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SUMMARY: The shore leave was easy, what came later was the problem. Can it be solved?
Chakotay was sitting in his quarters trying to concentrate on the information presented to him on the padd in his hand. It was another Engineering report and he honestly had no interest in it. The only thing he ever really wanted to know about any warp system was that it was working and ready to take the crew out of danger - fast.
He twisted in his chair and tried again. "... and, therefore, unless we schedule maintenance time for the power transfer conduits within three..." Her hair had been so beautiful in the sunshine. And her smile... he hadn't seen her smile like that for a long time; it was a joy to see. His eyes looked into the distance, watching the memories of today's shore leave. He had scheduled off duty for both of them at the same time on a hunch, and this time it had actually paid off. When he'd entered the Ready Room yesterday and suggested taking shore leave together today, she had actually smiled and agreed.
Engineering report! Chakotay got up and requested an herbal tea, one supposedly helpful in aiding concentration. He sat down, put his feet up on the coffee table, and picked up the padd once again. "... suggesting that the secondary assembly should be..." It had been a long time since he'd seen her wearing a pretty dress, too. This one was so casual and carefree, the skirt blowing in the wind and sometimes even offering a glimpse of leg. He wished that she would wear clothes like that more often when off duty. Wearing a uniform could become a habit that was hard to break on Voyager and it imprisoned the person wearing it. In uniform she was Captain Janeway, out of uniform she was the Kathryn of his dreams.
Warp maintenance! Chakotay got up once more, moved over to the couch, and focused again on the padd. This was important stuff; he'd probably have to re-arrange several schedules on the duty roster or even set up a team to handle B'Elanna's requests. "... key internal elements upgraded to..." The sunshine, the park, the beach and Kathryn sliding her hand into his without thinking. Such a soft, small hand, belying the strength of the person. But today with him, it was just a woman's hand wanting to share contact with a man's. Chakotay had dreamt often of that hand and its partner doing many different things, mostly to him.
He sat up quickly and grabbed his mug. The tea was getting cool, but it was still tasty and its sweet tang grabbed his attention. Attention. That was what he needed.
Then it began to dawn on him that Voyager's warp propulsion system was not going to win tonight. Many nights it did, and rightly so, but he could still smell her perfume if he moved just so. That was far more captivating than any warp drive so why not surrender and just revel in it tonight?
He went to the replicator and requested a brandy. Warming it in his hands he walked towards his bedroom. Once there he requested a soft music selection and started taking off his clothes. He didn't own real pajamas; usually he just wore a pair of boxers or even slept naked, depending on whether he showered at night or the next morning. Tomorrow's shift allowed time for a shower in the morning so he left the boxers on and climbed into bed. Leaning against the headboard and sipping his brandy, he relaxed and remembered their day. Their days together were too rare and finished too quickly for him to treat them lightly.
Suddenly he opened his eyes. The sounds in his head weren't part of his memories; they were coming from the other side of the bulkhead. Kathryn was rustling around in her bedroom and not gently, either. The walls really didn't allow very much sound to filter through, for which he was very grateful. Casting his mind back to the few evenings he had spent in his quarters with other women, he was thankful that he had never been forced to listen to one of her romantic encounters. His had been merely diversions of a frustrated and lonely man but he was sure that one of hers would have meant much more. And hearing that would have killed him.
A solid thump hit the wall and his drink sloshed as he reacted. That had been a fist, he was sure of that. What in the world was happening next door? Did she need help? Not likely, he reasoned; he was imagining things. Besides, she would just call Security if that were the case, never him.
His brandy was finished and he ordered the lights and music off. As he settled in he wished that she might have considered joining him for a drink or snack when they had returned to Voyager. But he knew better than to ask; she had defined the parameters very clearly, very early on. Her skirt fluttered through his mind, her laughter filled his ears, and he was falling asleep with her in his arms. He could almost feel her. He was asleep.
Kathryn shoved her bureau again. Stupid thing, she always had trouble with its sticky bottom drawer. How had she put up with this aggravation for five years?! Finally, she kicked the offending drawer in complete exasperation. Whoa, sore toe sore toe!! She hopped over to the bed and inspected it woefully.
She was so unsettled. How did he do it? He hadn't called her, he hadn't dropped by, he hadn't even offered her a cup of coffee or a nightcap. He had just mentioned that he had an Engineering report to sign off before the morning and then slipped behind his doors. An Engineering report! And she had tried so hard today to let him know how much she was enjoying his company. When he had entered his quarters she had stood in the corridor looking at his closed doors like an idiot.
