Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager is a Registered Trademark of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: This story takes place fairly early in the series, probably in season two, but before Resolutions. I'm more partial to that Janeway and Chakotay.
Chakotay sat in his chair on the bridge, eyes focussed on the padd he held in his hands. Tuvok had handed it to him well over an hour ago, but all he had done so far was glimpse at it without really taking it in. He had made numerous attempts to read it, but looking down again, he realised he had yet to make it past the first page. His mind was too occupied with other things. Namely, a certain captain.
Chakotay sighed quietly, not wanting to alert Tuvok or any of the other bridge crew to his lack of concentration. Instead, he reminded himself of the promise he had made to himself earlier that morning, a decision that had been made after another night of tossing and turning. He had to bring this... thing... to some sort of conclusion. Whether it was the one he wanted or not didn't matter, he just knew that he couldn't go on like this.
But he felt as though he were in a vicious circle. He would convince himself he was ready, that now was the time to go and see her. But just as he was about to get up and go to her, his courage left him and he was back at the beginning, trying to convince himself of something he had been so sure of only moments before.
Pieces of conversation they had shared would pop into his mind; times she had hinted that, as Captain, she couldn't become involved with a member of her crew. Or that she couldn't allow herself to become distracted from her goal of getting the crew home. But then he would be reminded of those moments when he felt sure they had moved well beyond a level of just Captain and First Officer, and yes, beyond even friendship.
With another sigh that came out a little louder than intended, Chakotay mentally shook his head, and decided that it was best left alone. Turning back to the padd, he scrolled the page back to the beginning and began to read the report once again.
This time he made it all the way to the third page before his mind wandered. Images of her just wouldn't stay out of his mind and he knew that he wouldn't be able to do another thing unless he went and spoke to her.
Taking a deep breath, Chakotay stood and placed the barely read padd on his seat.
"Tuvok, I have a few things to discuss with the Captain. You have the bridge."
Not waiting for the Vulcan to acknowledge him, Chakotay walked over to the ready room doors, trying to quash the nervous stirrings in his stomach. He couldn't turn back now, not unless he wanted to provide the bridge crew with some gossip for the rumour mill. He braced himself as he rang for entrance.
When the doors slid open he stepped in, noticing immediately that she wasn't at her desk. Looking towards the viewport, he saw her sitting on the sofa, coffee cup in one hand, padd in the other. He smiled, not in the least surprised at the picture she presented.
He was still smiling when she suddenly looked up, catching him off guard.
"What?" she asked outright, the faintest trace of a smile on her own lips. She must have noticed he realised, that wasn't her usual greeting to him when he came to the readyroom.
He shook his head. "Nothing, I just made a bet with myself that I'd come in here and find you with a cup of coffee in your hand."
He relaxed when the smile became a full grin, and thanked the gods that she believed his 'put on the spot' excuse.
"Ohh, so what did you win?" she asked, placing the padd on the table before her.
Chakotay walked to the upper level and sat down when she indicated he should take a seat. "I'm not sure yet." He inwardly winced, wishing he would think before he spoke, but she merely quirked an eyebrow at the cryptic statement.
"Can I get you some?" she asked, indicating the coffee cup.
"No thanks," he declined. He knew it would only provide him with more time to change his mind.
"So, what can I do for you?" Kathryn asked, before draining her cup of the last drops and placing it beside the padd on the table.
The earlier nerves returned in full force, and Chakotay again considered forgetting the real reason for coming here, and simply giving her a status report. But when he looked back up to her, watched her, he knew it was now or never.
"Captain," he began, hesitating before carrying on. "Hypothetically speaking, what would you do if a member of your crew told you he had feelings for you?"
Chakotay waited with baited breath for her response. He wasn't disappointed. That obviously wasn't what she had been expecting.
"I... um... I," she was speechless.
Watching her intently, it dawned on him that he would have been amused under any other circumstances. He could literally see her push aside her shock and try to think of a way to respond.
