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EMAIL: jrossca@sympatico.ca


SUMMARY: Kathryn tries to sweep up the wreckage left behind in Seska’s wake. A Voyager & Liberty a/u fic.





"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?"

"I’m fine."

"Fine enough for a visitor?"

There was another hesitation. "I’m 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 B’Elanna and I think she’s 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. "B’Elanna’s been delayed for a while. Need help with that report?"

"Delayed? I guess that’s one way to put it."

"Are you going to let me in?"

"All right, but it’s 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.

"You’re such a card. Has that kind of talk ever really impressed a woman, Chakotay?"

When he didn’t 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. You’ve had a tough week and you haven’t 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. "I’m sorry for intruding, Chakotay; I’ll make sure B’Elanna 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 don’t drink when I’m working, Kathryn Rose, and neither do you. Again, why are you here? Why did you make it impossible for B’Elanna 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! I’m not here to get laid! I’m here because you’ve 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 don’t want to get laid?"

The corner of her mouth twitched, despite herself. "Pretty sure, yes. I’ll try to suppress any urges I get to throw myself at you, I promise."

"Well, I wouldn’t 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? I’ll get the glasses."

With the padd in her hand and her feet on the coffee table, Kathryn carefully studied Chakotay’s 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. You’d 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 you’re a fool? No one else thinks that, I can assure you."

He snorted. "I’ll bet. A Maquis cell leader who can’t 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. It’s 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 doctor’s 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 can’t afford the lost energy of a dozen broken glasses, and if you try throwing that bottle against the wall you’ll have to do it through me. That’s the only one I packed. Three week mission. Right." She swallowed the dregs of her glass.


"No you’re not. I wish you’d stop trying to be the mysterious, mystical Maquis, Chakotay. Nobody on this vessel thinks you’re a fool, and trying to get me naked is going to get boring after awhile. Why don’t you just relax and do what you do best?"

"And what would that be?"

"Taking care of the people on board Voyager. I’ve never known anyone like you when it comes to instilling faith in people, and I’ve been in Starfleet for more years than I’ll admit to. I can lead—I’ve always had that talent—but your leadership is different. It’s a true gift, and I want it working on my ship."

"I think I understand what you’re saying."


"You think I can’t get you naked, but what I don’t understand is why you think I’d 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 I’ve 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 I’ve 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, I’ll buy that. It was definitely a doozey."

"I’m 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 she’d adapt. What a laugh."

"She was in love with you. If you’d wanted her to adapt, she would have. For you."

"Don’t kid yourself, on either of those two scores. I don’t care what she said, she’s a Cardassian. And if you don’t know what that means, I do."

"You were in love with her, weren’t 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 couldn’t make it happen. No doubt you’d 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 can’t judge you, Chakotay," she said softly. "We all do what we have to do."

He turned his face towards hers. "Do you think that’s 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 don’t think it was just because she was working. It was for you. And the only reason she’s gone now is because of me."

"Are you suggesting that even Cardassian females have women’s intuition?"

"No. I'm suggesting that if I hadn’t destroyed the Caretaker’s array, you’d still be enjoying that soft skin."

He didn’t answer immediately but, when he did, a tiny thrill coursed through her. "You’re wrong, Voyager. That’s when I quit jerking her around and finally set her straight. She hasn’t been in my bed since the day we landed in the Delta Quadrant."

Chakotay noticed the tiny tremble in Kathryn’s 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 I’m hiding. Have you any idea what I’ve 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 they’ve 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 wouldn’t expect you to understand that."

"You do have a talent for sarcasm. And forgive me, it was a stupid thing to say and I don’t know why it came out. I’m sorry, I really am."

He sighed. "I’m sorry, too. I haven’t had much sleep this week, and I over-reacted. Again."

"Is everyone okay? Relatively speaking? Is there anything I should know?"

"Not immediately, or you’d 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, what’s been the worst for you in all this? Being deserted in the DQ, forced to live on Voyager, or Seska’s 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 Chakotay’s. 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 Voyager’s library. I was surprised to find so much of our culture’s history and information stored there."

"I don’t 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 can’t hide."

"Who was hiding? And if Earth didn’t forget us, Starfleet certainly did." He waved the bitter topic away; it was old news in the Delta Quadrant. "Anyway, I’ve always hated those narrow, armless Starfleet things, it’s like balancing on a pole. I wanted something comfortable in here."

"Well, you’ve certainly got it, but that wasn’t what I meant. This chair and ottoman must have cost more than two full month’s 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 didn’t 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 we’ll all have won once and then I guess we’ll start all over again—unless we’re 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 chair’s material, her head bowed. Her voice was low.

"I’ve 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 I’ll find extra credits somehow to fund that pool so you don’t all have to sacrifice your personal ones."

"No you won’t. We don’t want that. We’re used to looking after each other. It isn’t a sacrifice for us, it’s the way we are. And, when I realised what Liberty’s 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. "I’ll 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.

"Janeway here."

"I’ve carried out your orders, Captain. Whenever you’re ready."

"Thank you, Neelix. Now is fine." She stood up.

"Understood. Neelix out."

Chakotay whispered, "Don’t 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?"

"It’s 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.

"What’s this, Neelix?"

"Mushroom soup, and just the way you like it." He looked up. "And no leola root. I promise. Captain's orders."

"I don’t 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 hasn’t 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 Chakotay’s quarters. They both heard his stomach growl.

"Well, maybe just a little…"

She laughed. "Or maybe just a lot. It’s all yours and I don’t want to hear that you wasted any food on this journey, mister. Especially real food. I’ll leave you to it."

"Where are you going?"

"It’s late, and we both have busy days tomorrow. Send me the report when it’s done."

"Kathryn …"

"Goodnight, Chakotay. I’ll 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 didn’t spend enough time in Starfleet, or you’re 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.


The End

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Graphics used in this fic were designed by my list sister, Diane Running Horse Smith