Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager and its characters are property of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Forget particle fountains and subspace inversions," Captain Janeway began with easy dismissal, "There isn't an anomaly scarier than a thunderstorm on the plains...especially when you're six years old." The memory was still amazingly clear in her mind as she recalled it to the man sitting next to her.
"I remember watching a bolt of lightning split an oak tree in my Grandfather's yard. I climbed it just a few hours before."
Chakotay smiled, finding it hard to believe even a six year-old Kathryn Janeway could be scared by such a simple scientific anomaly. But after taking a sip from his glass he simply replied, "Good timing."
"So ... what would've happened if you hadn't turned our deflector dish into a lightning rod?" Kathryn asked curiously.
"We've been down this road before," Chakotay answered, throwing her a chiding look. 'Many times before,' he added silently.
Chakotay nodded saying, "You wanting answers to questions you shouldn't ask."
Kathryn knew she shouldn't but couldn't help herself. "But something did happen...outside the normal space time continuum," she mused, not expecting or receiving a reply. "It's strange thinking there's a piece of your life you don't know anything about."
Chakotay shrugged. "Sounds a lot like the future." He watched as she took this in, obviously reflecting on what he had said.
"Any predictions?" she finally asked.
"Only that in a few minutes, this bottle will be empty." He realised as soon as the words left his mouth that it was an obvious change of topic, but that couldn't be helped right now.
"Then maybe you should go to the cargo bay and grab another one," Kathryn said, the faint hint of a smile playing on her lips.
Chakotay sat amazed. "How did you know that's where I kept it?"
"I can't tell you."
Kathryn struggled to keep her face straight while saying, "Temporal Prime Directive."
Chakotay watched her carefully, not quite sure how to respond to that. Had she somehow found his hiding place? Had she encountered an anomaly like he himself had? He prided himself on being able to read her, but right now he felt more than a little lost. Something he was unaccustomed to when around her.
They sat watching one another, Kathryn's mischievous smile beginning to slowly disappear, his look of surprise changing to one of curiosity, with a touch of something else. The easy carmaderie they had enjoyed throughout the evening evaporated, a slight but familiar tension working its way between them instead.
Clearing his throat, Chakotay dropped his eyes to the table between them, attempting to shake this feeling before it could become too much for either of them.
"Well, I better go to the cargo bay for another bottle," he said, lifting the bottle and shaking the remnants left at the bottom.
"Okay, I'll clear up here," Kathryn replied, nodding towards the dining table they had left earlier, standing as she spoke. Chakotay followed her example, smiling at her, and quietly walked towards the door. "I'll be back in a few minutes," he called over his shoulder, and the doors whooshed shut behind him.
A long sigh escaped Kathryn's lips as soon as the doors closed. She sank back into the chair she had just left, her shaking legs unable to hold her up any longer. She hadn't meant to let him know she knew where he kept the cider, that had been a mistake. It had slipped out before she realised what she was saying. And it had alerted him to the fact that she may know something. She had done so well up until then, playing the part of a curious and stubborn Captain. Just what he expected.
She sat lost in thought, recalling the day's events. She hadn't yet had a chance to think them through, like she always liked to. She and Chakotay had been eager to finish the dinner they hadn't had the chance to really start.
Thinking of Chakotay, Kathryn realised with a start that he would be back soon. She drew in a deep, steadying breath, pushed herself up from the chair and moved to clear the table. Quickly she placed the dishes back into the replicator, gave the table a wipe and pushed the chairs back into their usual position. For a moment she looked at the chairs they had moved to after dinner, hoping to relax a little. But with a shake of the head she decided they could have this bottle of cider on the couch. Together.
The ringing of the door chime startled Kathryn, the sudden noise piercing through the quiet room. She raised her head from the back of the couch where it had been resting and called for him to enter.
"Well, one more bottle of cider per Captain's requests," Chakotay joked as he moved over to the couch and sat down beside her. "We better be careful, I wouldn't want the supply to run down too quickly," he laughed as he uncorked it.
"Indeed we would not." Kathryn's laughter joined his as she sat up and reached for the glasses she had left on the small table. Holding them out in front of her, he began to pour.
She watched him, trying not to be too obvious about it, as he filled the glasses to almost full then set the bottle back on the table. When he turned for his drink she handed it to him, and they smiled as their glasses touched in a silent toast.
Each took a sip from their glass then settled further into the couch, silence settling over them. But as time passed, Kathryn sensed something else, something that hung in the air between them.
"Is something wrong Chakotay?" she asked tentatively.
When he didn't reply right away, she turned her body to face him, watching his face for any clue about what he was thinking or feeling.
"Chakotay?" she prompted when he still didn't answer.
She saw his eyes settle on her face, very briefly, before he sat up and placed his glass of cider back on the table. He'd hardly touched it.
Chakotay took a deep breath before beginning. "I don't know. I was hoping maybe you could tell me that."
This time Chakotay turned his body round to face Kathryn, both sitting that little bit closer than they had before.
"I thought about what you said on my way to the cargo bay. I wasn't quite sure how to take it, you knowing where I kept the cider. How did you know? And please," he added quickly, "Don't say anything about the Temporal Prime Directive."
He watched her closely; the concerned look leaving her face, one of anxiety and hesitation taking its place. That alone confirmed that there had been a deeper meaning to her statement.
"You didn't mean to say that did you?" he guessed correctly.
An argument began within Kathryn. Should she tell him what she knew, should she pretend that she had come across the cider by accident? But she soon realised that there wasn't really a choice. Of course she would tell him. She knew she could never deliberately lie to him. And anyway, the Temporal Prime Directive didn't apply here.
"You're right, I didn't mean to say that. It slipped out before I realised it."
