An Alternate Trade
by Suz

Disclaimer - Paramount owns them, but they'd probably never let them do this.

For Amy, who gave me the idea. An alternate take on Trade.


I should have seen it coming, I really should have. I've certainly be propositioned before, usually because I'm the crewmember they see most when we're negotiating - obviously, because I'm the Captain. Yet on this particular negotiation, things seemed to be going rather well. The Numati seemed friendly enough and they certainly knew how to have fun. Every crewmember who beamed down from Voyager with me danced with at least one of the Numati. It didn't strike me as odd when he did; I didn't suspect anything.

Maybe I didn't want to.

It's easy enough having my own set of rules for myself. I can use my body to try and help us get home, but it still comes as a shock when as you're about to leave the leader of the Numati asks if she can have sex with my First Officer.

Is that how it works in their society; do they have to ask permission of a superior because they can engage in any sexual activity? I didn't know and I didn't intend to find out. I simply told her that we'd consider it before beaming back to the ship.

Stalking around my quarters, I try to decide what to do. I can't order him to, certainly. Should I tell him that she asked? Does he know already? Maybe he *wants* to...although I doubt it. Chakotay has never struck me as the type for instant gratification. At least that's the image he tries to portray at times.

But he wouldn't be doing it just for pleasure. He'd be doing it to get the crew home. The Numati representative left nothing to chance; her tone of voice clearly indicated that if they had sex we would be granted instant access through their space. Probably - depending on how good it was - we'd get an armed escort all the way to the other side of their space.

Chuckling, I order my tenth cup of coffee and sit on a chair in my quarters. Staring out the viewport I study the planet that's spinning below us. Do they always deal in sex, or is that she's just taken a liking to Chakotay? I never considered that before, really. Not when I did it. There *have* to be races out there who only deal in sex. One of the many things I've learned in my time in Starfleet is that absolutely anything is possible.

It's late. I'm tired - I certainly did my own amount of dancing. My feet could do with a good massage and my eyes are starting to droop. But I need to tell him what she asked or I'll never be able to sleep.

"Sorry did I wake you?" seems a bit of a stupid question to ask; he's in his nightwear and his eyes are barely open. I ask anyway.

Blinking heavily, he draws back slightly. "Nah, it's okay. Is there something wrong?"

Of course. Of course he wouldn't object. Silly, really.

Inviting myself in I walk past him so the doors close behind me. The last thing we need at this moment is for someone to see the Captain hovering outside the First Officer's quarters when they should both be asleep.

Well, how to handle this? "We have a bit of a situation..."

"A situation?"

Exhaling heavily, I close my eyes and tell him. "The Numati representative, Leela, has suggested a deal that could be made to allow us access through their space."

"Really? What's that?"

I blurt it out. "Sex. She wants to have sex...with you."

Suddenly we're both sitting down on the sofa, staring at each other.

"I...see..." he says, obviously having trouble with the concept.

"Of course I don't expect you to, but I'd be failing in my job as a Captain if I didn't at least inform my First Officer of all the alternatives."

I didn't really need to say that, he knows the situation as well as I. We may have danced and had fun with the Numati, but the truth was we didn't have enough supplies to allow us access through their space. Unless we could somehow come up with the extra isotopes they wanted, we'd have to go around their territory. That would take one hell of a long time.

He tries to laugh it off. "Sex or failure? That's a difficult choice..."

I grab his hand. "Don't. Don't do that Chakotay. If you do decide to...well, that's entirely your choice, do you understand?"

I mean it too. Having sex with a stranger may be something I'd do to get us home, but it's nothing I'd ever ask any member of my crew to do.

He squeezes my hand in response. "I know Kathryn. I *do* understand."

I leave him then, retreating to my quarters but still not being able to sleep.

Two days later the Numati grant us access through their space. Thanking them with a fake smile we set a course and continue our journey. With a growing sense of certainty, I enter my ready room and check over the transporter logs. My stomach lurches when I see the data. He beamed down for nearly two hours that morning and returned ten minutes ago.

I find him in his quarters, shivering. His skin is an unhealthy yellow colour and he's lying on the floor. Kneeling next to him I rub his head and begin whispering. "You stupid stupid man. You didn't go to the Doctor, did you?"

Too proud. Not proud enough to make the sacrifice, but too proud to ask the Doctor to scan them for compatibility. I suppose in a way he did the right thing. We don't need the Doctor to loose faith in both of us.

Is this what we have become now? Is this who we are?

Sneaking into sickbay I take what medical supplies I think he'll need and administer them. His skin is far too hot to the touch, but I think the shivering has lessened.

Managing to get him onto his bed I make him as comfortable as possible. I look down at him and it's strange you know; just for a moment I think that this is something that I'd like to do all the time. Look after him, care for him.

Then he whispers my name and I realise that to him I already do in my own way.

"Shhh," I order softly, sitting next to him gently. "Everything is going to be fine."

I don't know if he believes that anymore, but that's alright. He *is* a Captain. He *would* do anything for this crew. That's all that really matters.



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