She got off the bed to go to the replicator and stubbed her sore toe. That was it! She fell toward the wall and hit it with her fist as hard as she could. Now her hand hurt almost as much as her toe! Her fabulous day with Chakotay was turning into a bitch of a lonely night. Alone. She didn't feel like being alone. Her mind was full of the images, sounds, and smells of him. His eyes, how did he talk with his eyes like that? She'd understood everything when he looked at her. At least, she had thought she'd understood what he was saying - had been sure of it actually - until his doors shut in her face.
She decided that there would be people in the mess hall to take her mind off her current ridiculous situation. No other woman in the world would have let those damned doors slide shut when she was still out in the corridor. Women had feminine wiles. Women could steer romance in the right direction if they wanted to. Women had power over men when it came to sex.
Which meant, obviously, that she was no longer a woman. Somehow, during the years in the Delta Quadrant, she had morphed into just 'the captain' to Chakotay. She had the power to get him in the brig, but not into bed. Exactly when the hell had that happened?
Kathryn slipped on some sandals and limped toward the messhall. She sincerely hoped the joint was jumping tonight - more loneliness could only mean trouble for the bridge's gamma shift!
It wasn't working. He'd thought that if he let himself fall asleep with thoughts of her filling his mind and soul, he would dream of her. It hadn't happened and somehow his brain recognized her absence and woke him up. Wonderful - now his brain was working. Where the hell had it been when he had a miserable Engineering report to sign off?
Why were parameters so important to her, anyway? Their voyage home was hardly a normal Starfleet mission. If they were lucky, still alive, and if this trip lasted as long as it could from here, Kathryn and he would be in their 70's when they finally reached Earth. And he doubted that he'd be in the mood to go chasing women then. He'd probably just retire to Arizona and live out his years alone, missing her and the life they could have shared.
Enough. If he couldn't sleep he may as well tackle that damned Engineering report. But not here - he was going out of his mind here. He slipped on a pair of casual pants and a pair of sandals, throwing on a shirt but not bothering to button it up. He didn't bother with his hair; it was messy and falling towards his eyes, but it was the middle of the night and he'd heard that the late crowd was planning to party hardy over in Sandrine's tonight. He'd head for the empty messhall and finish that wretched report over a cup of Vulcan tea.
Not a soul. There was not a single solitary soul in the messhall. This was unbelievable. It had been years since the messhall ever closed and the policy had changed for just this very reason. On board Voyager people just needed to go to a common stomping ground even when it was the middle of the night. Rarely did it happen that this room was completely vacant. Now Kathryn was starting to really feel sorry for Gamma shift - but she'd get a coffee and head for the bridge anyway. Tonight she needed life.
She was in Neelix's kitchen when she heard the doors open. Well, thank goodness, she thought, and smiled in the direction of the bridge. Gamma shift had a horseshoe hidden up there somewhere tonight. She called and asked the unknown visitor if she should pour an extra coffee. There was a silence and then she felt him. She actually felt him looking at her. She turned around.
"Hi," she said. Oh, brilliant.
"Hi," he replied. Idiotspeak. She reduced him to idiotspeak.
Kathryn held up the coffeepot. "Would you like some? It's what I came for." Oh man. He didn't like coffee at night and she knew that. And he knew that she knew.
"Sure, you can pour me one. Thanks." Well, that just signed the death warrant on any sleep for the night. If only he had a reason to stay awake, one that included her...
"Where would you like to sit, Chakotay?" My, on a chair, perhaps? Why in the world was she talking like an adolescent on a blind date?
"Over by the window in the corner is fine with me. It's more like a booth, cozy-like." He groaned inside. Cozy? Cozy didn't fit into any parameters he'd ever heard of.
They sat beside each other in the curved corner of the bench. Finally she spoke.
"I had a wonderful day today, Chakotay. I didn't really thank you properly for it, but it was the best time I've had in months, maybe even years."
"Same here. I felt alive and free in the fresh air; I'd forgotten how recycled air gets to me after a while. And I didn't think of Voyager once."
She looked up into his eyes. "You, too? That's interesting, I felt exactly the same way. But I got the impression when we got back on board that you could only think of reports and other busywork."
He lowered his eyes. "I'm sorry if I gave you that impression, Kathryn, but when I'm with you I have choices to make. And I didn't think that you'd be too thrilled with this evening's alternate choice."
"Why not? Just what were the choices?"
"Forget it, Captain, it doesn't matter."
"'Captain'? When did she arrive? You're talking to Kathryn here, Chakotay."
"I am, am I? Well, let's just see." His voice took on a tone of exasperation and defiance. He continued, "The choice I had this evening was that I could say good-night to you like the fine first officer you continually say I am, or I could invite the woman I love in for a nightcap and then, much later, breakfast in bed."
There was a short silence and then Kathryn replied softly, "That should have been my choice, Chakotay, not yours. And you didn't even give me the chance to make it."
"You made it a long time ago, Kathryn. And I've respected your decision ever since, no matter how hard it's been."
