Disclaimer: Star Trek: VoyagerŪ is the registered trademark and sole property of Paramount Pictures. This story is non-commercial and for enjoyment only. No copyright infringement is intended.
SUMMARY: After a while on New Earth Kathryn and Chakotay enter a new phage in their lives. A Resolutions epi addition.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For Brianna, who tossed this back and forth with me as we sailed down the highway and right past our exit. And NO, we had nothing to do with the biggest blackout since 1965, which sent us sailing back the other way.
A New Phage
"Chakotay, do you know what day this is?" Kathryn Janeway rolled from her knees to a sitting position, brushing her hair off her forehead. That small task required the back of her wrist, since her hands were black from the soil she'd been working in.
"Tuesday? No, Wednesday. I'm pretty sure it's Wednesday." Chakotay was surprised by the question, asked when his mind was deep in concentration. While their Starfleet shelter was fine for now, he was exploring the ways and means of expanding and making it more storm proof. The storms on this planet were violent, and a temporary shelter could only take so much.
"Well, yes, it's Wednesday or is it Thursday but that's not what I meant."
Chakotay put his padd down and thought hard. "Thursday? Already? Amazing! But thanks for not making me guess." He managed to duck the flying clod of dirt hurled in his direction, but some stray soil managed to find its way into his laughing mouth. "Ohhh, Kathryn, you really shouldn't have done that!"
Kathryn knew that look and tone of voice. She scrambled to her feet, already laughing and running for the woods. At first his spitting was heard over the running, but it wasn't long before his footsteps felt like they were right behind her.
They were. Chakotay reached out and caught her hand, effectively breaking her stride and turning her around. It would have been just another excuse to blow off steam if it hadn't been for the exposed root. A foot caught it neither knew whose and down they went.
Chakotay blinked hard and looked up at his former captain, now sprawled over his prone body. He smiled. "This is comfy." When she blushed and started to squirm away, he brought his arms around her and held her tight. "No relax. This has to be better than having a root jammed in your back and, besides, you were going to tell me something."
"I was? Yes, I was." She looked down at him. "But, it's not earth shattering. I was just going to tell you that it's the sixth month anniversary of being on New Earth."
He was slow to respond, but she knew he was thinking about the past months. His long fingers slowly splayed, and then started to caress her back, while his dark eyes held hers. She swallowed a tiny gasp when his hands began to move, one up to her neck, the other down to her hip, but he'd felt it. His fingers on her hip those fingers she had secretly watched whenever they'd danced on the console between their command chairs began to gather up her dress. The other ones slid into her hair behind her ear, creating a sensation that she hadn't experienced in a long time. She felt his deep inhalation and rapid heartbeat; his right hand now holding her practically bare right buttock, his left hand pulling her down to his kiss. She closed her eyes, finally surrendering to every daydream she'd had since the day he'd beamed onto her bridge.
Kathryn Janeway had always suspected that she'd feel the earth move if she ever allowed Chakotay to get intimately close to her. It was basic in her relationship with him; her professionalism, her awareness of rank, her reluctance to spend too much off-duty time with him. She'd be a liar to say that she personally felt that way, at least when not on Voyager. She'd just instinctively known it was necessary to retain self-control and the dignity of her command during a possibly decades long journey.
It was a surprise, then, when the lips she'd wanted to taste for so long were instead cursing, "What the hell?!" while she was first rolled off him and then hauled to her feet. The earth was still moving and there was a tremendous sound reverberating throughout the air. A ship was landing, and landing fairly close by.
"Come on!" Chakotay cried, and started running. She finally had to howl through his haze to let her go, her shorter legs could not keep up. He stopped and muttered an apology, then grabbed her hand and again started running, this time a little more slowly. They were just passing the shelter when he suddenly stopped, grabbing her tightly to keep her from falling.
"What?" she gasped. "Why did you stop?"
"Kathryn, do you still keep one of our communicators on an open channel?"
"I thought so. C'mon!" He grabbed her hand again she was getting very tired of being dragged and pulled her into the shelter. The communicator was on the shelf, open as usual, but there was no sound of anyone from Voyager. Chakotay tapped it but, again, no Tuvok. No Paris. No one.
"Damn," he said softly.
"Why 'damn'? It doesnt have to be Voyager to get us out of here!"
"Maybe not. But, if it had been Voyager, at least we'd know they had an antidote for us. We have no idea what anyone else's agenda is."
A shiver ran through Kathryn, and she looked around. "Where are the phasers?"
"It's phaser. Singular. I've been using the other one to cut down and hone the logs for the extension and it's hidden in my working glade."
"How about the tricorder?"
"Over there," he motioned towards the kitchen area as he disappeared into his sleeping cubicle.
