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A Night On The Drive

VC: A Night on the Drive
D'Alaire — 2 Oct 1998, 1:44 PM

A Night on the Drive -- mainly a little setting up for later stuff, and takes place early in the drive -- and sorry ahead of time if I don't know much about cattle driving. I've tried to be non-descript.

The joe was good, as was the fire. Chakotay leaned back on his bedroll, not yet set out, but a suitable enough chairback. The drive was going well so far, even with Miss Whippen's...enthusiastic direction. Tense as it could be, he had to grin to himself that he'd never seen Kate so rigid. Looked like if a shard of hay hit the woman, she'd crack like a china cup. Of course, he also knew how important this drive was--life or death, really.

Chakotay looked around at the hands as they took their supper and talked amongst themselves. Yes, the break was well-deserved. He tried to think of some kind of reward for them once they got to Federation City. Maybe a night at the playhouse. Nothing like good music and chorus girls to relax a man. And he thought he wouldn't mind seeing a show, either. It'd been a long time.

As his dark eyes perused the camp they'd made, he saw in the moonlight his daughter and Tom making their rounds on the horses--again. Do those two ever stop fiddling around? he wondered. A full day's riding and they were still buzzing about the horses, finally settling their attentions on their favorites.

B'Elanna had insisted on bringing Kona. She didn't trust anyone else to her prize mare, and knew the horse wasn't far enough along that a trek like this would be bad for her. In his turn, Tom had brought Frisco, but didn't ride him much. Instead, he took Intrepid when he and the foreman went scouting. And strangely enough Tom Janeway had become right...bearable on those runs. If he wasn't so happy about that, Chakotay would have thought something wrong with it.

Watching the two, the foreman noted again how bearable they'd both become. Ever since B'Elanna's experience with the Cardassian tribe--a fast-known legend in Voyager City--she'd become right introspective, as much as Tom was quietly knowing. Whatever'd exactly happened out there, it'd made a difference. Since they'd started on, both had settled a bit, and maybe they'd put a little meat on their bones.

The strangeness didn't bother the foreman as much as he thought it might, though. He had to admit, he'd never had so little trouble from either of them.

RE: VC: A Night on the Drive, part 2
D'Alaire — 2 Oct 1998, 1:51 PM

For that matter, Tom and B'Elanna worked fine together, especially then, and well after all but the night watch had retired to supper and coffee and a warm fire.

Each they stopped the herd and got the hands in order, Tom would set off to help her make rounds with the horses, and they did so with reckonable ease--leaving nothing for want. They'd even kept Shuttle...whatever, in good shape. At that point, that was more important than anything else at that point, keeping the herd and the horses in line and healthy.

So, Chakotay didn't fuss about them taking off together once he and Tom had returned from their scouting, nor about the two's putting their bedrolls next to each other, especially as the nights had grown cold and long. He figured he'd might as well let them be. There was enough tension in the camp without asking for more.

They seemed to be getting done with their prides and joys when a cold breeze whipped down into the pass. B'Elanna, never one for the cold, shivered hard, only to get an arm around her shoulder. Tom pulled her to his side, and she put her arms around him, under his coat, letting him walk her to the nearest campfire to sit.

When they did, Tom asked one the hands to throw him a blanket, which, upon catching it, he draped around her shoulders. She gladly accepted it, then went to work repairing a bridle she'd brought back with her, pulling a miter driver from her pocket. Meanwhile, Tom got them some vittles.

Good thing she's been wearing that extra coat, Chakotay thought, in spite of the fact that he'd wondered about it. B'Elanna had taken to wearing the cloak since Autumn set in, and though it'd proved handy (she could keep all her tools with her in those copious pockets, a handy thing on the drive), the foreman couldn't help but notice she wore it even during the warmer days.

I don't suspect I'll ever keep up with these fashions, he decided, and leaned up to get himself another cup of coffee. "Hey, Mister Ayala , why don't you pull out that harmonica and give us all something to listen to?"

Soon, the pleasing hum of the mouth organ floated through the camp, and gradually, everyone settled down to listen to it. Even Chakotay allowed himself a grin, closing his eyes as he leaned back on his bedroll, holding the hot cup in his cold hands.

Nearly asleep, the foreman didn't notice the look the two shared over their supper plates, nor their grins when B'Elanna, under the pretense of wiping a piece of food from the corner of Tom lips, ran her finger over the small scar on his cheek. And nobody noticed when, after finishing their supper, they wandered off to their horses again.