"I know you have; you've played by the rules for years now. But you can't blame me if I hoped that you'd finally changed your mind when you asked me to join you on shore leave today."
"Chakotay, no matter what I want I can't initiate advances on you. I'm still your senior officer and, if we're ever going to break the rules, you're going to have to go first. It's a tough call, I know, but that's the way it's got to be."
There was dead silence as they looked at each other; dark brown eyes still defiant and gray-blue eyes dejected. Finally Chakotay relented and spoke.
"You know, Captain, you almost had me there."
"Again with the 'captain', Chakotay?"
"Kathryn, I never once expressed any personal feelings to you as a first officer to a captain. I'm a man in love with a woman and we're not going to be on continuous duty for the next two or three decades. Everyone on this ship, including you, knows how I feel about you. So, as far as I'm concerned, the next step is yours."
Slowly she raised her hand up to touch his shoulder. But this time she slid her hand beneath his open shirt and rested her hand on his bare skin. He brought his hand up over the shirt and placed it over hers. Their shared gaze did not waver. Then she placed her other hand on his thigh and made a small, slow circle with her fingertips.
"I love you, Chakotay. I have for a very long time."
Chakotay brought his right hand around her waist and pulled her closer. He turned her slightly towards him as he faced her. Slowly he lowered his face down and softly kissed her on her neck and then ran his open mouth up to her ear.
"Kathryn, are you sure? Do you know what you're getting into? Because once I have you I'm never letting you go," he whispered.
If she hadn't known before, there was no doubt now. His hot breath whispering in her ear had awakened every erotic sensation that she had ever felt in her life. From one little kiss and a whispered question her entire being was on fire. She couldn't even anticipate how she'd feel if he actually touched her, but she knew that resistance was futile. He would touch her and she would let him and she had the horribly embarrassing, completely arousing, thought that if he touched her in here she'd come screaming his name in the messhall.
Quietly she nodded in answer to his question.
He already knew her answer. He'd started to run his hand up her side and they both knew it was headed for her breast. Then, as his thumb reached along the bottom of it and started the uphill journey, he watched her start to breathe with short, shallow breaths. She was trembling and her arms were covered in goosebumps and as she opened her mouth to say "not here," only a moan escaped from the back of her throat. He lowered his lips to hers.
Kathryn had never felt like this before. Not with Justin or Mark or any other lover, and Chakotay was only holding and kissing her. Passionately, his tongue explored her mouth until her moans had only his mouth to escape into. Her entire body was responding to his, arching into him, demanding his touch. Her hands were on his bare back, touching, searching, scratching. She twisted her hips towards him and her leg came up to wrap around his. Slowly he lowered her down on her back on the bench and arranged her legs around him to make her more comfortable. His right hand stayed on the back of her knee. Her control was evaporating fast and she did not have the strength to stop him.
His mouth brushed her nipples through the material of her dress and then his teeth gave each one a gentle nip. When she could hardly control her reactions to this he moved his mouth with its delicious kisses to her chest and neck and then it slowly travelled up past her neck to cover her ear once again.
"I love you, Kathryn. So much," he breathed softly. "Come home with me." She moaned and writhed beneath his chest. "Shhhh, not here; I want you in my bed. But please come now while I can still walk." His breath in her ear was causing unbelievable feelings to course through her body. And then he flicked his tongue in it and she nearly shut down.
She couldn't even speak. All she could do was to look into his eyes and run her fingernails low on his back. It was all he needed. Chakotay looked at her again and lowered his mouth to hers as he gathered her into his arms. Then, as the kiss started to soften, he bent down and slid his arm behind her knees. He lifted her up and started carrying her towards the doors.
"You're not leaving me tonight, Kathryn - I don't even care if there's a red alert. I've waited patiently for a very long time and nothing is going to interrupt us tonight. Spirits, you're finally mine." This time when his lips came down to meet hers she wrapped her arms around his neck.
In the corridor to his quarters she felt several crewmen pass. She didn't see who they were, but she sensed that they had all looked away politely as if they had not seen anything unusual. That seeing Voyager's obviously aroused First Officer kissing and carrying their obviously aroused Captain through the halls to his bed was natural. Second hand news. Expected. The way it should be.
The way it should be. There, that was it. It had taken her five years and one shore leave to accept the idea, but it had taken a trip down Voyager's halls in Chakotay's arms to understand it. Somewhere in her brain she realised that there would be no gossip the next day and that her - no - their crew was as much a support to them as they were to the crew. This was family business and the inevitable teasing would not begin tonight. Later Tom & Co would have their fun, and it would always be good-natured, but tonight and tomorrow belonged to Chakotay and Kathryn.
Chakotay's doors opened and he carried her home.
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