Eighteenth and Vine
(a Time on My Hands challenge story)
Author’s note: This was written in response to Laura W’s challenge on VAMB to write a story, any pairing, that starts with a variation on the line: “I’ve never had so much time on my hands.” Is there another pairing than J/C worthy of writing about? Not for me.
Summary: A J/C rendezvous, a few years after “Endgame.”
“Time on my hands. You in my arms—”
The jazz singer crooned the old standard song with a smoky voice that fit perfectly into the shadowed atmosphere of Starbase 18’s famous bistro, Eighteenth and Vine. Chakotay leaned against the bar at his usual spot, listening to the combo and nursing an Irish whiskey.
Next to him, one of the patrons asked the bartender, Rick, the usual question: “Is the bar named after the starbase number and the nearby Vineyard nebula, or is it named after the jazz district in Kansas City?”
“You tell me,” Rick replied, grinning. “Which came first? The name or the jazz?”
Chakotay smiled and watched the couples move sensuously and slowly on the tiny dance floor. At 1 a.m. and after an evening of rich food and plentiful drinks, most of them needed to get a room.
Rick appeared with a fresh whiskey just as Chakotay drained the last drop from his glass.
“They ought to pay you a strip of latinum every time you have to answer that Eighteenth and Vine question, Rick.”
“I’d be a rich man.” He absently wiped the mirror-like surface of the bar and then began to wash some used glasses in the sink behind the bar. “The truth is that the blues come first, before the music or the name.”
“So they say.” Chakotay sipped the whiskey and then loosened his tie, wishing he’d taken the time to drop by his transport ship to change out of his suit.
Starbase 18 was one of the closest to Sector 001, and so the bar was usually filled with humans and other familiar Federation species traveling to and from Earth, a prime location for running into old friends and coworkers. As a transport pilot, Chakotay visited the base often and always ended his day leaning on the bar and talking to Rick. “You see all types here.”
“We do. This week, a lot of people are headed to Risa for the First Contact Association convention.”
“That’s where I was headed,” Chakotay replied, looking a bit morose. “But now I’m heading out toward Crossroads.”
“I thought you always attend the convention. You’ve had your share of first contacts.”
He shrugged. “That’s all in the past. I’m not in Starfleet anymore, so it doesn’t bother me to miss it. The worst part is not connecting with some of my friends.”
The two men spent the next few minutes in comfortable silence. Rick polished the glasses and arranged them on the glass shelves behind the bar while Chakotay sipped his drink and kept a watchful eye on the door.
“Well, looky there,” Rick said, staring over Chakotay’s shoulder. “A Starfleet vice admiral. At this hour. And without the usual entourage.”
Chakotay caught the flash of a grey Starfleet uniform in the mirror as the admiral took a seat in a secluded corner of the room. Moments later, Lenore, the waitress, arrived at the bar with an order.
“The admiral wants coffee, at 1 a.m. What is it with these people?”
Chakotay sat up straight. “I’ll take it over, Lenore.”
“Lookin’ for a second job?”
Rick laughed. “Wake up, Lenore. Why do you think he’s been hanging around here all night?”
With a grin, Chakotay picked up the mug and his whiskey and then headed toward the dark corner where, sure enough, Kathryn Janeway sat reading a PADD. He stood at the table waiting for her to notice him.
“Just leave the mug, thanks, and check back soon,” she said, still focused on her work. “I should have had you bring the whole pot.”
“You’ll be up all night, Kathryn.”
“Chakotay?” She stood up in surprise and came around the table to give him a quick hug. “I didn’t see you when I came in. Sit down. Talk to me.”
He sat in the chair across from her. “I’ve been here for hours, hoping you’d stop by on your way to Risa.”
“An ambush, hm?” She took a sip of coffee and grinned at him.
“I wanted to tell you in person that I won’t be attending the convention this year.”
Her face fell. “You got the zeolitic ore contract.”
“I did, and I’ll make enough profit to do most of the upgrades the ship needs.”
“I understand, but I’m still disappointed. We’ve always spent time together at the First Contact Convention.”
“I also picked up a few passengers who are heading for Risa, so I’m stopping there on the way to Crossroads station. I thought maybe you could come with me.”
“The Talaxian Suite?”
“Sorry, but it’s rented. I’m afraid you’d have to double up with the captain.”
“Share quarters instead of staying in the Pioneer’s spacious and plush distinguished officer’s quarters?” She made a face. “Not to mention the fact that your ship is going to be slow, carrying all that ore.”
“You’d miss the first two days of the convention.”
She grew thoughtful. “You’re going to have to convince me.”
“All the important speeches and panels are on days three and four.”
“I still have that great Native American chef who knows how to fix all your favorite foods.”
“That’s a plus, but, as you know, admirals do not survive on bread alone.”
“I can cover that, too.”
She leaned back and smiled. “I think this is an offer I can’t refuse.”
“Great!” he gave her a brilliant smile. “You can pick up your things from the Pioneer in the morning, before we leave.”
“And in the meantime?”
“I have a room.”
“Well, then,” she replied, stowing her PADD in her shoulder bag. “How about one dance, and then we call it a night. I love the combo that’s playing tonight.”
He stood and offered her his hand. On the way to the dance floor, he stopped to make a song request.
“Again?” the tenor complained. “You’ve had us play it three times tonight.”
“She just got here, and it’s our song,” Chakotay explained, handing him a sizeable tip.
“Who gets tired of the standards?” the man laughed, turning to the band.
Chakotay pulled Kathryn into his arms as the music began.
“Time on my hands. You in my arms—”
The song is a wonderful old jazz standard that my dad used to play. Here are the lyrics:
“Time on My Hands (You in My Arms)”
music by Vincent Youmans
lyrics by Harold Adamson and Mack Gordon
Time on my hands, you in my arms,
Nothing but love in view;
Then if you fall, once and for all,
I’ll see my dreams come true.
Moments to spare for someone you care for,
One love affair for two, ooh,
With time on my hands and you in my arms,
And love in my heart all for you.