When he returned she vaguely registered something in his hand, but concentrated on her report. "It doesn't record who our visitors are, but there are two of them and they landed almost an hour on the far side of our shuttle. They're obviously interested in it, but they're carrying weapons so it looks like they're interested in us, too. They're coming this way."
"Wonderful. You take the other phaser and I'll take this."
She watched as Chakotay tucked a large hunting knife into his boot, and then grabbed a wire from his art table and crafted it into a garrotte. When he turned around she bit her tongue to keep from staring at his face. The person standing before her was all man, all Maquis, and protecting what was his. She decided on the spot that he was far more dangerous with his weapons than she would ever be holding a phaser.
"Be careful with those," she warned softly.
"I will. I want you to stay here."
"Phhhtt. Not on your life, Chakotay. I go with you."
"I don't want you hurt."
"Well, I don't want you hurt, either. We're a team, come hell or high water."
His face finally morphed back into her friend's, and she waited without breathing. She let out a long exhalation when a tiny dimple appeared and he said, "Sure, whatever you say. Let's go."
"Vidiians," whispered Kathryn, at the exact moment Chakotay uttered the same word, albeit in a much uglier tone. "Why did it have to be them?" she continued.
"I don't know, but I'm not going to go out there and ask them. I like my face the way it is."
"So do I."
He raised his eyebrow at no one in particular and continued watching the newcomers. From the beginning it had been possible that their visitors had been diverted from their original course because they detected something on New Earth that made it worth their while. The open channel may have alerted the aliens to a possibility, but their scans would have confirmed the existence of the Starfleet shuttle, shelter, and themselves.
And, that last part was what alarmed them. It had taken the aliens hours to approach the furthest outlying areas of their homestead, but now both Chakotay and Kathryn knew they were in for a fight to the finish. Neither of them relished the thought of coldly stalking and killing the first visitors to New Earth, but past experience had taught them there would be no negotiating with this diseased species. The very identification of the visitors now made it all too clear now what the object of their hunt was. It was time for the stranded Humans to go on the offensive.
Suddenly the Vidiians began running away in two different directions. Chakotay reached over and tried to grab the phaser from Kathryn but, by the time she reacted, they were gone.
"What are you doing?" she hissed.
"What do you think?" he growled back. "It's either us or them, Kathryn. I was going to kill them."
"Hey, me phaser, you knife. Remember?"
"Kathryn, have you ever killed someone in cold blood? It's not like on one of Tom's 2-D films, you know."
She stared at him. "I didn't get to be a Starfleet captain by not being able to do the tough stuff, Chakotay."
"That's not the answer I wanted to hear, Kathryn. And yes, I have. You did what you had to in the Maquis. Now, give me that phaser!"
She pulled it back against her chest and glared at him in deadly calm. "No. Get over yourself, Maquis; you're not in this alone. If it's between us and them, well, then they're history. Yes, I've done this before and yes, I'll do it again. Now, where do you suppose they went to in such a hurry?"
He scowled for several moments before calming down. "The shorter one went to our shelter, I'm sure of that. The older one was heading back in the direction of our shuttle, the spirits only know why. He's got quite the hike, though. I can catch up with him before he gets there."
She nodded slowly. "Then do it. I'll go take care of mine and come after you."
"No. We're a team, remember? You don't do all the dirty work while I soak in the tub. Allow me the grace to protect you as much as you protect me, okay?"
He was quiet for a brief moment and then suddenly his hand reached out to stroke her cheek. "Okay, Starfleet. But, I can come back with you and still catch up with the bigger one."
She had smiled at his touch. "No need. I should be able to catch up with both of you before either of you is anyway near the shuttle. It's either that or you take the phaser. We can't let him get his hands on our only transportation off this planet."
"You're a hard woman, Kathryn Janeway."
She grinned. "Would you like to make a bet on that?"
"I did that years ago; now it's just a matter of cashing in. But, please go before I change my mind again."
"Like that would matter," she said, until she saw the look on his face. "Okay, I'm gone!"
As she sped off towards their shelter he whispered, "Spirits, guide her hand and bring her safely back to me."
The "little one" who had at least 25 centimetres on Kathryn was mousing around the perimeter of the shelter. He obviously thought it could be a trap, but he kept tapping his scanner as if he couldn't believe what he read. Since Kathryn knew where the only inhabitants were, she could believe it.
However, no matter what her mission was and she had no intention of not completing it the Starfleet captain drew the line at shooting a living being in the back. She tossed around the idea of using stun power before the lethal shot, but discovered the idea repulsed her. He was a mortal enemy and today was his day to die, but it would be done as befitting an honoured opponent.
