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VC Compleat: The Leola Root Ball

The Lady
Leonie — 21 Sep 1998, 7:12 AM

I looked at the guide and I see that I'm still on for Lee-Marie/Tuvok/Kate and Chak so I will post the first installment which occurs after the big Race written by Jules. It may move but it is about Lee-marie dressing for the ball and setting up things to come for future stories.

"Pull Miss Annie!!!!" Lee-Marie took one more deep breath and held it as she bent over the chair in her room of the Ranch. Miss Annie was panting with exertion as the two women had been at it for more than fifteen minutes and compared to tightening the corset on a woman's body, buck riding was piece of cake.

"Miss Lee". Miss Annie was the other person that she would let call her that. "It cyanna go any tighter. Are you sure you can breathe in there?"

"It hurts, but I'll live." It did a little, but Lee-Marie remembered that she had lived with the pain once and she could live with it again.

"Why do we do this?" She groaned as she straightened herself and put on skirt petticoat, its flares only 1/3 the standard size of what her mama always termed "proper". It would be easier to ride with than a full skirt petticoat

Miss Annie looked at Lee-Marie and said, "Well sugar, I guess it's because we want to look our best for the men that we want to attract."

Lee-Marie groaned and put her hand to her forehead. "Miss Annie, all they really want to see is us with our clothes off not layered on and the strange thing is that they are the ones who defined that this is "proper""

"You wear pants all the time Miss Lee, so why are you gettin' all fancy and proper and going to the Ball?" Miss Annie was curious. She had seen Miss Lee in action, with all the shooting and happenings that had been going on and she had never figured her for the dress up type.

"Mr. Torres asked me and I couldn't say no." Lee-Marie actually looked sheepish. This was a first.

"Chakotay is a fine solid sturdy man, every woman in Voyager City is after him. You're lucky he asked you?"

"Am I?" Lee-Marie plopped herself onto the bed.

"You don't feel that way?" Miss Annie sat next to her on the bed.

"After all that has happened I have to wonder. He is a stubborn mule who talks more with his fists than his mouth. He can't see past one small mistake that someone has made in their past and is just too judgmental for me. Why I agreed to go with him on this date is just plain beyond me."

"He's a man in his prime, sugar, they're all like that. You be vexed with them, it isn't their fault, it's just the way that the good Lord made them" Miss Annie had a wicked grin on her face.

"Well the good Lord made us easy to give in to vapors, gave us the curse once a month and we still don't get as ornery as they do!!" Lee-Marie charged.

"That's why we were made second. God didn't make so many mistakes the next time."

They collapsed on the bed in helpless giggles. Miss Annie straightened up and looked at Lee-Marie

The Lady pt 2
Leonie — 21 Sep 1998, 7:14 AM

"What happened between him and Tom Janeway has its roots a long time ago. One day it will be no more. Don't let that be the basis on which you judge him" she said seriously.

"It's not only that, Miss Annie. There's Miss Kathryn. Something is not right there. I don't know what it is but that formation of Miss Kathryn Mr. Tom and Mr. Chakotay has some bad vapors coming off of it, I can't say what it is?"

Miss Annie took a sharp intake of breath. How did Miss Lee-Marie know? She forced herself to calm down. "What do you mean?"

Lee-Marie looked at the other woman intently. She hadn't missed what had just happened. She decided to hedge her bets and not say anything.

"Don't know Miss Annie, it just ain't right. And you don't have to pretend with me. I know that Miss Kathryn is going with the Marshal and that is the reason why Mr. Torres asked me to go with him. And there was another reason." Lee-Marie thought back to what had happened at that sunrise and she continued quietly."

"He fancies her, I know it. I wasn't his first choice"

Miss Annie was confused and a little concern about Lee-Marie's change of demeanor as she said those words. She just all of a sudden looked young and vulnerable. She had never seen that side of her before. Here was a woman who defied all conventional rules, she wore pants in public and a gun belt for goodness sake, yet she looked as if she would burst out into tears in any minute.

"You really like him don't you?"

Suddenly Lee-Marie looked up and caught Miss Annie staring at her and realized that she had forgotten that she was talking to her. Without even realizing it, she "fixed her face". It was an automatic response that her body had trained itself to give when caught being vulnerable.

"What's not to like. He's a prize stallion. I can always use one more prize stallion in my stable." Lee-Marie had a truly wicked grin on her face.

She wasn't fooling Miss Annie, but she sensed that this was what Miss Lee needed to from what she had just told her. She played along.

"And what happens when they get old?" she said with a smile of her own.

"They get put out to pasture. If they've been a good mount, I may keep them in my stable just a while longer, for old time's sake, but I won't take them out on such *challenging* rides, as I would the younger stallions"

The two women burst out laughing again. When they stopped, Miss Annie turned to Lee-Marie and said

"What are you wearing?"

"This!!!" Lee-Marie ran and opened her closet door.

The Lady pt 3
Leonie — 21 Sep 1998, 7:17 AM

Miss Annie whistled. In it was the most gorgeous dark gold dress that she had ever seen. It would play off Lee-Marie's dark complexion exquisitely. It was made of a light baroque type of material with a faint rose pattern of a slightly lighter gold all over the dress. It was sleeveless and Miss Annie could see the shawl hanging in the closet next to it. From the cut of the dress, she could see that Lee-Marie would really get some attention tonight. That was, if anyone recognized her.

"Miss Lee, I think that you are going to be the talk of the Ball. The women would be making a lot of cat talk because of how good you're going to look and the men are going to wonder who you are, they wouldn't recognize you. What are you wearing with it?"

Lee-Marie showed her the jewelry. It was an hierloom piece that she had kept in the Bank Safe. It was one inch thick and it had trellis pattern to it, solid gold which ended in a V. The earrings and bracelets matched the necklace.

"Where did you get this?" Miss Annie was stunned. No one that she knew could afford that kind of jewelry, and certainly not an assistant Fore(wo)man and Miss Annie knew real gold when she saw it.

"It was a present from a *friend*" Lee-Marie said simply, but Miss Annie noticed that she turned her face away from her as she replied.

"Can you introduce him to me?" It was supposed to be a joke, but Lee-Marie was very serious as she said quietly.

"He's dead now." *At least to me he is*

Curiosity got the better of Miss Annie.

"Lee-Marie, who are you?.

Lee-Marie tried to force a smile as she said. "I'm Lee-Marie, Miss Annie. Have you been down to see the Doc lately? You're acting like you're on his *type* of medicine.? Now come on, I have to get dressed before a certain *stallion* comes a calling."

Miss Annie gave Lee-Marie a fierce hug and said, "You have a good time ya hear!!!" and with that was gone.

The Lady pt 4
Leonie — 21 Sep 1998, 7:18 AM

Lee-Marie breathed a small sigh of relief, that was all the corset afforded her. She knew that she should not have let Miss Annie seen her getting dressed, but she needed the help. She knew it was going to get worst when she arrived at the Ball. But it had been so long, and she wanted to give Mr Chakotay Torres a good look at what she had to offer as a woman. And secretly, she wanted to give Miss Kathryn a run for her money. She had seen the two of them together and she didn't like it. She thought that Miss Kathryn must have a pretty mean streak to lead a man on like that. It would be nice for her to get a taste of what it would be like to have the shoe on the other foot.

She went over to the dresser and picked up the necklace, lost in memories. She shouldn't do this. She thought that she had left her old life behind and now she had to dredge it up again. She had too, what was happening was alarming. Someone might see and someone might find out and then.....The consequences were too horrible to contemplate. That which she wanted the most, she would lose forever.

It had happened before.

Lee-Marie shook her head and made a motion to get dressed. Chakotay would be there in 15 mins and it would take about half an hour for her to get finish getting dressed. She had the standard ten minutes to keep him waiting, as he would have arrived five minutes early, as was proper. She didn't want to wait a minute more.


When Miss Annie was halfway between the house and the Torres's quarters, she looked back to the main house. In the window, she could just make out Miss Lee with an object in her hand. The silhouette did not move. Miss Annie knew that Miss Lee had avoided answering her question and she wanted to know why. Something was different about Miss Lee. When they were dressing, she moved with the knowledge of a woman who had done this many times before. Miss Annie had expected her to be like B'Elanna and not know how to put the layers on together, but Miss Lee worked like a pro. There was also the matter of that dress. Miss Annie had spotted the New York tag on the inside of the dress. It was from one of the best couturier in East. And the jewelry. She wondered where Miss Leonie-Marie got her hands on something like that and she wondered again.....

Who Miss Leonie-Marie Peters was.

The end?
Of course not.

VC: Readying for the Leolo Root Ball
D'Alaire — 22 Sep 1998, 9:34 AM

She'd arrived first back from town, but she didn't dally once she'd led her horse into her stall. Well, not too much, as she couldn't help but check in on Kona and Frisco as she headed to the back of the stable. Certain enough, the mates stood all but asleep by each other, and were barely bothered by her entry.

After getting Liberty into her own stall, B'Elanna deftly unhooked the horse's bridle and saddle, plunking them on their holders, and packed some hay in her feeder. Giving her a loving pat, she then remembered the time, and hurried up again. A little altercation after the race had delayed her leaving town. And she had a lot to do, she knew.

Grabbing the gown Madame D'Alaireux had wrapped in tissue and tucked in her saddlebag, B'Elanna ran from the stable back to her house to wash and dress. Yet once in her room, she had to pause. What in the world do I do first? I don't do these things.

In that pause, she first figured that she'd brush her hair and get washed up -- wished she had time to wash her hair, too. So, after brushing her hair vigorously, she unhooked her belt and leather skirt, draping them on the chair, pulled off her boots and her shirt away as well, before finding herself a robe.

But returning from her armoir, she caught herself in a mirror, and for the first time, couldn't help but stare. Gracious, what's all happened today? D'A, Harry, the race...and what I've been up to! And Pa...Damn men and their stupid pride. Be easier if I didn't love them like a fool. But she knew in the same breath she didn't mind knowing she was loved.

She touched her face, her dirty cheek, almost hesitantly traced a line across the slight ridges of her brow given her by her mother's blood. They'd always been a curse to her--at least in her eyes--a thing that made her different. But she hadn't much minded being different...well, in some respects, anyway.

She was a damn good horsewoman, that she knew. And she'd loved it. The feel of a fine horse under her, knowing it was her work that'd helped make it fine, was a great souce of pride and satisfaction. And she knew she was strong and sassy, which was nothing to be ashamed of. More like a blessing with the life she led and loved.

But being different had shied her away from all the girlish things that she'd spit on in public, but secretly desired. She'd wanted to go to dances. But one bad trip and a roomful of laughter was enough to make her curse it. She'd always wanted to make up for that -- show them good. It was the next best thing to knocking Meg Delaney's lights out.

VC: Readying for the Leolo Root Ball, part 2
D'Alaire — 22 Sep 1998, 9:42 AM

B'Elanna went ot her basin and poured it full of cool water, then dropped a sponge inside. Thinking on that, she reached over and opened a bottle of rosewater -- a present from Annie on her birthday not long past. To herself then, she smiled, smelling the light perfume as it poured into the basin.

"B'Elanna!" came a call from outside her door, interrupting her smile, and she grabbed her robe around her when she heard her father's boot heels coming close.

But she didn't answer him, just let him come. He knocked. Knocked again. Finally she took a breath, steeling herself for the worst. "Yes, Pa," she said tonelessly.

He opened the door, took a full step inside, his hand hanging on the door latch. For a moment, B'Elanna's mouth opened in a bit of surprise, seeing the bruises on her father's jaw. But he was fine, she knew, so she resumed her upright stare.

"I just got through making peace with Mabus Ogla," he told her. "Maybe you'd like to hear?"

"What about it?"

Chakotay drew a hard breath. "Mabus says if you'd hit his boy any harder, you might've thrown his teeth through his head."

"I didn't hit him nearly that hard."

"So now I've got the Olga cousins going haywire and Marsh stomping on my grave -- On top of everything else you've been up to. You've really opened up a hornet's nest, girlie!"

"So, I suppose I'm grounded?" she replied tipping her head.

"Yeah," he said with equal sarcasm. "banished to the tower for the rest of your life." Her responding glare might've equaled Miss Kathryn's had she not been her own mother's daughter. Not that half-Klingon was anything to laugh at. "I want you to apologise for hitting him."

"Apologise?!" B'Elanna shot back. "That Ogla pondscum's a jackass! 'Sides, he started it! Didn't you hear--"

"And not just an apology," he interjected, "but you take him some biscuits and jam and make nice for a while."

She spat a laugh. "Over my dead body!"

"We can't be starting any more blood feuds with the Olga again right now," the forman insisted. "We got trouble from town and out. We don't need any more enemies"

"You should talk, the way you've been acting," she snapped back, "like a dang mad dog set for blood in your own den."

The forman took a long breath. She did have a point. His eyes darted for a moment, seeing for the first time the dress layed out on her bed. When his stare returned to hers, he could tell she knew where his mind had gone in that moment.

"I guess nothin' I say or do's going to keep you from going?" he said.

B'Elanna didn't break his eyes. "That's right," she replied, trying desperately to seem more confident than she felt. She did want to go, more than anything, wanted to be with Tom, but she hated being at odds with her pa, hated being forced to choose between them.

And Chakotay knew this, too, looking at his little girl. He hadn't forgotten that she could be as stubborn as a mule with twice the kick, like her mama that way. But she did have a soft spot in her, there was a lady under all those briars. He hadn't forgotten, either, that she'd made her own bed, and wanted to lay in it.

"I guess I'll see you there, then," he finally said, and with a genuine, if not slightly uncomfortable grin, which grew when he found his daughter's face light up with a smile he'd not seen in a long while. "Just stay away from those Ogla boys okay?" She nodded. "You'll be the finest lady there--And don't let that Tom Janeway treat you like anything less than that."

She nodded, laughing a little. He'd always be her father, she knew, no matter what he thought about her beau. "Tom's always been good to me...Thanks, Pa."

(If I've made any continuity errors by using the Ogla's cousins, please tell me. I tried to be non-descript for the time being.)

VC: Readying for the Leolo Root Ball, part 3
D'Alaire — 22 Sep 1998, 9:48 AM

The forman closed the door as he backed out, giving her another smile. With a happy breath, B'Elanna turned back to her dressing table and dropped her robe. "Dang right, he will," she said. Unhooking her corset, she looked at herself again, determined to remember the look that went along with the feelings beating in her proud heart before undressing the rest of the way.

Running the sponge over her warm body, feeling the cool, fragrant water spice her senses, she allowed herself an idle smile, recalling how Tom had been where that sponge had that day. Except then and there, it was hot and musky, both of them dripping with sweat and hardly able to breathe in that sun-cooked stable as they went at each other with complete abandon. A stallion and his mate, yet with more than animal lust and mutual understanding...even if that was right nice. They'd done some loving there, and said so, ached with desire and released it onto each other with a passion inborn but never truly shared before.

The memory of it alone fed the smile, and her wondering if they might find an excuse to get away from the dance a little early.

The rosewater had pinked up her caramel skin, and she'd pinned her short hair back on one side (no matter what the style was of the day, she'd always kept it more like a boy's, a bob just sitting on her shoulders, for convenience), and she'd chosen her best corselet and bloomers. Never can be too careful, she'd figured as she hooked up the front of the former, thankful and proud that her figure never required much pulling and pressing in those whalebone torture chambers. The dress came next, which she slid over her head, then straightened easily. The fabric was not too heavy, but of fine quality and dye. Dang nice.

After buttoning it up the back and turning to she if she'd missed one, she scowled at the fact that it fit remarkably well on her lithe frame. But she shook her head. "Nah." Still, she couldn't help but admire herself in it, indulge in a little vanity for a change.

