Janeway stormed into the police captain's office. "Sir, the partner you've stuck me with is an imbecile. I demand to be reassigned."
The Doctor looked up from his mahogany desk with a frown and a glass of bourbon halfway to his lips.
"Now, Ms. Janeway - "
"Don't you 'Ms. Janeway' me," Janeway snapped. "I may be the first female detective this precinct has ever had, but I'm one of the best you got, and the idiots you keep making me work with are an insult to me, and an insult to the badge."
"Detective Janeway," he stressed, "no one else will work with you."
She raised an eyebrow at him. He dropped the act with a put upon sigh. "You've gone through all eight possible partners. The objective of the holonovel is for your character to persevere and solve the case despite being hindered by a male partner who doubts your ability to - "
"Tom and B'Elanna wouldn't write me a miserable situation like that," she said. "Come on, there has to be someone else. Or you can put me back on active duty without this ridiculous - "
"You are on mandatory leave until your stress levels lower, Captain. You've refused all the other holonovels, and Tom and B'Elanna made this especially for - "
"There has to be another option."
"Is it possible you don't like these partners because they're holograms?"
"I don't like them because they're misogynistic asses. Isn't there anyone?"
The Doctor looked back down at his desk. There was fake paperwork there, which he shuffled importantly. "There is a crewman with high stress levels who I'm told is reacting poorly to your absence on the bridge. I could send him in."
Tuvok, Janeway thought. She'd like solving crime with a Vulcan. "That would be excellent, Doctor."
"Commander Chakotay," said the EMH. "Please report to the holodeck."
"I'm told you've been missing me on the bridge," Janeway said.
Chakotay looked away from the corkboard of evidence set up in the middle of the bullpen. He looked downright bizarre in ancient Earth clothing, a leather jacket with oversized lapels and a brightly colored shirt with the first three buttons left undone, tucked into white pants, belted with a belt that failed to match either his dark brown leather jacket or his black boots.
Of course, she had to admit she wasn't much better off in a striped shirt (also unbuttoned, also tucked in) with high waisted trousers and clunky, high heeled shoes.
How was she supposed to chase criminals in high heels?
"Tuvok told you even after I apologised?"
"No, the Doctor - wait. What happened with Tuvok?"
He looked guilty. "I snapped at him over something stupid. Captain, I - "
The door to the police captain's office swung open dramatically. "Yes, Detective Chakotay?" The EMH asked. No ship talk in the therapeutic holonovel, apparently.
"He was just wondering where you got your tie," Janeway said.
All three of them considered the atrocity hanging around the Doctor's neck.
"My wife got it for me," he said, after (presumably) double checking with the holonovel's information center. "Don't you have a heinous double murder to solve?" He added.
Janeway stared at him. "It's a bank robbery! How would a double homicide be relaxing?"
"It's your job, Detective," he recovered his persona, "it's not meant to be relaxing. You want relaxation, go to Hawaii."
"Wait," Chakotay said. She looked back at him, and found him studying the corkboard. "The witness said the getaway car was gold?"
"Orange," She said.
"No, look," he said. "It says orange here on the wanted poster, but the witness statement down here says gold."
"We're looking at the wrong cars," she said. "Good work, Detective!"
Janeway didn't usually get a chance to hit the rec area with Chakotay, but running in step with him - even in high heels - chasing a holonovel character was kind of fun. Like running marathons with her sister used to be.
And then she put her foot in a pothole (dammit, Tom-and-B'Elanna!) and her leg went out from under her and she crashed to the holo-asphalt.
"He's getting away!" She said, waving him on.
He didn't go. "We found him once, we'll find him again. Are you okay? I think the holonovel scripted that fall, but it looked pretty nasty."
"Well, I didn't twist my ankle," she said. "Thought I had. Must've been supporting my leg as I fell."
"You've got a scrape, here," he said, and his fingers brushed across her jaw.
She shook her head. "No pain. Probably part of the holo."
"Then a holonovel med kit will work."
They walked back to the car together, a sleek thing she didn't think was sensible for cops, but then, Tom had probably taken liberties with it. She took off the damn shoes and walked barefoot, which made Chakotay laugh.
"Trade you," She said.
"They'd clash with my jacket," he replied.
"What would you take a witness statement that clearly says gold and then write it on your report as orange?" Janeway demanded.
The lieutenant shrugged. "She didn't know what she was talking about, no one makes gold cars like she was claiming."