Finally she answered. "Well, hypothetically speaking, a Captain shouldn't become involved with a member of her crew." Chakotay watched her trying to find her feet, to find out where this discussion had come from and where it was going. He had been prepared for that response.
"But, and hypothetically speaking, that isn't a written in stone regulation. Starfleet decided long ago not to interfere in the personal lives of its officers, as long as it didn't interfere with their duties."
He could see he had thrown her again, that she was teetering on the brink of a decision. He watched as she scrutinized him before standing up and moving to the railing. She remained like that for several minutes before turning to face him.
"I suppose, hypothetically speaking, that it would depend on who the officer in question was."
As the words left her lips, Chakotay felt his heart begin to thunder in his chest, for the first time real hope beginning to set in. He stood, moving to stand in front of her, hoping he wasn't reading too much into her words.
"What if the officer in question was me?" His words were quiet, earnest, but didn't quite conceal the vulnerability he felt. He watched her closely for any signs of what she was feeling, but found he couldn't quite read the expression in her eyes.
"I would be very flattered," Kathryn began, and Chakotay felt all hope disappear, his heart sinking at her words. "But I would have to... " Kathryn was cut off, interrupted by Tuvok's voice over the comm channel.
"Tuvok to Captain Janeway." Chakotay pulled back, dropping his eyes from her gaze as Kathryn turned and moved down to her desk.
She cleared her throat before speaking. "Yes Tuvok?"
"Captain, an alien vessel has just appeared within sensor range. At current speeds we will intercept it in five hours and thirty six minutes."
"Acknowledged Tuvok. Stay on present course and I'll be out in a minute."
"Aye Captain," he replied before the line closed.
Chakotay waited a few moments, gathering his thoughts before attempting to speak. "Captain, I..."
"We better return to the bridge," Kathryn said stopping him mid-sentence.
Chakotay wasn't very surprised at her eagerness to leave the ready room and get back to the bridge. He tried to remind himself that this was what he had expected, that this was exactly how he had thought it would turn out.
But it didn't help the misery that settled in his gut, or the despair that clouded his heart. He watched as she quickly left the ready room without granting him as much as another look. He took a few moments to gather himself together, before following her, his first officer's mask well in place.
Kathryn dropped with a weary sigh onto the sofa in her quarters. She hadn't bothered turning on the lights, the dimness that surrounded her was far more suitable considering the mood she was in. Instead, she allowed the light of distant stars to stream into her quarters providing her with all the light she needed.
"Computer, time?" she asked.
"The time is 0124," came the monotonous response.
Kathryn dropped her head to rest on the back of the sofa and closed her eyes. They had just managed to fight their way out of yet another unpleasant run in with yet another Delta Quadrant species. Since the ship had come into sensor range, it had headed directly for them, only dropping out of warp at the last moment before opening fire on them. No number of hails or return fire had made the slightest difference.
And knowing this quadrant the way she did, Kathryn had known there was only one option left. Order Tom to set a course out of there and jump to warp as soon as possible.
The ship had followed them for several hours, but wasn't quite able to match Voyager's speed. Gradually, after falling further and further behind, they had given up and dropped out of warp, turned back in the direction they had come, and jumped to warp again before disappearing from sensors some time later.
Kathryn had remained on the bridge for hours after the incident, still wary of letting her guard down. She had been fooled too many times before. Only now, hours after the initial attack, did she feel she could safely return to her quarters and leave the ship in the capable hands of gamma shift.
Her mind racing, Kathryn was very much aware that she wouldn't get any sleep if she couldn't relax. Deciding to try some Vulcan techniques Tuvok had shown her many years before, she sank further into the sofa, and began the process of emptying her mind of all thoughts.
But after nearly twenty minutes of trying, and not succeeding, she gave up. It wasn't working, and wouldn't work tonight. Deciding instead to go to bed and curl up with a good book before turning in for the night, she left her comfortable spot on the sofa and headed for the bedroom.