She hooked on her black city boots met with a bit more difficulty--she hadn't worn them in some time, after all--But she did manage to get them on without cursing too much. Giving herself one last inspection before taking one more breath of nerve, she left her room.

Her pa wasn't there, probably washing up outside, so she went ahead without a word. She couldn't help but wonder, also, where Annie might be. She'd have thought that the older lady would have come to fuss or offer her some help. But shrugging it off--Annie had other ladies on the ranch who'd need her help--B'Elanna stepped carefully down the front steps of her house and looked around. Tom said he'd meet her there, but was nowhere in sight.

Wonder if Tom's even back yet, she thought, and then, Maybe he'd gone to see after little Sourdough...but wouldn't he have told me?...Dang men. And they say the ladies are hard to fugure out. With a sigh, she decided to walk on, see if he'd returned.

It was awkward with the nearly forgotten black heeled boots and with her skirt hiked up, but she didn't stumble or trip--she knew every bump on that path. But she almost did stumble when she glanced up and saw Tom Janeway staring at her, looking dang nice all in his best--and nicely fitting--black jeans and shirt, staring at her in both surprise and admiration...and desire.

She had stopped for that moment, feeling her heart begin to beat harder, her face flush with heaven-knows what. But collecting herself, she let her skirt drop and began to walk across to him, a little smirk crossing her lips as she approached.

Before the Ball Pt 1
Annie — 22 Sep 1998, 10:58 AM

This will come directly after D'Alairs "Readying for the Leola Root Ball" pieces.

Tom was runnin' late, and hoped B'Elanna wouldn't be too upset with him. After everything that had happened that day..., meeting up with his young brother Harry, the fight with Chakotay, he reached to touch his ribs tenderly. Boy, was Chakotay ever gonna let sleepin' dogs lie. It seemed he was runnin' all over the place before he was able to rush home to get cleaned up so he could go fetch B'Elanna for the Ball. He couldn't wait to see her. Ever since their er..., encounter in the stables, he couldn't keep his mind off of her. Shucks, ever since their encounter at that waterin hole that one night, it seemed like she was all he ever thought about.

When he got home, the house was a bustle of activity. It seemed everyone was rushing around. Ma and Lee-Marie were runnin around like chickens with their heads chopped off. Annie was just leavin'. He didn't hear Kes about, so didn't know whether she was there or not. He was gonna have to keep an eye on Kessie tonite. Since she had met some stranger to town, she seemed to spend most of her time with him. He had promised Ma that he would keep his eye on her. He made a mental note to himself to find out just who the stranger was that had taken his little sisters heart so quickly.

By the time he was washed up, had his boots polished, and dressed in his finest black levi's, and long sleeved black shirt with the fancy ribbing on it, he was ready to go meet his girl. He wished he didn't have the shiner that Chakotay had graced him with earlier, but that couldn't be helped. The house had quieted down since the ladies had left, and he strode out the door to find that Ayala had shined up the old 2 seater buggy for him to use to escort his date to the dance.

"I thought this might be a little more comfortable for you and your lady sir."

"Much obliged Ayala," Tom said tipping his hat at the ranch hand. He climbed into the seat, and took up the reins. Then suddenly, he climbed down, and ran back into the house. He stood in the parlor looking around, until his eyes fell upon a freshly cut bouquet of flowers in a vase on one of the tables. We went over to the flowers, and pulled them out of the vase, bringing them up to his face for a sniff.

"Perfect," he said with a smile on his face.

He ran back outside, climbed on the buggy, and rode off towards the Torres house, at a fast gallop.

When he got there, he saw her shape standing out in the field a ways. He reined in, and brought the buggy to a halt. He grabbed the flowers, and looked for her again with his eyes. He saw she was walking back toward the house. He went to stand in her path, holding the flowers behind his back. He gasped when she came into the light. She was indeed the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. The dress she had on was unlike anything he had ever seen, a deep dark color, he couldn't quite make out, because of the low lighting, but seein' her bare shoulders..., her silken skin open to the touch took his breath away. He looked her up and down from head to toe, admirin' her beauty, then met his eyes with hers. He stood there for a few moments drinking in her face, then swallowed hard before removing his hat and speaking.

"B'Elanna, you are beautiful," he got out, holding the hat to his chest.

"Thanks," she whispered in answer.

RE: Before the Ball Pt 2
Annie — 22 Sep 1998, 10:59 AM

Slowly, Tom was able to lift his feet from where they were anchored to the ground, and walked toward her. When he was a few inches away, he brought the bouquet from around his back, and offered them to her.

"Are these supposed to make up for beating me in the race," she teased taking the flowers from him.

"What could I say, sorry Intrepid, but I want you to let B'Elanna and Liberty win today?" he teased back.

"What about now, you're late you know."

"I know, I got tied up in town, and rushed like the dickens to get here fast as I could."

He stepped closer to her, and reached out a hand to take her around the waist. Pulling her against him, he leaned in closer to her mouth.

"We'll be expected at the dance you know," she breathed.

"The dance can wait," he breathed in response.

With that, he took her lips with his, and pulled her even closer to him. B'Elanna let her flowerless arm creep up around his neck, responding eagerly to his kiss. When their lips parted, Tom gazed steadfastly into her eyes. She reached a hand up to gently caress his bruised eye, a look of concern etched on her face. He reached up to take her hand in his, letting her know with the movement that he was fine, then he leaned down to place a soft kiss on one of her exposed shoulder's. He heard her soft intake of breath at his touch, and the sound pleased him. <Lordy, I love her,> he thought to himself. He straightened, and looked at her again.

"Well I reckon we had better get goin'," he said putting his hat back atop his head, "or we'll never make it to the dance hall." He gave her a teasing smile.

"I reckon we better," she answered. "Let me just get these flowers in some water."

He watched as she disappeared into the house, admirin' her backside as she went. Soon after she emerged, and he helped her into the buggy. As they got underway, Tom Janeway thought he must be the luckiest and proudest man ever, to have such a fine woman by his side. Holding the reins in one hand, he wrapped an arm around the woman sitting next to him, and she snuggled closer to him in response.

Take it D'Alaire... : )

All of Life's a Stage......
Leonie — 22 Sep 1998, 8:19 PM

And we are all mere actors. Actresses to be more precise, we all have a part to play. As Lee-Marie came down the stairs into the front room and met Mr. Chakotay Torres in front of Ms Kathryn and Mr. Tuvok, she couldn't help but realize that this indeed was the truth. She and Miss Kathryn were acting out their part, and the men in the room did not, and would not even realize the magnitude of the confrontation which was going to ensue. Even before looking at Mr. Chakotay, Lee-Marie was looking at Miss Kathryn. Her mouth had dropped. She recovered quickly, but Lee-Marie still saw it. It was too dark in the front room to see the triumphant glint in Lee-Marie's eyes, but she knew if anyone could imagine it there, it would be Miss Kathryn.

The gentlemen's eyes were on her. If the Marshal's eyebrows went up any higher, they would have made a new hairline on his head. Mr. Chakotay had difficulty closing his mouth after the customary two seconds. A fly almost landed in it.

Miss Kathryn found her voice first.

"Miss Leonie-Marie, you look very ......different." Kathryn was not going to give her the satisfaction of a compliment. She couldn't believe her eyes. A woman who had always worn pants and had never, ever bothered to powder her nose had just come down the stairs with the grace and the poise of a Lady, looking like she had been one all of her life. Miss Kathryn's eyes narrowed.

*Always remember Lee-Marie,
Don't lie down and play with the puppies,
You'll always get up with the fleas*

Her Mama was a wise woman.

"Thank you. That dress looks very lovely on you Miss Kathryn. The Marshal is a lucky man to be taking you to the ball tonight."

A fleeting look of embarrassment crossed Miss Kathryn's face.

"I share the same fortune as Mr. Torres. Miss Leonie-Marie, you are dressed exceptionally well for the evening." The Marshal came forward and faced her. Automatically, Lee-Marie extended her hand and said very softly. "You are most kind Marshal." It took all the effort that the Marshal could muster to keep his other eyebrow from elevating. He took Lee-Marie's outstretched hand and kissed it.

He did so quickly, he felt the look of death on his back and did not want to turn to face it. He felt it leave him and turned in time to see it rest on Chakotay. Lee-Marie caught all of it.

"Miss Lee-Marie, I must say that you look breathtaking."

"Thank you Mr. Chakotay." *I wish I could say the same for you, what did you do? roll around in the hay with Intrepid!?!* Lee-Marie bit her tongue hard as she saw the physical evidence of the fights that he had been involved throughout the day. She was going to the dance with Mr. Chakotay, it was enough.

He smiled.

*D@mn, it makes a grown woman weak, those dimples and that outfit!!!* Indeed it did. Mr. Chakotay did look particularly handsome in his tailored pants and dress shirt. She wondered where he got it and why. Lee-Marie guessed that it was for some other event that he and Miss Kathryn had attended together. There was a reason for that assumption. Miss Kathryn was intensifying "The Look" to the Cajun setting and it still wasn't doing any good, from the time that Lee-Marie descended the stairs, Chakotay had not looked at Kathryn even once.

RE: All of Life's a Stage pt 2...
Leonie — 22 Sep 1998, 8:21 PM

"Shall we leave?" Chakotay crooked his arm and Lee-Marie placed her hand on it lightly as if it belonged there. He still didn't look at Kathryn.

"Of course" Lee-Marie kept her eyes on him. The fight with Kathryn was over as far as she was concerned, for now. She had won, for now.

Kathryn stopped "The Look". She was beginning to get a real headache. Something about this whole evening seemed surreal to her. She was going to have to begin to watch Leonie-Marie a little more closely in the future, but right now she had a Marshal's brain to pick over in order to help Sevenita.

"Chakotay, I hope you don't mind, but we took the last buggy out of the Ranch, and I don't think Larson's has another buggy with the Ball being on tonight an' all" Kathryn could not help fire one last shot.

Chakotay looked dismayed. Lee-Marie gave his hand a gentle tug and smiled at him. Then she turned to Miss Kathryn with the smile still on her lips.

"That's quite all right Miss Kathryn. This dress is a lot smaller than yours and I will be able to mount a horse quite easily. Mr. Chakotay and I will be just fine. We'll take JTM."

*What is it with this woman? First she's making moves on a man who has doted on me for the better part of four years and now she takes my favorite stallion. Not to mention the fact that she has dressed me down twice.*

Miss Kathryn was steaming. She had personal picked JTM over all objections that he was too old and should be put out to pasture. She had never regretted her choice. But time had been getting away from her and she hadn't been riding him as often as she would like. She knew from Chakotay that Lee-Marie rode no one else but him. Sometimes she swore that Chakotay was jealous of that horse!!!! He couldn't understand how Lee-Marie could control him the way that she did. No one else on the Ranch could and it drove him crazy that a woman could ride better than he did Talk about delusions of grandeur. A pig could ride a horse better than Mr. Torres did. Hmm maybe if he rode tonight....... Besides it wasn't really true that no-one else really knew how to ride JTM besides Lee-Marie. She had known how to a long time ago.

"You don't mind?" Chakotay asked.

"Why not at all." Lee-Marie answered.

"Miss Kathryn, Marshal we'll see you at the dance." With that Chakotay left the room with Lee-Marie, without looking at Miss Kathryn once.

*Now if I can only find some way of taking the reigns. Firm butt or not, this man is NOT going to make me arrive at the dance with one hair out of place, or one smudge on my dress because of his incompetent riding!!! Haven't they invented interventions yet!!! This man should be barred from riding a horse. Especially myhorse!!!*


Miss Kathryn knew better than to try and digest what had just happened there. She shook her head and concentrated on what she had to do.

"Shall we Marshal?"

"Of course." Kathryn almost made a fool of herself by putting her hand out to take the Marshal's arm. He simply stepped behind her and waited for her to go through the front door. It then hit Kathryn that not only was she not going to the dance with Chakotay. He wouldn't even miss her.

She moved quickly.

Maybe when all of this is over, she'll take JTM for a nice long gallop and a slow, vigorous rub down after that. It would be a good stress reliever.

Our Lives as a Dance
Leonie — 5 Oct 1998, 6:58 AM

Lee-Marie had set JTM on a leisurely pace to the Ball. It was true that Chakotay was holding the reigns, but it was Lee-Marie's body language that he was listening to. Lee-Marie knew that no matter how much he dismissed it, Chakotay Torres was still in some amount of pain from all the fighting and the racing that had been going on during the previous week. It was the reason why she set JTM at a more leisurely pace. It must be difficult for him to be on horseback. He didn't notice as they were in conversation from the moment that they left the Ranch.

They talked about the modifications to the big barn that had begun, what was the next part of it. About Miss Kathryn's desire to acquire 5 more stallions and the modifications of the stables that would be required in order to house them. Chakotay told of B'Elanna's ideas and Lee-Marie gave her own suggestions. About half way to the dance they fell in a comfortable silence.

The moon was high and full and all around them they heard the sound of the night life of the Neckrid Expanse. It embraced their silence and facilitated their individual thoughts

Lee-Marie felt a shift in the body which was behind her on JTM, it tensed and then as if willed by another force, it slowly began to relax. A small sigh escaped Chakotay's lips.

"Still sore?"

"A little"

"So is it over yet or are you going to have one more chest-butting fight with Janeway sometime next week, for old time's sake?"

Chakotay tensed as she posed this question to him. He had gone to the tool shed after the two fights that he had with Janeway, to work off some of his steam. For some inexplicable reason, Lee-Marie had been working on the additions that they were make on the pantry in the kitchen in the shed when he came in. She had also known about the fights. She was very nonchalant about them, but he knew that she was holding back her tongue on what she really wanted to say to him. She had never been open about what she thought about his behavior with Tom, until now.

"I don't do this because I want to, but because he's going to hurt B'Elanna. She's my little girl, I have to protect her from the likes of him."

Lee-Marie smiled to herself. She had a father once. They could be so pigheaded when it came to their little girls. But for Chakotay, the price that he would pay for that would be too high. She knew it, because she knew B'Elanna.

"What if she doesn't want to be protected? She still maybe your little girl, but she is Tom Janeway's woman. He didn't force her to be, she chose to be."

Chakotay winced. He knew that she was right.

"He didn't have to force her, he just turned on his charm. Women seem to always fall for it. I don't mind my daughter having gentleman callers, it's gentlemen callers the likes of Tom Janeway that I mind. You don't know what he is capable of, what he had done in the past........."

"You mean about the gambling, the debt and the theft of his mama's jewelry?"

"You know?"

"This town seems to relish telling new comers what to expect from certain of its members."

Our Lives as a Dance pt 2
Leonie — 5 Oct 1998, 7:04 AM

"Then you understand the reason why I feel like I do."

"I understand, but it doesn't mean that I agree with your course of action."

"Why not?"

"Haven't you ever made a mistake Mr. Chakotay? Been through a stretch of bad road? Been a mite bit stubborn when you were growing?"

Chakotay thought back to that ugly time in his life. It's funny how well he could put that in the back of his mind.


That was something that always puzzled him. Lee-Marie had a way of hearing things that weren't being said. Of reading between his lines, and drawing the meaning behind what he was trying to say. They hadn't had an extended personal conversation like this one, but in the little snippets, when he was spoiling for his fights with Janeway, she had made one or two pointed remarks that made him uneasy, like the question that she had just posed to him. But still tonight he felt comfortable in talking to her even though it wasn't a comfortable spot to be in. He couldn't explain it, but somehow or the other, he trusted her, with himself. Something he hadn't done with any woman in a long time.

