Tristan McGregor wasn’t sure what he had done to deserve it or how it could have been any more perfect. After the years of his growing fondness for Beth developed into an unshakeable desire, then a deep and unmitigated love, here she was laying in his arms in her bed on the Enterprise. The fact that she was an incredible lover only cemented his adoration of her.
Over the past year while they served on the Panther together, and especially since the Battle of Telanus almost took her away, she had been giving hints that she was beginning to feel the same way about him; her glances lasted a little longer, her smiles were just a little sweeter and, if the opportunity presented itself, her touches were softer and... lingered.
There was no way in hell he was going to say anything that might have spoiled it all. She was his CO. It was a line that she would never have crossed and he knew it, and he understood it, and most importantly he respected it, so he never placed her in the position of having to cross that line, or worse - put her in a position of having to say no.
The last three months on the Panther had been especially difficult. He thought he could see pain in her eyes when he would leave her office or her quarters after a meeting and he realized it was the same pain he felt - the pain of unfulfilled desire. He had to tear himself away from her and he started to comprehend that she was also doing the same. It was awful. It was only then that he grasped that it really might become a distraction in the command structure - the very thing they both wanted to avoid.
Unbeknownst to her, he had filed a request for transfer with Admiral Janeway. As much as he loved the Panther, he loved Beth more and would sacrifice his budding career as a border dog if it meant that he could take the chance to tell her and show her how he felt. Even if it meant taking an XO position on a garbage scow he would do it.
Janeway contacted him via subspace within minutes of receiving the unusual request form. It had been submitted without the consent, or even knowledge of his CO and Janeway had called him on it.
“Mac,” she began, “I just got the most ridiculous transfer request form from the Panther. It’s completely out of line with regulations. Riker hasn’t signed off on it nor is there any comment from her in the CO portion of the form.” Janeway leaned forward toward the camera waving a padd in her hand and Tristan could see the concern in the Admiral’s eyes grow with surprise. “You and Riker have had one of the best command team records of any pair in Starfleet. What the hell’s going on? I know Riker can be a bit of a non-traditionalist like I know you are, but I thought you two got along! Are things so bad that you’d actually breach regs to get away from her? I thought you loved the Panther! What the hell happened?”
Tristan was gutted. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to tell the Admiral the truth. Telling her the truth would have cemented his transfer, an odd thing to have to worry about considering he was asking for a transfer, but he felt that somehow the transfer would be laced with a negative connotation as opposed to him just being able to quietly move out. Suddenly he regretted everything he had done in the past five years, including taking his first post on the Panther.
Why did I ever let Shaughnessy talk me in to this? My life was fine. I was a good tactical officer. I could have done just fine staying on the Coronado. But no, I let him recommend me to this post and then I just had to let myself fall in love with...
“Mac.” Janeway interrupted his thoughts. “Are you even listening to me? Are you okay?” Her expression lightened and a mischievous smile began to pull upwards on her cheeks. “Well... I’ll be damned,” she blurted.
He’d been found out. Was he so obvious? Was the look in his eyes now so uncontrolled that by merely looking at him people could tell that he worshiped Beth? He closed his eyes in defeat.
It’ll be a garbage scow.
“I’m sorry Admiral. I don’t know what else to do. I’m head over heels and have been for over a year.” There it was. He just gave up. He threw it out there for the flag officer to do with as she pleased. One thing was for sure, just by letting his feelings be known, his transfer would be assured. There was absolutely no backing out now.
Maybe it’ll be a post at the solitary aid station on Ranitha. I can bury myself in the ice there and no one will ever remember that I existed.
But a sound emitted from the comm that he did not expect. It was a boisterous and hearty laugh.
Oh gods, she laughing at me. Could this get any worse? Ranitha will be a vacation spot compared to where she’s going to send me. Is there any worse spot that Ranitha? The molten salts pits of Hennac perhaps?
The laughter continued and actually started to get louder and more glee-filled.
Tristan simply wanted to die; right there and right in front of Janeway. Let’s just get this god-awful experience over with. Beth is going to kill me then Janeway is going to torch my dead body and send it to Hennac. “So you see why I can’t stay on the Panther Admiral, and you may now understand why I can't approach Captain Riker with my request.”
Janeway’s laugh stopped cold and her eyes flew wide. “Wait, what!? You mean, she doesn’t know how you feel?!”
Perplexed by the officer’s question and a bit incredulous that Janeway would assume he would have done anything against protocol, he shook his head. “Of course not Admiral, Starfleet regulations clearly prohibit romantic relationships between…”
“Oh for Pete’s sake Mac…” Janeway interrupted and slammed the padd in her hand on the desk. “What is it with the Cats? Everyone so worried about protocol - it’s like a bad Yridian soap opera!” she barked with obvious frustration. “You’re the best of the best in Starfleet and yet there are times I wonder whether or not any of you graduated from high school let alone Starfleet Academy.”
McGregor thought he couldn’t blush any harder from embarrassment but he was wrong; he felt additional heat enter his cheeks and ears.
Janeway continued, “When this call ends Mac you just stay put and keep your mouth shut. I have a solution for you but it’ll take a few days. It may not be exactly what you had intended or planned, but it will solve your problem. There’s something I’ve been working on for the past couple of months but I can’t discuss it until I get clearance from the Council. So, do yourself a favor, forget we had this conversation and for the love of God forget that you filed for a transfer. That’s an order! Janeway out.”
His comm screen darkened and he was left in stunned silence staring at the nothingness in front of him.
“What just happened?” he asked himself out loud. “Council? She needs clearance from the Council? For what?”
Little did he know, that Janeway’s plan included a promotion for him and a transfer for Beth - to the Enterprise no less - a transfer that opened up the doors of possibility for them that he never envisioned.
He felt her body stir in his arms and the mere knowledge of the fact that she had made love to him filled him with incredible joy and completion.
If I die tomorrow, I’ll die a happy man...
Story Notes: FLUFFISH :)