"I would have liked to have met your father," she says, once I've finished.

"Hmmm. I'm not sure you would have gotten along well."

"Why not?" She sits up, genuinely interested.

"Well let's see." I tick the offences off on my hand. "You're a Captain in Starfleet. You've never been to Dorvan V. And . . ." I lean in towards her, secretively. "You always give his son *such* a hard time."

She laughs. "You know what, Chakotay? I think that probably would have worked in my favor."

"I think you're probably right." I agree.

"There's lots I don't know about you, isn't there?" Her tone is slightly apologetic.

"Kathryn, I know it's hard to believe, but a Captain doesn't have to know everything about her crew."


"In fact, there's lots you don't know."

Idle Speculation
by Ragpants

"Well, I'm all done in. Think I'll head toward bed. G'night." Rose Hallowell, Voyager's Information Services Officer, pushed away from the table in the mess hall and gathered up her tea mug to leave.

An uneven chorus of "Goodnight, Rose" sounded from around the table as the four remaining at the table watched the older woman walk toward the dish recycling bin.

Lucy Tsosie glanced diffidently at the retreating back of her duty station supervisor and asked, "Think we should have asked her to stay?"

In the chair next to Lucy, Lizzie O'Connell snorted derisively. "Why should we? She's so quiet. Half the time you'd never even know she's there."

Rob Martinson leaned back farther into his seat. "Maybe it's a librarian thing. They're always sushing people," he suggested.

" I dunno, " said Lizzie, narrowing her eyes suspiciously at the departing woman's shape, "I don't like people who are too quiet. It's like they have something to hide."

"Rose? Good old Rose. Have something to hide? You've got to be kidding!" Rob threw his head back, rolled his eyes and chuckled at the thought.

"I dunno," Lizzie repeated, "There's just something about her......." Her voice tailed off.

Lydia Chavez, the fourth at the table, rolled her eyes meaningfully at Lucy as Lizzie was speaking. "Anyone know anything about Rose?" she interrupted suddenly, trying to ward off another one of Lizzie's eternally convoluted and ever-changing conspiracy theory conversations. "Ever hear her say anything about where's she's from? About her life before she came aboard Voyager?"

Welcoming the diversion, Lucy shyly ventured, "I....I think she might be married. Anyways, she has a picture of a couple of boys on her desk and they look like her."

Rob nodded. "You're right she does. I've seen it. And I've heard her talk about someone named George."

"Yeah. George, that's right. Must be her husband," Lydia added, leaning forward and warming to the discussion. "George is some sort of scientist. I remember her mentioning that a couple of times."

"Right. George, George. They have different last names too. His is King..., Kling..., Klingman, Kleeman. Something like that. Kleebank. Kleebank, that's it." Rob grinned in triumph.

"George Kleebank---you're kidding." Harry Kim had wandered past the table carrying his mug of after dinner coffee and now entered the conversation.

Rob frowned as he considered his recollection. "No. I think that's right. Why?"

"Geez, haven't you ever heard of George Kleebank? Won the Cochrane prize in 2371? On the short list for the Nobel and ZeeMagnees Prizes? You know, the warp physicist?" Harry looked pointedly at B'Elanna Torres who dragged over a chair to the table and was now sitting between Rob and Lucy. "'The behavior of quantum electro fluidic warp n-particles in an asynchronous k-dimensional subspace fields'? Ring a bell, Ms. Chief Engineer?"

"HIM?" Torres sputtered, smacking her coffee mug down on the table. "That George Kleebank? Shit, that's explains alot."

"Alot?" prompted Lydia, curious at this turn of the conversation.

"About why she's here. I'd be desperate to get away from him too. The man's a real prick. One of my engineering instructors at the Academy did a post doc with him. Hated Kleebank's guts. Said he was a real arrogant son of bitch. Convinced he's not only got all the answers, but all the fucking questions as well. A real tight-ass perfectionist who liked to squeeze everyone's nuts--just for fun. A real bastard." Torres shook her head in empathy.

"Poor Rose," murmured Lucy with quiet sympathy.

"Yeah. Poor Rose. Married to an asshole like that," agreed Lydia, "No wonder she was unhappy."

"That's a bitch......" Lizzie exuded mock sympathy, then continued cattily, "Still doesn't explain why she's still just a lieutenant though. The woman must be what? 45? 48? Something like that?"

"At least," echoed Rob fervently.

"Bet you she's fifty.... fifty-five if she's a day," sniped Lizzie, grinning.

Harry's eyes widened as the he processed the information . "Wow! Fifty-five and still only a lieutenant. That's pretty bad."

"Watch it Harry, at the rate your promotions are coming, you'll be a 55 year old lieutenant," Tom Paris jibed as he nudged B'Elanna to move over so he could share her seat.

"Not fair, Tom!" Harry protested, "Our situation here on Voyager is entirely unique."

"Riiiiiiiiiight," Tom intoned sarcastically.

"Still, she must have really done something big to really piss off the brass if she's still just a two pip," offered Lydia.

"Yeah. Must have been something really terrible." A round of affirmative nods greeted Rob's comment.

