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SUMMARY: Kathryn tries to sweep up the wreckage left behind in Seskas wake. A Voyager & Liberty a/u fic.
LOST and FOUND
"Janeway to Chakotay."
There was no immediate answer and Captain Janeway was just about to repeat her hail when Chakotay answered with a reserved voice.
"Are you all right?"
"Fine enough for a visitor?"
There was another hesitation. "Im a little busy right now."
"I see. Still working on that report I was expecting this morning?"
"As a matter of fact, yes." His door chime sounded. "Excuse me, Kathryn. I was expecting BElanna and I think shes just arrived. Chakotay out."
Chakotay put the padd down on his coffee table and walked towards the door to greet Be. He needed to talk with his old friend; the last few days had hit him hard.
The doors slid open and Kathryn Janeway stood in the open doorway, hands behind her back. She smiled up at him. "BElannas been delayed for a while. Need help with that report?"
"Delayed? I guess thats one way to put it."
"Are you going to let me in?"
"All right, but its your call. My call is whether or not I let you out." Chakotay stepped back and held his arm out in a slow sweeping motion. Janeway glided past him.
"Youre such a card. Has that kind of talk ever really impressed a woman, Chakotay?"
When he didnt answer, Kathryn turned back to look at him. He was standing looking at her with unfocused dark eyes and an emptiness in his expression that brought her back to the present. She cursed herself silently, what a stupid stupid thing to say!
Slowly Kathryn brought her hands around, holding up a small bottle. "I brought refreshments. I thought it only fair"
His voice cut her off. "Why are you here?"
"I just wanted to make sure you were okay. Youve had a tough week and you havent left your quarters in two days. I thought you might like to talk to a friend."
"I did. You hijacked her."
They stared at each other until Kathryn gently placed the bottle on his table. The captain straightened her shoulders. "Im sorry for intruding, Chakotay; Ill make sure BElanna is here within five minutes. Please have your report in as soon as possible; time is not as important as accuracy. Keep the whisky. Good night."
Her stiff walk to the doors was abruptly halted as Chakotay barked, "Computer. Seal the doors."
The man moves like a cat, Kathryn noted. He slipped around her without any movement of air and picked up the bottle, examining the label. She felt a chill go through her as she realised what the possible outcome of their engagement in the Alpha Quadrant might have been. His eyes caught hers and bore into them, as if he were wondering the same thing.
"I dont drink when Im working, Kathryn Rose, and neither do you. Again, why are you here? Why did you make it impossible for BElanna to visit me?" He indicated the bottle. "And, do you really think I need whisky to take you to bed? Or, is this for your own courage?"
Before she even knew what she was doing, Kathryn drew her arm back, balled her empty hand into a fist, and smashed it into his face. The assaulted Maquis stepped back and his eyes re-focused as his hand came up to cradle his nose. Gingerly he brought it down to inspect for blood. There was none.
"What the hell did you do that for?!"
"To wake you up, you delusional fool! Im not here to get laid! Im here because youve had one hell of a week and you need a friend. I wanted to be that friend."
Dark brown eyes shone as his hand returned to his nose. "Oh." Chakotay wrinkled his nose a couple of times and sniffed. "Good shot." Again his hand found his nose, as if to reassure himself it was still there. Strong fingers ran up to the bump near the top and rubbed. "Are you sure you dont want to get laid?"
The corner of her mouth twitched, despite herself. "Pretty sure, yes. Ill try to suppress any urges I get to throw myself at you, I promise."
"Well, I wouldnt want you to strain yourself."
They stood looking at each other until Kathryn cocked her head towards the bottle. Her eyebrow rose in the unspoken question.
Chakotay sighed in resignation. "Oh hell, why not? Ill get the glasses."
With the padd in her hand and her feet on the coffee table, Kathryn carefully studied Chakotays report while he filled the glasses. Slowly Kathryn put it down and turned to her Away Mission Officer as he sank down to join her.
"Quite the week."
"Yeah, one for the books. Youd have that report by now if I just knew how to put it all down without coming across like the biggest fool in both the Alpha and Delta quadrants put together."
"Fool? What in the world makes you think youre a fool? No one else thinks that, I can assure you."
He snorted. "Ill bet. A Maquis cell leader who cant tell a traitor from a pineapple? Paris. Tuvok. Seska. How would you define a fool, Kathryn?"
"Paris was a merchant soldier, not a traitor, and even Tuvok admits that he had absolutely no idea that Seska was a Cardassian spy. Its killing him; unlikely and illogical as that may seem."
"Looks good on him."
There was a strained silence as they each sipped their drink.
"Tell me about Seska."
"What specifically do you want to know about her? Between the doctors report and all the gossip I would think you know more about her now than I ever did. Spirits!"
