Disclaimer: This story is based on Star Trek Voyager’s characters. No profit is made, no infringement intended.
A/N: Written for VAMB’s 2014 Secret Drabble (or ficlet) exchange, the first line and the Chakotay and B’Elanna Torres pairing were requested by Missyhissy3. Thanks to her for the great prompt and to KJ115 for the beta. I have edited since her last edit, so any errors are mine alone.
Summary: B’Elanna Torres confronts Chakotay about his decision to blend the Maquis into Voyager’s Starfleet crew. This is set during “Caretaker,” Voyager’s premier.
“A Matter of Trust”
“Are you sure about this?” B’Elanna Torres stood just inside the doors to Chakotay’s newly-assigned quarters, having slipped through as a crew member carried out the last box of Commander Cavit’s personal items.
“Come in,” Chakotay quipped from his seat at the table where a half-finished ration pack was laid out in front of him. “Are you hungry?”
She sat down and made a face. “Not for Starfleet emergency rations, I’m not.”
“You’d rather starve?” He pushed an unopened pack toward her. “I assume you’ve heard the expression, ‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.'”
Her stomach betrayed her by growling. “I guess you have a point.” She unwrapped the pack and pulled out a nutrition bar, breaking off a corner and popping it in her mouth. “You know you’d outrank her.”
“I looked it up. You were commissioned three years ahead of her. You would have made captain before she did.”
“That may have been true, but you’ve overlooked one tiny detail. I left Starfleet as a Commander.”
She leaned toward him. “Irrelevant. Your Maquis experience makes you perfect for what we’re going to face out here.”
“Yes, as first officer.”
“I’m saying you should be the captain.”
“Janeway is the captain.” He glanced down at B’Elanna’s attire, frowning to see that she was still wearing her Maquis clothing. “You haven’t put on your uniform.”
“I’m not wearing it, Chakotay, and I’m not working for . . . her.”
He pulled the ration pack away. “No work, no food.”
B’Elanna’s mouth fell open. “You can’t be serious.”
“I’m dead serious. You and any other Maquis who refuses to cooperate will be left on the first friendly planet we find. I’m sure your engineering expertise will land you a decent job.”
She sat back and crossed her arms, barely hanging onto her temper. “Voyager’s engineer is dead, and Joe Carey might be a nice guy, but he isn’t up to the task.”
“We’ll get by.”
“So you trust Janeway. After just two days.”
“We had a long talk this afternoon. Cleared the air. Looked at all the options. She’s a straight shooter and painfully aware of the fact that she needs our help to get home.”
“We could be home already if she hadn’t destroyed the array.”
“You don’t know that for sure.” He slid the rations back toward her. “The Caretaker was thousands of years old, from another galaxy, with technology we’d never seen before and had no idea how to use.”
“We could have tried.”
“While the Kazon systematically pounded Voyager to pieces? While they boarded the array and attacked us?” He shook his head. “You won’t use a newly repaired transporter without a preliminary test, and that’s technology you know inside and out.”
She frowned, unwilling to admit defeat, and then reached for his water glass.
Chakotay pushed on. “Let’s say we did make it work and got home. We’d be in prison within the hour.”
“Okay. You have a point. But, does that mean that we have to submit to Starfleet protocols?”
“I think it does. My problem was never with Starfleet, B’Elanna. It was with the Federation diplomats who trusted the Cardassians, and, truth be told, with my own people, who were too naïve to understand how expendable they were. I have no problem with the kind of captain Janeway is.”
B’Elanna snorted. “What will she let us do? Clean injectors? Scrub plasma conduits? Calibrate the replicators?”
“I’ll make sure we have real jobs, and we’re going to do our best to show Janeway and the others that they can trust us to do those jobs. We’re going to fit in and become so much a part of the crew that they’ll forget we were ever Maquis.”
“You’re dreaming.” She finished the nutrient bar before she said, “Seska thinks you’re caving in because you want to sleep with her.”
“Sleep with Janeway?” He grinned. “Seska is jealous and paranoid. Ignore her.”
“Admit it. Janeway is just your type. Brilliant. Beautiful. Altruistic. Independent.”
“I hardly know her.”
“How long did you know Seska before you two hooked up?”
He scowled, unhappy to recall his hasty involvement with the Bajoran woman. “That was different. I didn’t figure I’d live long enough for my sexual entanglements to complicate my life.”
“Seska is in love with you.”
“And that makes her dangerous, I know. I’ve been trying to get away from her for a while now, and I’ll eventually convince her that our relationship is finished.”
“Moot point. She’s a Starfleet captain, and I’m her subordinate. She’s engaged to be married.” He smiled. “And she isn’t easy, like Seska was.”
“So, Seska is right?”
“Don’t listen to Seska. Just trust me when I say that Janeway is a woman of her word and she’ll do right by us.”
“I’m not so sure.”
“B’Elanna.” He leaned forward and took her hand. “In the Maquis, we focused on tactics, how to attack a particular Cardassian outpost, where the weaknesses were in specific classes of ships, but we didn’t have to think about long term strategy.” He squeezed her hand. “Out here, alone in the Delta Quadrant, we have to look ahead as far as we can, think months, years into the future. We have to think about tactics, but the long term strategy is the critical element, and that is the strength behind doing things the Starfleet way.”
B’Elanna thought about their situation, in practical terms. “We have no backup.”
“None, and while Starfleet discipline will be important, there is sure to be a desperate need for Maquis ingenuity, as well.”
B’Elanna’s engineering problem-solving skills kicked in. Voyager was brand spanking new, a good thing, yet she would need careful maintenance to survive for decades without a dry dock and spare parts. B’Elanna’s goal on Maquis ships had been to keep them in one piece during a single mission and then hand whatever was left to the on-ground engineers. What if she had no dry dock? No one with spare parts on hand? No one to help refit or replace malfunctioning technology?
“Keeping this ship going will be a real challenge.”
Chakotay nodded. “We have to help Janeway grapple with that challenge, B’Elanna. Our lives depend upon it.”
“I like challenges, but that Lt. Carey—I don’t think he’s up to it. He’s too ‘by the book.'”
“He might be. For now, learn about Voyager. Your day will come.” He glanced down at her clothing. “Now, about that uniform.”
“I’ll wear it, but I’m not Starfleet.”
“We agreed that the Maquis will wear our own rank bars, a subtle reminder that we aren’t completely Starfleet.”
“I guess I can live with that.” She finished the water and then realized she was fighting sleep. “I’m going to bed.”
“Do that. Tomorrow, the captain and I are going to work out the duty assignments and shift schedules.”
“You really are sure about this.”
With a nod, she turned and left, taking a direct route to the quarters she shared with Seska and a Starfleet crew member she hadn’t met. She faced a whole new set of challenges—learning about a new Starfleet vessel, joining a Starfleet crew, keeping Voyager space worthy, and letting go of her Maquis practice of punching idiots in the nose.
As she stepped into her quarters, she found Seska waiting for her, pacing the room.
“So,” the Bajoran demanded, “he’s going to sleep with Janeway and then take command, right?”
“He says we’re joining her because he trusts her.”
Seska scoffed at her as if she were a fool. “And you believed him?”
She realized that Chakotay hadn’t actually answered the question, but that fact was irrelevant. This was a matter of trust. “He wouldn’t lie to me.”
“You’re sure about this?”
B’Elanna didn’t hesitate. “I’m positive.”