Disclaimer - characters are Paramounts. Bleah.
A prequel to the episode 'Investigations'.
Don't worry, this *is* J/C in its own way.
He made the call, he made me come to his office, but it wasn't until I arrived that I realised it was at your request. You sat in his seat, behind his desk, he having given them up to you in this situation. He stood in the corner, silent, his hands behind his back. I knew he would have nothing to say unless it was informative and relevant. I had the feeling he would leave it all to you.
I also had the feeling I was being cornered into something.
You spoke. "Mr Paris, what I'm about to say is of the utmost secrecy. This can never be repeated until I give the say so, and can only ever be discussed if myself or Mr Tuvok bring the topic up. Is that understood?"
You kept your eyes on the padd you were holding as you spoke, pressing a few buttons, apparently still reading what was available.
The frown that had appeared on my forehead when I entered Tuvok's office now developed into a full-grown scowl. I wanted to know what the hell was going on. "Understood Ma'am." The Ma'am would get on your nerves slightly. I felt I had the right. You know how much I hate waiting to find out the result of a mystery.
"Then please take a seat," you stated, making it more of an order than anything. I sat in the chair on the other side of the desk and you finally looked up from your padd and smiled. It was mystical, as if the smile wasn't really happening. It wasn't, I suppose. You were forcing it, trying to make it seem real, but in this darkened office you were displaying more stress than anyone in the crew knew you were under.
Something was wrong.
You told me what was happening and how you wanted me to help.
My frown had long since vanished. We spent hours in Tuvok's progressively cramping office, talking over plans, ideas, suggestions. You and Tuvok had already developed many ideas, but with my help we managed to give a new perspective to everything. You liked a lot of my suggestions, but said no to many of them. Too complicated, too obvious...you were probably right.
I began to comprehend your fondness for caffeine. I hadn't really drunk coffee since my time at the Academy; I had forgotten it's 'medicinal' purposes - I generally preferred alcohol. But after cup after cup...I almost began to hallucinate. I must have. Because you told me to use your first name.
I stuttered. Something I hadn't done for a very long time. You laughed, some of your tension easing slightly, and I was glad I could do that for you. You explained. "I think that after agreeing to do this for me Tom, you should be allowed. Just don't use my name in front of the crew."
I grinned. "Aye, Kathryn."
Tuvok *must* have raised an eyebrow.
Our work continued, the Vulcan still standing in the corner.
It was several more hours later when I leant back from the desk, turning off the padd I was holding and using my free hand to rub my back. After I left here I was going to run a programme with a good masseur...no, scratch that. I was going to get some sleep.
I had long forgotten Tuvok was in the room.
I spoke my mind. Something had been bothering me ever since you asked me to help. You were leaning back in your chair, and hand rubbing over your tired eyes when I spoke. "Kathryn."
You pulled your hand away from your face and moved your neck slightly as if you had pulled a muscle. "Yes?"
"I only have one problem."
"What's that?" you asked, frowning. You looked so tired.
Your eyes seem to freeze over, but there was no hesitation. "What about him?"
"You've decided not to tell him..." I began.
"Yes," you agreed, leaning forward again and clasping your hands tightly together on the desk "Tuvok thought it was best, and I agree." Despite your words, you cast an almost nervous glance towards him. You seemed eager to blame him.
Your eye movement towards him reminded me that he was there...but I had already started now. I couldn't change from this path. It needed to be said. "He won't like it."
"No," you admitted, with another small, forced smile "he won't."
"He's been fooled and betrayed by a lot of people. Seska, Tuvok...me." I didn't like saying that, but I continued. "He trusts too easily; always has."
"I know that-"
"But as for respect..." I continued, imagining that Tuvok was having a fit for me interrupting a senior officer "That's something we've all had to earn from him. I never did until Voyager." I knew I was taking a risk, so I took a breath and pushed onward. "You never had to. From day one you always had his respect. You didn't have to prove yourself, your worth to him. For some...reason...he believed in you." I understood why he did. "This could damage that."
There was no doubt - you knew what I was saying, implying. You were touched but didn't want to show it. Your voice was quite when you replied, your head angled away. "Yes Tom. I know that. But I really don't see any other way."
"I understand." And I did, even if I didn't think it was for the best.
You swivelled away from me and looked through the viewport, even though I was sure you weren't seeing the stars moving. "You're dismissed Mr Paris. I suggest you get some sleep."
I stood, taking the padd with me. "Aye Captain."
Turning, I walked towards the door and although I didn't pause as I walked past him, I did make eye contact with Tuvok.
The silent observer.
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