"You got through it and was a better man for it. Why can't you believe the same about Tom Janeway. The townsfolk may have relished telling me about his past, but they all agree that he had changed significantly. Why don't you believe it? You have better reason to, you live on the same Ranch with him. You see him and work with him every single day."

Chakotay thought for a while and then said, "He's still a mite bit too cocky for me."

Lee-Marie smiled. "Yes he is, but that doesn't mean that he's still a bad apple."

Chakotay digested this for a while and then said. "Maybe, but there still are a lot of other things to consider. B'Elanna is..... different. She isn't like him. Tom Janeway is a pure breed of noble stock....."

"And B'Elanna is a half-breed, daughter of a Ranch hand." Lee-Marie suddenly understood. "You're afraid of him yes, but you're more afraid for them."

Lee-Marie gave her legs a little squeeze and JTM stopped. Chakotay didn't notice, or if he didn't he didn't comment as she turned to face him. He turned his face downwards unable to meet her eyes, feeling exposed and vulnerable.

The warning bells went off in Lee-Marie. She knew she was a his shaky a ground, and she didn't want to hurt him any more than what she saw that he was dealing with at that moment.

Gently, she place her hand on his arm. It took a while, but eventually he looked at her. His eyes were haunted.

"You loved her very much didn't you?" Lee-Marie asked softly.

Our Lives as a Dance pt 3
Leonie — 5 Oct 1998, 7:05 AM

"B'Etor was so beautiful and so proud, courageous and still very gentle. I feel in love with her after the first time I talked to her and after a month, I knew that I wanted to marry her. She had her fears, about what people would think, about how my family would react to the marriage, about how my family would react to the marriage. But in the end I persuaded her that our love would be enough."

"But she was right wasn't she? She paid a high price and so did you."

He nodded. "Her family disowned her, threw her out of her own tribe. My family refused to even attend the wedding. Sometimes when strangers came into town, they would look at us funny, some would sneer and one even made a rude suggestion. Took care of him real good. Never came back to town again."

He continued.

"When B'Elanna was born, I told B'Etor to teach her the ways of the Klingon Indians. B'Elanna didn't want to learn. By the time she was of age, she was already attending school and the other children made a lot of fun of her because of her strange markings. All she ever wanted to do was fit in, so she refused to learn the ways of the Klingons. Then her mama died."

Chakotay paused and looked away from Lee-Marie. When he continued speaking, his voice was so low that she had to strain to hear him.

"I swore at her burial that I would protect B'Elanna, I would make sure that she would be kept safe, that she wouldn't be hurt because of who she was. I have always been able to protect her until now."

"It is not your place to protect her now Mr. Chakotay. Tom Janeway is her choice."

"What if it's the wrong one, what if I'm right?"

"It is still not your place. It is her choice, it is her consequence. In making her choice, B'Elanna has accepted all consequences that come along with it. She is in love with Tom Janeway. No amount of fighting between you and he will change that. And in the end you will lose her."

Lee-Marie stopped and let the silence embrace them. After a few minutes she asked

"In the end, was your love enough ?"

Although they had not spoken for a while, Chakotay remembered having told her that. He turned to face Lee-Marie and answered without hesitation

"Yes it was."

"So will their's."

He looked down and away from her then, and she saw a tear escape his eye. Gently she reached up and wiped it away. Her action startled him. No one had ever wiped his tears away. He had never shown them. He had never shown anyone his weakness until now. He looked up swiftly and found understanding in her eyes. She left her hand on his face for a while longer. She let him determine when it was time to go.

"We should get going."

Lee-Marie nodded and turned. He touched the reigns and JTM began moving again. She leaned back into his chest and he held her tightly. She listened to his heart hammering first and then gradually return to normal as they made their way to the dance.

VC: a hoedown for the dance
D'Alaire — 23 Sep 1998, 2:57 PM

Okay, I admit I wrote this a few nights ago and have been tinkering with it -- but eventually I figured I'd never get all the plot threads in. Yeah right! ; P Anyway, here goes...

Sung to the tune of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"

"The Voyager City Howdown"

The Kazon went out to DQ, they were lookin' for a horse to steal
They were dumb as flies, and wrought full o' lies, but willin' to make a deal.
Now Miss Lee-Marie's staring at the forman's butt, and boy was that butt right hot,
But Miss Kate's got Betsy and his rump and won't shirk to blow you to snot.

I guess you didn't know it, but Max and Maxine's got a house that mews
And best beware not kidnap Har', else Qwai will do Kung Fu
Now Kes has pretty good gumption, boys, but give the Gunslinger room,
He'll pull a trigger not slow, kiss off your soul, than think you'll get her, too.

Tom's and B'El's playing horsey, and they don't think it's sin
To moan and sweat, while the gossips chat, and the race ain't yet begun.

Annie you go and get your gun and Baktag make some joe.
Now Clare's broke loose in VC, now the trial's set to go.
And if she wins, then Seventina's catsuit's a sucess;
In either case, the Reverend's right blessed.

Dick Locarno is on the case and Jab Ogla's to bits blown,
Chestbutting at the Delta Q and sponge baths nice and slow,
and Canuk's in town to write the rags and Peggy Lou's joe's fresh perked,
and Miss Kes in LEATHER's gone again and Miss Vickie's brought red shirts.

When the horserace started, stangers cropped up not to watch the show
And on the trail bros Dar' and Lar' set out the tripwire--Lordy no!

They sang
Down on the track Intrepid won,
Oglas ain't no good, better jump the gun
Neelix poppin' daisies pleeka rind slow
Gonna have a dance like no town know

Miss Lee's looking a treat and takes the Forman on her steed,
And Frenchly dressed B'Elanna made Tom bend to kiss her sweet.
But of course there's trouble a brewin', from knife wielding Templeton,
But life out here's a son of a b*tch, so either hide or get your gun.

They sang
Woman is fickle, says Racine
Dukat's laying plans, Seska poured his drinks,
Marsh is lookin' right fine, don't Clare know,
VC is a place like no town know.


Bits from the Ball
D'Alaire — 23 Sep 1998, 11:43 AM

They could hear the music, the fiddle and guitars and even a little horn playing, too, as Tom rounded the last turn onto the mainway. And while he smiled to hear the cheerful playing, to see the glow of the square up ahead, it faded a bit when he felt B'Elanna stiffen under his arm. "What's wrong?"


He eyed her. "C'mon, B'Elanna, you're not scared are you?"

"Of course not!" she returned, but slumped a little. "I am a might nervous."

"Yeah, I recall your last dance," Tom said, then knew he'd done wrong when she became even more rigid. With a sigh, he slowed the buggy, glancing down to her wide eyes, trying to catch them. "B'Elanna, that was a whiles back. You were just a girl. We were both different then."

"Tell me about it."

He chuckled. "And I know you've had a blood vengeance for Miss Megan ever since. I never saw why, though. She's a real nice gal, but she hasn't come near to doing what you have with yourself. I personally think you've scored her ten times over."

B'Elanna finally looked up to see his smile, at least one of his sparkling eyes staring down to her. "You really think?"

They'd come to the front of the square, so pulling on the reigns -- "Woah, boy, woah."--Tom placed a finger on her cheek and kissed her. "Yeah, B'Elanna, I really think, and I also happen to know it, too. So why don't we mosey on in there and prove it?"

Her smile didn't fade, but her voice did hold a bit of uncertainty when she said, "I don't really know how to dance too well, Tom."

"Aw, that's easy."

"Oh?" She wasn't convinced.

Tom took her hand. "We've been dancin', B'Elanna," he told her with a sly grin, "just not in front of everyone else." B'Elanna laughed. "So, just follow my lead and keep moving to the beat, and you'll do just fine."

He kissed her again, but after drawing a deep sigh, she couldn't help but smirk. "What if I want to lead for a while?"

Tom chuckled. "There'll be plenty of time for that later, B'Elanna."

At that, a young man came out and took the buggy horse's bridle. Tipping his hat to him, Tom took the cue and jumped down. Walking around, he held up his hands to B'Elanna, who had already begun to stand. Placing them securely on her slim hips, her hands falling upon his shoulders, he lifted her down and around, onto the walkway. With a brush of her hand, she adjusted the sweep of her gown, took a solid breath.

His eyes met hers again, his hand extended to her waist, and she smiled. In his stare, she knew he meant to show everyone they were there together, and that none of their gossip or staring or what-not mattered.

For herself she knew she'd done good in that race that day, showed off of her best horsewoman's skills (if not with a little help), and there in the square, washed and done up, she looked right nice in her stylish blue gown. Topping it off, she had the finest man in town on her arm...her man.

With that knowing grin, B'Elanna let Tom Janeway lead her into the Leolo Root Ball, through the crowd of curious, whispering townspeople. To her credit, she didn't say a word when her eye caught Miss Megan's, even if her grin turned up a notch higher and she gave the other lady a courteous nod.

RE: Bits from the Ball, pt.2
D'Alaire — 23 Sep 1998, 11:53 AM

Tom had really laid down his mark that night, holding B'Elanna's hand as they mingled and chatted around the square, all lit up with those fancy lanterns from way out east. Slowly, everyone had come out of their proper civility, and started talking with her, stopping their staring and actually acting nice.

At first, B'Elanna thought it was for Tom they'd been talking--he was friends with everybody, after all. But soon she realised that they were really talking to her, and she was responding. Soon, she'd relaxed and let herself enjoy herself as they mingled. It was strange, but nice.

Better still, he could somehow tell when she was getting tired of chatting, and led her aside, easing out of the conversation with gentlemanly grace and to a quieter corner. When she mentioned she was thirsty, he ran off to get her a cup of punch, placing it in her small hands upon her return.

"This is delicious," she commented after a sip.

"Sangaree," Tom told her. "Maxine actually donated a bottle of her Merlot for the cause."

"Well, she did good. I never had any MER-lo before." She looked around. "Where's the food, anyway? I'm right hungry."

Tom nodded. "Me too, I think Mama's got a table held for us, but I didn't see it."

"Excuse me, but I have already taken the liberty of reserving a table --Miss B'Elanna-- with a view of the corral."

B'Elanna turned a scowl to Vorik. "Huh?"

"You did express your fondness for that particular vista, in a conversation two years ago, about rodeo shows."

B'Elanna had to think, and scowled. "I reckon so."

"Good mem'ry," Tom muttered.

"Of course," Vorik replied, taking a step forward. But Tom stepped forward, too, getting between him and B'Elanna and placing a hand on the man's chest.

"She's my date, not yours," Tom told him firmly, looking down at him. "Go find your own pasture to graze in."

B'Elanna couldn't help but smile as the nonplussed Vorik stumbled away, nor did she bother to hide it as Tom took her hand again and led her off to a food table to get some cornbread sticks to tide them over. Nibbling on that and tipping up another cup of sangaree, B'Elanna turned her ear to the music playing and tipped her head in curiosity when she looked up to the bandstand. "Isn't that D'A's assistant up there?"

Tom looked. "Timmy? Yep. Plays a right mean horn, don't he?"

"Who's the lady? I never seen her before."

"She came in late on the Delta Flyer. Name's Juliet. Max said she was called out here all the way across the ocean out England way, some kind of captain, he said."

B'Elanna's brow rose at that. "A lady captain?"

"Reckon so. That's what Max called her."

"Those English are a funny bunch," she noted. "Nice to know they've got ladies in the navy, though, and she plays right fine, too." B'Elanna's eyes perused the square. Some of the people were already dancing, though the square dances hadn't started yet.

Tom looked down at her as that one song ended, grinned. "Would you like to dance, B'Elanna?"

She quickly shook her head. "Oh no, I was just looking at what everyone was doing."

Laughing lightly, he touched her chin with a finger. "Wait right here."

RE: Bits from the Ball, part 3
D'Alaire — 23 Sep 1998, 12:15 PM

B'Elanna watched Tom as he hopped up to the grandstand and bent down to Miss Juliet, whispering something in her ear. She seemed to think for a minute, then nodded. Tom took her hand and kissed it softly, making the lady blush. Pleased with himself, Tom jumped back down and came straight back to B'Elanna, taking her hand.

"C'mon," he said. "And don't fret. Just follow me, and it'll come to you."

Leading her right into the middle of the floor, Tom placed his hand on her hip as she drew up the edge of her skirt and took his other hand. She steeled herself with a breath, swallowing her nervousness. The guitar started playing, a slow, deeply melodic waltz, exotic and pulsing. Looking up into Tom's eyes, and feeling him nudge on her hip a bit, she stepped back with him...a pull on her hand, and she stepped forward with him.

Off on the side, just outside the square, Madame D'Alaireux sighed through her grin as she leaned against a post, watching. The young lady still was a little awkward, but catching on, her lover noticably attentive to her. Timmy had picked up on the tune, and the fiddle too in harmony.

"Ahhhh, Chopin," the Madame breathed.

The other couples started joining in, but the first couple didn't seem to notice. Smiling still, Madame D'Alaireux glanced to the mainway, where others were arriving, then pushed herself off the post. But she didn't enter the square. Instead, she found herself moving into the field, wandering away.

The music, moody and emotional -- especially for so early in the ball -- had taken over B'Elanna as she moved across the floor with Tom's expert direction, seemed to flow over and through her, beat in her heart with every turn and step. She'd become lost in it, in him. She'd forgotten her awkwardness, forgot all about the other people there, even those dang uncomfortable boots, but danced with her lover across the makeshift wooden floor to the sultry rhythm.

Even when it drew to a stop, she stared up into his eyes, breathing deeply as his gaze penetrated her. After a minute, she finally heard the clapping around her, and she and Tom finally smiled. Then, turning, he led her slowly into the new dance, his hand still securely on her waist but holding her a little closer as they stepped back together.

B'Elanna looked past Tom's arm to see her father, just entering with Lee-Marie, looking at her with the ghost of a smile on his lips. B'Elanna placed her hand on Tom's and smiled back before she turned with the rhythm.


That song passed, and then, after indulging in another sangaree, a few more. Everybody was there by then--Miss Kathryn and the Marshall, Kes and her escort, Cowgirl Vickie and that Magnum dude. And the floor started getting a might bit close for B'Elanna's comfort. Seeing this, Tom slowly led her away from the floor.

They got themselves some more punch to quench their dry thirst, and Tom paused, wondering what corner or group they might go to next. His mother looked like she wanted to put the forman on a spit, and meanwhile kept grilling the marshal. Kes and her "friend" were doing some kind of dance Tom didn't know--in public, anyway. The music kept playing, but he knew the square dancing wouldn't start till later.

He turned to ask B'Elanna what she wanted to do when he noticed a hawkish look settle in her stare, and couldn't help but be amused by it. "What're you up to?" he asked.

Setting her cup aside, B'Elanna gave his hand a tug. "My feet are sore," she said quietly, pointing with her eyes. "Help me rest them?"

Grinning at her hinting smirk, Tom tossed off the rest of his punch and let her lead him out of the square.

Making an entrance
Leonie — 24 Sep 1998, 6:32 AM

The noise had dimmed sufficiently when Lee-Marie and Chakotay arrived at the dance. She didn't know that it was for the second time that night as Tom Janeway and B'Elanna Torres had made their entrance before them. Lee-Marie's smile was dazzling. As her mama had taught her, no one could see how much she was enjoying their reaction to her entrance. Her trained ear caught their murmurs

"Who is that?"

"I don't recognize that woman."

"Miss who!?!"

"You mean she's a woman?"

"Where did she get that dress?"

