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"Hey! Robert! Got something to read to you!" It was Garrett, grinning broadly. "You are the stud of the universe, man. There's this new series of stories someone has been posting where Chakotay's doing Tuvok, Tom and me all at the same time..."

Robert pursed his lips and stared. It was barely seven in the morning, his eyes were hardly open, and his perky young co-star was threatening him with Star Trek fan fiction. How did Garrett find the time to read that shit anyway? Robert knew Garrett's ex-girlfriend Taylor had collected it -- even passed along some stuff by some crazy woman who had wanted to run Robert's fan club, who wrote terrible descriptions of how she wanted to give Chakotay blow jobs.

But that had been four years ago, before Garrett dumped Taylor for a series of lookalike blondes. Maybe Garrett had realized Taylor always hit on Robert at cast parties. Lately Garrett's interests had gotten weird, anyway. He used to bring in steamy Janeway/Chakotay stories or even Janeway/Seven stories just to piss off Kate, but since she'd married the putative future governor of Ohio, Kate wasn't taking the bait. So Garrett had gone back to trying to read aloud the worst of of the fan fiction to Robert, usually stuff about all the men together.

"Who'd I do first?" he asked idly, inspecting his tattoo in the mirror. Fortunately Garrett had been late again, so Robert was about to leave the makeup trailer, while the younger man was just getting started. "I hope not Russ. I bet I'd end up sore..."

"Tuvok," Garrett chided. "You're always saying us when you mean the characters. Kate does the same thing. I love it when she points to you and says, 'I am not having sex with Robert!'" The imitation was dead on; Robert didn't know whether to laugh or flinch. "Hey, have you noticed that since Seven's been on the show, she doesn't fight against Janeway and Chakotay?"

"I've noticed." In fact Kate had tried several times to enlist Robert in her arguments to the producers that perhaps it was time for Janeway and Chakotay to become more involved than they had thus far -- no sex, of course, that wouldn't be dignified, but an erudite, spiritual meeting of the minds, or some bullshit like that.

Robert rolled his eyes. "Who wrote this orgy thing anyway?"

"'HotAtTheHelm.'"

"God help us, a Robert Duncan McNeill fan." Robbie usually put his hands over his ears when Garrett told him about slash fiction. Garrett had been amused, after "The Chute," at all the fans who thought Paris and Kim were in love, but neither Robbie nor his wife thought it that funny. "My fans don't write that slash stuff, do they? I prefer the stories where Janeway, Torres and Seven are all in love with me."

Actually he didn't care whether Roxann was in love with him or not, and with Jeri it was mostly a matter of pride - if Jeri was as happy with Brannon as she said she was, it was too weird for Robert, no matter what she looked like. Since Kate wasn't bothering to get outraged, Garrett didn't bother to bring in the stories about Chakotay making Janeway scream anymore. Robert was relieved, and a little bit sorry even though they embarrassed the hell out of him. It had been more fun when they embarrassed the hell out of Kate.

Walking out of makeup, he bumped into her coming from having her hair done. The helmet hairspray wasn't so bad today. "Good morning," she greeted him with a smile - good, they were going to get Gracious Regal Kate instead of Superior Bitch Kate today. "You're out early."

"I had to get out of there as soon as Garrett came in. At this hour I can't listen to him." She laughed. "Besides, he was reading fan fiction to us again."

"Anything good?"

"Nothing about Janeway breaking the hearts of alien leaders, if that's what you mean." He grinned at her. "It's one of those horny-men-of-Voyager stories."

"Those are better than the horny-women-of-Voyager stories. Maybe I shouldn't complain about Brannon so much. If a fan had written 'Scorpion,' it would have been about one of those scorpion-shaped strap-on vibrators with the little tail that goes up my you-know-where." She showed him what she meant with her hand, bending her middle finger at a suggestive angle.

Robert almost fell over. He could not believe Kate was making cracks about vibrators with him. Or even that she admitted to knowing about vibrators, much less the kind that...oh, fuck. He could feel his face turning colors as Kate started to laugh again, blushing prettily but not looking particularly embarrassed.