"Jimmy DeWalt's got a car just like she described. Custom paint job. By the time we caught up to him, he'd already gotten wind of our investigation and cleared out his place. We could've picked him up within hours of the robbery if you had just trusted that woman about what color the car was! You put this whole case in jeopardy, and - "
She realized Chakotay was watching her with a small smile and turned to him. "Shouldn't you be playing good cop?"
"No need. You were going to finish flaying him alive, then shift gears to tell him you need him to be better, and how you believe he'll be a great cop if he just learns to keep his ego in check."
"That's a little harsher than I would say."
"But that's exactly what you were doing," he said. He turned to the young officer. "And she's right, you know. You are a good cop, good marks at the academy, good clean record. But you need to have faith in people. You think Detective Janeway looks this nice not knowing the difference between orange and gold? Or that she got all the way through the Academy and a decorated career to be the first female detective in the precinct without being able to spot details? Not every witness is as good as the detective is, but give 'em at least a little credit."
Janeway still had flecks of burnt paper money sticking in her hair when Chakotay peeled an eye open. "What happened?"
"You took a bullet for me," she said. Dreadful, archaic weaponry... how did they go so long without phasers? "How are you feeling?"
"Like I got punched by a hologram," he said. He sat up in the bed, brushing away the primitive tubes and wires attached to him. "You arrested the DeWalt brothers, right? We got 'em?"
"Yeah, we got 'em. The girlfriend drove the getaway car."
"Diner girl had an alibi," Chakotay said.
Janeway grinned. "Not diner girl. The other girlfriend."
"There were two girlfriends?"
"And the other girlfriend wasn't happy to hear about diner girl. She's telling the beat cop everything right now."
They both smiled, and Janeway realized belatedly she was still holding his hand from earlier. It had seemed appropriate, waiting at his bedside for him to wake up, even though it was fake and therefore unnecessary. She let go reluctantly and shoved her hands in the pockets of her trousers.
Chakotay eyed the motion speculatively. "You want to go lord it over the other detectives?"
That would probably end the holonovel. But we were having fun... and the Doctor said Chakotay was under a lot of stress now too.
Inside her pocket, her fingers closed around something metallic and irregularly shaped.
"I want to take that ancient relic of an automobile for a spin," she said, and held up the keys. "You in?"
The sun was setting on the changed New York skyline when the car stopped running suddenly. Apparently Tom had programmed in a need for fuel consistent with the genuine article. Or maybe he'd planned to run out of fuel himself with a pretty member of the crew and watch the view from the hood of the car, which was exactly what they did.
Perched on the car, she shivered. The holodeck's ambient temperature had dropped rather suddenly, and her ridiculous getup did not include a jacket.
She tried to move casually to shield herself from the wind behind Chakotay, but he just moved closer to her and curled an arm around her. Before she could object, he said: "I figured you wouldn't let me give you my coat - "
"Definitely not," she said.
"- and I'm not going to sit here and let you shiver, so this is the best compromise."
He wasn't wrong about how they'd both react, and he was definitely warm...
"Excellent work, Commander," she said. "We make a good team."
He looked at her. She was pressed against his side, so it was a very close look, and without thinking she turned to ask him what he was thinking about and the distance between their faces became negligible. "You think Tom and B'Elanna will write a sequel?" He asked. She could count his lashes.
"I think the sequel involves a double homicide," she replied.
He paused. "That doesn't sound relaxi—"
But she cut him off with a kiss, and it was stupid – why did you do that, Kathryn, he's your second in command - and unplanned and reckless and to hell with it, if she was going to get a reputation for being the kind of devil may care captain who took wild risks then she was going to go full Kirk and romance her first officer.
Chakotay kissed back. She didn't believe in the concept of a sure thing but she'd known that if she took this risk he'd be there, and yesterday that had been unbearably tragic, asking him to wait for her without ever promising him (or even asking at all). Today it can't be tragic because he doesn't have to wait.
"Did it work?" B'Elanna asked.
The Doctor sighed. "If you mean, did the Captain kiss Commander Chakotay, then yes. It worked. If you mean whether the holonovel is ever going to top the bestseller list, that's a definite no." He paused, arching his eyebrows at them. "Shouldn't there have been a twist ending?"
"Oh, now he's a holo critic," B'Elanna muttered.
Tom rolled his eyes. "It's all about getting the bad guys, not the whodunit."
"It's based on a cop show," the EMH said. "Whodunit is the staple of the genre."
"1970's cop shows were really the action subset of detective fiction, not true mystery," Harry chimed in. "Wait, you said they kissed? They definitely kissed?"
"Either that, or one of them has turned to cannibalism. Now if you'll excuse me, i do have an infirmary to run. I'm a doctor, not a dating service."
