sound of her name from someone elses lips...

Chakotay shook his head, tried to concentrate. This 'Michael' had an appropriate accent for the environment, with a bit of a twang to it. Paris had been right. He was about his height, dark...and more than a little slimy. Although he could have been biased. "You know Kathryn?" He forced himself to ask with lightness.

"Absolutely," Michael retorted, indicating with a sweep of his arm for Chakotay to sit down. Waiting until the First Officer sat, Michael then joined him on the opposite side of a wooden table. "A lovely woman, that one. Almost regal. I wouldn't be surprised if she has some blue blood."

Catching the reference, Chakotay smirked. "You could say that..."

"A good friend of yours then, is she?"


Michael smiled. "Good. Can I get you a drink? Seems quiet today..."

He shrugged him off. "I'm fine thanks."

Nodding silently, the hologram leant forward and held out his hand. "I'm Michael, by the way."

Responding in kind, Chakotay quickly shook his hand. "Chakotay."

A delighted expression passed over Michael's face. "Then I've heard about you. Kathryn talks of you."

That surprised the hell out of Chakotay. "Really?"

Michael nodded enthusiastically. "She considers you her closest friend. And apparently you tell a 'mean story', whatever that is."

Shaking his head for a moment, Chakotay found himself smiling genuinely. "Sounds like her."

Sitting back, the hologram studied him. "Are you sure you don't want a drink?"

There was a part...a large part...of him that wanted to delete the bastard. "Okay," He relented. "But just the one."

Smiling, Michael stood and headed towards the bar. "That's what they always say."

Waiting until he heard the clunk of glass on wood over at the bar, Chakotay spoke. "Michael?"


"You're in for one hell of a ride; you know that?"

The mans voice was amused when he responded. "Wouldn't have it any either way. Besides, I don't have much choice, do I?"

"No," Chakotay agreed, studying the grain of the wooden table without really seeing it.

No choice. Not when it came to her.


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