"Any more coffee?" the waitress asked, coming round to check on their progress with dessert. Janeway got her mouth halfway open, before Chakotay reached over to place his hand above her cup.
"You are never going to get to sleep tonight if you have what... a sixth cup?" he told her, and Tom prepared for her to tell him how much coffee she chose to drink was her own damned business and he should stay out of it.
Instead, he watched her lace her fingers with him and guide them from the coffee cup to rest against her thigh. He risked a quick glance to B'Elanna beside him, as if to say Can you believe this? but she didn't seem to have even noticed, instead appearing completely preoccupied with her banana flambe. Tom tried to do the same; after all, this would hardly be the first time his former command team demonstrated the kind of comfortable physical intimacy which always stirred bets in his ongoing pool.
Then Janeway bit her lip and smirked crookedly as she replied to Chakotay's concern playfully, "Well, I guess you will just have to get creative in finding a way to help me solve that problem won't you? Unless you don't think you are up for the challenge."
She winked and gestured for the waitress to refill her cup. Tom's mouth fell open, and he was shocked that no one else at the table seemed surprised. B'Elanna was still working on her dessert with a single minded focus, and he wondered whether she had completely missed the exchange. She must have.
"I suppose I'd better have another cup as well," Chakotay ceded, with a dimpled grin but without the shock that Tom would have expected, "If I'm going to keep up with you."
"I guess you'd better."
Tom could have sworn that newly minted Admiral Kathryn Janeway giggled. He wasn't entirely sure though, since he was too busy trying to work out exactly the implications of what had just happened. He'd always assumed that this would happen someday, that Janeway and Chakotay would take their partnership in the obvious direction. He just didn't think that one day they'd barely be speaking, thanks to a futile foray into attempting to move on with Seven of Nine of all people on Chakotay's part, and the next they'd be casually referencing sharing a bed at dinner like it wasn't a big deal.
Still, B'Elanna didn't seem taken aback in the slightest.
"Well, we'd really better be getting back." he listened to his wife say, as if nothing out of the ordinary were going on, "Miral can get awfully cranky if we aren't home when she wakes up at about midnight."
"Of course." Janeway smiled, "Tell your parents we appreciate them babysitting, Tom. It's nice to finally share a meal with you two which wasn't replicated or a la Neelix."
"Not hankering for leeola root souffle, Kathryn?" Chakotay chuckled, and Tom watched Janeway run her fingers over Chakotay's shoulder and let them come to rest against the nape of his neck.
"No." she replied with her voice full of a sultriness that left no room for doubt as to her meaning, "That's definitely not what I'm hankering for."
"I guess I'd better get you home then." Chakotay beamed and Tom felt like he was intruding on a private moment, even though clearly the two were well aware that he was here.
He reminded himself that they weren't on duty now, not even in that way that officers so often are when their shift has ended but they are still aboard a starship. It occurred to him, that maybe he didn't know either of them quite as well as he'd thought. As they exited the restaurant into the soft cool air of the San Francisco night, Janeway and Chakotay heading one way and he and B'Elanna the opposite, Tom waited for B'Elanna to say something about what had just happened, but his wife was uncharacteristically quiet.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" he finally demanded, once they were well out of earshot.
“Something about what, Tom?” B’Elanna shrugged, as if there wasn’t an elephant in the room.
“You know what. Surely you weren’t so engrossed in your dessert that you completely missed that business with Janeway and Chakotay where they were talking about staying up and screwing all night.”
“I’d hardly call that business,” she teased, linking her hand with his and resting her head against his shoulder as they waited to cross the street.
“Forget the semantics. I can’t believe you, of all people, don’t think this is a big deal.”
“I never said that.”
“You didn’t even bat an eyelash.” Then suddenly it occurred to him: “Wait a minute… you already knew didn’t you?”
“After all these years with a pool on it, was it really that much of a shock?”
B’Elanna pointedly ignored his question in her response as they reached the transporter station, forcing him to pause this personal conversation. The moment they materialized on the other side he continued though.
“Need I remind you of the events of the last year? The Seven of Nine mess…”
“My memory is fine, Tom,” B’Elanna almost laughed.
“But you aren’t the least bit surprised. Did Chakotay already tell you and if so why didn’t you say something?”
“You are right. I did already know. I just didn’t know they were ready to go public and…”
“And what? You didn’t think to mention it to me!”
Tom forgot to lower his voice as they walked through the front door of his parents’ house.
“Don’t tell me that giving you a night off from parenting together ended in you two fighting, son.”
Tom turned to find his father sitting in the living room with a stack of PADDs.
“We had a lovely night, Owen. Janeway wanted us to thank you for making it possible for us to come out tonight.” B’Elanna replied calmly, further raising Tom’s ire.
“And how are the happy couple?” Owen Paris smiled, and once again Tom found his jaw had dropped, “I haven’t had a chance to talk to her about anything personal since I let them use the vacation house almost a month ago.”
“YOU KNEW!?!” Tom couldn’t help the words flying out of his mouth. First his wife and then his father. It was too much.
“Tom, I’ve known Katie since she was not that much bigger than Miral is now. Of course I knew.”
“And neither of you thought to tell me,” he raged.
“You are terrible at keeping secrets...”
It was too much. He stormed out.
“Tom?” Harry looked half asleep and confused as he answered the door, “It’s after midnight… Did you and B’Elanna get in another fight? I thought you two were going out tonight.”
Tom watched his best friend blearily try to decide whether he should be sympathetic or tell Tom to go to hell and return to bed.
“We DID go to dinner, only apparently B’Elanna forgot to mention that it was actually a double date as opposed to whatever all those dinners back on Voyager we used to have with Janeway and Chakotay were-” he paused abruptly, realizing he’d just proved B’Elanna’s point with his lack of silence, “Oh shit. Please don’t say anything…”
Harry laughed, “It’s fine, Tom. I already knew.”
Seriously Tom was beginning to wonder if he was the last person in the quadrant to find out. Then he remembered he was supposed to be mad at Harry for keeping this from him. Honestly, he was more perplexed now than anything else.
“What I can’t understand is why none of you said anything… that pool is giant by now.”
“Some things are more important,” Harry said simply and with conviction, sounding nothing like the gullible young ensign he’d rescued from the Ferengi bartender back on DS9 all those years ago.
“I’m sure sure what we should even do with the pot now. Do we have everyone record the date when they found out or-”
“We give it to them” Harry suggested firmly, “After all, I’m sure we’d all like to express our gratitude.”
“Like a gift,” Tom had to admit it was a good idea.
“Maybe a trip.”
“We could send them to Risa,” he suggested only to be faced with Harry’s incredulity, “Fine. Not Risa but somewhere nice.”
“I’m sure B’Elanna will have some ideas.”
“Oh right… B’Elanna.”
“How angry was she?” Harry asked sympathetically, knowing full well the potential level rage of his half Klingon wife.
“Actually I was the one who was more upset this time. I think she thought it was funny.”
“I’ll bet she did,” Harry laughed.
“You are right, though. I’d better go back unless I want to sleep on the couch.”
He found B’Elanna in bed, nursing Miral while reading.
“Did Harry manage to calm you down?” she asked, looking up from her PADD.
“More or less. He says we should use the betting pool pot to send them on a trip,” he replied, starting to undress.
“That’s a nice idea,” B’Elanna smiled, “They’ve certainly earned a vacation.”
“So…” he couldn’t help asking, “Just how long HAVE you known?”