Disclaimer:  Star Trek: VoyagerT© is the registered trademark and sole property of Paramount Pictures.  This story is non-commercial and for enjoyment only.  No copyright infringement is intended.


EMAIL:  jrossca@sympatico.ca


SUMMARY:  Can a bowl of soup explain how Kathryn and Chakotay feel for one another?


The Taste of Life


"C'mon, Chakotay, roll over and take this."

"No, I don't want to," mumbled a voice from deep within the blankets.

"Chakotay, I'm serious.  Roll over so I can give you something."

"Now I hear those words.  Where were they when I was healthy and able?"

Kathryn rolled her eyes.  "Well, at least now I know you're not dying.  It's time for your medicine so will you please just roll over and open your mouth?  Please?"

"You're not my mother.  Go away."  The voice sounded even fainter than before.

"And thank God for small mercies. I don't know how she stood it."

The blankets rolled and a watery eye peeked over them.  "She was a wonderful woman, not like you at all."

"I'm doing my best so why don't you cut me some slack.  I'm trying to help you here!"

"Don't bother, I'll be dead soon anyway.  Just leave me alone and let me die in peace." He rolled back.

"Chakotay, I need my first officer back and I want my friend healthy again.  Please roll over."

"When did you start caring, anyway?"

"What are you talking about?" Her face took on a more worried look and her hand reached over the lump in the bed to find a forehead.  "Is your fever spiking up again?

"My fever is hotter than Neelix's twisted idea of ja-lap-pa-no chili and you know it.  And you didn't answer my question."

She hesitated as she used a cool wet cloth to gently wipe his face and neck.  "Then let's get these heavy covers off you, you certainly don't need any more heat.  Okay, now what were you saying?"

There was a silence as Chakotay's fevered mind tried to grasp the elusive question - he knew he thought the question was important to him - and then he suddenly grasped something else.  The captain was actually trying to pull the blankets from his body and there was a reason why this was this unwise.  He knew there was, was absolutely sure there was, but his weakened body had no strength against her stubborn determination. Spirits, how often had he watched that attitude nail down an impossible trade to Voyager's advantage?  Still, he was sure that this time she wouldn't want to win if he could just keep his mind on the deed at hand. His covers were staying UP.

His covers flipped down in one fell swoop and then he remembered.  Lying stark naked as his Captain gaped at him failed to make him feel any cooler, although now it seemed that Kathryn's temperature was on the rise, and that was certainly interesting.

"When did you start caring, anyway?" he repeated weakly, finally remembering the question.  Her eyes snapped to his.

"C'mon, Commander, you're not up to this, take my word for it.  I'm putting the sheet back over you and then it's time for your medicine and sponge bath.  I'll be right back."

"Don't want a sheet.  And, comments on whether I'm up or not are uncalled for.  I'm making an official protest in my log today."

"Hah!" came her voice from the bathroom where she was gathering more towels and filling a basin with cool water.  "You go right ahead!  I'll put myself in the brig for harassment and give you the choice of either Tuvok or Neelix to tend to you.  You can take your pick between leola root ointment all over your body or Vulcan poetry ringing in your brain."

Chakotay groaned in pain.  "Gawd, I feel so terrible. What happened to me?  I don't remember a thing."

She returned and placed the basin on the chair that was pulled up close for just that purpose.  She sat down on the edge of the bed and placed her hand on his forehead again.

"You've been sick for two weeks, Chakotay, but I promise you'll get better soon.  You just had a rather nasty reaction to the doctor's prescribed inoculation so we're doing this the old fashioned way."

She measured some noxious syrup into a large spoon and then held his head steady as he rose shaking onto his elbows.  In went the spoon and he gagged, letting a small stream of it leak from the corner of his mouth.  He grimaced and then sank back down onto the pillow.

"Sorry, Kathr..." and he was gone again.

She sighed for what she thought was the millionth time in the last two weeks and gently wiped his face clean.  It had hit him so quickly, one minute his dark eyes were impaling Kathryn's over the centre console with a barely disguised suggestion and the next thing she knew those gorgeous eyes rolled back up in their sockets and he slid to her feet.  Totally befallen.

Paris had made a good try at calling "Say Yes, Captain, say Yes!" before his medic eyes swung him into action.  He'd grabbed the bridge's medkit and was over the commander in a second, medical tricorder whirring.  Kathryn had danced around him, first over one shoulder and then over the other, until finally Tom asked her to please take the helm.  It was an interesting moment on the bridge but the captain, after one minor glare, rose to the occasion and did it with such aplomb that everyone knew who had won that round.