The normal questions from the women who were barely veiling their jealous eyes. Some came right out and snared at her. To those, Lee-Marie gave one of the most malicious and triumphant looks that she could muster. Miss Jenny and Miss Susan slinked off as soon as they caught it. The men who were already drunk by this time came swaggering up to "pay their respects" to her. One glare from Mr. Chakotay and the memory of how he had almost mopped the square with Tom Janeway made them settle for a simple "Evenin' Ma'am, Mr. Chakotay" and an elevation of the hats.

Lee-Marie was still giddy from what had happened on their ride over to the dance. It had given her a lot to think about. It was a good beginning. A very good beginning. She sighed. If she could only lose herself in Mr. Chakotay's arms and forget, it would all be worthwhile. Just for once. It had been so long since she had been in this type of setting. It was hard to forget and enjoy the dance with what needed to be done. When the introductions and the necessary conversations were over, Chakotay turned to her and asked

"Dance with me Miss Lee."

"It would be my pleasure."

It certainly was. Mr. Chakotay held a little more closer than was proper for a gentleman to hold a lady, but she didn't mind. He led and she followed, it was easy to do when he held her that firmly. The music was intoxicating and as they moved,

one ....two....three


Lee-Marie concentrated on touch. Connection. His arm on hers, his hand on her back. They told her where he wanted them to go. She let go of the act of concentration, and after a while, it flowed naturally. She read the nuances in his touch and responded

one....two ....three


Soon it wasn't a conscious act any more, it was an automatic response. The touch began to communicate. Heat, life, maleness and promise. Sweet and sensual. The touch took on a life of its own, began to shift and stroke. It pulled closer and Lee-Marie felt the heat rise. She opened her eyes and she saw that his was piercing her. He gave a slow smile.

Lee-Marie felt her knees go week. *D@mn this man* The electricity between them was raw and Lee-Marie imagined she could hear a crackle of lightning between them.

One Life to Lithograph
Ginny — 7 Oct 1998, 7:25 PM

At two minutes before six o'clock, Nick Locarno strode through the doors of the Ritz-Kradin. He scanned the lobby quickly, smiled, and ambled over to examine a painting on the wall across from the lobby staircase.

His back to the stairs, Locarno nevertheless saw Clare descend the steps and walk over to stand quietly behind him in the reflection in the glass covering the painting. Locarno casually rolled his shoulders and tilted his head back, as though working out a catch in his neck. Clare opened her mouth to speak, but Nick beat her to it. "Good evening, Clare. You're right on time." He turned to face her, grinning.

Clare lifted an eyebrow. "I'm a woman in a man's profession, Mr. Locarno. I have never had the luxury of being late for appointments."

"'Mr. Locarno', is it? You cut me to the heart, Lady." He clutched at his chest and then gave her a frankly assessing once-over. "You look wonderful, by the way. Do I pass?" He stretched out his arms and did a slow pirouette.

Clare considered him appraisingly. "You'll do," she said dryly. "I like the tie."

Locarno casually flicked the maroon and gray silk bow at his throat with long, graceful fingers. "I thought you might. He swept his arms back and bowed, then raised up and extended his hand. "Shall we to dinner, Lady?"

Clare tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow and looked up into the man's handsome face. "You're a trifle giddy, tonight, Nick. Might I ask why?"

Locarno placed a hand over his heart and slowly blinked his eyes at her. "The romance of the night, the fragrance of your perfume..."

Clare took a delicate sniff. "...the glass of chianti you had before you got here."

Locarno shrugged. "Two, actually, but hey, Larson's driving, right?" He leaned closer to her. "You really do smell nice."

Clare sighed and tugged him toward the Nemesis Room. "Let's get some food in you before you break into 'O Sole Mio'." Locarno good-naturedly allowed himself to be pulled into the restaurant and seated at a table next to a small waterfall.

After a dinner heavy on carbohydrates, Larson arrived to drive them to the dance. A fair-sized crowd had already gathered, so Larson let Clare and Locarno out in front of the building and went to park the buggy. The couple entered the ballroom, and Clare saw several people that she knew--Kathryn Janeway, with the very attractive Marshal Tuvok.

Hmmmm, thought Clare. He looks a little tense.

She also saw her new law clerk, Benson Vorick, with Tom Janeway and a pretty, but fierce-looking young woman in blue.

Must be B'Elanna Torres, thought Clare, her eyes narrowing.

There was Judge Riker, and Kes Janeway and her young gunslinger friend, who had, fortunately, bathed before the ball, and...Oh. My. God.

Clare caught her breath sharply and felt her knees buckle. She grabbed Locarno's arm to steady herself, and he inquired, with concern, "Clare? Is something wrong?"

Clare pulled herself together, and smiled shakily. "No, Nick, everything's fine. I just...caught my heel in my skirt. I am thirsty, though. Would you mind getting me something to drink?"

The young detective smiled. "Your wish is my command. I'll be right back." He hurried off to the refreshment table.

Clare found an empty seat, pulled out her fan, and started to fan herself slowly. Almost reluctantly, she looked back across the ballroom to the floor-length windows on the other side. He was still standing there--a vision in silver and black. Clare took a deep, shuddery breath, and suddenly, Kes Janeway appeared at her side.

"Miss Darrow. Are you all right?"

To be continued in The Bold and the Border Patrol

CONTINUED: RE:VC: The Bold and the Border Patrol
Ginny — 10 Oct 1998, 11:04 AM

Clare closed her fan and smiled gamely at the pretty young woman. "I'm fine, Miss Janeway. It's just a little warm in here. Nick has gone to fetch me something cold to drink."

Kes frowned and looked at the lawyer carefully. "If you're sure. I thought I sensed..."

"I really am fine," Clare interjected firmly, waving her hand in a dismissive gesture. "But I was wondering--who is that handsome man over there?" And she gestured casually toward the far wall.

Kes turned to look. "That's Voyager City's District Attorney, Wyatt Billiard Balle."

Clare shook her head. "No, the other handsome man over there."

Kes looked again. "Oh! That's Judge William Riker."

Clare rolled her eyes in exasperation. "No, no, no! I mean that stunning creature with the pale, stern visage of an angel standing by the window."

Kes looked puzzled for a moment, then smiled in recognition. "Oh, I see who you mean now. That would be Colonel T.C. McQueen."

Clare leaned forward, her face eager. "Colonel McQueen, is it? What can you tell me about him, Miss Janeway?"

Kes paused briefly and joined Clare in watching the man in question, an elegantly compact figure in a dark cavalry uniform, standing alone and apart, his hat tucked under his arm, watchful as a sentry. His eyes, gray as glacier ice, swept the crowd, momentarily locking with Clare's, who breathed in sharply at the contact, and then moving on.

"He's stationed at Fort Saratoga with the 58th Starfleet Advanced Cavalry," Kes informed her. "They patrol the borders between the ranches and the lands reserved for the local Indian tribes, keeping the peace and arbitrating various land disputes. He was here for the race today, although it always amazes me when he comes to town."

Clare dragged her eyes away from the solitary figure in black and glanced up at Kes. "Why is that?"

"Well, Fort Saratoga is an awful long way from here, Miss Darrow," Kes responded. "The trip is difficult, time-consuming, and dangerous, particularly if you take the shortest route, which crosses the Spatial Rift north of town and goes through treacherous Temporal Anomaly Pass." Kes smiled softly. "But the Colonel is nothing, if not determined. He and my mother get on very well--as long as they're on the same side of an issue. I could introduce you, if you like."

Clare shook her head and looked back at the man again. "We have a saying where I come from, Miss Janeway. 'Dance with the one what brung you.'" She sighed quietly. "He's very...attractive, though, isn't he?"

Kes shrugged amiably. "I suppose so, if you like that particular combination of fair skin and silver hair and pale, expressive eyes. On the other hand..." Her eyes wandered back to the spot where she'd left her young gunslinger, and she gave a short, surprised laugh. Clare followed her gaze and saw that the young man had taken off his hat and was attempting to balance a riding crop on the end of his nose.

"If you'll excuse me, Miss Darrow, I believe someone is trying to get my attention." And Kes was off in a swirl of silk skirts, under which Clare could see black leather boots with remarkably high narrow heels. Clare turned back to watch the Colonel.

"Do you know him?" asked a voice at her elbow. Nick Locarno was standing there, holding two glasses filled with a dark red beverage.

"No," Clare said. "No, I don't." And she took a glass from his hand and smiled sweetly at him.

To be continued in General Horse Puddles

The Other Woman
Leonie — 24 Sep 1998, 6:34 AM

Kathryn stared. What was going on between Lee-Marie and Chakotay during that dance was obvious to everyone and especially her. Chakotay Torres never looked at her in that way. Mentally she cursed herself. She had told herself that she had accepted Marshal Tuvok's invitation because she wanted to find out how to break Sevenita out of jail. That was the truth, but there was also another reason. She wanted to see what Mr. Chakotay would do. Would he go with no-one like the last dance and pine for her from the corner of the room? She thought that he would have, but he didn't. Instead he was twirling one of the most elegant women in the Ball in his arms and it looked like she was born just to dance with him.

She hated the fact that Lee-Marie and Chakotay looked so good together and she brought an elegant sensuality to the dance that made her want to scream. How does one woman do that? Miss Leonie-Marie Peters was not the most beautiful woman in the room, but she knew how to make the most of what she had been given and make it look like more. If Kathryn had never seen Lee-Marie wield a gun and wear pants, she would lay down her life and swear that it wasn't possible.

So many times, she had wanted to just throw everything to the wind and go up to Mr. Chakotay and say "Yes" and let him love her, but every time she drew back. The questions haunted her. What would it look like? She was not born to fall in love for the likes of him. She had judges and politicians in her lineage, he was just a ranch hand. What a scandal it would cause!!!! He was also one of the most ornery men that she had ever met. He actually challenged her on the things that she said. Their fights were spectacular, and the tension that ran underneath it sometimes so strong it threatened to consume her like a bonfire. If they were married, she bet the making up would be worth the fight.

The Other Woman pt 2
Leonie — 24 Sep 1998, 6:37 AM

And then there was Tom.

A slow smile spread on her face. There was always Tom to consider. What would happen to their relationship if she had married Chakotay Torres. The two of them could barely be civil to one another and she knew that she could not have a relationship with Chakotay, with her relationship with Tom being the way it was. One of them would drastically have to change in order for that to happen.

Still, he was a good man. A strong solid man. And as she knew a hardgood man is goodis hard to find. If only she could just have him satisfy her. It had been so tempting when he was sick and she was tending to him, when she ran her hands on his hot face neck and chest, it had been so tempting to just reach a little lower.

Kathryn's face was flushed. *D@mn, it has been a while.*

She turned from the couple.

She spotted Marshal Tuvok coming from the little cowboy's room coming towards her.

Her smile got wider.

Maybe getting information about Sevenita and the jail is going to be easier than I thought.

The Marshal was sweating profusely and he looked enraged. His gait was unsteady and if anyone did not know the Marshal very well, they would swear that he was drunk. He wasn't. Kathryn had watched him get worst and worst throughout the ride to the dance and now two hours into it, he seemed like he couldn't wait a minute longer.

"Quark.......has.......set........up It...... Miss....Jenny..... is ....unavailable. Miss .......mind?"

"Ordinarily I would, but these are unusual circumstances."

Kathryn linked her hand with the Marshal. She wondered idly if he and Doc didn't come up with the Ponn Farr disease in order to ensure that the Marshal was guaranteed a role in the hay once every seven years. She didn't think so. Every seven years was stretching it. Besides according to Miss Jenny, it would be best ten minutes that she would ever spend with a man!!!!

As they snuck out behind the stage, a collective murmur rose from the crowd.

"Miss Kathryn, it's about damn time!!!!!!"

Social Pleasantries
Leonie — 24 Sep 1998, 6:40 AM

"May I cut in"


Cold water on a drunk could not have been more effective. Judge Riker smiled up at Lee-Marie. To his credit, Mr. Chakotay smiled graciously.

"Of course"

*H&LL NO!!!!! Chakotay get back here!!!! I finally get you away from Kathryn and into my arms and this...this.....big walking hormone comes and cuts in. Arrrg*

The thoughts spewed out of Lee-Marie's head as she bowed graciously and Judge Riker guided her into his arms. He may have been leading in the dance, but Lee-Marie kept him as far away from her as possible. Her arms hurt from being extended for so far. She sighed.

one....two ....three


*No I'm not getting any closer to you*

one....two ....three


*Ouch...Hey that's my foot*

one....two ....three


* You dance just about as well as Mr. Chakotay rides a horse mister, this is the worst dance I've ever had*

Lee-Marie had to concentrate hard for this dance in order to pull it off. Riker was getting on her nerves by the minute. What she needed was a diversion. She had seen the way Judge Riker was looking at her and she had to diffuse what she knew would ensue if he was as drunk as he smelled. Still if she couldn't, Ole Joe was in the special holder in her boot. A Lady can never be too careful.

"Judge, have you lived in this town a long while?"

"Why all my life"

"Have the Janeways lived here long?"

If she was going to go throw this torture, she may as well get something out of the Judge that she wanted. She certainly wasn't going to accept what he wanted.

Getting down to business
Leonie — 24 Sep 1998, 6:42 AM

"Lady Jadzia."

Thomas Magnum bowed and Lee-Marie did a curtsy. She extended her hand and he took it and kissed it.

"It is good to see you."

"Likewise Mr. Magnum."

"When your mother heard that you were here in Voyager City and I told her that I had business here, she insisted that I see you, to make sure that your were all right."

Lee-Marie smiled. It had been a long time since her name and title had been used to address her.

"Tell Mama for me I'm fine, taking care of myself." Lee-Marie glanced around her quickly, they were at the edge of the dancing area and she didn't want to take a chance on anyone overhearing her. She guided Mr. Magnum to a quieter place.

"You said that you were in need of our services in your message to the Hirogen Detective Agency?"

"Yes. Mama has agreed to handle the finances, I sent word to her of my intentions. I would like you to run a background check for me on three people who live here in Voyager City."

Mr. Magnum took out a small note pad and began to write.

"I want you to find out about Miss Kathryn and her son Tom Janeway and also their foreman Mr. Chakotay Torres. I want to know everything there is to know about them. Especially Miss Kathryn and her son Tom, when was he born etc. See if you can't find any witnesses alive who were present at his birth."

When Lee-Marie had observed Tom and his Mama before the dance, she finally put her finger on what their behavior reminded her of. And there was also that strong resemblance that he had to .......

"Check your Washington contacts, see if anyone knows of any politician has had any contact with the Janeways in the past, at any time. If there is anyway that their paths could have crossed."

Tom put his notebook away and smiled at Lee-Marie.

The Way we were.
Leonie — 24 Sep 1998, 6:45 AM

"Why are you getting mixed up in your employers lives, Lady Jadzia. This is not what you were brought up for. This is not the kind of life for you. A Foreman on a ranch?" His gaze softened on Lee-Marie

"Things have settled down, you could come back. Ol' Mr. Edington is dead and his family has moved out of town. Only Ol' Miss Riley is left. No one's gonna think about matters which occurred ten years ago."

Lee-Marie looked at the man who had been like a father to her all her life, she gave a sad smile

"It's too risky, I couldn't do it. I have Mama, little Randy-Jane and Donna-May to consider. Their lives could be destroyed if things get dug up again. And this is the kind of life for me Mr. Magnum. I've changed, I'm not Lady Jadzia anymore. She couldn't have done what I have in the last ten years."

"So you're Lee-Marie now?"

"Actually I'm a little of both."

Lee-Marie looked out and saw Tom and B'Elanna together in the quiet talking. The sadness of her smile increased. Lee-Marie knew exactly what Ms Torres struggled with, being of two different worlds. Now she had embraced another getting involved with Tom Janeway. Seeing them together, she wondered if she wasn't imagining things between Miss Kathryn and Mr. Tom. She wasn't a woman who doubted herself, she had seen what she had seen

Mr. Magnum touched her arm. He had seen where her gaze had gone and the sadness in her eyes.