Good lord, she thought, I'm thinking like a Klingon! If I ever see B'Elanna again, I will never live this down! Honour, hell, I'm going to blast that son of a bitch into space dust!
She checked the setting on the phaser and released its safety. Now, all he had to do was turn around.
As if he'd heard her thoughts, he did. She fired.
Chakotay followed the trail of the large Vidiian easily. Even if the alien had not been clumsy in his efforts, the former first officer would have been well equipped to keep up. Now, he put special effort in overtaking his prey and taking care of business.
He scrambled to the top of a hill and carefully looked down over the valley below. The alien was only a short distance ahead, leaping from rock to rock in an attempt to keep moving before creating a small avalanche. Chakotay sat patiently, occasionally hooking his longer hair behind an ear before it fell forward again. To continue at this point would be to advertise his existence and, while a hunting knife might be a fine weapon in his hands, it couldn't outdistance the Vidiian's sidearm. He watched to see the route the alien took and, when he was sure he could no longer be heard, he dropped back and made his way on an intercept path.
Kathryn hurried in the direction of Voyager's shuttle. She was shaking a little from shock, but that was merely a physical reaction. There was no doubt in her mind that, if the Vidiian lying dead by the shelter still lived, then hers would be the corpse there. Now it was time to make sure that Chakotay was the other survivor. She estimated that she was about twenty minutes behind them, and unconsciously sped up.
The large Vidiian breathed heavily as he stood gazing at the territory ahead of him. Chakotay wondered absently if the alien's stolen lungs were up to the job of supplying oxygen to the decaying body, and then banished it from his mind. It was time. As in generations past, the elders of his village had taught the skill of silent pursuit to the adolescents, and the young Chakotay had been an apt student. The garrotte was pulled out of his pocket and he wound the ends around his fingers. In another minute Kathryn would be safe again.
Just as he raised his hands the sound of tumbling rock and an accompanying small shriek startled both him and the Vidiian. The alien turned sharply towards the noise and then saw Chakotay from the corner of his eyes. He let out a roar and dove towards him, driving his head into the Human's stomach. Taking advantage of that tactic, he threw himself on the gasping man and began to beat him mercilessly.
A full-fledged fistfight ensued, with the use of both Maquis and Vidiian techniques. Both men were fighting for their lives and they knew it. After performing a rather spectacular body slam, Chakotay managed to pull the knife from his boot and fell to his knees to finish the alien off. A scabby hand, skin peeling from it, shot up and clenched his wrist, twisting it brutally. Taking advantage of the momentum, the Vidiian followed through and rolled on top of Chakotay, gripping his throat with his one huge hand while reaching frantically for the knife with the other. The old Maquis managed to drive his knee upwards, hoping for all he was worth that male Vidiians were as sensitive between the legs as human men were.
The alien let out a howl that nearly deafened Chakotay the second hand lungs worked just fine but he shrugged off the shock and looked around frantically for his knife. He scrambled towards it, getting his fingers around it milliseconds before his opponent. With one desperate lunge he drove the blade into the Vidiian's chest, giving it another thrust until he felt the blade hit bone. He heard a gurgling sound and finally looked at the face of his enemy. The eyes stared fixedly at the sky and a thick dark flow of blood slid from the corner of his mouth onto the ground.
It was at this moment that Kathryn breathlessly arrived, her eyes wide with fear. She threw herself at Chakotay still kneeling beside his prey and cried, "Are you all right?!"
He pulled her towards him and gathered her in his shaking arms. "Shhhh, yes, I'm fine. Here, let me help you up." Slowly they both rose to their feet, never taking their eyes off one another. They didn't think of the Vidiian until they heard his agonised grunt as he yanked the knife from his chest. One rotting hand was around Kathryn's ankle before they could react, and the other slashed the knife towards her. Chakotay knew he'd hear her scream until the day he died. He reached down and pulled up the attacker, but the Vidiian was now a limp rag doll and Chakotay stumbled backwards under the dead weight. He fell to the ground, the alien now draped over him. Chakotay tried to heave him off, but it was too much for the exhausted man and Kathryn came to his aid. She pulled while he pushed and, finally, the corpse rolled off him.
The next few moments were spent with Chakotay seeking proof that Kathryn was okay, while she did a frantic examination to make sure that he was, too. His nose was broken, but he'd long become used to that injury. Her knife wound was superficial; it looked ugly but blood was already beginning to clot to seal the gash.
Finally they each took deep breaths and looked down at the dead Vidiian. Once again Kathryn set the phaser to kill and released the safety.
"You bastard," she said softly. "I had a clear shot at you until that ground gave out under me. You're not worth the energy to blast you into space dust, but I never want to see your rotting face again. Time for you to become the dirt you really are." She held her arm steady and fired. The body glowed brightly and then vanished.