"Looks like a very violent allergic reaction, Captain.  Did he happen to get that shot that the Doc has been waving around at everybody for the last couple of days?"

"Yes, just a few minutes ago.  The doctor caught both of us as we were waiting for the lift to come to the bridge.  I thought it was strange - him just showing up like that fully armed until I remembered who I was dealing with."

"Don't blame the Doc, Captain, he's used to the two of you by now.  Well, I'm getting the commander to sickbay immediately; this is too much for just another hypospray.  Harry, beam us directly there!"

The shimmer of light had left a hole of emptiness near the centre seats.  Kathryn had sat looking at it until the official helm replacement arrived and then brought herself up short.  Chakotay would be okay, he was always okay.

Kathryn now looked down at the limp body once again, gray instead his usual healthy glow, eyes just barely open and vacant again, and listened to his laboured breathing.  Chakotay was not okay.

"Janeway to Doctor."

"Doctor here, Captain.  Is it the commander again?"

"Yes, and I really don't think this arrangement is working out, Doctor.  He should be in sickbay, and I mean now!"

"Captain, believe me, Commander Chakotay is a lot better off in his own quarters with your team sitting with him.  He has never reacted well to being in sickbay and, besides, it's filled to capacity down here."

"Are you sure, Doctor, because I'm not seeing much of an improvement here and if anything happens to the Commander, I will personally be deleting your sub-routines one by one."

There was a charged silence and then the doctor's voice came over her combadge.  "Captain, I have a cortical monitor on him, both Mr Paris and I see him three times a day, and he is never alone.  And, Captain Janeway, if you think I would ever put any person on this ship in danger of his or her life, then I just don't know what to say.  I know the ship needs her first officer, but the people here in sickbay are actually worse off than he is and I'm doing my very best for everyone."

Kathryn took a deep breath and counted to ten.  It was just one of those situations which was nobody's fault and which was basically under control.  "I apologise, Doctor. I didn't intend to suggest that you were in any way derelict in your duty.  I was just..." Her voice faded away.

"I understand, Captain," he replied softly.  "But he's going to be all right.  The medical data indicates that a violent reaction to this inoculation will last between 15 to 20 days.  Commander Chakotay is a strong man and should be out of the woods any day now."

"If you say so, Doctor," she said doubtfully.  "Although he sure doesn't look very strong now."

"He's got the constitution of a bull and the stubbornness of a mule, Captain, and those will pull him through.  Besides, he'll get better just to be back with you."

The captain's eyes narrowed and she glared in the general direction of sickbay.  Her silence seemed to prompt another hasty remark from the EMH.

"I'll be up at 23:00 hours as usual, Captain.  Who's going to be there with him then?"

Her minded jerked back into action. "B'Elanna is, Doctor.  She's doing 22:00 hours to 24:00 hours."

"Very good.  You'll have access to my medical log on the commander by 22:30 if you're still awake.  And Captain, you'd better not still be awake. I happen to know you've been up for over 37 hours now.  EMH out."

Kathryn sat down beside Chakotay again and felt his forehead; it was still hot.  She was about to reach for the cloth when she hesitated, leaving her hand where it was. She let her fingers stroke his sweaty forehead until they stopped on the tattoo that she'd grown so accustomed to.  Taking a deep breath she let her fingers glide along its lines over to his temple where the tattoo disappeared under his hair.  Slipping her fingers around his ear she trailed down his strong jaw until they approached his lips, so full and sensuous.  She hesitated for a moment and finally allowed her index finger to go up and trace them.  They were so soft and she couldn't help but fantasize what they would feel like against her skin.  She was still gazing at his lips when they suddenly parted and sucked her finger in. He sucked gently a few times then held her in with his teeth, carefully speaking around her.

"That better not be you, Torres, or I'm telling Paris the next time he comes here with his damned horse pills."

Kathryn gasped as his eyes opened and stared up at her.  His lips closed around her finger again and sucked it in deeper.  She felt his tongue sliding over and around it and a shock of heat flooded through her.  She gulped and took an open-mouthed breath and watched his eyes darken.  Finally he relented and let her finger slowly pull out.

She was shaking as she instinctively put it into her own mouth.  Now it was Chakotay's turn to pull in air with a little gasp.


His voice broke the spell around her and she jumped off the bed.

"Where are you going?" he whispered.

"Nowhere.  Here.  Over there."  Kathryn went and leaned against his dresser, looking for all the world like it was holding her up.