The three of them watched him go, and then turned to one another.
"I'll bet you a day of replicator rations it was the cold weather," Harry said.
Tom scoffed. "I rendered an entire city out of old architectural data from holovids, a positively cherry car, a leather jacket most men would weep for, and rigged that awesome gas tank explosion with the confetti of burning paper money falling from the sky - and you think it was the cold you shoehorned in after you saw my sunsets?"
"The cold forced proximity, proximity led to a kiss, and I edited all the scenarios so they always wound up outside, whether they went to the cop bar for a synthale or the train station to see off the waitress. It was perfect."
"Yeah, but I programmed that scene where the waitress cries and you know Chakotay comforted her and melted Janeway's heart like butter."
Harry threw up his hands. "So we're just gonna ignore the metaphor I worked in with how yes, continuing to work the case when they were ordered not to was against regulation, but - "
"If doing one thing against regulation was enough to convince Janeway it's okay to date her first officer, they'd be married by now," Tom replied.
"You're both idiots," B'Elanna said. "The real reason they got together is because the narrative told them not to."
"What?" Said Harry.
"Huh?" Tom said, at the exact same time.
"Detective Rourke told Janeway in act two that no man would respect a woman like her enough to marry her if she kept running around doing a man's job. Obviously Chakotay showed her respect, so that proved Rourke wrong. David DeWalt yelled at Jimmy for dating the girl they hired to drive the getaway car, and said it was reckless and irresponsible. But then it's made obvious that he really loves her, and just doesn't know how to break it to the waitress. And when the Captain tells them to stop working the case, he also says they shouldn't be a team.
"The narrative said everything Janeway has been telling herself about why she shouldn't try things with Chakotay, and once she was hearing all those points from a third party and seeing the flaws in each objectively, it was harder for her to argue against it. Piece of cake."
"If you're an evil mastermind," said Tom, without a hint of reproach and with more than a little delight in his voice.
"If I'd known all it would take was a holonovel," Chakotay began teasingly.
Janeway threw an arm over her eyes. "Don't tell the Doctor his treatment plan worked, even in a roundabout way, or he'll prescribe an entire series of holonovels every time I reprimand him."
"Mm, that would be terrible."
"You're the one missing me on the bridge."
"Why did you kiss me, after all this time?"
"Well, it was the 1970's, maybe I was sticking it to the man." She smiled. "Or maybe I felt a little like Jim Kirk, running around with a pistol, fighting bad guys."
"You kissed me because you wanted to be Jim Kirk?" He asked, but he looked amused.
"I kissed you because I wanted to, and if Jim Kirk can steal a starship to search for a dead man because he wants to, then I can kiss the man I love."
Before she could trip up over the fact that she'd just said love, casual as can be, he kissed her again, and she made a concerted effort to push aside her concerns.
Rebellion was a part of the genre, after all.
"I beg your pardon?" Janeway asked, reaching for her coffee.
B'Elanna glanced at Tom reproachfully, and then turned back to Janeway. "We want Harry to move into our quarters," she said. "But because he's an ensign—"
"As helmsman and Chief Engineer, you're not able to be in a relationship with an ensign," said Janeway. "Even if he is part of my senior staff, Starfleet bylaws preclude him from the usual exemptions."
"Right," said Tom.
Janeway drummed her fingers on the table. "Well, I can't really move him up the chain of command, because he's obviously in the highest position possible while we still have more qualified people in the higher posts. But he is bridge crew, and an exemplary officer."
"And the rules are dumb," Tom added. "I mean, you—"
Janeway's eyes narrowed a bit. "Yes, Lieutenant? What about me?"
"You know how unusual our situation is, being out here," B'Elanna said.
"Luckily for you two, I've been thinking about promoting Harry to junior grade lieutenant for a while, even if it's in name only."
They both heaved sighs of relief, and Janeway lifted her mug to her lips. "And maybe you'll finish making the sequel to your little matchmaking holonovel faster if you're living together."
She met their eyes coolly over the rim of the cup, as they both went a little ashen.
"Captain," Tom tried, but couldn't think of anything to add. Finally he settled on, "How did you know?"
"B'Elanna encrypted her notes, but you didn't. You realize there's a flagging system for files, right? Tuvok sent me them."
B'Elanna threw Tom a dirty look.
"Might've forgotten the encryption," he said. "But you liked it, so, no harm, no foul, right?"
"Treat Mr. Kim right, or I'll have to reconsider my stance on the matter," she said, but there was a smile hiding at the edges of her expression. "Dismissed, you two."