"Kathryn, hold up a bit. I have to have a rest."
They were on their way back to the shelter, but they were travelling slowly. This was the third time Chakotay had stopped for a rest. He sat limply against a tree trunk, breathing deeply and scratching at his hands, arms, and even his face and neck.
As she sat and watched him, Kathryn thought he looked like a dog absolutely infested with fleas. His broken nose was swollen and looked painful, but he didn't even seem to notice that. She scratched her own ankle and then silently laughed at herself. Scratching must be like yawning, if anyone started it seemed their companions were compelled to do the same.
Finally he hauled himself up and they continued on. Neither spoke, they were as drained emotionally as they were physically. After the next rest, however, Kathryn began to get truly concerned about Chakotay. He continued scratching and she noticed that he'd seemed to have scratched himself raw in some places. The lesions were very blistered but he couldn't seem to stop. The first thing she'd do when they got home would be to get out that dermal regenerator and give him a full dose. She wished he'd stop, though. Now she felt like she couldn't get rid of an itch, either.
The trip home seemed never-ending. What she had easily accomplished when she ran to catch up with Chakotay now seemed impossible on the way back. They trudged on and, mercifully, the shelter eventually came into sight. He muttered something she didn't catch and put an extra effort in reaching their goal. When they opened the door, he staggered to his sleeping cubicle and fell onto his bed. She went into the kitchen and poured two glasses of water, and went to give him one.
Kathryn didn't even realise she'd dropped the glasses until she heard the noise and felt the wetness on her legs. Chakotay lay on his bed, unconscious. His blistered sores were now crusted in places and shedding layers in others. And, they were spreading his neck and cheeks were already scabbed, with new blisters forming in front of her eyes. She already knew no dermal regenerator could fix this, and she felt more wetness, this time on her cheeks.
Then, a cold, clammy feeling washed over her and she slowly looked down at her ankle. There would be no mistaking what they had, and its rapid onslaught had to be the result of the brutal physical contact and the exchange of blood.
She was in a tiny ship, dippsy-doodling all around the stars, without any purpose other than keeping the controls tight and in working order. She would dart to this moon and then that star, aimless and without direction. She knew she was happy enough but also that she had to find something. It was out there, she just knew it the prize. Her flying became more erratic, harder to keep in check, and she began to over compensate on the controls. She began to get desperate, the ship running ahead of her abilities to guide it, and then she saw the meteor debris ahead of her. The cold finger of her own mortality reached out and stroked her cheek, turning her heart to ice.
Slowly a strong and steady warmth began to envelope her. She felt it gradually permeate her entire being until she felt able to relax into it. She could actually see the warmth, its richness as golden as the sands on Donlon, as brown as the smoothest chocolate, as black as a delicious cup of the best coffee. It was safe and protecting, it would never leave her out in the cold again. Meteor rocks the size of tall towers broke down and streamed away, glittering like the most precious diamonds.
She could fly again.
Kathryn slowly came out of her coma with the sound of moans in her mind. She drifted in and out, for how long she wouldn't know until she checked with the computer. Days passed, or hours. Probably both. At last, during one surfacing, she was able to take control and pull her thoughts together. She was incredibly weak, dehydration had advanced to the danger point and there was no fuel in her stomach to give her strength. Eventually, sheer willpower pulled her from her bed how did she get there in the first place? and she stumbled to the kitchen for water. She knew she'd have to take it slow, and looked around for some fruit.
It was on the counter, as usual, but Kathryn could only stare at the insects buzzing around the rotten flesh. Thankfully, there was some other kinds in the cooling unit and she hoped they would be safe for eating. They were, and she could almost feel her strength coming back with each swallow.
Chakotay! He'd had so much more contact with the Vidiian than she'd had and, for a moment, Kathryn was too scared to go to his bedroom. Then Starfleet training kicked in and she forced herself to do the impossible. Standing in his doorway she searched for any clue that he was alive, but it was too shadowy. Night was falling fast.
Slowly she tiptoed and sat on the edge of his bed. Her eyes shut in a silent offering of gratitude; his breathing was shallow but steady. Kathryn ordered the computer to increase the illumination and, as seeing became easier, she started to take visual inventory.
The peeling and shedding skin was still there, but healthy new flesh could be seen under some of it. The remaining lesions were no longer weeping and blistered. The edges were receding and now the crusty scabs looked like they would soon fall off. At the sight of this healing Kathryn sighed in relief, and then realised that before the coma she had developed the symptoms of the phage herself. She bent down and peered at her lower leg. It looked fine now, her healing more advanced than Chakotay's.