"Mickie-C would have been so proud of you."

It always amazed Lee-Marie how much it could hurt her still to hear his name. It had been ten years ago since she last spoke to him.

"I still miss him, Mr. Magnum. Sometimes I think that I'm crazy, but sometimes when I'm by myself the feeling would just come over me. It would be months and months and I would never think about him and still, there would be a moment. I still miss him so much in those times."


Public Smiles
Private Tears

Her Mama's voice came to her. She willed the tears not to fall.

"Why are you checking Mr. Chakotay's background?"

"Something stinks to high heaven in this Ranch between the three of them, Mr. Magnum and I want to know what it is."

"Just let it be. It doesn't concern you, you are just a Foreman."

"Knowledge is power, and the Truth is the ultimate power Mr. Magnum. The may free you, or it may bind you. One thing about the truth, knowing it means that you go into a dangerous situation with your eyes open and your glasses on."

"Dangerous situation?"

"I am falling in love with Mr. Chakotay Torres."

Mr. Magnum gave a knowing smile


He understood perfectly.

Leonie — 24 Sep 1998, 6:46 AM

Lee-Marie curtsied signaling the end of her talk with Mr. Magnum. He bowed and again kissed her outstretched hand. Lee-Marie turned quickly. She was glad that this part was over. All she wanted to do now was go find that Mr. Torres and dance the night away.

She caught a flash of a maroon dress.


Kathryn spied Lee-Marie leaving in one direction and a distinguished gentleman leaving in the exact opposite direction.

"Marshal what do you make of that?"

The Marshal was back to his usual impassable self

"It appears that Miss Leonie-Marie is acquainted with Mr. Magnum."

They had been walking back to the dance when Kathryn saw the two of them. Actually it was correct to say that the Marshal was walking, she was swaggering. Her legs were threatening to give way.

"Yes it appears that she is."

There was a dangerous glint in Kathryn's eyes.

Resting their feet.
D'Alaire — 24 Sep 1998, 2:09 PM

Note: This takes place, obviously, before Vickie's "Fire." (Dang, girl! You're quick -- and good! Wow! What a twist!)

It was dark outside the square, which behind them still grew busier and brighter with arrivals, but it was bright enough with the moon and starlight to make their way across the high grass field and towards a row of trees over the rise of Look-Out Point. B'Elanna hadn't made that much pretense about her boots. They really were starting to get to her. But that didn't belie the reason she wanted to get away with Tom, either. She'd had her dance, shown them all, enjoyed herself...proved to herself she could be a lady, too, if she so chose.

But she wanted him, too. Since they'd parted in the stables, she been thinking about it, and even more so then, now that she was finally alone with him again.

Liking the idea of getting away a while, too, Tom gladly steered them down through the low lying woods and to a grassy knoll banking Sakari Creek, and helped her sit. It'd been a wild day, and he was glad to have a few minutes to rest. Looking at the lady by his side as she pulled her gown up to her knees, he reminded himself exactly how glad he was of that day.

B'Elanna's eyes pointed to the inviting water near her feet. Her whole body felt warm and relaxed, or would have been completely if it weren't for-- "Help me get my boots off, Tom?" she said, a little coy as she eyed him.

"Sure," he said and bent to unbutton them, grinning that she let him do all the work. This was a change. "I suppose you're not used to these things anymore."

"You're right, I'm not," she agreed, enjoying the view of him bent over as he was. "But I couldn't have worn my boots under this dress."

"Why not?" he asked, sliding one boot away and setting it aside.

"Why not?" she giggled. "Tom, it's not much ladylike to wear riding boots under a ballgown."

"Why would you want to be like any of the other ladies? I think you're fine as you are." Slowly, he slid her stocking down and off her shapely leg, then started over on her other boot.

She stared at him. His fingers busily popped open the second set of buttons, and his tone was light. But she could tell he was serious about what he'd said. "I reckon it's because it was something I thought I could never have, never be. I guess maybe I wasn't cut out to be like the other ladies, being my mama's daughter and all."

"I think you were the perfect lady back there -- and better than the rest of 'em, 'cause you're more than that." Tom slid her other boot and stocking off, then helped her scoot forward to put her feet in the water. She sighed in relief, and, tempted enough, he took his own boots off to join her.

Taking a deep breath at the feel of the cool creek water flowing between his toes, he looked over at her. Her eyes were closed; her head was tipped back. "Don't you like being part Klingon Indian?"

She shrugged. "I dunno."

"It gives you strength, B'Elanna," he told her, meeting her eyes when they returned to his, "strength and character -- a heck of a lot more character than those other ladies in town. I happen to know a little about Klingon Indians. I always thought they were a proud and honorable people--a little too quick at the arrow sometimes, but a good, honest people. And I see that in you." He nodded as her expression turned a little curious, as if to reaffirm his words. "In the end, that's more important than any fussing and mannerly stuff can ever bring. What you've got lasts a lot longer than a ballgown and nice conversation."

RE: Resting their feet, part 2
D'Alaire — 24 Sep 1998, 2:17 PM

Staring at him, she felt another warm rush come over her at his words and his stare. For some reason, she just couldn't hold back her tongue, or her hand, when she placed it on his thigh. "You really don't mind that I'm different than the other ladies?"

Tom smiled. "Mind? Heck, I love that about you. You don't hold back 'cause of manners or any sly intentions, you don't lie, you don't cheat. You don't have it in your nature, all those d@mned pretentions and underhanded notions. You're real and true. It's why I trust you more than I've ever trusted anyone. Now, I don't know whether that's you or your mama's people--I'd think it was you. But your mama's blood's a part of you, and if taking that away would take away anything that made you who you are now, then I wouldn't regret your Klingon blood for all the stars in the sky."

She felt his hand take hers and, gazing up at him, she could feel her heart growing quicker. Despite the cool water she could tell her skin was growing flush. "You really aren't afraid of it, are you?"

"Nope." He caressed her hand playfully, his lips turning up a little. "Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing more of it, B'Elanna." He watched a smile cross her face -- and that hawkish look return to her.

"You know," she said, moving closer to him as she spoke, "there are some things I've..picked up about my mama's people too, I guess. But I was always afraid to...explore that."

"Why were you afraid?" Tom asked, feeling her nearness and warmth, his voice dropping low as a result.

"You're right, Klingon Indians don't hold back. But being my pa's girl, too, I guess I learned how to. I guess I'm afraid of letting out what I sometimes feel. But..." and she placed a kiss on his waiting lips. "...I trust you, too Tom. I think you wouldn't scare you off if I let it out a little, would I?" She pressed her lips softly to his again, reclaiming the taste of him, breathing deeply his scent. For some reason, she couldn't restrain her perking senses at the reminder. "There are certain...practices," she whispered, very close to his skin, "with Klingon Indians, when it comes to taking a mate."

Tom drew a deep breath as well. He'd heard about those practices, all right. As a boy, he'd get a thrill hearing about them. But he wasn't a boy anymore, and he was serious about this woman beside him -- as serious as were the implications of what he knew she was suggesting.

But looking at her, her unmoving gaze, he knew he couldn't resist her, or the idea, either. Then, in a flash, he realised that she'd chosen him, in the Indian way. She'd chosen him. Knowing that, he just as sudden didn't give a d@mn that they might be missed up in the square -- they were all busy with themselves, anyway, and there was plenty of time left in that night. Thus, he grinned and told her, "No, ma'am, I don't reckon you could scare me off if you tried."

B'Elanna didn't miss that little challenge, and her responding smirk seemed to be all Tom needed to lean in and kiss her full. Another rush a sensation poured through her body as she felt his arms move around her, and she responded to him in turn. She let him lean her back onto the soft grass, purring as his hand began to roam down her body, over the smooth chintz of her gown, her other softly stroking her jaw.

RE: Resting their feet, part 3 (pg-14)
D'Alaire — 24 Sep 1998, 2:24 PM

Suddenly she felt a wave of need rise up in her. She'd had it before, resisted it every time Tom had kissed her like that. But that time, she couldn't hold back, didn't want to, either. As his hand ran back over her ribs, she grabbed it--hard--and the other one too. With a growl, she kicked the ground and easily flipped them both over so she could straddle him.

Tom felt his hands hit the ground above his head, her hands effectively pinning him there as she leaned down, panting a little as her eyes nailed his again. Even in the dim light, he could see the predatory look that came over her. Then, he realised something else -- "B'Elanna, had you ever had wine before?"

"Are you chickening out on me, Tom?" she taunted.

"I wouldn't think of it," he said, his shock slowly fading off. "Just being sure."

"Oh, I'm sure about this, don't you worry about that."

"But what about your dress? You don't want it--"

"Well, we'll just have to make sure it don't get damaged, won't we?" She leaned down and kissed him lustily, reveling in both the response of his mouth and the rest of his body. He still tried to pull his hands free, but not that hard once her grip tightened, and with a small shift on her part, she got to enjoy his reaction to that. B'Elanna pulled up a little, only enough to speak. "So, Tom," she whispered huskily, her lips and warm breath grazing his own, "you really want to help me not be so afraid of my heritage?"

Tom took a few hard breaths as she backed up a little more, saw her desire written all over her face. He hadn't expected her to pounce on him like that, but he couldn't help but like those practices she was inroducing him to -- and like it a heck of a lot more than anything he'd ever known. "Yes, I do," he said, not wavering in the slightest.

She smiled again, showing her teeth. "Good." Yanking him up to sit, she released one of his hands to grab his chin, jerk it to the side and bite him hard on the jaw.

"Yow!" Tom cried out. "B'Elanna!" His fingers flew to the bite. Blood was already dripping from it, and the feral gleam in her eyes said she knew she'd done good. "We'll never be able to hide this, you know."

B'Elanna was already working on the buttons at the back of her dress, the taste of his blood proving even more exciting than the sangaree. "I don't want to hide it, Tom," she breathed. "I want every man, woman and child in town to know I've claimed you. I don't want any more whispers or rumors or questions. No matter where you've been before don't matter anymore. You're mine, now."

Tom grinned. No woman had ever sounded so possessive of him, and he never imagined any woman wanting to be. Sangaree or not -- I do like this, indeed.

"I won't argue with that," he returned and reached around to help her with the rest of the buttons. He kissed her hard on the mouth, tasting his blood on her tongue as his fingers roughly slipped away the last of the enclosures of her dress. Breaking back from him, she all but ripped it off over her head, tossing it aside before going to work on his shirt and his mouth.

Unable to hold back any longer, intoxicated by her, the feel of her hot skin under his fingers as he drove them beneath her corselet, and an undeniable passion surging inside him for the second time that day, Tom grabbed B'Elanna's hair at the nape and yanked her head to the side. A second later, he'd sunk his teeth into her cheek, issuing a gleeful growl from her.

RE: Resting their feet, part 4 (pg-13)
D'Alaire — 24 Sep 1998, 2:29 PM

Suddenly, his shirt was flung aside as well, and she threw her arms around him, kissing him, wild and blind as they pressed themselves firmly against each other. If the stable was passion, he thought as he let her plunder him, I can't imagine what she's gonna do to me this time!

Not that he was arguing. He'd made his bed with that wild filly, and dangit, he wasn't about to run from it. He wasn't that much a fool. He'd worked too hard to get her, to earn her trust. And he knew he'd earned enough trust that she'd allow herself to let loose on him a part of her nature she'd always kept closed up, that she was showing him without fear of his rejection. Wine or not--she'd claimed him, and even before that night fell, she'd accepted him. It wasn't something he was about to take for granted--or surely complain about, considering.

So he responded in equal kind to her kiss and her motions, letting her set the pace that time, make all the first advances. Still, to all, he responded, drinking in her earthy reactions as he did exactly as she directed with little more than a growl or an insistent gesture. And he wasn't as shocked when, after making more quick work of each other, she'd flipped him back over, pinning him down.

She leaned over him again, unmindful of the blood steadily creeping down her jaw, panting hard as she regarded her chosen mate, who stared up at her with an expression rightfully equal to her own.

"Time for me to lead for a while," she told him in no uncertain terms.

Tom barely had time to tell her he'd already let her. A moment later, he didn't bother.


Over the rise and in the longer grass, Madame D'Alaireux made her way steadily back towards the Ball, now teeming with celebrants and cheer. They'd started the bonfire in the mainway, and the music was decidedly upbeat. The square dances were well under way.

Her walk had been long and aimless, collecting all the visions she'd found crawing at her when she first avoided going into the Leolo Root Ball at least a few hours past, according to the shift of the moon above. There was a force that had disturbed her since she saw Chakotay Torres arrive.

Perhaps some java would be helpful to--

Suddenly behind her, she heard a keening cry, like that of a bobcat, echoing through air. For the second time that day, she laughed a little, to herself. She recognized well the tremolo of that invocation, knew better what was person and what was creature.

Not embarrassed by what her ear had witnessed, she instead knew yet more that her purpose for coming to Voyager City has not been foolhardy after all, and not wrought completely with bad omens--even if they were intertwined with the good.

It is almost time, she told herself. She has taken another -- albeit big -- step. She is almost ready...if not even more Klingon than even I gave her credit for!...She will need it now, more than ever, as will her lover. I feel that keenly now.

Her smile grown sage, Madame D'Alaireux continued on, yet not to the square. She went instead to her wagon.

Private Moments

Private Moments pt 1
Leonie — 24 Sep 1998, 6:48 AM

"Mr. Chakotay?"

He was standing on the edge of the dance floor waiting for her. He smiled when he saw her coming.

*One more smile like that mister and you're going to have to carry me out of here!!! Hmmm, might not be such a bad idea*

"Please, Miss Lee call me Chakotay."

She smiled with pleasure.

"It's Lee, Chakotay." She knew it was way too soon according to what was proper, but she had just left Lady Jadzia with Mr. Magnum. No one would hold her to it.

"Walk with me?" He crooked his arm and his smile got wider.

"Of course"

Private Moments pt 2
Leonie — 5 Oct 1998, 7:06 AM

"Did I tell you how stunning you look" Chakotay said to Lee-Marie as they walked along to Pinnacle Buff.

"Three times tonight, but you can tell me again." Lee-Marie had her hand in the crook of his arm. "And this time with a little more flair." she said with a wry grin.

Suddenly he spun her around to face him and began to say to her on bended knee

"Oh fair Lady, how beautiful are your eyes, and your hair.
Your dress is exquisite, your eye for fashion is truly unsurpassed.
Your face, a vision.
When your picture is taken as the Queen, it will be kept in the City Records
Men for ages to come will be stunned by your magnificent beauty and stunning sexuality."

"Oh my prince so fair,
What a Load of Bull, so rank
Please tell me that you didn't make that up and read it somewhere,
Especially that last line."

Lee-Marie looked deeply into his eyes and the look on her face was so serious that he thought that she was really upset. He frowned and then Lee-Marie burst out laughing. He joined her.

She said through her laughter,

"I said a with a little more flair. Not this much. These aren't the right boots for that much flair"

Lee stuck her foot out to show him and almost tripped. Chakotay caught her and helped her straighten up, putting his hand behind her back. When she regained her footing though, he didn't remove his hand. They began to walk again, still giggling as they did so.

"Well so much for flair" Lee-Marie said and then stopped. They had reached the look out point. They made their way to the bench which had been fashioned out of a plank on two tree stumps and sat close to one another. Chakotay put his arm around Lee and she snuggled closer to him, resting her head on his shoulder.

*Damn he feels good. It's been a while*

"But seriously Lee, you look lovely." His voice rumbled in his chest. It made for very soothing vibrations.