"How does a nice Catholic girl like you know about those?" he asked.

"Bachelorette parties." She sounded pleased with herself. "I once saw one that came with a remote control, so someone else could decide when the woman was going to get...buzzed."

"Maybe we should pitch a bachelorette-party-on-Voyager story. Kathryn Janeway could use a dildo."

"Robert!" Kate put her hands on her hips, a perfect image of her character. He had to get out of there. He kept imagining Kate was wearing a little vibrating critter instead of her panties. The image was giving him a big problem; she'd be able to see it in a minute. "I do not need any artificial stimulation," she clarified as he walked past her, whistling.

"Didn't say you did, Kate. But I think Kathryn could use one of those scorpion things. Gives a whole new meaning to 'Queen Arachnia,' doesn't it?" From behind, Kate slapped his ass lightheartedly. "I didn't know you were into B&D." Making an outraged sound, she grabbed his arm to spin him around, and they wrestled playfully for a minute before he knew he had to beat a...hasty retreat, or something. "See you on the set, my queen," he shouted over his shoulder as they headed in opposite directions.

Almost immediately, a diabolical idea came to Robert. He knew he could buy one of those things, but no way was he going to walk into one of those places himself, and he didn't want his name to end up on a mail-order list. Nor could he ask his personal assistant to go out and pick one up -- hah! And then another diabolical idea came to Robert. He still had a while before he had to be on the set. Tracking down the AD, he left word that if anyone needed him, he would be in the Hart Building, talking to Braga.

Of course Braga wasn't working; he was sending messages to someone on America Online. "Brannon? I need a favor," Robert said without preamble, walking into the man's office and shutting the door behind him. Braga cocked his head at him. Since Robert rarely bothered to complain or even ask questions about the scripts anymore, the two of them didn't have much contact. The actor sat on the sofa beside the lamp shaped like a woman's naked torso. He decided it would be easiest to blurt out his request almost like it were a dare, so that Brannon wouldn't ask any questions. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I knew you were the man for this job. I need a present...for a girlfriend. You know those things they make for women, they go on like thong panties but they're shaped like a stingray or a flower..."

"Vibrators?" Brannon's eyes lit up. "I gave those at as party favors a few years ago, the animal kind."

"I need one that looks like a scorpion, and I hear you know all the best places." Brannon probably wasn't above asking HIS personal assistant to go out and pick one up. "It has to be the remote control kind though. The ones where someone else can walk around with the switch."

"This isn't some sort of prank on me, is it?"

"Absolutely not. And, Brannon, please, you cannot tell anyone else about this. Me siento, amigo."

"No problema. I'll be glad to help you out." Braga shook his head like he couldn't believe he'd misjudged the man so badly. Ironically, Robert didn't feel beholden to the executive producer -- it was more like Brannon thought Robert had just done him a favor. "Can I ask who the lucky lady is?"

"You may not." Robert smirked, hoping his face wasn't giving him away. Braga wasn't clever enough to put together the scorpion connection, even though he'd helped write the episode. "I know this is an imposition but I need it fast. How much cash..."

"Don't worry about it, I'll get it from you later. I'll try to get it to your trailer before you leave tonight...ought to be a late one for you anyway." The little shit was smiling broadly. "I had no idea, Robert."

"You still don't. But thanks."

Once he got outside, he felt a little shaky. What in hell had he just done? He had enough of a reputation for being a flirt. If Brannon let this get around, and surely he would...but not right away. He might tell the whole production office, and Jeri, but it would take awhile to filter out to the cast. And by then, Robert wouldn't be the only one cringing when the tale came up.

That evening when he got to his trailer, a PA had left a bulging manila envelope for him. Inside was a stapled bag with a Victorian paisley design on it. Inside that was a plastic pouch containing a black scorpion-shaped clit-tickler and a small white remote control. Brannon had thoughtfully provided batteries. The scorpion was attached to soft nylon straps so a woman could wear it under her panties. It had some sort of electric chip inside the dark jelly material, which was thick at the center but thinned to produce several "legs" and two bulging antennae in the front even though Robert didn't think scorpions had antennae.