She ran to find their medkit, and followed the directions for introducing fluids into a comatose person. For the first time she wondered why no one had thought to make a copy of the EMH program for the stranded officers. She smiled as she wondered how far away Voyager had been before Tuvok thought of it. Knowing Tuvok, she bet he'd made an official log entry assuming responsibility for the failure to provide this safety measure for them, and had also included that slip in his own annual performance appraisal.
Chakotay seemed more rested since the fluid drip began, but there was no indication that he'd wake up anytime soon. Kathryn decided to change the sheets on her bed, have a sonic shower, and then fall into a normal sleep. Tomorrow she would gather some food, tidy up the shelter, and wait for Chakotay to come back to her.
Five days later Kathryn started to see a difference in Chakotay's sleep. He began to toss and turn and mumble words as if he was dreaming. She expected him to wake up at any moment, but it was another full day before he opened his eyes. As was her habit, Kathyrn peeked into his room simply to look at him and finally saw him staring at the ceiling. She tiptoed into his room and sat down on the edge of his bed.
She softly stroked his forehead and pushed back the sweaty hair. He didn't react to her ministrations, but seemed to gather his thoughts and banish the cobwebs that had taken their place. Finally he blinked and sighed deeply. Without moving his head he looked up into her face.
"How do you feel, Chakotay?" she whispered as she brushed back his sweat soaked hair again.
"Just peachy," he whispered hoarsely. "How about you?"
"I'm fine, honest, but I wasn't hit as hard as you. Thank God you're twice as strong as I am. Even with that, though, I still thought I might lose you."
"You'd never lose me, Kathryn. Or, if you did, I'd find you."
She smiled gently. "Do you remember anything?"
He hesitated. "I remember I was going to kiss you. And, I think I remember that you were going to let me."
"Don't blush, Kathryn." His hand came up to stroke her flushed cheek. "It was inevitable."
"Because we're the only man and woman on this planet? I guess it's a good thing you aren't here alone with that monkey."
He laughed, and then grimaced in pain from the effort.
"I'm a patient man, Kathryn, but you had to know that I'd make my move on you eventually."
She snorted softly. "How romantic."
His grin took effort. "Well, it could have been. I certainly hoped that it would, anyway."
Kathryn's face was lined, but soft. "Me, too."
"It was some kind of anniversary for us on New Earth, wasn't it? Or, was it?"
She assured him it was. "Try to rest, Chakotay. This is enough for now."
He gathered more strength. "No. What happened? Please don't leave me in suspense; it's like I have a huge black hole in my brain."
"That will go away. I had it too, but to a lesser degree. You're going to be fine once I get you full of food."
"You're stalling. I've always known when you're stalling, but saying you'll cook for me is a dead give-away."
"Phhttt. I'm a great cook, you just happen to be greater."
His voice was getting weaker. "Kathryn, please."
"All right." She sighed. "We had visitors."
Chakotay's eyes flashed and bore into her. He struggled to sit up and swing his legs over the edge of the bed, but she managed to calm him down.
"Chakotay, please! Please lay back down they're gone."
"Gone?" he cried in obvious disappointment. "Why gone?"
Kathryn began to stroke his forehead again, this time to calm him down. When he no longer seemed as agitated, she placed that hand on his far side and leaned close to him. "Chakotay, they were Vidiians. You'll remember in a while and you'll be as thankful as I am that they're gone. Just don't think of it now, okay? I'm going to go fix you up some fruit and herbal tea and we'll just let each day heal us a little more."
"Should have known," he mumbled.
"That your idea of cooking would be raw fruit and herbal tea."
She pretended to swat him, but her touch was gentle. "Just you wait, mister. When you're feeling better I'm going to pull out all the stops."
"What are you going to make me?"
"A tomato sandwich, but only if you're good."
"Never had any complaints, missy."
She sighed elaborately. "Now I know for sure you're going to be fine."
"Better than fine, Kathryn. I promise."
"Oh? Want that monkey?"
He managed another weak smile. "Wicked woman. How about that fruit and tea?"
"Coming right up." She leaned further down until her mouth was next to his ear. "Everything's going to be all right, Chakotay. Trust me."
"I always have with my life."
"That's fair. You saved mine." She let her lips fall the last few inches and kissed him. "Now, I'll go get that food for you."
It took well over a month, but slowly the two Humans regained their strength and energy. Chakotay made sure the food they ate was nutritious and healing, while Kathryn made sure they built up their strength on Starfleet principles. 'Slow and steady' was their motto but there finally came the day when they were able to walk back to the place where they had vanquished the large Vidiian. There were no longer any holes left in their memories, and they both knew how very close they'd come to dying.