"I'm not going to die, am I?"

"No!  No, Chakotay, you're going to be fine.  The doctor says you're just getting near the end of the worst of it now.  You're going to be fine, I promise."

"Good.  Because I'm not going to be satisfied with that."

"With what?"

"With just one little taste.  I intend to taste a whole lot more of you than that, Kathryn, just let me get some strength back first.  I'm sorry."

His eyes rolled back again and Kathryn sank to her knees and tried to convince herself that it was just the fever talking.  Because, if it wasn't, this time she wasn't sure that she'd be able to maintain protocol.

And she still had to give him a sponge bath.

"Kathryn, what is this?" croaked Chakotay.

"Chicken soup - ŕ la Neelix."

He swallowed hard and looked at her.   "Maybe I'm just being selfish, but couldn't you have used the replicator this one time?"

She looked at his tired face as he reclined against his pillows.  According to the doctor he was on the road to recovery, but like anyone else he would be going through a few days of aching, complaining, and frustration at his own weakness.  There was nothing like a sick kid approaching his fifth decade, but then she looked at the circles under his eyes and his trembling hands and relented.

"Well, actually the doctor wanted you to get real food into you first.  But I don't really blame you, Chakotay.  If you want I'll be happy to replicate you something, but after that mug of soup is finished.  Would that be okay?"

"Sure," he whispered.  "Thanks."  He slowly tried to make headway with the soup, only choking a couple of times.  Kathryn felt terrible, what kind of medicine was Neelix's inedible food for a sick person?  And then to have the poor man thank her?  She'd had enough - she marched over and sat on the side of the bed.

"Here, give me that."

"What - why?  I thought I had to eat it."

"Well, if you can that's one thing.  But I'll be damned if I'm the one who gives you something that makes you gag while I'm on sick duty - I've cleaned up enough in the last week.  So, name your poison and I'll replicate it for you right now."

Chakotay sank back down into the stacked pillows and closed his eyes.  "I love you," he whispered.

Kathryn flashed her eyes up at him but seeing his exhausted expression and closed eyes she let it drop.  She quietly removed the slipping mug from his hand and took it to the replicator, tossing it into the recycling unit while she thought of what he might enjoy.and keep down.  She accessed Chakotay's personal replicator recipes and found one that sounded right, "Grandmother's Soup."  That big old Maquis softie.

Another peek at him made her suspicious and she tiptoed back to him.  He was asleep.

"Janeway to Torres."

"Torres here, Captain."

"Are you busy, B'Elanna?  You're off duty if I'm not mistaken."

"Yes, Captain.  And I'm not particularly busy, would you like me to report to Engineering?"

"No, Be, it's personal.  Would you mind reporting to Chakotay's quarters?  I know it's not time for your shift with him, but I want to do something and I can't do it here."

"On my way, Captain.  I can catch up on this manual there as well as here, anyway."  Kathryn rolled her eyes at the thought of the off time pleasures of engineers.  It was a shame that technical manuals couldn't be programmed as holonovels.

Kathryn was ready when the door chime sounded.  As B'Elanna walked in she merely said, "Thanks, Be.  I'll be back in 20 minutes!" and shot out the door.

B'Elanna watched the doors slide shut and murmured, "Bye."  She peeked in on the sleeping commander and then settled down on the couch with her manual and a glass of prune juice.

"One yellow squash.."  Kathryn muttered as she started searching through Neelix's galley.  She opened bins and looked in cupboards, peeked into his drygoods pantry and opened his refrigeration unit.  In all honesty, she didn't even know where to start.  She was standing in the middle of the room with her hands on her hips when Neelix entered.

"Captain!  What a surprise!  How can I help you?"

She turned to face him.  "Yellow squash, Neelix - do we have anything that would constitute a yellow squash in the Delta Quadrant?  And shallots?  How about shallots?"

"Well, yes, I believe we could find something similar to both those vegetables, Captain.  But may I ask why?"

"I want to make Commander Chakotay some soup."  She held up her hand.  "Yes, I know that you sent some up to him, Neelix, but it was a little too spicy for his stomach and well, chicken, Neelix?  You know he eats meat or poultry only when it's absolutely necessary.  Besides, I want to do this for him."

Neelix looked crushed, bringing his hand over his open mouth.  "Oh, Captain!  How could I forget that about the commander?  I feel terrible, I just wanted him to have some real nourishment and that soup was what my mother always made at home when we were sick."