Chakotay suddenly flung his glass against the wall and watched it smash in grim satisfaction. The shards glittered against the starlight as they exploded and the whisky trickled down to the floor. Without expression Kathryn used her foot to slide the bottle over in his direction.
"Just drink from the bottle, will you. We cant afford the lost energy of a dozen broken glasses, and if you try throwing that bottle against the wall youll have to do it through me. Thats the only one I packed. Three week mission. Right." She swallowed the dregs of her glass.
"No youre not. I wish youd stop trying to be the mysterious, mystical Maquis, Chakotay. Nobody on this vessel thinks youre a fool, and trying to get me naked is going to get boring after awhile. Why dont you just relax and do what you do best?"
"And what would that be?"
"Taking care of the people on board Voyager. Ive never known anyone like you when it comes to instilling faith in people, and Ive been in Starfleet for more years than Ill admit to. I can leadIve always had that talentbut your leadership is different. Its a true gift, and I want it working on my ship."
"I think I understand what youre saying."
"You think I cant get you naked, but what I dont understand is why you think Id be bored if I did."
He actually tasted feathers when the pillow hit him square in the face. His arms came up to ward off the following attacks.
"All right, all right! Uncle!! Gawd! My nose!"
"Christ, Chakotay, have you heard a single word Ive said!?"
The pillow followed his whisky glass to the wall, with lesser damage.
"Damn it, Kathryn, of course I have. What do you want me to say? You already made all that crap perfectly clear when I agreed to be in charge of away missions. Well, Captain, we've now had one whole away mission and Ive already lost personnel. What do you think about your Maquis officer now?"
Kathryn laid her head back against the couch and sighed. "It sure has been a doozey of a week."
"Doozey?" Chakotay considered. "All right, Ill buy that. It was definitely a doozey."
"Im sorry about Seska, Chakotay."
He shrugged. "She would never have worked out. I think deep down I always knew that, but there was always enough to worry about just getting this ship and our crews working efficiently without dealing with her. I think I actually hoped that shed adapt. What a laugh."
"She was in love with you. If youd wanted her to adapt, she would have. For you."
"Dont kid yourself, on either of those two scores. I dont care what she said, shes a Cardassian. And if you dont know what that means, I do."
"You were in love with her, werent you?"
Chakotay took a swig from the bottle and considered. "No. I was never in love with her. I admit I tried, but I just couldnt make it happen. No doubt youd say I used her, but a warm body at night and soft skin well, sometimes that was all that gave me the strength to get up and do it all over again the next day."
"I cant judge you, Chakotay," she said softly. "We all do what we have to do."
He turned his face towards hers. "Do you think thats all Seska was doing?"
Her eyes softened. Somewhere buried deep within the Maquis captain, the aloof man who admitted he himself had used the woman, she saw the pain of betrayal.
"Yes, I suppose so. But she was with you for a long time and I dont think it was just because she was working. It was for you. And the only reason shes gone now is because of me."
"Are you suggesting that even Cardassian females have womens intuition?"
"No. I'm suggesting that if I hadnt destroyed the Caretakers array, youd still be enjoying that soft skin."
He didnt answer immediately but, when he did, a tiny thrill coursed through her. "Youre wrong, Voyager. Thats when I quit jerking her around and finally set her straight. She hasnt been in my bed since the day we landed in the Delta Quadrant."
Chakotay noticed the tiny tremble in Kathryns hand as she took another sip of whisky. They both turned their faces to stare at his stained wall.
"So, are you ever going to leave this room again?" she asked.
"You make it sound like Im hiding. Have you any idea what Ive really been doing this past couple of days?"
It was the wrong response and she knew it immediately. He took a swig from the bottle and put it back down on the table.
"Yes. Surprisingly enough for illustrious Starfleet personnel, I have been dealing with the sulking lowlife of Maquis dregs. For some reason theyve been a little confused, hurt, and traumatized by the cumulative effect of being stranded decades away from their homes, forced to live and work with their enemies, and being betrayed by a person with whom they would have entrusted their lives. I certainly wouldnt expect you to understand that."
"You do have a talent for sarcasm. And forgive me, it was a stupid thing to say and I dont know why it came out. Im sorry, I really am."
He sighed. "Im sorry, too. I havent had much sleep this week, and I over-reacted. Again."
"Is everyone okay? Relatively speaking? Is there anything I should know?"
"Not immediately, or youd know it. The rest will be in the report you get tomorrow."
Kathryn laid her head back again. "Gawd, what a week. Tell me, Chakotay, whats been the worst for you in all this? Being deserted in the DQ, forced to live on Voyager, or Seskas betrayal?"
"None of the above."
"Well then, what is it?"
He looked straight into her eyes. "That damned Neelix finding that damned leola root on that damned planet."
There was a pause and then their unrestrained laughter broke the tension. Chakotay picked up the bottle and poured Kathryn a refill. He watched intently as she stood up and started walking around his quarters, looking, touching, and sipping as she wandered. She stopped at the beautiful armchair, wide and comfortable and upholstered in a gorgeous fabric, very distinctly Chakotays. The matching ottoman just begged for tired feet to rest on it in comfort.