Attracted the growing group of after-dinner conversationalists, Kyle Landrum sauntered over just in time to catch the last part of the discussion. "Hey, where did you say she's from?" he asked.

"Earth," replied Lucy with certainty. "She used to live somewhere in Europe. We talk about Earth sometimes when things are slow down in the IS office. But that's as much as I remember...... Zurich? Paris?" She shook her head signaling her uncertainty. "It's one of those big towns, but I'm just a sheep camp girl myself so....."

"Paris?" the voice of Josiah Saunders asked. He had just come into the mess hall from his lonely duty station in Brig and was immediately attracted by the convivial group in the center of the room.

Lucy shrugged.

"I had a friend," Saunders continued genially, "Who was stationed at Federation Headquarters for awhile--embassy duty. He told me a story about a starfleet database management specialist who got caught in en flagrante with the Tellarite ambassador. And if I remember--- it was kind of kinky---something about hot fat and frying pans. Big scandal. BIG scandal. It got hushed up of course. The Tellarites are awfully touchy about miscegenation, but everyone knew about it. People talked about it for weeks. Months."

"Rose and the Tellarite ambassador?" chortled Lydia, screwing her eyes shut "I can't picture it.......oh god! Yes, I can!" She covered her mouth with her hand and giggled into it.

"Wow!" Harry exclaimed, his eyes widening even more.

"I'd never have guessed," B'Elanna snickered.

"How'd she end up on Voyager, then?" asked Ayala who had drifted over to join the noisy group. "I mean the brass must have wanted her out of the way, but on Voyager? Seems strange to me."

"Like chasing Maquis terrorists in the Badlands out beyond DS9 in the ass end of nowhere isn't way out of the way?" snorted B'Elanna, and thumped Tom in the ribs with her elbow to halt his hands which had wandered too far up her thigh in public.

"I always thought she'd been assigned to do a new system evaluation on the neural gel pack processors/ crystal lattice storage interface?" commented Harry, sidling around so he had a better view of the door and whoever might be entering.

"She was," confirmed Lucy. She and Lt. Hallowell had long ago completed the report in question.

"I'm confused, then," commented Lizzie, frowning in puzzlement, "Doesn't that mean she should have come with Voyager from Space Dock on Earth? I mean shouldn't she have been familiar and working with the system before Voyager left on the Badlands mission?"

"Probably. Why?" B'Elanna answered, a puzzled line creasing her ridged brow.

"She boarded Voyager at DS9," Lizzie continued. "I remember that distinctly. She and I were assigned to share quarters there while waiting for all of Voyager's personnel to show before we pulled out. She got there right before departure--almost didn't make it. I had a room to myself the whole time I was waiting." Lizzie's smirk suggested how she had used her unexpected privacy.

"Really?" asked Security Second-in-Command Dave Martinez, drifting over coffee cup in hand to eavesdrop on the group. "What ship did she come in off of?"

"The Babbage."

"The Babbage? That ship's assigned to intelligence,"

"And just how do you know?" challenged Tom Paris.

Martinez looked around the group a bit warily then took a breath. "I used to date a girl on Starbase 7. She worked security there. Saw alot of things. Things she wasn't supposed to talk about, but, hell, with me being in security too and all she figured.....well, you know, shop talk." He grimaced in embarrassment. "Let's just say she was in a position to know. And the Babbage is definitely assigned to covert intelligence."

Several uncomfortable looks were exchanged around the table as Maquis looked to Maquis and back.

"Wonder if that mean Rose was a spider?" mused Martinez softly, half to himself.

"Spider?" Neelix inquired, wiping his hands on his apron as he joined the large cluster of people around the table. "Isn't that some sort of ...oh...a.....horrible, hairy Earth arachnid?"

A slight look of amusement spread across the normally somber security man's face. "Not that kind of spider," Martinez clarified. "A spider is what we in the business call an intelligence analyst. The one who pulls all the strings in the intelligence net. You know. A spider. Covert ops....... a spymaster."

A small round of gasps went around the table.

"A spy. Damn!. Well, that certainly explains why she's never talks much." Lizzie grinned in triumphant.

"Our Rose. A spy. Who'd have figured?" Rob clucked as he shook his head in disbelief. "Who'd have figured?"

And in her bed, Lt. Rose Hallowell, aged 42 and single, former resident of Prague and niece of Dr. George Kingman --professor of plant sciences at Purdue University, a data system analyst in Contracts and Accounting at Starfleet headquarters in San Francisco, who had been assigned TDY to Voyager to evaluate the gel pack-memory interface because the specialist originally assigned to the duty had broken his leg and missed the transport to Space Dock, slept with the unfretful peace of the naturally reticent.

* * *

"Rose? Our Rose?" She tips her head back and laughs, for the first time that night. I stretch my legs out, and rest them on top of the coffee table.

"Apparently so."

"And pray tell, Commander, just how did you find this out? I hope you weren't involved in any of this idle speculation."

"No Ma'am," I mock saluted. "I was relayed the entire tale the next morning, by the Doctor."

Kathryn almost choked on the drink she had been sipping. "The Doctor?"

"Don't you know Kathryn, if you want to find something out, chances are the Doctor will know."

She shook her head in amazement.

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