And it had a long curly tail with a wire in it, so the tail could be bent to hold a position perpendicular to the wearer's body. Would a woman put it in her...or up her...? The thought made Robert's face get hot and his pants get tight. He lifted the device and sniffed cautiously, wrinkling his nose at the rubbery smell. But when he turned it on and pressed it to his lips, he forgot all about that. It would be something to kiss a woman down there while she was having an orgasm from one of these things.

Deciding he would have to find a gift box to put it in before giving it to Kate, he turned his thoughts to how he was going to convince her to put the damn thing on.

In the morning, during a delay while the set was repaired, Robert knocked on Kate's trailer door. "I brought you a present."

She opened the door in her bathrobe, looking pleased but a little nervous. "What for?"

"Help you get into character." He grinned at her and handed her a half-emptied candy box with the toy inside -- it was all he could find at the all-night drugstore early in the morning on the way to work. Kate flashed him a quizzical look, set the box down on a table, and started to thank him for the chocolates before she noticed what was in the middle.

"What's this?" A pause as she picked it up and realized. "Oh my god." For a minute he thought she was going to kill him, but instead she started laughing raucously. "Where did you get this? Souvenir from one of Brannon's parties?" Robert smiled inscrutably. "You are sick. You are all sick! I'm doing my job surrounded by adolescent males..."

"Are you going to put it on?" he interrupted.

"No!" Her face was scarlet with embarrassment and laughter. She picked it up, turned it around and put the straps over his ears, resting the scorpion on top of his nose. "There. I dare you to come to the set like that."

"I will if you wear it first."

"Not a chance."

"Chicken." Kate snatched the scorpion off his face while Robert made clucking noises at her. "Afraid you're going to like it?"

"I prefer to make love with real men."

"You prefer to make love with men you can program." The comment was more about Janeway than Kate, but it must have hit a little close to home because she stopped smiling. He changed the subject. "You're probably right, Kathryn Janeway's too much of a chicken pussy to wear something like that."

"She is not."

"Prove it."

Kate stared at him defiantly for a minute. Then she spread open the straps with her hands and stepped in, one foot at a time. Robert gawked as she pulled the device up her legs, careful to keep her robe over her hands when she reached her upper thighs. After the scorpion had disappeared under the hem, she straightened. "Satisfied?"

"Let me see."

"No!"

Apparently Kate had been so distracted by the vibrator that she hadn't even noticed the little remote control resting among the chocolates. Robert picked it up. "Then I have to make sure you're wearing it right," he said, and flicked the switch.

A tiny humming noise emanated from between her legs. "Ah!" exclaimed Kate involuntarily. Her eyes went round and her back arched, thrusting her breasts upward as she rose on tiptoe. "Turn it off!" Robert obeyed her, but not so fast that she didn't start undulating where she stood like she had to pee. When the buzzing stopped, she leaned against the wall and pressed a hand over her crotch for a minute, breathing hard.

They stared at each other. Kate looked like she was wavering between killing him and asking him to do it again. Robert wished he could close his mouth, and also wished he could do something about his stiffening cock. When she glanced down so she didn't have to meet his eyes, she stuck her tongue in her cheek like he always did and raised an eyebrow. He felt his cheeks redden with shame.

"Give me that."

"What?!"

"The thing that turns it on."

"Oh." It was his turn to slump in relief, masking just a little disappointment. "Come and get it."

"Robert." Kate took a step forward, palm out, death glare on her face. Flushed, furious, she looked so goddamn beautiful. He wanted so badly to kiss her, and if she came any closer...

He used the only defense mechanism he had. He pressed the button again.

"RoooooooBERT!"