Her uniform jacket was hastily removed as she went, quickly followed by the captain's pips on her collar. Entering the room, she walked over to the dresser, and placed the four pips in the little dish where she kept them. It was then her eyes fell on the small but incredibly beautiful blue stone lying beside it.
It had been a present from Chakotay a few weeks earlier. After going for over a month without any sign of a habitable planet let alone an M class planet, they had stumbled upon a small but very appealing world. The crew had gathered much needed supplies before taking the rare opportunity to have a few days shore leave.
She and Chakotay had spent most of their own shore leave time together. On only one occasion had they left the ship without the other, wanting to spend a quiet moment planetside. It was from his own solitary trip that Chakotay had returned, bringing with him the stone.
He had risen early one morning, long before alpha shift was due to begin, and taken a walk on one of the small rocky continents of the planet. He had told her how he had noticed something glittering in the sun, and on closer inspection, had discovered the perfectly formed stone.
As he had stood in front of her in the ready room, showing her the stone resting in his hand, she had wondered what had made him give it to her. She must have looked as curious as she felt as he had instantly explained to her that it was simply a gift, that when he had picked it up and studied it he knew he wanted to give it to her.
It had been a surprise to her, so he had taken her hand and placed the stone on her palm before quietly turning and leaving. A warm feeling had crept into her heart, one she hadn't felt for a long time. Neither had mentioned it again.
Picking up the stone from her dresser, Kathryn turned it over in her hand, running her fingers over the smooth, shiny surface. Carrying it to her bed, she sat on the edge. Memories of those few moments in her ready room came to mind as though they had just happened, immediately followed by countless other moments they had shared, and helped her to finally acknowledge that it wasn't just the earlier attack that had left her so unsettled.
As she gazed at the stone, she smiled at those memories, and accepted that Chakotay's words to her in the ready room that morning were still foremost in her thoughts. If she was completely honest with herself, she could have returned to her quarters some time ago, but she didn't want to be left alone to contemplate what had happened, and had almost happened, between them that day.
Now, thinking back, she was aware that she should have seen it coming. She had noticed Chakotay had been much quieter than usual, especially when around her. Every now and then she would find him watching her, whether she was in her command chair or pacing back and forth on the bridge. Little things, that when put together, should have forewarned her.
But even if it was unexpected, Kathryn knew her behaviour earlier in the ready room was inexcusable. Regret and guilt flowed through her, mixed with real fear that she had damaged their friendship. Knowing there was only one thing to do, the only thing that was right to do given her feelings, Kathryn left her quarters, the stone still held tightly in the palm of her hand.
Chakotay had long since given up hope of getting to sleep any time soon. He had tried some reading and had even replicated a nauseating remedy for insomnia the computer had suggested. Neither had worked. Finally he had tried a vision quest, but the fact that he resisted his animal guide's attempts to discuss what was troubling him, it only made him feel worse.
And now here he was, tossing and turning once more, having done what he had done to prevent this. Too focussed on berating himself for his actions, he jumped, startled when the door chime rang. Already wide awake, he was soon on his feet and heading for the door, grabbing his robe on the way. Though surprised at the late night call, he was fairly certain it was nothing to worry about. If there had been an emergency, he would have been alerted directly from the bridge.
Tightening his robe around him, he pressed the button to open the door, and found the last person he would have picked to be standing there requesting entry in the middle of the night.
"Chakotay... could I come in for a moment please?"
He merely nodded and stood aside to let her enter. His surprise heightened as he took in her appearance. She still wore her uniform, but her jacket, while on, was hanging open. Not to mention she seemed to be short all her pips.
"What can I do for you Captain," he asked once the doors had closed. He looked round his quarters, a little unsure if he should do or say anything else. But she was quick to turn and face him, a mixture of regret and shame clearly visible on her face.
"I wanted to apologise Chakotay," she began. He stood motionless, rather surprised at her words.
