Annual Report

Tom paced nervously outside the Captain's quarters. He had fifteen minutes before he was scheduled to see her but he couldn't wait. He'd already tried, pacing his quarters, hanging out at Sandrine's then finally wandering the decks. Despite it all he was here, early, and entirely unable to stand still.

He couldn't be blamed, of course. Last year's annual report had turned out disappointly for him and he was anxious that this year's be better. Three years on the Voyager -- one would think he would have a favourable report by now. He hadn't expected one the first year. Back then he had still been the convict, the outsider, here on sufferance and not to be treated otherwise. The Maquis' opinion of the believed traitor hadn't helped matters.

The second year he had done better. He'd proven himself to his Captain and to his friends -- few though there were. Not enough to warrent the sort of report he was hoping for now, but at least not entirely disheartening. Last year had been the real disappointment. He'd won the respect of all but the most stubborn former Maquis, even rated favourable reviews from Commander Chakotay more often than not. His friends had become closer, he'd gained a few more he could call close. Saved a few more lives, rescued a few more comrades, surely -- he'd thought then -- he'd done enough to get a good annual report.

Janeway had given him the news as gently as she could. It was a small ship, as if that needed to be pointed out. There was only so much she could do. Once the report was finalized by the analysis program it was a done deal. Nothing to do but work towards next year.

He had done so. Worked harder than ever, tried to curb his more sarcastic comments and spent more time trying to turn himself into a better person as well as the better officer he'd already become. He'd even signed up to visit the holographic counselling program to deal with some of his more hidden problems.

Maybe if he failed again this year, the Captain would fudge the results. It wasn't like the Star Fleet Behavioural Review Board would be visiting soon. Tom stopped pacing and leaned back against the bulkhead. He had to get a good report this year. He had to. There was no way he could face another failure. Last year he'd maintained because of sheer pride. This year to hell with pride. He just wanted a good report. He'd even take Neelix...

"Come in."

Tom jerked to his feet, barely aware that the fifteen minutes had passed. Time flies when you're obsessing, he reflected. Quickly -- but not too desperately, he hoped -- he stepped up to the door and entered.

"Captain."

"Tom, you're right on time. Please, sit down." She indicated the chair opposite hers, safely on the other side of the table. Tom made his way to it, not glancing towards the Padd in her hands. He didn't think about the report she might have just been finishing up. He didn't want to know, and gossip would give him all the interesting news anyway.

He stilled his leg, bouncing slightly. Janeway gave him a slight grin -- sympathetic, even she had to undergo this annual review. She never had any problem passing hers, Tom reminded himself. Last year it was Chakotay. This year it sounds like it's going to be Seven of Nine. Some of the gossip had already begun, of course.

"Are you ready?"

"As I'll ever be," Tom answered honestly. That was one thing he'd learned. There were some people, and some times, when honestly was the best policy.

She briefed him before handing over the padd. He knew it all, but policy required she reiterate them. "Many of the questions are the same. The rest have been generated in light of your responses from the previous years. All your answers must be as honest and clearly stated as you can make them. Suspicion of dishonesty will lower your chance to score."

Tom grinned sardonically at that. Janeway returned the look, and then continued.

"You have one hour to complete the questions. Do you have any questions?"

"No, Captain."

"Then... here you go." She handed him the padd. Tom felt his stomach bunch up; he ignored it and forced himself to concentrate. There was too much at stake to screw this up. Why they had to subject themselves to this he was never completely sure. He'd heard all the standard lectures, of course. On a small spaceship with a set complement of crew, certain things could not be left to chance. A starship had to run smoothly, and part of ship's operations were the interactions of crewmembers. If personalities clashed and tempers flared uncontrollably, disaster could result.

Similarly, friendships could hinder smooth operations if the crew became more concerned for each other than for the ship's commands. Hence the annual review to determine partnerships for the year based on state of the art psychological profiling programs in the Federation. No matter how one might complain, Tom knew that no starship had ever been lost due to "crew error" since the policy was established. That's what they said at teh Academy, anyway.

He began with the first question.

"What is/are your prefered species, gender, and number of partners?" He quickly typed in the answers, same each year. Bipedal species category 18, male/female/neuter on a descending scale of preference, one or less than five. He answered the next several questions quickly, concerning his sexual history, updating his off-ship liaisons. Why the thing couldn't just check his logs he didn't know. He hadn't had the opportunity for off-ship liaisons since they arrived in this quadrant.

Then the questions got detailed.

"Do you prefer to spit or swallow?"

"Do you prefer to kiss or avoid kissing after oral sex?"

"Do you prefer to be shaved or unshaven? Preference for your partner(s)?"

These he answered quickly as well, though he still felt like blushing. It wasn't like the Captain didn't know all this from last year, anyway. The checklist of activities was tricky, though, because he always wondered if that was where he tripped himself up. He wasn't about to get himself paired with someone who liked whips, but maybe he could live through the being tied up if it just meant he'd get to have sex. He checked all the safe ones -- those he really enjoyed, but weren't too deviant to rule out possible partners. Then he pondered.

Animals? Holocharacters? On the bridge? Strawberry jam?

He didn't have much time to waste on this section, he knew. Finally he just went with the safe ones, figuring that if he got a good match they could work up to doing something more interesting later in the year.

The personal questions were next. He hated these usually, but this year he'd done a lot of extra work on his psyche. Maybe he'd get a chance to prove himself.

"Have you recovered from all sexual related traumas suffered before the age of twelve?"

Tom keyed in the code Dr. Gorec, his holographic counseler had given him. It reflected a certain level of recovery -- what level Tom didn't know, but he had stopped having nightmares every third of the month and on relatives' birthdays.

"Have you recovered from sexual traumas suffred after the age of twelve?"

Tom hesitated, then keyed in the second code. Gorec had only two months ago convinced Tom to admit they had been traumas. That was probably enough to kick him out of consideration for any sexual liaisons this year, Tom realised. Surely there was someone on board who wanted to have sex with someone who needed a little emotional support.

If there were, he'd been paired with them before now, Tom told himself. Depressed, he answered the last questions and then laid his thumb over the sensor. When it beeped, he handed it to the Captain.

"There you go." He tried to keep his doubt out of his voice, but the Captain either heard it, or saw it in his face.

"Relax, Tom. You've done remarkable things this past year. Surely the report will reflect that."

Tom just shrugged. He watched, trying to appear unconcerned, as she ran the Padd's contents through the analysing program. They waited as it worked, and in a surprisingly short time it beeped. Tom felt his insides tighten. Would it...?

Janeway looked at the Padd. For a second her face was expressionless; Tom wanted to bolt from her quarters. Then she smiled.

Tom wanted to scream.

"Congratulations, Tom." She smiled up at him. Tom yalped, leaping to his feet. He spun once, then faced her, waiting for the good news. Rather, for the good news' important detail.

"You'll be paired with Commander Chakotay this year. Congratulations, Tom. He's an excellent partner." The last was said with a distinct gleam, but Tom hardly noticed. He forced out a "thank you" as he rushed out.

He ran to Chakotay's cabin and knocked loudly.

When Chakotay opened the door, Tom pushed him back inside. "I haven't had sex in four years, Chakotay. Let's skip the usual formalities, OK? Fuck me first and I'll sign all the contracts later."