"Thanks, again. It's been a long while since I got gussied up."

"You should do it more often."

Lee-Marie raised her head and turned so that she could face Chakotay. She didn't break the embrace though, and his arm still formed a protective crook around her back.

"Chakotay, I'm a Ranch hand, not a Lady." *At least not any more* "Gussying up is irrelevant." She mimicked Sevenita's Borg accent. He chuckled at that and then became serious.

"Why did you chose such a unconventional life"

Lee looked down at the ground. It was now her turn to be lost in memories

Private Moments pt 3
Leonie — 5 Oct 1998, 7:09 AM

"I've always loved horses, I'm fascinated by them. I also liked working with my hands. My mother tried to get me interested in tatting, but I hated it. I liked building things. She used to get so upset when I would go down to the tool shed of our ranch and play with the wood ends, pretending as if I was building something. And I like guns, preferably big guns and knives, preferably small sharp ones."

Lee-Marie grinned remembering Ole Joe tied to her foot. *It's a good thing that I didn't raise that leg to show him*

"Youch" Chakotay replied with a mock look of horror on his face, "I'm scared of you"

"As well you should be" Lee-Marie retorted and then chuckled.

"I even convince Mama to let me in on some special science courses they were teaching at the school house for boys only. Mama had to pull a lot of strings and Daddy didn't like it, but in the end I went."

"So who taught you how to wield a gun like you do?"

"Ranch hand we had, Mickie-C" Lee fought to keep the emotion out of her voice. "He taught me to ride, to shoot and to build. He was also very good with his hands. He was also good in coming up with ideas for improvements around the Ranch. I learnt everything I know from him."

"You had? Your family owned the Ranch?"


"Oh I bet your parents must have loved the fact that their daughter was riding, shooting, building and wielding small sharp knives, did you say?"

Lee gave a short laugh

"Oh they loved it all right. When they found out that I had all of these capabilities, they were a mite bit upset. But I was stubborn and decided that Ranching was what I wanted to do. I ended up leaving home because I knew I couldn't do it there. Normally, I always get what I want.

Chakotay leaned closer towards her and their lips were so close that Lee could feel his breath. He gave a small smile. Her heart jumped. *Those dimples will be the death of me, I swear!!!! And those lips, d@mn they look good*

"Always" he said and closed the gap between them.

"Normally", Lee managed to get our before his lips descended on hers.

They brushed by gently and then made contact, almost hesitantly at first and then with a purpose behind them. He broke away and looked at her. Lee smiled and then sought his lips out again, kissing him, giving him permission to continue. They did, lips parted and tongues explored. Chakotay pulled Lee-Marie closer to him and continued in earnest. Lee felt as though she was drowning in him. The last rational thought that she had before she lost herself in the taste of him was,

*Hot D@mn, they taste even better than they look*


Some time after wards, their lips parted. Lee-Marie's eyes opened and her brain registered a flickering light. She turned and gave a yelp.

"Chakotay, look over there"


VC: General Horse Puddles
Ginny — 11 Oct 1998, 11:33 AM

Clare and Locarno stood to one side of the dance floor, drinking sangaree and watching the dancers whirl by. Occasionally, Clare would send surreptitious glances towards Colonel McQueen. If Locarno noticed, he made no more comment.

Captain Juliet's band started a new song, something with obvious Latin origins, and Locarno set down his glass and asked, "Clare, I've been remiss in my duties as your escort. Would you like to dance?"

Clare, who had been watching Kes Janeway and her young gunfighter dancing to the salsa tune in a manner that had more than one Voyager City matron rushing to complain to the mayor, raised her eyebrows. "Just what, exactly, did you have in mind, Nick?" She gestured toward the dancing couple, who had managed to move all over the dance floor with out ever breaking body contact from sternum to thigh. "I'm not sure I could look a Voyager City jury in the face after a dance like that."

Locarno nodded sagely. "Not to mention the fact that, when it was over, you'd have to marry me."

Clare shot him a look of mock horror. "Then, by all means, let's wait for a waltz."

As luck would have it, the next dance was indeed a waltz, the beautiful Tennessee Waltz. Clare laughed in delight and held out her hands to her handsome companion. "I'll take that as a sign. Shall we, Mr. Locarno?"

"Lady, we shall," he responded, promptly spinning her out onto the dance floor. They made a handsome, graceful couple, and, after one well-executed turn past the bandstand, Clare said, "I've just realized that we've had dinner and small talk, and I still know almost nothing about you, Nick, except your current assignment here in Voyager City. Tell me about yourself. Where do you come from? What is you family like?

Locarno looked into her beautiful brown eyes for several seconds without saying anything, then he glanced off over her shoulder. "There's not much to tell, Clare. My mother died when I was very young, and I was raised by her relatives in the Midwest."

"What about your father?" Clare asked.

Locarno's face tightened, his eyes still averted. "My father wasn't around when my mother died, and I've haven't seen him since." He slowly turned wide, guileless gray eyes to meet hers, and every hair on the back of Clare's neck stood up. "I'm not really sure who he is, to be perfectly honest. My mother's people either didn't know or wouldn't say."

All of Clare's lawyer instincts kicked into overdrive. He's lying to me, she thought. But why?

"Were there any other children, any brothers or sisters?" Clare inquired, suddenly uncomfortable with the man's arms wrapped around her.

Locarno again stared off into space and then looked back at Clare, a sincere earnestness in his quicksilver eyes. "No, Clare. I was an only child."

Clare murmurred sympathetically, but asked no more questions, and the couple finished the waltz in silence. As the band began another tune, the church bell suddenly rang out and Chakotay Torres and a woman Clare didn't recognize appeared on the dance floor. Panic edging his voice, the foreman announced that a fire was threatening the herd at Ice Box Canyon. Then Tom Janeway and B'Elanna Torres raced in with news of a fire at the Delta Q Ranch.

The crowd erupted in noise and motion. Locarno pulled Clare into a quiet alcove. "Do you want to go to the ranch?" he asked the lawyer.

Clare shook her head. "No, I'd just be in the way, dodging firefighters and horses and puddles. Go, if you need to. Larson will drive me home." Locarno raised her hand, gave it a quick kiss, and joined the rest of the men who were streaming out into the night air.

VC : The Trail of the Century Prologue
Eric — 26 Sep 1998, 12:45 PM

(Ok, thanks to Vicky for introducing the fire story! Dukat did say he wanted the Circle V ranch to burn didn't he? Terry, if I'm stretching the timeline a little sorry! Anyway, just a taste today, the rest will arrive tomorrow!)

A few days ago :

Jason was annoyed. Here he was in the barbarous United States. He missed Canada all ready. He looked at the screaming headlines on the newspapers. They were all screaming about some sex scandal that involved the President and a cigar. Sigh. Why couldn't this place be more like Canada? In his country they only had to worry about provinces leaving! More more civilized! Well, he had no choice. Readership of his web page was falling off! Those darn founders were stealing his scoops! He had to have a EXCLUSIVE! He needed something to boost readership and his girlfriend had refused to wear a catsuit.

He walked out of the airport thinking dark thoughts. Great it was raining. Where was a cab? Ah! He ran over to the cab and climbed in. "Where to pal?", asked the driver. "Nebula Nursing Home", he answered. He saw the driver's license. "Jim C" it read. "Hey have I ever told you about Miracle Bra's?", he asked? "Yeah", that Nana Visitor wears them on Deep Space Nine...". It was going to be a long trip.

The cab pulled up to a pleasant looking building with a large sign :


Underneath this was a small sign : Home of the oldest man on Earth! Visit our Gift Shop!

This was the place! He paid his fair and walked inside. He was greated by a cute nurse who's name tag read "Hi, my name is ande". What a strange country! Apparently they didn't believe in capitals here in the US. "Hello", he said to the nurse, "I would like to see the oldest living man". The nurse smiled and told him the price was $50 and tok his money. Right this way.

Following the nurse the Canadian heard the thumping of heavy machinery. ande explained that this was the nuclear reactor. We need all that power to keep him alive! Eventually they came to a large room that had a simple tag on the door :


In you go smiled ande. Jason walked in and saw rows and rows of beeping, blinking machinery. Dodads, wheezed and whirled. Steam shot out of pipes and pistons pumped life giving medicines into a tiny frail old man, who screaming at a computer, "Damn that whippersnapper!!!", "He says I live in a Iron Lung!!". Jason smiled, he had made it! Now he could get that exclusive story!

He walked over to the old man."Mr. D., if I could ask you a few questions". Eh, what's that? What do you need to know? Jason held out a yellowed newspaper with a screaming headline :


Underneath was a picture of a woman who was still amazingly good looking even on the yellowed paper. Mike D saw the paper and rolled over to it as he looked at it his eyes filled with tears "So long ago", "I remember it like it was yesterday". Jason saw a bumper sticker on his wheelchair : Janeway rules.

VC : The Trail of the Century (Part One)
Eric — 27 Sep 1998, 8:06 PM

(OK, here is the part where I stretch out the timeline a little. I'm going to start the trial right after the Leola Root festival, so the fire would be burning for only a day or so. Not so hard to believe with a brush fire. We can say that the Circle V was the last thing to catch....)

The Coffee Nebula Nursing home : A few days ago

"OK, Mike, talk!", demanded Jason. "Why do the names in this article from the 1800's match almost perfectly with the names in the Star Trek : Voyager TV-show? "Well that's simple, I created the TV show", wheezed the old man. "It was very simple, in fact some of the fans call me TPTB".

Jason was amazed. Here was a true exclusive for his web page! At last, he had found the legendary PTB! But he was still intrigued by this trial. Maybe if he dug deeper into this old history, he could begin to understand the mysteries of today's Voyager. He asked Mike to start his story.

"It all began with a meeting in the night, a man and a woman and a plan most sinister", "It begins with a desire for revenge".

The Cardassian Indian Village : The Old West

The young brave refused to cry. His village was burning. The Maquis had attacked his village. They had killed his parents. They claimed that this was because the Federation Calvery had abandoned their ranches and could no longer protect them. He knew better however. They attacked his village because they were cowards. And cowards deserved to die.

Big Coffee Canyon : 10 years later

"Everything is in place!", smiled Seska. Seska was still in her Bajoran disguise. Bajoran's are peaceful Europeans so it is a perfect costume. "The braves are ready to light the fires at the end of the local Leola Root festival. When the ceremonial torch is put out, the REAL festival will begin! Yes, agreed Dukat, yes a festival of revenge. "Go! Go and give our people the final instructions", "Tell them to prepare their scalping knives". Our revenge begins NOW.

The Leola Root Festival : The final day of the festival

Reverend Windes was in the town square giving the usual benediction to the festival "Oh, Leola root, you are so scumptious, how we love to chow down on thee..." he began the ritual speech. But he could not keep his thoughts on his congregation. No, that wasn't right was it? No, actually he could only keep his mind on one member of his flock!! Yes that was more accurate. Even though it was a sin, he could only think of the beautiful Sevenita! That tight fitting Catsuit! The high heels! The traditional cheek and eyebrow Borg jewelry! Her sexy strap gloves she liked so much. He HAD to do something. Marshall Tuvok would not listen to the word of God however. He told the Reverend to PRAY for Sevenita! Well, sometimes prayer wasn't enough. No, he needed to try something else.

Reverend Windes finished the ritual closing of the Leola Root festival and extinguished the flame.

The Nekrit expanse : That night

Over One Hundred Cardassian Indians lite their torches and set fire to the prairie grass. They had waited ten years for this. They savored the moment.

VC : The Trail of the Century (Part Two)
Eric — 27 Sep 1998, 8:11 PM

The Circle V ranch : A few minutes later

The Gunslinger, Kes and Madame D'Alaireux were in the living room of the large ranch. They could hear Jungle Tim and Gimpy Baktag in the kitchen making good use of Miss Kathryn's hospitality. They were sitting looking at the large notebook of Tuvok's and the smaller notebook that had belonged to Neelix. Eric and Kes looked at each other, and almost unbearable fire seemed to be between them. To their credit they tried to keep their minds on the business at hand, but were failing. "Say, Miss D'Alaireux, didn't you say that it was time to walk Baktag?", tried Eric. D'A smiled , "Um, why yes, your right, and I think I will take Timmy to!", she had felt the heat in the room as well.

Alone at last, said the husky voice in the Gunslinger's head. Whatever shall we do? Kes was unzipping her warlord suit "Oh I think we can think of something". Eric's eyes watched as the zipper went lower and lower. Eric reached out and finally caressed that warm Ocampa skin and was happy to find her just as hot as he was and helped her out of that amazing suit while her hands were all over him..

The spark ignited to a flame and the fire roared on within and without..

Voyager City : Midnight

"Ok", weezed old Mike. "Here is the Gun you wanted". Reverend Windes smiled. Soon my love! Soon I will free you from the heathen SCUM that have imprisoned you!

The Nekrit Expanse : At the same time

Seska laughed and loosened her Cardassion armor and turned to Dukat, they kissed as the flames continued their slow march to the Circle V ranch and Voyager city.

Burn. My vengeance burns like a flame.

(I think I need to read that sex scene again. I rather liked it)

VC : The Trail of the Century Part 3
Eric — 30 Sep 1998, 7:47 PM

(Ok folks, this one follows the events just before Vickie's fire story. BTW, thanks for adapting my storyline Vickie, that was coolness above and beyond the call of duty!)

A few days ago : The Coffee Nebula Nursing Home

Jason was drooling. He had just heard the hottest story he had ever heard. This sure beat that stack of Playboy's he had "borrowed" from his Dad. The Kes sure sounded like a babe! Maybe even more so then her Voyager counterpart! "But why did you give the Rev. Windes a gun Mike?".

"Because he had the money!", "We didn't have any gun control back then, life was a lot simpler!". Besides, I had no idea he was going to do what he did! We were all lucky that the Boston Kid was in town that day. But before we get to that, let me tell you about my meeting with Miss. Kathryn! You think Kes was hot.

Jason put pencil to paper and began writing.

Voyager City : Old Mike's Gunshop

Mike grunted a bit as he bent over and pulled the shotgun out of it's protective oil cloth. He had put off this job for to long. Miss Kate was waiting for her gun. He chuckled a little as he thought of her pet name for the gun. What was it, old Bessie? He stripped the gun down to it's parts and cleaned it out. She brought the weapon in for cleaning like clockwork each month. He would have it ready for her to pick up by this afternoon.

The Delta Q Ranch : Morning

Miss Kate was walking down the stairs with a purpose. She had a lot of errands today before her meeting with Claire, Sevenita's lawyer, Jury Selection was set to begin tomorrow. She walked into the living room to see if Eric and Kes had made any progress with Tuvok's notes. The first thing she noticed was the room was a little disheveled. The blanket she kept on the couch for cold nights was crumpled on the floor. Kes, the neatest of her daughters hair was a wavy mess (she would have to talk about that leather outfit, when she was less busy) and that polite man Eric's shirt was half unbuttoned! "Why the two of you must have been up all night studying those notes!!" Why was Kes blushing beat red? "You two should go to bed, you look tired!", now Eric was turning as red as one of her prize tomatoes. I'm going to run some errands in town. She left wondering why she heard giggles coming from the living room.

The Fire :

The first family to see the fire was the Ayala ranch. In fact it was Ayala Jr. Who saw the smoke first. He saw a lot of smoke in fact. He ran back to the ranch and woke his family. Since they were from Mexico and his family spoke Spanish he told them in simple words. "Fire", "Yeah", said his father. "We have to pack our bags and go to town!". "Yeah" said his dad. By the time they had all their important belongings packed the sky was red, and full of smoke.