She lunged at him, diving for his wrist, which he pulled up and back so that she fell against him and pinned him to the door in her struggle to get the remote. His entire body was covered with hot, wriggling Kate, and the scorpion was thrumming his thigh. "GOD!" she shrieked. "STOP!" Robert felt a shudder pass through her body, making his cock throb against her belly. He didn't want to humiliate her, so he turned the vibrator off, but kept the remote high in his hand out of her reach.

Kate stayed plastered against him, trying to climb his torso to get to the palm that held the switch. They were both sweaty and disheveled. He ached to lower his head and taste her neck.

"Give it to me," she panted.

"Make me."

"This is harassment."

He almost gave in before he ruined their working relationship. But then, as if to prove her point, she dropped a hand and squeezed his cock through his clothing.

"Nyaah!" She did it again, hard. He felt fluid leaking around the tip. "Kate!"

Kate chuckled throatily. "You see my point."

"I think you see mine."

She shifted, and he thought she was leaving. He pressed the button again, just for a second, realizing as he did so that he had underestimated her -- she'd guessed what he would do, and positioned her crotch so that the vibrations went right through his balls. They moaned together, hanging onto each other to stay upright. Kate's eyes drifted shut. When the scorpion shut down and she recovered, she said, "I'm taking this thing off."

"Want help?"

"No." Taking two steps back, she held his eyes as she slid her hand under her robe and pulled. The straps slid halfway down her legs to catch around her knees. Even though she had panties on, Robert could see that the scorpion glistened damply. Kate pulled it the rest of the way off and put it back in the box with the candy. She picked up the chocolates and held them out to him.

"Want one?"

He couldn't resist. He picked up the sex toy and licked it, letting his tongue linger between the antennae. It tasted more like rubber than like her, but it was worth it anyway for the expression on her face. "Thanks, Kate," he said around a mouthful and handed her the remote control. She buzzed him once in the face, as he had known she would. "Mmm."

"Mmm what?"

"Didn't you like it?"

Her eyes dropped guiltily. "Robert, I'm a married woman..."

"I know." Robert hoped he didn't sound as sarcastic as he thought. "I didn't think vibrators were cheating. Like holograms. Doesn't count."

"You sound like the President."

"You're the one who married a hotshot Democrat. And I didn't say anything about oral sex."

"You just had my scorpion in your mouth!" Kate burst out laughing helplessly. She strode across the room and began to push him bodily toward the door. "Go. Give me that. No, never mind, take it. Just...go."

"How about I leave it? You can put it on and call the great love of your life." Whichever one it is this week, he added silently. He wished that she weren't so beautiful, and that he didn't want her so badly. She pulled at the scorpion, drawing it down between them. Robert pressed it against her pelvis and squeezed her hand in his, making her turn it on.

"Stop that!" Angling forward, Kate knocked the toy against his lower body, but he had already seized the advantage, prying the remote from her fingers as she quivered with the vibrations. Now she had him pressed against the door again, but this time he had to hold the scorpion against her with his hand. The hot buzzing feeling shot all the way up his arm.

"Don't do this to me..." Kate moaned, making no little effort to escape. She was practically straddling the hand that held the scorpion. He realized she was trying to trap it between them again, so that he was feeling the effects in the same places she was. Surprised, Robert shifted so that he held only the straps in his hands, letting the body of the scorpion rest directly over his stiff cock. Kate moved with him, spreading her legs to press the damn thing against him.

Jesus Fucking Christ. Robert let out an involuntary groan, watching Kate's eyes roll shut and her mouth fall open. He was going to have to take it back about her being chicken. Especially since he was going to have to cry uncle before he embarrassed himself. He tried to focus on something distracting, but she filled his senses -- the deep blue of her eyes, the way her hair smelled, the sound of her whimpers. Kate's hands closed around his forearms, crushing her breasts against his chest. The robe gaped open, giving Robert a magnificent view down the freckled expanse to the dark knot of her left nipple. He knew from the tight, hot feeling at the base of his cock that he had to stop, and he also knew that if he could hold on a few more seconds, she might lose control before he did. And then everything would be worth it.