"Don't worry about it, Neelix - he ate some, it's just that his stomach is still a little weak from all the medications he's been taking.  Anyway, could you get me a yellow squash and the shallots?  B'Elanna is up there with him now and I told her I wouldn't be too long."

"Right away, Captain."

"And a cucumber!"

Neelix watched as Captain Janeway prepared the soup, first dicing the squash and chopping the shallots and then simmering them.  As Neelix furtively made sure that they didn't burn dry she sliced the cucumber.  Finally she put everything in a bowl and mashed them together, seasoning with some salt and pepper and a dash of DQ syrup.  She simmered the resulting creamy soup as she prepared a tray.

Neelix put his face over the pot and inhaled deeply.  "This smells very good, Captain!  Maybe a little bland, but do you think the other recuperating patients would prefer this over my mother's recipe?"

She kept her face composed and answered, "I think it could be possible, Neelix, at least for some of them.  Why don't you give it a try; they can always tell you if they don't like it.  And thanks for the use of your kitchen!"

Neelix watched the captain sail out of the messhall with her laden tray and then turned back to look at his galley.  For one little pot of soup it looked like the Kazon had rampaged through and pillaged it.  He put on his apron.

"I think that was the sickest I've ever been in my whole life."

Chakotay was sitting on his couch sipping a hot cup of spice tea.  His face was still ashen and his actions were slow and weak, but he was out of bed and able to eat a little bit at every meal.  Kathryn was leaning in the far corner of the couch.  She looked absolutely beat.

"You really scared me, Chakotay," she confessed wanly.  "I've seen you hurt and injured before, but this past month has been terrible.  I'm just thankful that we've been in such a quiet part of space so that we could tend to you and the others."

"There were others?"

"Oh yes.  The doctor reminded me just this morning that 19 people in total were affected by that inoculation reaction.  He says he feels like he's faded down to mere pastels now.  He's never really had to deal with an outbreak that required practising medicine like they did hundreds of years ago."

"Well, I've never had to endure that kind of cure, either.  I'm telling you Kathryn, the fever was bad enough but when my stomach turned on me I was just plain ready to die.  You never know how much you depend on a hypospray until someone is coming at you with a spoonful of liquid plasma waste.  I'm surprised that our ancestors could bear it."

She gave a small smile.  "I guess they were just made of sterner stuff back then."

"I guess."  He paused and looked down into his mug.  "I want to thank you for everything, Kathryn.    It couldn't have been easy and I appreciate it."  He hesitated.  "I only remember things in bits and bytes - it got a little more personal than you ever wanted it to be with me, didn't it?"

"No, not really."

He looked at her.  "Okay, I can live with that answer for now.  But one day, when I'm feeling a lot stronger, you're going to have to explain it to me."

Her face was even paler than normal.  "Sure.  I'd show you right now, Chakotay, if I weren't feeling so sick..."

Chakotay looked sharply at her just in time to see those eyes widen in gray-blue horror and then watch her run to his bathroom.  There was no mistaking the sounds he heard.  Getting to his feet quickly gave him a rush to his head and as he wobbled towards the bathroom to help her he smacked his communicator.

"Chakotay to the doctor!  Get up to my quarters on the double!  It's the captain!"

"Where did you get this soup?"  Kathryn was propped against a pile of pillows and Chakotay sat beside her against the headboard with his legs stretched out.  In the past five days he'd improved enough to dress and start taking walks.  He came into her quarters many times a day now.

"I made it," he answered.  "Do you like it?"

She took another spoonful.  "Better than when I made it.  Why does your food always taste better than mine, even when it's the same recipe?"

He smiled.  "Just have the lucky touch, I guess.  But I actually preferred your pot of soup, I was thinking that there was something missing in mine."

The doctor made a noise in the doorway.

"Well, it sounds like you're both better than yesterday, but I'd like to hear it from each of you."

They both conceded to feeling almost human again.  The EMH started scanning them both.

"Captain and Commander, I want to apologise again for .."

"Forget it, Doctor," interrupted Kathryn.  "I'm really not concerned about it right now, although I will have B'Elanna look at your programme to see if there's an actual fault in your programme."

"Thank you, Captain.  I can't understand how a simple epidemic of one kind would keep me from scanning the Commander for another illness when he began to have different symptoms."

"I thought nausea could be a symptom of the reaction to the inoculation, Doctor," said Chakotay.

"It could be, but I still should have scanned you.  It's an oversight that I don't fully comprehend."

"We'll get it fixed, Doctor, I promise."