The Delta Q Ranch

Madam D'Alaireux awokeand untangled herself from Jungle Tim's arms. He was a nice boy, and very grateful after she nursed him back to health after that nasty accident had almost made him a eunuch. She woke him now telling him to wake up and got dressed. She needed everyone alert today, she was feeling a overwhelming dread. Something terrible was going to happen.

VC : The Trail of the Century Part 4
Eric — 30 Sep 1998, 7:49 PM

Eric slammed the notebook closed. He knew where to start. Sevenita had claimed that she was singing when Jabin had died. Also according to Tuvok's notes, the stringy Borg glove that had been found near Jabin's body did not fit Sevenita's hand. "The glove don't fit, gotta acquit", he muttered to himself. Kes smiled, let's go see Tuvok and show him this evidence. "Do you smell smoke?" When they ran outside the sky was ablaze with fury.

"This is going to suck", breathed Eric.

The Gun Shop

Old Mike liked the way Kate was leaning over his counter. She was wearing one of her T- Shirts he loved so much, and the way it was cut almost allowed him to see heaven if he looked hard enough (and he was). T-t-t-there you go Miss. Kate he stammerd as he gave her the gun back. That will be 10 bucks, I reckon. Kate leaned way over and paid the man. She didn't know why she teased him so much, he was just a harmless old man but she licked the way he watched her. Maybe if Chakotay wasn't in the picture she would do a little more. But she frowned, Chakotay only seemed to be interested in that Lee-Marie person these days. And them impulsively she kissed Old Mike on the cheek, thank you old friend she smiled. Her back was turned so she missed Old Mike giving himself CPR.

As she was walking to the Sheriff's office she heard Kes screaming into her mind "Kathryn!! Come to the Ranch right way!!!".

The Fire House

Big Jimbo was playing cards with his other fire fighters. He was wining big today. Well Gentleman, ante up and I will let you try to get your money back. Suddenly he screamed as he heard Miss Kessie the schoolteacher scream out in his head, "Jimbo!! Come to the Delta Q ranch right away! Brush fire!!!" . He jumped up, and bellowed out ot hismen to get suited up. We have a fire, a BIG one to. He only hoped they would be on time.

The Nekrit Expanse


Dukat was breathing heavy. He didn't like it when he failed to get his way. "You have to stay with the rest of us!", "We wait until they ride out to the Ranch and we take them all at once". If you leave early it will ruin the plan.

"I have to go", Seska looked at him with a almost glinty madness in her eyes. I will NOT allow that b*tch to have him. NEVER.

That was the last Dukat saw of her.

Continued in Vickie's Fire story, and then in Trail of the Century part 4

Vickie T. — 24 Sep 1998, 1:43 PM

Captain Juliet and the rest of the band froze in mid-note as the big bell in the steeple of Reverand Windes' church began to peal. At almost the same moment, Chakotay and Lee-Marie dashed toward the bandstand from someplace outside the circle of lights illuminating the Leola Root Ball. Miss Kathryn's eyes narrowed and in the split second before Chakotay began to speak, she wondered, "Just where in the h*ll have they been?" The little green monster sitting on Miss Kathryn's shoulder disappeared, however, at Chakotay's shout of "Fire!"

Fire!?! Everyone immediately gathered around Chakotay and Lee-Marie as they breathlessly made their report. "We were over at Pinnacle Bluff when we saw the flames on the horizon." "It looks like a grass fire - and a big one, at that." "We could see flames stretching all the way from the base of Big Rock Candy Mountain to the foothills below old prospector Miles' place." Miss Kathryn went pale and gasped, "Oh my God, Chakotay...the cattle...Ice Box Canyon...Fire!" Grimly, Chakotay nodded, "That's right. Our main herd is grazing in Ice Box Canyon this week. With the breeze from the northwest, this fire could sweep right into the canyon." From the back of the crowd, Quark could be heard to mutter, "Hmmm. I feel a special on barbeque coming on."

At that very moment, Tom and B'Elanna, coming from the direction of Look-Out Point, rushed up to the crowd gathered on the dance floor. Chakotay's eyes narrowed and in the split second before Tom began to speak, he wondered, "Just where in the h*ll have they been?" Tom and B'Elanna called out, "Ma!" "Pa!" "Miss Kathryn!" "Fire!" "Yes," Miss Kathryn replied, "we know about the big wildfire out on the range." Tom and B'Elanna looked blankly at one another. "Range?" "Wildfire?" "No, Ma," Tom nearly shouted. "The Delta Q! B'Elanna and I were up at Look-Out Point and we could see flames over in the direction of the Delta Q. It looks like the far west barn may be on fire." Miss Kathryn went paler and gasped, "Oh my God, Tom. With the Delta Q buildings laid out in two big wings, the fire could travel through every barn and home on the ranch."

By this time, the ringing church bell had brought everyone within hearing distance to the center of town, where they stood on what, only minutes before, had been the dance floor of the Leeola Root Ball. Big Jimbo, the Captain of town's volunteer fire department climbed up on the bandstand. "Folks! Folks! Everyone, can I have your attention, please?" The crowd quieted down. "I know that many of you have cattle out there on the range that are being threatened by this fire. I also know that if that west barn at the Delta Q is burning, we're going to need as many hands as we can get to fight the fire. Fortunately, nearly every single able bodied hand is right here in town tonight. I propose that we send a couple of hands from each ranch out to move the cattle out of the fire's path, and the rest of us head for the Delta Q." The crowd nodded and murmered their agreement.

"Chakotay," Miss Kathryn commanded, "I want you and Tom to go after the cattle." "No, Ma," Tom protested, "Let me go back to the Delta Q, I can do the most good there." "I don't need his help," Chakotay growled. Miss Kathryn affixed them both with her Number 3 strength Death Glare. "Listen you two, every dime we've got is tied up in that herd. If we lose the herd, it won't matter if the whole spread burns to the ground, because we'll lose it anyway. I need my two best men out there, and like it or not, you two are it." "Yes, Ma." "Yes, Miss Kathryn." "Then let's go!," said Miss Kathryn, setting her jaw firmly and nodding her head.

Fire II: Raging Fire!
Vickie T. — 24 Sep 1998, 8:47 PM

"Don't worry," Lee-Marie said, as she pressed JTM's reins into Chakotay's hand. "I'll get a ride back out to the Delta Q in the buggy with B'Elanna." She kissed Chakotay's cheek and then murmered a silent prayer as he mounted JTM and turned away. "Please God, don't let anything happen to my fine stud. Oh, and please keep Chakotay safe, too." "Hey," she reasoned, "Chakotay can take care of himself, but my poor JTM may need divine intervention to get through this."

As he rode toward the gathering group of riders, Chakotay noticed Cowgirl Vickie, already changed into chaps and boots, mounting up to join him. He smiled as he watched her bid farewell to her new beau, Mr. Magnum. Chakotay had fond memories of the time he and Cowgirl Vickie had been, well, good friends, and he was happy to see that Mr. Magnum appeared to feel considerable affection towards the mistress of the Circle V.

Thankfully, with Chakotay's attention being occupied first by Lee-Marie and then by Cowgirl Vickie and Mr. Magnum, he did NOT notice his lovely daughter bidding a fondling fond farewell to Tom Janeway. By the time he saw B'Elanna running towards him, Tom had already moved off down the street. "Pa!," B'Elanna called out, "You be careful out there." "I will honey," he replied, leaning down from his saddle to give her quick hug. "And B'Elanna, in case I didn't say so earlier, you looked like a real lady out there on the dance floor tonight...just like your momma." B'Elanna hugged him a little tighter. "Thanks, Pa," she said, wiping away a tear. "See you back at the Delta Q."

Chakotay joined Tom and the rest of the riders and headed out of town. Their plan was to head for the closest end of the fire off the slopes of Big Rock Candy Mountain, fan out, and then ride a long diagonal up the face of the fireline, herding any cattle they encountered along in front of them. If they could push the herds across the south tributary of the Little Coffee, the animals would be safe from the fire. Amazingly, given the haste of the riders and the darkness, the group proceeded without mishap across the open plain. The light from the moon and stars shining in the clear night sky was a blessing to the riders and their mounts.

Fire II: Raging Fire II
Vickie T. — 24 Sep 1998, 8:49 PM

By the time the riders reached the first swellings of the foothills that seemed to anchor the far end of the fireline, all the cattle had been gathered up except those of the Delta Q. Ice Box Canyon lay less than a quarter of a mile ahead. Most of the group continued to push the herd towards the Little Coffee, while a handful of riders, led by Tom and Chakotay, broke off and headed for Ice Box Canyon. The horsemen were relieved to discover that, although the fire was fast approaching the canyon's entrance, the cattle inside the canyon were still grazing calmly. It should be no problem to herd them out of the canyon and toward the Little Coffee with the rest of the cattle.

A few of the riders took up positions outside the canyon's mouth to turn the exiting cattle away from the fire and toward the river. The remaining riders slowed to a walk as they eased their way into the canyon along the fringes of the herd. Once they worked their way around behind the cattle, they began shouting and slapping their ropes to get the beasts moving. Maybe it was just good luck, maybe it was a little of that divine intervention Lee-Marie had been praying for, but the Delta Q herd moved toward the mouth of Ice Box Canyon without incident.

Suddenly, Chakotay, bringing up the rear with Tom, pulled JTM to a sliding stop. "What?," Tom asked, spinning his horse around to stand next to Chakotay. "Look. Up there. A flash of light." "There, up on the bluff." Chakotay looked at Tom. "I've been thinking about this fire as we've been riding tonight. There's no way this could be natural or even an accidental fire. This range fire was deliberately set, and by more than just a few people." Tom replied grimly, "You're right about that. Maybe we need to see who's up there on the bluff." The two men rode to the base of the hill then dismounted, intending to proceed the rest of the way on foot. They had moved only a few feet up the slope when suddenly, the ground fell away beneath their feet and they began to fall straight down into the darkness.

Fire: Burning Out of Control
Vickie T. — 26 Sep 1998, 2:10 PM

The rock in the pit of Kathryn Janeway's stomach turned to lead as she rounded the last bend on the road to the Delta Q. It was the far west barn that Tom and B'Elanna had seen in flames, only now there was nothing left of the structure and the hay it had contained but a small pile of still-smoldering debris. The adjoining structure, which had been used for tool storage and a workshop, was fully engulfed in flames and would soon be reduced to a similar state. As she drew closer, Miss Kathryn could see that the few Delta Q hands who had not gone into town for the ball worked frantically with buckets and wet blankets to put out a dozen smaller fires burning in and around the other buildings of the main ranch complex.

As Miss Kathryn pulled her buggy to a halt in front of the main house, Kes, covered in soot and ashes, dashed up carrying a scorched, wet, woolen blanket. "Oh, Ma, I'm so glad you're here. I don't know how these fires got started, but suddenly it seemed there was fire everywhere! We're working as fast as we can, but there just aren't enough of us." Miss Kathryn was so focused on the fire that she didn't even notice the skin-tight leather outfit Kes was wearing, nor did it occur to her to wonder why Kes was at the Delta Q instead of the ball or just who was that tall young stranger standing in the background.

"Well," Kathryn replied, taking the blanket from Kes's hands, "help is on the way." At that moment, the buggy carrying B'Elanna and Lee-Marie pulled up, accompanied by Big Jimbo and the rest of the fire department with the town's newfangled water-pumping fire-fighting machine. The men set the machine up and aimed their hoses at the Big Barn, where flames were just beginning to show through the roof and open stall windows on one end. The tool shed/workshop was deemed, at this point, to be too far gone to save.

As she lept from the buggy, B'Elanna immediately began taking an accounting of the horses. She could see some of the inhabitants of the Big Barn huddled in the far corner of the west paddock, so she knew someone had at least attempted to free the stock from the burning buildings. As she ran toward the west paddock, she shouted at three of the Delta Q hands to make sure the horses from all the barns were taken out to one of the half-dozen small pastures that were close by. Suddenly, a scream split the air - the cry of a horse in fear and pain. B'Elanna scanned the west paddock. Who was missing? B'Elanna's knees went weak when she realized the answer. The white stallion and his mare were nowhere to be seen and B'Elanna knew, as a wave of sickness and fear washed over her, that they must be trapped in the burning barn.

B'Elanna dashed toward the door of the Big Barn, which, in spite of the firemen's gallant efforts, was rapidly being consumed by flames. A half dozen hands reached out in a futile attempt to prevent B'Elanna from entering the inferno, but she pulled free and disapeared into the flames.

Fire: Still Burning Out of Control
Vickie T. — 30 Sep 1998, 10:42 AM

Kathryn Janeway watched as B'Elanna dashed into the burning barn. "Seeing my barns burn is one thing," Miss Kathryn said, "but I'll be d@mned if I'll let this fire take any of my people!" Then, she put her head down, and ran for the open door of the Big Barn. Once again, the firemen tried unsuccessfully to hold a determined woman back. Big Jimbo was heard to exclaim, "D@mn these independent women!"

Once Kathryn was inside the barn, she was able see quite well. It seemed that with the fire burning through the roof in several places, smoke was being vented out, clearing the inside atmosphere slightly. Kathryn could see Kona and Frisco, cowering inside an open stall, with B'Elanna sprawled, face-down, on the barn floor in front of them. Kathryn gasped and ran to B'Elanna's side, kneeling to roll B'Elanna over on her back. As she did, Kathryn was hit from the rear by a tremendous blow that knocked her to the floor and left her reeling. Before she could stagger fully to her feet, Kathryn was attacked by what felt like an enraged mountain lion, simultaneously kicking, clawing, hitting and screaming. Miss Kathryn struggled, but was handicapped by her full-length ball gown - there had been no time for clothing changes after the ball. "Who, or what, in the hell could this be?," she wondered, as she tried frantically to escape from the creature's grasp.

Finally, Miss Kathryn managed to twist around and lash out at her unidentified assailant with one high-heel boot clad foot. As the form doubled over and stepped back, her identity became clear. "Seska?," Kathryn puzzled, "The waitress from the cafe? But" Seska gave a humorless bark of laughter. "You female dog (Vantagenet censors strike again!). I hate you. I've sworn to destroy you and you don't even understand why. You don't care how your actions might affect the lives of others. You just make your decisions without giving any thought to how someone else might suffer. I loved Chakotay. If I had more time with him, back at the Maquis Ranch, I could have convinced him to betray the Maquis Cavalry and join me with the Cardassian Indians. But you and your ranch took him from me. You have ruined my life. Now I will never have him. I will never have his child. You deserve to die, here in this fire that will also burn your pitiful ranch to the ground."

B'Elanna, who had since regained her senses, watched the two women rush together and renew their battle. B'Elanna realized that the large support beam directly above the struggling women was about to come crashing down. She took two running steps and launched her body through the air, striking Miss Kathryn and knocking her backward across the barn floor. At that very instant, the burning beam crashed to the floor, striking Seska and crushing her body as it fell.

As B'Elanna helped Miss Kathryn to her feet, she said, "We've got to get out of here. Now." The two looked briefly at Seska, but it was obvious that the woman was dead. They ran to the stall, where the two horses still stood, trembling with fear. B'Elanna bent down, ripped two big strips of cloth off her petticoat and handed one to Miss Kathryn. "Here," B'Elanna said, "The horses will be too frightened to follow us out through the flames, but if we tie these blindfolds over their eyes, we will be able to lead them out."

B'Elanna, Miss Kathryn, Kona and Frisco burst out the barn door. They were a little singed and covered with soot and smoke, but in remarkable shape, all things considered. Moments later, the remnants of the barn roof collapsed into the barn, forming, in a sense, the traditional Cardassian Indian funeral pyre for Seska.