Robert angled his hands, trying to bring the scorpion's little wire tail up between her legs, but instead he moved it along the length of his cock. Kate responded by pressing down, adding even more stimulation to the burning feeling in his balls. A growl rose in Robert's throat. She wasn't even pretending not to be enjoying herself -- head back, eyes squeezed shut, little "ahh" sounds escaping from her open lips. He could have kissed her, but he was afraid it would throw off their balance.

Then Kate let out an unmistakable cry of pleasure, bouncing up and down on him as her legs tightened around his and her fingernails dug into his arms. Her entire body seemed to cramp and spasm. She tossed her head from side to side, screamed sharply, swallowed, choked out "Oh, God," and began to cry out again. Robert knew that he was lost, that in a moment he would lose control as completely as she, with far more evident results to the world at large, that she would never let him live it down, that she would make him pay for it a million different ways...and also that he wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.

"Oh, God, yes, God, yes," Kate was chanting, a smile breaking across her flushed, shining face. Without breaking contact or even letting up, she slid down so that her pelvic bone rather than her crotch would take the brunt of the vibrations throttling his cock. Her hands left his forearms to circle his neck. She wasn't stopping even if she was finished. Which meant she wanted him to come. No way he could refuse that sort of invitation. Robert leaned as far forward as he could, pressed his face into her hair, and let her and the scorpion push him over the edge until his brain exploded, just like in the episode.

When he returned to consciousness, throat dry from shouting, he wondered which of them had turned off the vibrator. Then he realized his hands had turned to jelly and let it slide to the floor. Belatedly he flipped the remote in his palm so he could switch it off. Kate still had her arms around his neck, so he hugged her and relaxed into her softness for a minute. Yet they had trouble looking at one another when they separated, and Robert excused himself quickly to borrow her bathroom, to wipe up as much of the mess in his clothes as he could. His briefs were soaked, but not much was showing through. Facing Kate was going to be scarier than anyone he might run into between her trailer and his.

Yet Robert found her sitting on the couch with the candy box beside her, slurping at a chocolate-covered cherry in between drags on a cigarette. The scorpion was nowhere in sight. Kate looked gratifyingly content, so much so that he decided not to be embarrassed.

"That little device is extraordinary," she said philosophically, cracking him up.

"Yes."

"Mind if I keep it?"

"That was the idea." He hoped she would remember who gave it to her every time she touched it, and prayed she never found out Braga had had anything to do with it. "Enjoy it."

Kate smiled at him. "What inspired this, Robert?"

"Hmmm. Test of character?"

"Yours or mine?"

"Captain Janeway's." Kate laughed again. "I think she passed. I have to go, Kate, I have to change my clothes before we're due on the set."

"I know." Kate rose to walk him to the door. "Want any of the candy?"

"No thanks. I have to watch my figure."

He patted his butt, then she reached out with a grin and echoed the gesture. Despite the awkwardness and his uncomfortable, wet underwear, his cock stirred again at the feel of her hand on his ass. So much for the theory that the mystery would be gone. Robert thought that if he'd known she'd be so relaxed around him after a meaningless sexual encounter, he would have made a pass at her years ago. Of course, later it might bother him that it was meaningless...but that didn't mean he was going to regret it.

"Give it to John, he'll eat anything. But don't tell him where you got it, all right, sweetheart?"

"Certainly not, sir. It'll be our secret. Code word - scorpion."

The two of them laughed aloud. "Kate, please don't ever say that in front of anyone." He didn't really think she would. Somehow she was back to playing princess, as if no matter what happened, nothing ever got her panties dirty. Completely in command. It was what he hated about her, and what he loved about her. "See you in a few minutes." She waved him out the door.

On the way back to his trailer, Robert bumped into Garrett. "Hey, you're late!" the younger man announced cheerfully. "Guess what I found. You're gonna love this. It's by one of those JetC people. It's a story where Chakotay teaches Janeway about sex toys, and she gives him a spanking..."

"Live the fantasy," Robert said cryptically. Waving a hand dismissively, he headed back to his trailer to hide the evidence.