He snapped his tricorder off.  "Thank you, Captain, that makes me feel much better.  If you don't mind I'll go back to sickbay and call Lieutenant Torres myself.  You and the commander still need at least another 48 hours of rest.  Mr Paris will be back with the next hypospray for both of you in four hours."

He was almost through the bedroom door when he turned back.  "Oh, and that ingredient that you both thought was missing in your own soup..."

They both looked at him and waited.  Finally, Chakotay said, "Yes, Doctor?  Do you think you know what it is?  The recipe is on file in the computer."

"Of course I know what it is, Commander.  Neelix mentioned that you said your soup was missing a little something and I told him what it was. He even agreed with me and that's unusual for him.   You know, for two commanding officers you two are dangerously thick-witted, even accounting for being so sick.  But, since you think you're so smart getting us through the Delta Quadrant you should be able to figure it out for yourselves.  I'll be back tomorrow to check on you both and, if you're still confused, I'll tell you.  Maybe."

He left.

They slowly turned to face each other and raised mirrored eyebrows at each other. 

"I think it's a good idea for Be to check him out today, Kathryn.  Maybe we should also mention this odd behaviour and have her do a complete overhaul."

"Sure."  She laid her head back down on the pile of pillows and closed her eyes.  "You do it, Chakotay.  I'm just going to lie here for awhile, okay?"

Chakotay delivered the order to B'Elanna quickly, his eyes remaining on Kathryn the entire time.  When he disconnected he rolled over beside her, resting on one of his elbows.  With the other he gently reached out and felt her forehead.  Her head slowly turned until her eyes met his.  She smiled weakly up at him.

"Just tired, Chakotay and no, this is not your fault.  It's nobody's fault so take that guilty look off of your face."

"You're hot."

The smile widened and her eyes twinkled.  "Well, thank you.  I think you're pretty hot too."

And then the dimples came out in full force and Kathryn felt much better.  Chakotay's hand slid down to her cheek and he let his fingers slip into her hair.  He didn't move for the longest time, just looked at her and marveled at her strength.  For a month now she'd been commanding Voyager without a first officer or 18 other crewmembers, while also co-ordinating his health care team.  Now she had endured five days of her own illness and she still managed to make him want her.  He finally gave in.

His kiss started out slow and soft.  He felt her entire body stiffen when his lips first touched hers and then subtly relax against his touch.  Another soft kiss and then the fire consumed him; this was Kathryn and she was kissing him back.  He pulled away to look at her, to make sure she was all right with the next step.

Her eyes were steady as she looked into his and she ran her hand up to touch his chest in her usual manner; this time, however, she slid it up under his loose shirt.  He saw the ghost of a crooked smile and couldn't resist smiling back.

"Are you sure, Kathryn?" he whispered.  "You've had a very long month and I still think you're hot - with a fever."

"I'm sure, Chakotay; I want whatever you want.  I've done a lot of thinking during this month and I've learned my lesson.  Don't forget, besides seeing you so sick off duty I also had to put in my days on the bridge without you.  I don't ever want to tell you no again - I've been 'thick-witted' long enough."

He stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers.  "Uh-huh, anything for the crew, ey?"  He smiled down at her.  "I can wait, Kathryn, I think I've proven that.  Do you really think I'd make love to you for our first time if I thought you were too weak to come with me to the end?"

This time it was her hand that stroked his cheek.  "I'm not dead, Chakotay -- I want whatever you want."

"I want to give you a bath."

She stared at him in confusion.  "You what?"

"I want to give you a bath.  There are more ways than just making love for me to show how I feel about you, Kathryn.  You're weak and you're fevered - I'm going to fill the tub with bubble bath and take care of you.  I'll wash your hair and bring down your fever and, I assure you Kathryn, I'll enjoy every minute of it."

Kathryn sank back down into the stacked pillows and closed her eyes.  "I love you," she whispered.

He nodded at the echo of his own words.  For a while he'd allowed himself to believe he'd only dreamed his own fevered confession of love for her but now, hearing her say it herself, he knew the truth.  They had both been telling each other for a month now how they felt about each other in words and in deeds, and he wasn't going to stop now.

He kissed her forehead - she was hot - and went into her bathroom to start the water.

"I'm so lucky," she said contentedly.

"Why is that?"

"Well, first, I got to sponge bath you for over three weeks; I wouldn't even let B'Elanna do it.  She was pretty suspicious by the time you were getting better.  Second, you're now strong enough to carry me into the bathroom and give me a proper bath."  She grinned weakly.  "Oh yes, definitely lucky.  Poor you."