On their way home they were silent until they reached the river bank near their shelter. They sat on their flat rock to watch the sunset and look for the sparkle of the first star. Kathryn was the first to speak.
"Chakotay, I have something to tell you," she started in a soft voice.
"I was wondering when you'd finally get around to it."
"What? You knew I had something to say?"
"You always have something to say. But yes, I know you've been thinking, and that's always dangerous."
"I didn't want to say anything until I was sure, but it's not really dangerous. Much. You know how I've been testing our blood and urine daily, and recording our tricorder readings?"
"Yes. You would have made a fine medical doctor, Kathryn. You made that intravenous contraption for me easily by your own admission, and you've treated our recovery as an interesting science project."
"That's what I wanted to talk about, actually. It has been interesting very interesting."
He smiled. "Then why don't you tell me before you bust a gut? I'm all ears for you."
She bit her tongue on the reply that came unwittingly to her lips, and forced herself to stay on topic. "Well, first I just want to assure you that we no longer have any residual of the phage."
"Well, that's definitely good news." As he watched her small nod of agreement, a thought occurred to him. "Wait a minute shouldn't something like that leave antibodies in our system?"
"I don't know. It sure doesn't with the Vidiians, or I'm sure they would have used them for a vaccine. Either that or they did and it didn't work and oh, who cares? But, for us? No antibodies."
"Oh. Too bad."
"Yeah, I wasnt really thrilled about that myself, but there's something else that's interesting about it."
"We're no longer infected with the New Earth virus, either. We can leave whenever we want to."
He just stared at her. "I beg your pardon?"
"It's true. I've run so many tests on us I've lost count, but all the answers come back the same. There is absolutely no trace of either virus left in our bodies. We can leave here whenever we want."
"How can that be?"
"I'm not sure exactly, but either the two viruses attacked and killed each other or they somehow merged and became something totally benign to human physiology. Or, perhaps your antibodies existed while we were in our comas and destroyed our virus and then died in the end. Whatever happened, the outcome is the same. We're free."
Chakotay gazed out over the water that reflected the full moon. His head and heart were in painful turmoil, but he would never let the woman sitting beside him see that. Finally, he sighed and turned to her with a smile. "Well, Captain, you did it. You may have done it the hard way, but you did it. When did you want to get underway?"
Kathryn looked at him in surprise. "Just like that? Aye-aye Kp'tin, just give me the word?"
He shrugged. "What would you like me to say? I know how you feel about Voyager and doing your duty. Tomorrow morning we'll pack some food and go check out the shuttle. She shouldn't have suffered any damage, but being idle won't have done her any good. Once we have all the facts we can finalise our plans. Is that all right with you?"
She hesitated before answering quietly. "Yes, I guess that's fine. If you feel up to it, that is."
"Well, we can take a change of clothes, too. If we overdo, or it gets too late, we can always sleep in the shuttle. We can make it a real camping expedition."
"Wonderful." Kathryn's voice was toneless. "Well then, with that settled I think I'll go to bed, if you don't mind, Chakotay. It's been quite the day." She stood up stiffly.
"Good-night," he whispered.
Three hours later, while she tossed and turned in a vain attempt to fall asleep, he was still sitting in the same position, staring across the river.
The walk to the shuttle the next day was slow and quiet. Both officers were tired and it had taken longer than expected for Chakotay and Janeway to fix up their food, kits, and the tools and equipment to supplement the shuttle's inventory. They walked mostly in silence, their eyes greedily trying to memorise all the vistas and scenery around them. Neither of them wanted to forget any of the beauty and peace they shared when they were gone forever from this planet.
They finally crossed the field of smaller rocks and debris, the outlying result of an ancient landslide down the small mountain in front of them. The shuttle was ahead of them, tucked in a nest among the huge boulders closer to the mountain. They scrambled around the last huge outcrop of rock and there she was.
Indeed. There she was in a thousand different pieces. They just stared.
Finally, Kathryn managed a whisper. "Oh my God."
Chakotay was more graphic, if less succinct, in his immediate reply. His voice was filled with disgust as he continued. "Well, now we know why it took them so long to get to our place."
They looked at each other in despair and slowly put down their packs. There were a hundred places where they could start, but they both headed for the remains of the cockpit. A wrinkled piece of old skin was stuck to the edge of a hole where a component once existed.
It was Janeway who broke the silence in bitterness. "Tell me, Chakotay, since you're the closest we ever had to a ship's counsellor, is it just branded onto their mindset to dismember everything they come across? I mean, lungs and livers here, warp drive there " Her voice faded away in disgust.
"All I know is that he was finally dead, but now I really wish you'd blasted him with strong stun first, and then spaced him."
