Title:	 Take it on the Run
Author:  Jemima
Contact: webmaster@jemimap.cjb.net
Series:  VOY
Part:	 REV 1/1
Rating:  PG
Codes:   C&P
Summary: Tom advises Chakotay to move on.  
	 Episode addition to "Workforce II".

Disclaimer:  If these characters belonged to me, none of 
	     this C/7 stuff would ever have been dreamt of.
	     The title and quote are from REO Speedwagon.
	     The 'mass-murderers' line is from Liz Barr.

Borg Plot Classification:  002, 101, 549

Date:  March, 2001

Note:  This is all Anne's fault for suggesting 
       that I jump on the C/7 bandwagon.
       Thanks to Michael for his helpful comments.

"Eating alone, old man?"

Chakotay looked up into the concerned, but nevertheless crafty, eyes of Voyager's helmsman. Tom had adopted his wife's nickname for her former captain soon after their marriage. Chakotay ought to have nipped it in the bud, but Tom had a talent for getting away with these things.

"Have a seat, Tom," Chakotay said, bowing to the inevitable.

Tom sat down and dived into his purple pancakes like a dying man eating his last garishly-colored meal. He certainly had style, and he had something on his mind.

"Out with it, Tom."

"Mmmmphf?" the pilot inquired innocently, around a purple mouthful.

"What's up?"

Tom swallowed. "Not much - just thinking about our lives among the Quarren. It was fun while it lasted, but I wouldn't want any of our actions down there to be taken the wrong way. It would be a shame if someone held it against Celes Tal that she was employed as a telephone sanitizer."

"Or that you were wiping tables in a bar..."

"And poor Tuvok!" Tom continued, ignoring the jibe. "It would be awfully strange to see him in Sandrine's, ruining jokes and laughing too loud."

"The Doctor assures me that all of you are fully recovered."

"So there's no reason to expect that the Captain will be looking for domestic bliss here on Voyager, now that she's left Jaffen."

Chakotay was too surprised to speak.

"She should be set for another year or so," Tom continued between mouthfuls. "It's getting to be a pattern - one man a year. Remember that slippery Sikarian dude with the amazing trajector technology? Then there was Lord Burleigh, then you. You held her over for a couple of years - very impressive, old man. But all good things must end: then came Kashyk, then another hologram, and now Jaffen."

Chakotay was surprised how little Tom's callous accounting disturbed him. He should have been angry; he should have wiped the messhall floor with the brash Lieutenant. Instead, he argued.

"The Captain was engaged to be married when we left the Alpha Quadrant. She's not what you think she is."

"Oh, yeah, our three-week mission - I'm used to being this unlucky. So are Starfleet captains. I doubt she saw much of Professor Johnson way back when. And if a little war started back there in the Alpha Quadrant, say, with the Dominion, she would have been right there on the front lines, not back on Earth keeping his toes warm at night. That's not her style.

"It's not like you haven't had your own share of passing blondes. After all, the Delta Quadrant is a lonely place. In the words of a 20th-century poet, 'You're under the gun, so you take it on the run.'"

"That's her, not me," Chakotay snapped, and instantly regretted it.

"I'm glad you've finally come to your senses. The way I see it, we've all fallen for the Captain, but she's the only one of *your* old flames who's still here with us. So, like an officer and gentleman, you've tried to keep on loving her. But it's not working, is it?"

Chakotay didn't reply.

"Give yourself a break, old man. She doesn't need that kind of loyalty from you. She can find the occasional man when she needs him. You need someone else a lot more than she does, and if you were smart you'd look for her elsewhere."

"Space is a lonely place."

"This ship is full of women."

"This ship is full of women I outrank."

Tom reflected on the convoluted ways of the human mind: because Janeway was rejecting Chakotay over protocol, he displayed his loyalty to her by rejecting the rest of the crew, using the same excuse. Fortunately, fraternization was not at issue in the plan Tom had in mind.

"Not all the women are Starfleet."

"Naomi Wildman is a little young for me."

"I hear Seven of Nine has the hots for you."

Chakotay winced at Tom's ancient and colorful idiom.

"Are you suggesting I trade in the man-killer for the Borg?" The worst part of talking to Tom was how you inevitably sank to his moral and verbal level.

"It's been four years. Seven is quite...domesticated."

"She's not my type."

"I beg to differ. More than one gorgeous blonde has been seen on your arm. Seven is most certainly your type."

"I'm not the one who dates mass-murderers." Spirits, had that really come out of his mouth? He hadn't realized quite how angry he was at Kathryn.

"Let's put Kashyk behind us - even you dated a Cardassian once. At least when Seven assimilated planets it was against her will."

Mind control - how much could you really chalk up to mind control? Kathryn the power-plant worker was in many ways even more Kathryn than usual. She had been programmed to be happy, and like everything she did, she went all-out at it. In the end, though, it wasn't her happiness with Jaffen that disturbed her XO.

"While he was aboard, Jaffen came to me to apologize," Chakotay volunteered.

"Ah. For turning you in to the authorities."

"For convincing Kathryn to turn me in." Why was he baring his soul to Tom Paris? Space was a lonely place, indeed.

Tom tried to hide his involuntary gasp by saying, "You can't blame her."

"No, I can't. She plays by the rules, no matter who gets hurt."

"That's why Jaffen stayed with the Quarren, isn't it?"

"Protocol, no doubt. She can't allow herself to become - or remain - involved with her employees. She just walks away." A mixture of pain and wonder came with this realization, and Chakotay looked to Tom, Tom Paris of all people, for insight into their Captain.

Tom disappointed him by saying only, "You could walk away, too."

"I don't have her knack for it."

"You know what they think of you and her on the lower decks - that yours is a legendary love, a romance of mythic proportions."

Chakotay shrugged.

"That's what appeals to you, the romantic story of a renegade who swore fealty to a Starfleet captain. It would make a great holonovel, but as a life it leaves a lot to be desired. You can't have a great love with only one lover, Chakotay. Your relationship with the Captain is so mythic it's imaginary."

"I'll never understand her."

"That doesn't mean she's deep. You keep waiting for the real Kathryn Janeway to show up, but she's been here all along. Whenever she tries to settle down, it's with dull men like Jaffen or Professor Johnson who won't get in the way of her career. Otherwise, she takes it on the run.

"Now Seven, on the other hand, is a fascinating woman. She's led a billion lives - a billion lives cut short in their prime by violent assimilation, but a billion lives nevertheless. She's intelligent, witty, available, and she likes you."

"I don't know, Tom. I'll have to think about that one."

"Don't think too long. Doc still has a photonic eye on her, not to mention poor Harry."

"I'll keep it in mind."

The end, but there's a sequel: Borg Error.