Hope that doesn't mess up your story, D'Alaire.

Fire!: The Cave
Vickie T. — 30 Sep 1998, 4:03 PM

Tom and Chakotay landed heavily on a narrow ledge about 15 feet below the surface, rocks and dirt raining down on them from above. At the impact of Chakotay's body, the section of ledge upon which he had landed crumbled beneath him, and he disappeared into the dark.

Tom lay, dazed and gasping for breath, afraid to move for fear he would meet the same fate as Chakotay. As he looked slowly around, he realized that they had fallen through the roof of a large cavern. To his left, the ledge continued out of sight into the darkness. To his right, where the ledge had fallen beneath Chakotay's weight was nothing but sheer cliff. Below, nothing but darkness. As Tom's head cleared, he conducted a brief survey of the damages to his body. "Mmmm. That's going to be a nice goose egg," he thought, as he touched the swelling above his right eye. "Scrapes, bumps, bangs, bruises, but everything seems to be unbroken and in working order." He carefully sat up, trying to determine whether or not the ledge was going to remain firmly affixed to the cliff face. After a few moments inspection, he decided yes, it would. About this time, Tom became aware of the soft moans coming from a few feet below him.

"Chakotay?," he called out, "Can you hear me? Are you hurt?" For a moment there was no reply, then a ragged voice whispered, "I think I've broken my leg. I'm wedged in the rock and I can't move." Tom gingerly inched over to the edge of the ledge and peered over. Chakotay was indeed wedged in a narrow crack between the cliff face and a protruding boulder a few feet below Tom's position. Any attempt on his part to push up out of the crevice might dislodge the boulder and send him crashing to the floor of the cavern somewhere in the darkness below.

In the faint starlight entering the cavern from above, Tom could see another small ledge between himself and Chakotay. If he lowered himelf to that ledge, he would be able to reach Chakotay's hand and pull him free of the crevice in which he was trapped. "I'm coming down to get you, Chakotay."

"No, don't come down here. If that ledge crumbles beneath you, we'll both be killed."

Tom ignored Chakotay's protests and lowered himself to the ledge below. He leaned over and extended his hand to Chakotay. Chakotay just looked at Tom's hand, making no effort to grasp it. "What?," Tom asked with a bitter grin, "You'd rather die than let me save your life?"

The two men gazed into one another's eyes for a full 45 seconds before Chakotay reached up and took a firm grip on Tom's wrist. Chakotay cried out in pain as Tom pulled him up to the smaller ledge, where the two men lay quietly for a few moments, Tom to catch his breath and Chakotay to fight the swirling blackness that threatened to envelop him. Tom then boosted Chakotay up to the ledge above and climbed up behind him.

Yes, a blatant Caretaker ripoff, but by gosh, we were cheated out an important Tom/Chakotay reconciliation scene that should have followed those events, and I'm going to have it even if I have to do it here in Voyager City.

You know, this writing thing isn't so tough. Just freely borrow every dramatic and/or comedic cliche ever used in a TV movie of the week and you've got it licked. :-)

The Cave II: The Really Dark Cave
Vickie T. — 1 Oct 1998, 8:58 PM

Tom did his best to make Chakotay comfortable, although under the circumstances the best he could do was brush the rocks from the spot where Chakotay lay and cushion his head with a folded jacket. Some cautious exploration by Tom had revealed that the narrow ledge widened out to a broad smooth-floored cavern within a few feet, so he grasped Chakotay by the shoulders of his jacket and pulled him into the cavern. Somewhere along the short journey, Chakotay had lapsed into unconsciousness.

Tom laughed softly to himself. "Isn't this just great?," he thought. "Here I am, trapped in a cave for God knows how long with the one man at the Delta Q who hated him." "If I had to be trapped in a cave with a Torres, Chakotay sure isn't the one I would have picked." Tom decided that there was nothing to be done about their situation until sun up when, hopefully, a little light would reach the cavern from the opening above. Tom made himself comfortable, a relative term, given his surroundings, and drifted off to sleep, a smile on his lips as thoughts of the lovely B'Elanna drifted through his mind.

As the first rays of sunlight shone dimly into the cavern, Chakotay gingerly pulled himself up to a sitting position. Every single muscle and bone in his body ached, but his right leg was site of the most excruciating of those pains. "Yes," he thought with a wince, "it is most assuredly broken." Chakotay's gaze fell across the face of the still sleeping young man next to him. "Isn't this just great?," he said to himself, "of all the people I could be stuck in this cave with, it has to be him." "If I had to be trapped in a cave with a Janeway," he thought, "Tom sure isn't the one I would have picked." Chakotay leaned back against the rock wall behind him and closed his eyes.

To Be Continued - but not for much longer, I swear!

Fire!: Under Control
Vickie T. — 2 Oct 1998, 8:47 AM

The sun was just beginning to rise over the mountains to the east as the last of the fires burning at the Delta Q were finally brought under control. Miss Kathryn stood in the courtyard, hands on her hips, and surveyed the damages. Fully half of the Delta Q's outbuildings were in ruins and the main house had both some fire and water damage. They hadn't yet been able to take a full accounting of the livestock, but, sadly, it appeared that they had indeed lost at least a few of the horses. Thank heaven there were no human casualties - aside from the barmaid Seska who had presumably been reduced to ashes along with the Big Barn.

Fortunatly for the tired and hungry firefighters, the Delta Q bunkhouse and crew kitchen were unscathed and Hop-Sing-Neelix, the ranch's head cook and twin brother of the late Deputy Neelix, was hard at work on a hearty breakfast. Miss Kathryn expressed her most heartfelt gratitude to the Voyager City firemen and townspeople who had helped fight the fires and invited them all to have a bite to eat and if they liked, to bed down in the bunkhouse for some rest before they headed back to Voyager City.

As the crowd moved off toward the dining hall, B'Elanna approached Kathryn. "I'm worried about Tom and Pa, Miss Kathryn. Shouldn't they be back by now?"

"No, B'Elanna," Miss Kathryn replied, after pondering the question for a moment or two. "I'm sure that the cattle were quite restless after the midnight roundup and the cowhands wouldn't want to leave the herd unattended. I'm sure Tom and Chakotay, along with the others, simply decided to stay out on the range until they could be sure that the cattle would be okay. Don't worry, they'll be along later this morning. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm headed straight for a bath and some clean clothes."

"Yes," said B'Elanna, "As soon as I make one final check on the horses."

To be continued - I'm almost done, really I am.

The Cave III: Trapped!
Vickie T. — 2 Oct 1998, 8:26 PM

After about an hour, the sun was high enough in the sky to provide a diffuse light through the cavern. Tom gave the place a thorough inspection and determined that there was no point of egress aside from the hole in the ceiling they had fallen through the night before. Tom did, however, discover a basin in the side wall of the cavern into which water dripped from some spring or runoff point above. The water had a strong metallic taste, but seemed perfectly safe to drink. Tom drank his fill then used Chakotay's hat to bring water back to the ranch foreman.

Tom knelt close to Chakotay's side as he handed over the makeshift bucket. Chakotay studied Tom's face, then, without warning, drew back his fist and hit Tom on the jaw with all the force he could muster from his awkward position. Chakotay then cried out in pain and put both hands around his knee in an attempt to steady his broken leg.

Tom landed flat on his back, a few feet away from Chakotay. Under more normal circumstances, Tom would have attacked the man, both fists flying. However, there was no way he could take a swing at the injured man, no matter how much he had been provoked. The highly unsual situation caused Tom to resort to an action that he, like all men, hated above any other - he began to talk about what had just happened.

"What in the h*ll was that for?," he asked Chakotay, as he rubbed his jaw.

Chakotay pointed at Tom's face. "I was married to a Klingon Indian woman for 16 years. I know what that represents," he said, clearly referring to the bite-shaped bruise on Tom's cheek.

Tom, with an uncharacteristic flash of insight, related, perhaps, to the recent blow on the head, suddenly understood what Chakotay must be feeling. B'Elanna was, after all, Chakotay's daughter, not just his only remaining family, but the only visible reminder of a woman Chakotay had loved deeply for many years. To see B'Elanna fall in love with any man would be difficult. How much more difficult, then, must it be to see his daughter love a man that he believed to be a thief, a scoundrel, a man with no solid moral fiber.

"Chakotay," Tom said softly, "I know what you think of me. And I know that you have good reason to think those things. I haven't always behaved, well, like a gentleman should. But I'm not like that anymore. I've grown up in the last few years. If you think about it honestly, you'll realize that's true. And you know what, I love your daughter. Yeah, that's right, I love B'Elanna and I intend to marry her and be the best husband any woman could ever wish for."

With that, Tom picked up Chakotay's hat and walked over to the basin for another try at getting the injured man a drink. Tom wasn't sure who was more surprised at his confession - Chakotay or himself. Chakotay still hadn't said a word in response to Tom's outburst and he remained silent as he drank from the hat Tom handed him.

Suddenly, both men heard faint sounds coming from above.

The Cave IV: Still Trapped!
Vickie T. — 2 Oct 1998, 8:49 PM

It sounded like voices, shouting, from up above. Tom ran over under the opening in the cavern's ceiling and began to shout. "Hello! Is anybody up there? We're down here! Can you hear us? Hello! Help!" Tom's head sagged and his shoulders slumped as he realized that whoever had been up there hadn't heard his shouts and was moving away.

"Well," he said, as he walked back to take a seat just out of Chakotay's reach, "I guess we're still trapped."

The two men sat in silence for some time. Finally, Chakotay spoke. "I heard that Harry told your Mother about the Kazon stealing her jewelry." Tom grunted in reply. "So," Chakotay asked, "just how did you pay off your gambling debts?" Figuring that there was no longer any reason to keep it a secret since the loan was paid in full, Tom explained his arrangement with Miss Julie and the bank.

Again, both men fell silent, lost in thought. After some time had passed, Chakotay asked Tom to bring him some more water. When Tom handed over the hat full of water, Chakotay said, "You'll have to wait a while."

Tom looked at him in confusion. "What?"

"Well," Chakotay replied, "I can't walk her down the aisle with a broken leg, now, can I?"

"Yes, sir. I mean no, sir. I mean, yes, sir, we'll wait," Tom stammered, with a big grin on his face.

Suddenly, the grin vanished. "I haven't actually asked her yet. What if she says no?"

It was Chakotay's turn to grin. [Author's note: and a d@mn fine lookin' grin it was, too.]

Both men once again fell silent, but this time the atmosphere in the cavern was noticeably warmer.

Fire: The Search
Vickie T. — 2 Oct 1998, 9:16 PM

After a bath, a few hours sleep, and a quick breakfast, Miss Kathryn headed out to inventory the damage to the Delta Q. As she stepped out into the middle of the courtyard she saw B'Elanna and Ayala out in the field administering first aid to the horses that had been injured in the fire or in the rush to escape from the barns. She wondered why Tom and Chakotay hadn't returned yet, but was not overly concerned.

Kathryn noticed that B'Elanna looked up and then began to run towards her. At that moment, she became aware of hoofbeats heading up the drive. Turning, she saw Cowgirl Vickie and a few other local ranch hands, leading JTM and the livery horse that Tom had been riding last night. There was no sign, however, of either Tom or Chakotay.

B'Elanna reached Miss Kathryn and the little group of riders as Cowgirl Vickie was saying "...the horses, but no sign of them. We looked around and called for them, but we didn't see or hear anything. We stayed as long as we could, but the men needed sleep and food. We'll head back out after everybody has a chance to eat and get a few hours of sleep."

Miss Kathryn and B'Elanna both replied, "We've already had some food and rest. We'll gather up the Delta Q hands and head for Ice Box Canyon right now."

To be continued (and finished!) tomorrow.

The Cave: The Rescue Part 1
Vickie T. — 4 Oct 1998, 9:19 PM

Geesh, I've been trying all day to get on here to finish up my Cave story and I was getting quite agitated. I was beginning to think I was going to have to sign up for one of those internet addiction therapy groups. But now that I'm getting my fix again, I think I'll hold off on that therapy.


The blast of an explosion reverberated around the cavern. Tom and Chakotay huddled together in an attempt to protect themselves from the rocks which fell from the roof. They both suffered from fits of violent coughing from dust cloud surrounding them.

"Great," said Tom, "the fall didn't kill us, but now we're going to die in a cave-in."

"Look on the bright side, Tom," offered Chakotay. "At least we're getting out of pulling of that hare-brained jail break your Mother insisted on."

"Well," Tom said with a small grin, "when you put it that way, a little rock rainshower doesn't seem so bad after all, does it?"


"Damn, this is getting serious," Tom exclaimed, as the two men huddled ever closer, Tom doing his best to help shield Chakotay's broken leg from the rocks falling all around them. A boulder the size of a basketball fell, striking a glancing blow to Tom's shoulder and knocking him into Chakotay's lap. As Chakotay helped pull Tom back into a sitting position, he said, "Look, just because you intend to ask my daughter to marry you, doesn't mean we need to get to know each other that well." Tom just shook his head and rolled his lovely blue-gray eyes.


The cavern wall across from Tom and Chakotay began to slowly disintegrate into fine dust and pebbles. Once again, rocks, dislodged from the cavern's wall and ceiling above the two men, fell down around and on them. By this time, both men were bleeding from head wounds, Tom's left arm was completely numb from being struck by a large rock, and Chakotay was in agony from the jostling of his broken leg. They could do no more than huddle together and endure whatever might befall them next.

"Tom, I know what a shock it was to you to lose your Pa in that stampede. And I know you think he was disappointed in you, wondering like he did about that jewelry. But I knew your Pa and I know this: If he could see the man you've become today, he'd be real proud."

RE: The Cave: The Rescue Part 2
Vickie T. — 4 Oct 1998, 9:48 PM

Tom looked up at Chakotay with tears in his eyes. "Dang dust," he muttered, "gettin' in my eyes." Chakotay merely nodded in agreement.

Then, both men looked up, mouths gaping open, dumbfounded with surprise. Some sort of apparition appeared to be standing where the far wall of the cavern had been only a few minutes before. As the dust in the cavern began to settle, the apparition took shape. It looked like...yes, it was...a tall man, with a beard, holding a miner's pick in one hand and a ceramic goose in the other. Old Man Miles, the prospector!

The men stared at one another in silence. Then, Old Man Miles spoke. "Yer wasting yer time, boys. This claim's mine. Already got her registered down to the deed office in Voyager City." As he turned and walked away, back down the tunnel through which he had entered the cavern, the prospector tossed these parting words over his shoulder, "And don't be thinking of pickin' up any of this here ore on yer way out, neither!"

As Tom and Chakotay made their way out of the tunnel, blinking furiously at the sunlight, they could see a group of riders in the canyon below. They recognized Miss Kathryn, B'Elanna, Lee-Marie and a handful of the Delta Q hands. Tom eased Chakotay to the ground and moved toward the group, shouting and waving his hands. "Ma!" "B'Elanna!" "Up here!"

The Delta Q riders spotted Tom and sprinted towards him. B'Elanna reached Tom first and flung herself off her horse and into Tom's arms. "Oh, Tom, I was so worried. What happened? Where's Pa?" Tom pointed a few yards back up the hill. Kathryn dismounted and started toward Chakotay, but she was nearly run down by Lee-Marie, who dashed at full speed to her foreman's side. Miss Kathryn's eyes narrowed as she paused, then turned to Tom, embracing him with tears of joy - and perhaps a few of frustration and jealousy - springing to her eyes.

"Let's get you two into town to the Doc," Miss Kathryn said.

The End...I'm Finished...Stick a fork in me 'cause I'm done. Hope you liked it.