Dead Pixel Terror

Because I don’t remember if I posted this before:

Chakotay’s attention was torn from the PADD he was reading when Kathryn shifted in her seat for the up tenth time that morning. From the corner of his eyes he watched her uncross her legs, change position in her seat while desperately trying not to look up and cross her legs again. Like him, she was holding a PADD and trying to read reports, and like him, she was failing utterly.

Giving up on his own reading material, Chakotay watched Kathryn from the corner of his eyes. Every so often her eyes would flinch up to the view screen, a quiet but annoyed sigh would escape her mouth and she would force her gaze back down on the PADD. Chakotay saw her arm lift and her hand starting to knead the muscles in her neck, obviously starting to knot from being forced into one position for hours.

The tension on the bridge was palpable and Chakotay let his eyes roam over the room. Harry was down in engineering, helping B’Elanna with much needed repairs. Tuvok was quietly and stoically working on his station without looking up. But Tom Paris was sitting at the conn with a much straighter back than usual. He was obviously sensing the mood as well. Chakotay briefly wondered if the pilot knew why the Captain was so tense.

An indistinguishable groan brought his attention back to the woman beside him. She had given up her pretense and was leaning back in her chair, her back resting back against the cushion and her eyes fixed on the view screen with a grimace. Without moving his head, Chakotay’s eyes fell on Tuvok, who raised an eyebrow at the captain and then pointedly looked at Chakotay, apparently expecting him to do something.

“Captain,” Chakotay leaned over and whispered to get her attention.

“Hm?” Kathryn’s reply was short, her eyes not leaving the view screen. Yep, she had definitely given up the pretense.

“Why don’t you retreat to your Ready Room for a while and read your reports on your couch with a fresh cup of coffee?” She blinked and sighed again, her shoulders slumping slightly. “I’m buying.”

That finally softened her resolve. Chakotay knew she couldn’t just refuse a coffee on his rations and working on her couch meant she could get out of this uncomfortable position she had been in for hours and get a break from her horrible predicament.

“I think you’re right,” Kathryn finally replied, leaning forward and tearing her gaze from the view screen. She looked around and noticed that the mood on the bridge was tense. Chakotay was obviously trying to give them a break from her more than anything. She finally nodded and stood up. “I’ll be in my Ready Room. You have the bridge, Commander,” she said unnecessarily as she retreated, gaining an inaudible collective sigh from the bridge crew as the doors closed behind her.

Tom turned around from his console and was about to ask what the matter was, when he saw Tuvok still looking expectantly at Chakotay. Chakotay knew what he wanted him to do. It had been like this for days now and the way it was influencing Kathryn’s mood was starting to become unbearable. Or as Tuvok would say, it affected crew efficiency. But B’Elanna was busy with more important repairs and Chakotay had tried to put the call off as long as possible. When even Tuvok silently urged him to act, the limit was reached.

“Chakotay to Torres.”

“Torres here. I really don’t have time Chakotay.” He could clearly hear the stressed voice of their chief engineer and her annoyance at being disturbed in it.

“Can you send a repair team to the bridge? That view screen malfunction is driving the captain insane.” B’Elanna looked at Harry over her shoulder and grinned. The bridge’s view screen had a minor malfunction, not even affecting functionality. But if it drove the captain insane it must be bad.

“I’ll be right up,” she said, knowing how badly it affected crew morale if Janeway was in a bad mood. Then she turned to Harry, “So, that’s why you volunteered to help me down here.”

Harry just shrugged and smiled, taking over from B’Elanna as she wiped her hands on a towel and headed for the bridge.

When Chakotay heard the doors of the turbo lift open, he turned around and saw B’Elanna step out, her eyes widening as she immediately assessed the damage.

“That is horrible,” she widely gestured to the view screen, “Why didn’t you say it was that bad, Chakotay?” B’Elanna fixated him with an accusing stare as she briskly walked towards the view screen.

“It’s not even visible,” Chakotay defended himself, “We just noticed a few days ago and as long as she screen is only showing space, you can’t even tell it’s there.”

“Can’t even tell it’s there,” B’Elanna huffed as she took out a ladder and stepped up, removing a panel at the upper corner of the view screen, “They are practically staring back at me and mocking me.”

She removed the defective projector and replaced it, giving a sigh of relieve when the view screen flickered for a moment and the cluster of dead pixels disappeared. Not that Chakotay would have seen it against the black backdrop of space.

“And you let the captain look at that for four days.” B’Elanna shook her head, “No wonder she’s so wound up.”

“The captain decided that other repairs had priority,” Chakotay again tried in vain to defend himself.

“Yea, well, and how did she look when she said that?” The sarcasm in B’Elanna’s face was mocking Chakotay and he was about to reprimand her, when the Ready Room doors opened and Janeway stepped onto the bridge.

Chakotay saw her face brighten immediately as she looked at the view screen and then at B’Elanna.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Kathryn said, “It could have waited a few more days.”

“It really couldn’t.” B’Elanna shook her head with a grimace. “How did you stand to look at that for so long?”

Before Kathryn could reply, she heard Tom snicker and cough and threw him a sharp look, silencing him immediately. “Thank you, Lieutenant.” Kathryn said instead to B’Elanna releasing her to return to more pressing repairs.

When B’Elanna had left the bridge, Kathryn sat back down in her command chair, crossing her legs and leaning over to Chakotay.

“Thank you,” she whispered, knowing fully well that Chakotay had called B’Elanna up when he was fed up with her mood.

“Anytime,” he replied with a satisfied, dimpled grin as he leaned back in his own chair and picked up his PADD again, watching from the corner of his eyes as Kathryn did the same, a small, almost imperceptible smile playing around her lips.

from Tumblr

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