"Yeah. And, after we kicked him."
They were both devastated and confused at the same time. For the past eighteen hours they'd thought their lives had changed 180 degrees, but now here they were again,. They looked at each other.
"Want some lunch?" Chakotay asked.
"Sure, I'm starved. What did you pack?"
That evening, the flat rock also acted as a small table. Snacks were spread about and they had selected two different flasks of wine to be enjoyed. Chakotay had tried his hand at wine making a few months before, and the scientist in Kathryn had made complete notes throughout the entire production. She was currently inputting data while Chakotay watched in amusement.
"It's supposed to be enjoyed, Kathryn, not analysed."
"Well, with my data we can enjoy it again."
"Perhaps, but wine making is also an art. Two plus two only goes so far."
She snorted. "All the way to four, I imagine."
His smile broadened. "Well, you keep filling that padd up, but I'm not sure you're going to be able to compare future results."
She looked at him suspiciously as he took a leisurely sip. "What are you up to now?"
"Just an idea I have for tomorrow."
Her suspicion increased. "And, that is? Remember you're an officer and a gentleman."
It was his turn to snort. "Being an officer and a gentleman never got me anywhere, and you know it. But, aside from that, we have still have something to do."
"Your mind is stuck in that padd. Pull it out and think."
He waited as he watched her, until she finally shook her head. "No, I can't think. Today's field trip damned near killed me."
"Don't you mean today's ship?" he asked archly.
"Yes, I do mean " Kathryn stopped as she ran something through her brain, and then finally whispered, "I've been gardening too long. My word, do you think we could do it?"
He shrugged. "Won't know until we check it out. And, the first thing we check out is whether there's any contagion in it."
"I'll bet it has a higher warp capacity than ours did."
He nodded, and then smiled evilly. "I can hear Harry's voice now. 'Captain Tuvok! Vidiian ship approaching!'"
Kathryn responded with a perfect rendition of Tuvok's emotionless tone. "Red Alert. All stations, Red Alert. Battle stations."
They laughed, but Chakotay added, "Well, I admit I'm not too thrilled about that part, but we'll convince them we're the real thing and not a couple of patchwork ghouls."
The sun went down and the stars came out without any further talk. They sipped their wine and nibbled on a snack every once in a while, and just relaxed. The tension and disappointment of the day drained away and was slowly replaced with the hope that the morrow would give them the reason and purpose for energy. The very thought of that possibility finally brought Kathryn to her feet.
"I'm going for a swim," she exclaimed, and started towards the water's edge. She poked in a toe and found the temperature fine. The little cove that bumped out from the faster flowing water was a perfect pool. The water washed in and out slowly with the river's current, but it was always sun warmed and placid.
She turned to tease Chakotay into joining her, but the words never came out. He was propped up on an elbow watching her with such intensity that it took her breath away. Her mind remembered the day when the Vidiian's small ship had landed, and her body remembered how she'd felt at that moment. How he had made her feel. My God, she realised, I didn't even realise the ship was landing! All I knew is that he was finally going to kiss me, to make love to me on the dirt of a forest floor, and that was more than fine by me.
"Chakotay," she called softly.
"Yes?" he answered, equally as softly.
"Did you say that being an officer and a gentleman never got you anywhere?"
"But, didn't it get you on Voyager?"
His laughter was just as soft as their voices. "Kathryn, I ended up on Voyager by being the exact opposite of an officer and a gentleman. Your own files labelled me a Maquis terrorist."
"Yes, they did," she considered. "Of course, they were compiled by a stick-in-the-mud Starfleet admiral and her staff."
"Where was that stick?"
"Never you mind. But, we're not in service any more, you know."
"I realise that, Kathryn, but I'm still who and what I am."
"Me, too. Only, from now on I'm concentrating on the 'who' I am more than the 'what' I am. Want to go swimming with me?"
"What if we get that bird flying and catch up with Voyager?"
She shrugged. "What if?" Gracefully she bent down and grabbed the hem of her dress, pulling it up and over her head as she stood straight again. The moon illuminated her; her strong body, her shapely legs, and her soft breasts. A lifetime of modesty made her turn her back as she slipped off her panties, and pride would not let her look back. She waded in until the water was over her knees and then dove under the water.
He was there beside her when she surfaced. The water lapped at the base of his neck but it was too deep for her to put her feet down. He pulled her closer and murmured an order, "Wrap your legs around me, Kathryn. I want to feel you against me, every part of you against every part of me."