"This is extraordinary, Chakotay. The colours are gorgeous, how in the world did you do it?"
"Actually, believe it or not, I got the pattern from Voyagers library. I was surprised to find so much of our cultures history and information stored there."
"I dont know why. Your people may have chosen to leave Earth, but Earth did not choose to forget them." She looked over at him. "You can run, Liberty, but you cant hide."
"Who was hiding? And if Earth didnt forget us, Starfleet certainly did." He waved the bitter topic away; it was old news in the Delta Quadrant. "Anyway, Ive always hated those narrow, armless Starfleet things, its like balancing on a pole. I wanted something comfortable in here."
"Well, youve certainly got it, but that wasnt what I meant. This chair and ottoman must have cost more than two full months worth of credits. How in the world did you manage it?"
"Just a lucky draw. Every week all the Maquis throw in credits and we pull out a name. The winner uses them to replicate articles to help make their quarters feel more like home. I didnt expect to win this early but no one would consider doing it again, so I finally replicated my favourite chair and footrest. In a year well all have won once and then I guess well start all over againunless were back on Earth. In jail. Or dead."
It was amazing how he could feel her whole body cringe from ten feet away. She kept her back to him as her hands felt along the chairs material, her head bowed. Her voice was low.
"Ive been so busy I never once thought how all the Maquis lost everything they owned. Not a very good log entry for a Starfleet captain, is it? I promise Ill find extra credits somehow to fund that pool so you dont all have to sacrifice your personal ones."
"No you wont. We dont want that. Were used to looking after each other. It isnt a sacrifice for us, its the way we are. And, when I realised what Libertys fate would be, I had a team gather up at least one thing for everyone before beaming over to Voyager. Honest."
Kathryn turned to look at him. His dark eyes made her melt and she sank to the arm of the chair. "So, what did they bring over for you?"
It was a few moments before Chakotay answered. When he did, his voice was quiet. "Ill show you in the morning." Slowly he rose to his feet and began to move toward her.
"Neelix to Captain Janeway."
The spell was broken. She blinked.
"Ive carried out your orders, Captain. Whenever youre ready."
"Thank you, Neelix. Now is fine." She stood up.
"Understood. Neelix out."
Chakotay whispered, "Dont go."
Gently he pulled her against him, feeling her rapidly beating heart in his soft embrace. His other hand reached up to her face, fingers gliding along her hairline, then wandering over to her bun. His fingers found a hairpin.
The door chime sounded. Chakotay groaned in exasperation. "Who is it?"
"Its Neelix, Mr Chakotay. May I come in?"
He was about to refuse when Kathryn sighed and stepped back. "Let him in, Chakotay."
The little cook came in, pushing a galley cart. With a flourish he uncovered a steaming tureen.
"Whats this, Neelix?"
"Mushroom soup, and just the way you like it." He looked up. "And no leola root. I promise. Captain's orders."
"I dont understand."
"Thank you, Neelix. That will be all."
"Of course, Captain. Enjoy, Mr Chakotay."
He was gone. Chakotay turned to Kathryn with a puzzled expression.
"I heard about the soup incident a few days ago, Chakotay. Considering the circumstances and the fact that Neelix told me he hasnt seen you in the messhall for days, I thought you might enjoy having a little food in your quarters. Oh, and those credits you fined yourself have been restored, too."
The aroma of the soup was filling Chakotays quarters. They both heard his stomach growl.
"Well, maybe just a little "
She laughed. "Or maybe just a lot. Its all yours and I dont want to hear that you wasted any food on this journey, mister. Especially real food. Ill leave you to it."
"Where are you going?"
"Its late, and we both have busy days tomorrow. Send me the report when its done."
"Goodnight, Chakotay. Ill see you tomorrow." At the doorway, she turned around. "Oh, and Chakotay?"
He looked up from smelling the soup again. "Yes?"
"About those narrow, armless, Starfleet chairs?"
"Yes? What about them?"
"Either you didnt spend enough time in Starfleet, or youre more tired than you realise."
"What do you mean?" He turned to look at the offending gray piece of furniture.
"I believe you said it was something like sitting on a pole. Believe me, it certainly can be. And, with the right person, it can bring a whole new meaning to riding a wild mustang. Your soup is getting cold."
His head whipped back to her just in time to see the doors closing. He looked back at the chair and smiled. As he filled his first bowl of soup Chakotay licked his lips and then suddenly laughed. I wonder if she likes spurs? Or playing cowboys and Indians? He let out a slow, dreamy "Yeee-Haw" and then got down to the business of filling his empty stomach and restoring his empty soul.
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Graphics used in this fic were designed by my list sister, Diane Running Horse Smith