"I'm sorry; my behaviour in the ready room this morning was inexcusable."
Chakotay nodded, quickly considering his reply. It only took him seconds to realise there was only one possible answer. "Apology accepted." He kept his tone neutral, not exactly sure where the conversation was heading. It was apparent there was more she wanted to say, though wasn't quite sure whether she should say it or not.
"Was there something else?" he prompted.
There was a long moment of silence before she finally responded. "Can I ask you something Chakotay?"
It was his turn to hesitate, wanting to forget the morning's events, but unable to relinquish the little hope he still had that things could change between them. So again, he gave the only answer he could. "Of course."
"Hypothetically speaking, what would you do if a member of this crew told you she had feelings for you?"
Chakotay stood stunned, vaguely aware that she had just managed to surprise him for the second time that night. Unable to think straight, he said the first thing that came to mind.
"I suppose, hypothetically speaking, that it would depend on who the officer in question was."
As she made her way towards him, Chakotay began to wonder if he really had fallen asleep and this was all a dream.
"What if the officer in question was me?"
He paused, that glimmer of hope rising exponentially, before making a decision. "Well, hypothetically speaking, I would show you exactly what I've wanted to do for a very long time."
Reaching out to her, Chakotay took her hand and tugged her towards him until they stood toe to toe. He wrapped his arms around her waist, clasping them behind her back, letting his eyes wander across her face.
Any hesitation on either side vanished, and Kathryn only waited a fleeting moment before standing on tip toe and wrapping her arms around his neck, pulling him into their first kiss. Chakotay lost all rational thought the moment her lips touched his, and willingly lost himself in the warmth and security of her arms.
He was vaguely aware of tightening his grip on her body, pulling her closer until even the air between them disappeared. The urge to have her as near as possible was almost overpowering, stronger than any he had thought possible. Slowly, his hand began to creep up her back, exploring the expanse of back under all the layers of Starfleet uniform, wondering exactly how she would feel once it was removed.
But thoughts were quickly lost when he felt her own hands wandering. One remained around his neck, while the other slipped through his hair, over the outer ear, and trailed down his neck until it came to rest on his chest. There it stayed, placed over his heart, as they continued to deepen the kiss.
He felt rather than heard the moan that escaped her, and gladly pressed his mouth harder to hers, torn between wanting to be slow and tender or release all the passion he felt at once. But the need to savour every moment decided him, and he simply allowed himself to get lost in her again and return her kisses with the mixture of tenderness and passion he felt.
Leisurely they began to ease out of the kiss, taking the opportunity to watch the other, now and then placing small chaste kisses to a nose or a chin. Rather breathless, they simply held one another, more than happy to remain like that for now.
Chakotay couldn't help the smile that spread over his face; he couldn't remember being this happy in such a long time. But he was rather curious about one thing.
"Can I ask you something Kathryn?"
He moved back slightly, puzzled when he heard her muffled laughter.
"What's so funny?"
"Real or hypothetical?" Her grin was contagious and Chakotay couldn't help but return it.
"Real. What made you change your mind?" He watched her still smiling face before he realised she had taken away the hand that was placed on his chest and held her palm up, open for him to see.
Chakotay looked down and watched as she unclenched her hand. He immediately recognised the stone he had given her as a gift a few weeks ago. But he was still confused.
"I don't understand."
"I was getting ready for bed when I saw it lying on my dresser." She shrugged. "I remembered the day you gave it to me, how I was taken aback, but... every time I look at it, I think of that day and how much it meant to me. How I hoped that maybe you had a reason other than... friendship, for giving it to me." She stopped and looked up, a rather sheepish look on her face.
"Looking at it tonight reminded me of exactly what you were offering, and even though I panicked this morning, I knew that it was definitely what I wanted too."
Chakotay wrapped his arms around Kathryn again, pulling her back towards him. He knew it didn't really matter what had made her change her mind, he was just glad that she had.
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