Kathryn did as she was told without taking her eyes from his. When she knew she was secure she gently leaned back with her outstretched arms keeping her afloat. It was the ultimate act of submission she could offer him, and Chakotay recognised it for the gift it was. He brought his hands around from holding her bare bottom until his fingertips felt her pubic hair pressed against his stomach. She bucked involuntarily and her legs opened wider but he kept her steady. "We'll come back to there," he whispered and felt another involuntary thrust against him and watched her eyes close.
Slowly sliding his hands up over her belly he delighted in the little sounds he could coax out of her by merely touching her. By the time they slid over her breasts, her sounds included little whispers that he couldn't quite catch. He brought his hands around to support her back and dipped his head under to grab a nipple with his lips first, and then teased it with his tongue. Her trembling began to feel stronger and he quickly brought his head back, shaking it like a dog. She needed him, more of him, and he needed to give himself to her.
Chakotay brought his hand down and slid in a finger for her to ride while he got them to shallower water, but she was fully open now and he pushed in a second. That was what she needed, and she clenched down on them. Mesmerised by her face and voice he stopped his retreat to the beach, and with his fingers pushing and his thumb teasing her clit he waited to share her passion as it exploded throughout her body. Unwillingly, he felt his own heat build and he knew he couldn't hold it, not with the sight and sound of her, his fingers inside of her, and the tip of his penis now pumping up against her backside. He spread his feet wider and let himself blow out under her, first calling out her name, and then whispering it as he pumped out the last of his load.
Their glowing eyes met again and Kathryn smiled softly. "Take me home, Chakotay. Whether it's going to be our shelter here or on board Voyager, please take me home. And never stop loving me."
"Wherever you are will be our home, Kathryn, because loving you is my life," he answered. "But, for now, let's just go back to the shelter. You're shivering and I have just the thing to warm you up."
She started to laugh delightedly and threw her arms around his neck. She whispered something into his ear and he laughed out loud. He did, indeed, have just the 'thing' to warm them both up.
The sun almost blinded Kathryn when she opened the shelter's front door. Chakotay had continued with his plans to expand and strengthen the old Starfleet shelter and, for the past month now, he'd been working on the front verandah. The supports and joists were up, but the sheeting and shingles had yet to be added. She could hear the chopping sound from his glade and knew that he had to be hungry and thirsty by now. She double-checked the contents of her basket and then headed for her husband.
He was bare from his waist up and his hair, now past his shoulder blades, was tied back by a strip of leather. She never got over her reaction when she saw him, especially now when every muscle glistened with his sweat. She felt the same tightening between her legs that she always felt, and held back the urge to drop her basket and panties at the same time. There was an added little swing to her hips, however, as she sauntered towards him.
Chakotay grinned as he watched her approach. He knew those hips and knew that his dessert was going to be delightful, if he didn't decide to enjoy this cherished woman as an appetiser first. He could hardly remember the cold Starfleet Captain Janeway who was now this gorgeous creature, so willing and wanting of his love. His hands went to the leather laces that closed his suede pants and he pulled at them as he started toeing off his boots. Today would be an appetiser and dessert day.
Kathryn laughed out loud and started unbuttoning her dress. She loved the feel of this man pressed against her body, pounding into her to both their delights. She remembered those years on Voyager spent avoiding him for fear she'd get what she now demanded and needed. She spread her dress on the soft grass and whispered a grateful prayer to Chakotay's Great Spirit that those days were long past.
Chakotay was no where near being finished with his appetiser when Commander Tuvok's voice sounded throughout the holodeck. "All senior staff, please report to the briefing room."
Kathryn groaned and covered her eyes with her hands. "I suppose in the long run it was a good thing we caught up with Voyager at the h'TebMal Space Station," she mumbled from behind them. "That they were finishing a long systems overhaul when we finally dragged in?"
Chakotay's voice was equally muffled. "Yes, although at times like this I wonder. But, I keep telling myself that it was worth it. I do. Honest. I really do." He looked up over Kathryn's stomach and said, "But, you handle him. My job is to handle you."
"Yes, it is," she purred. Then, in a different tone she ordered the computer to open a private link to the Vulcan. "Commander Tuvok, Commander Chakotay and I are off duty. Is this a Red Alert?"
"No, Captain. However, I thought you two would want to see the information regarding the nebula that Seven of Nine located."
"Negative, Commander. You were the acting captain of this ship for over a year and we trust you completely. This one is all yours. You'll see us when we're back on duty."
"Understood, Captain. Tuvok out." The distinctive sound of the link closing was heard.
Chakotay smiled cheekily up at his wife. "You don't want to see a nebula, Captain?"
She wiggled her bottom to bring him back to the business at hand. "No I don't. All I want to see is stars. Back to your post, Commander." She couldn't contain a little thrust towards his face.
"My pleasure, Captain." And, he got back to performing his duty.
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