"Oh, I don't know," he replied as his hand slid under the bubbles.  Kathryn gasped as his hand cupped her breast, his thumb finding her nipple.  They both knew he hadn't needed to do anything special to cause her nipples to harden to peaks of anticipation. That had happened the moment he'd sat on the side of the bed and started to pull her shapeless old teeshirt over her head.  He'd responded by bending down and taking one into his mouth, using his tongue to tease it into fuller engorgement and his teeth to delicately nip it until she let out a little cry.  He'd needed that sound of pleasure from her and moaned around her breast when it came.  Then he pulled back and kissed it softly.  He trailed his tongue down to the valley between her breasts and licked along the trail of sweat up to her throat.

She had wriggled in embarrassment and tried to push his head away.  "Chakotay, don't, I'm dirty."

"I told you I wanted to taste all of you, Kathryn," he'd answered, his mouth close to her ear.  "And your sweat tastes as good as it looks.  It makes me want you so much, love, everything about you makes me want you."

Then he'd stood up and taken down the old baggy cotton pants she'd been wearing and saw that her blush from his endearment had indeed covered her entire body.  He'd deliberately caught her eye and ran a hand up her hot inner thigh until her mouth had formed a little oh, then bent down and kissed her where those soft thighs met.  His tongue swept down for a brief moment but he steeled himself against her body's natural reaction of spreading her legs wider.  He'd caught her eye again, running his tongue over his lips to savour his caress and whispered, "I love you, Kathryn."  Then with one quick movement he'd gathered her up in his arms and carried her to the tub.

Now she lay against his supporting arm and relaxed as his other hand travelled over her body, sponging and washing.  An occasional touch from his straying hand and a kiss against her throat or in that delicious space where her shoulder became her neck kept her from falling asleep.  She felt completely safe and loved.

It was as if he could read her mind.  "How are you feeling now, Kathryn?"

"Wonderful.  Pampered."  She looked up at him.  "Beloved."

He bent down and kissed her gently before continuing.  "You know, I used to try to decide if it would be more erotic to give you a bath or take a shower with you.  The shower is going to have to be pretty special to beat holding you like this."

"It will be, Chakotay, I promise."

His eyes darkened and he said hoarsely, "I think it's time for bed.  Let's see if you can you stand all right."

Chakotay held Kathryn's hands as she tottered to her feet and stepped out of the tub.  He reached over and grabbed a big fluffy towel and wrapped it around her.  He grabbed another one for her hair and when that one was wrapped around her head she stood there and looked up at him.

"Will you please stay with me tonight, Chakotay?" she asked with pleading eyes.

"Nothing is going to keep me away from you tonight, Kathryn, nothing.  I'll comb your hair out now and get you a clean nightgown and we'll finally go to bed together like it should always have been."

"Well, maybe not quite like it should be."

"Kathryn, we've got the rest of our lives to love one another.  Tonight let's just enjoy how we've been loving each other by caring and being cared for; my heart hasn't been as happy as it is right now for as long as I can remember.  And, believe me, you won't be able to keep my hands off you when you're all better - I've been dreaming of making love to you for years."  He shook his head and laughed.  "Years!  You think you've spent too much time in bed the last five days?  Well, you ain't seen nothing yet!"

He put the comb down and they walked slowly back to her bedroom.

"I wonder how similar our fantasies of being together are?  I've imagined us together in so many ways," she confessed.

He took the towel from around her and held her tightly.  "We'll do it all, Kathryn, don't you worry.  As far as I'm concerned it had better be a quiet stretch of space for quite some time because the captain is going to be recuperating in bed for longer than the doctor anticipated."

He slipped a soft nightgown over her head and helped her into bed.  Then he began to undress himself.

"Chakotay." she murmured.


"I think I know the answer to the doctor's riddle.  It just came to me right here in bed-it was like a flash.  I was thinking about us and I just knew."

"I like you thinking about us, Kathryn.  But what do you think he meant?"

"It's love.  We tasted the love that we each put into the soup we made.  I hate cooking but I love you so much more that I just had to make it.  And you know me, I can burn a replicated meal."

Chakotay slipped into bed and stared at her.  "Spirits, I think you're right."  And then he laughed softly as he gathered her into his strong arms.  "Well, what do you know about that.  I had my heart set on tasting all of you and I guess I finally have.  And Kathryn."

"Yes, love?"

"There is absolutely nothing in the world that tastes better than your love."



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