"How Kathryn," Chakotay pressed, "How did you know where I keep the cider? And don't tell me you found it by accident, I know that's not true."
She stared at him, almost believing he had read her mind. She continued to watch him, the words forming on her tongue unable to escape past her lips. She cleared her throat, and tried again.
"You told me where you kept it." It wasn't much but it was a start.
"I told you?" Chakotay asked confused. "I only told ... "
Suddenly understanding lit Chakotay's features. He recalled telling the younger Kathryn Janeway about the cider after leaving an older Naomi and Icheb in astrometrics. That Kathryn had been curious about Icheb's comment. His look grew startled, more startled than any she had ever seen on him as full understanding dawned on him.
"Kathryn?" It was almost a plea.
"I suppose I should start at the beginning, shouldn't I?" Kathryn said, realising there was no turning back now. He didn't answer, just continued to watch her, hanging on every word she said.
"Not long after you appeared back on the bridge a few hours ago, I gained memories that I didn't have before." Kathryn paused, gathering her thoughts, deciding what to say next. "The first thing I recalled was being in the ready room, but only briefly," she added quickly. "Then I was being pulled backwards, by you, and we both stood and watched as Rollins stared at us but didn't seem to see us."
"That's when I injected you with the serum," Chakotay almost whispered, thinking out loud. He looked up at her. "What's the last thing you remember?"
She thought about it for a few minutes then said, "I was sitting in my chair on the bridge and then .. nothing."
"So you know nearly everything that happened." It was more a statement, not a question.
"Yes, I do," she answered quietly. "But how's that possible? I should have no memory of that time line what-so-ever." Now that it was out in the open, Kathryn felt a faint sense of relief, but she wanted answers to questions that had bothered her for the past couple of hours.
They both sat in silence, trying to determine how Kathryn's memories had remained intact.
"The serum," Chakotay finally said.
"From what you've said, you're memories begin as soon as I injected the serum into your system. Somehow, it must have...protected you from losing the memories."
"But others were injected with it as well," she countered, not entirely convinced. "Tom, Harry. They should all have some memory of the events. They haven't said anything." She then thought some more about his choice of words. "Is there more that I can't remember?"
Chakotay hesitated, the Temporal Prime Directive still in his thoughts, but he really didn't see how discussing it could harm the time line.
"Yes, there is. When I walked onto your bridge, you thought I had beamed over from the Maquis ship. You had me sent to the brig. To cut a long story short, I made it back to the bridge with the serum, where I began to try and explain to you what had happened."
"I don't remember any of that," Kathryn said.
"It must be the serum. You hadn't been injected with it at that point, so you can't recall those memories from that time."
"But that still doesn't explain why the others can't remember," she persisted.
Chakotay shrugged. Like Kathryn, he didn't like getting into the mechanics of time. It didn't help that he had even less of a grasp on it than Kathryn did. "Maybe it has something to do with the length of time the serum was in your system. Or maybe they do remember but just haven't spoken about it."
Kathryn's look showed she didn't believe that last statement at all. But the first? Quite possibly.
"I suppose the length of time the serum is in the body could be a factor," she mused. "And it was a while after the time line was restored that the memories surfaced."
Neither said anything else, a hush descending on them once again as they thought about what had been said. When Kathryn had asked if something was bothering Chakotay, she hadn't expected the conversation to take this direction. She felt over-whelmed. How must Chakotay feel?
They each continued to sit without speaking, recalling the events of that time. Remembering how Kathryn had almost instinctively trusted Chakotay, how they had worked so well together to get Voyager back into temporal sync. But the thought foremost on both their minds now, was their last conversation.
'Mind if I ask you one last question?'
'Will I have to break the Temporal Prime Directive to answer it?'
'Maybe just a little. For two people who started off as enemies, it seems we get to know each other pretty well.'
'I've been wondering .. just how close do we get?'
'Let's just say, there are .. barriers we never cross.'
"Kathryn." "Chakotay." They both started at the same time. Laughter broke the silence, washing away some of the tension.
"On you go," Chakotay said and waited for her to continue.
"Well .. I just wanted to thank you. For how you handled the situation." Kathryn cringed at how that sounded, hoping he knew what she meant. She relaxed slightly when he smiled, understanding showing.
"You're welcome." He waited a moment and when she said nothing, he reached over and gently took her hand in his. "Kathryn, I want you to know that ... while there may be certain parts of our past I wish had gone differently, I do realise that it's those choices which have given us the friendship we have today."
When he paused, she gripped his hand tighter, moving her other hand to cover his, wanting him to continue. Needing him to continue. She knew her reaction surprised him, but it had the desired effect, and encouraged him to carry on.
"I would never do anything that would hurt you, regardless of how I may .. wish, hope .. for something .. more."
That simple statement moved her deeply. A weight lifted from her shoulders, a weight of guilt she had carried for stranding them all in the Delta Quadrant. But perhaps most noticeably, the guilt she had felt at ignoring this 'thing' between them also vanished, leaving in its wake a bitter sweet sensation.
"Thank you," she whispered, barely loud enough for him to hear. She gripped his hand even tighter and slowly leaned across the space between them to kiss him.
It was a soft, gentle kiss on his cheek, meant to thank him for what he had done. But as she pulled back and their eyes met, she realised that no kiss between them could ever be anything less than what it should be.
And this should be more.
She felt as though Chakotay read her mind again, as he slowly wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him, closing the gap that remained between them. When she settled against him, he left his arm around her waist, his other hand travelling up to cup her face, his thumb making slow circular motions across her cheek.
Kathryn was scared to move, believing that if she did, it would all end, just like the dreams she had had so often. Instead she watched him and savoured the feel of his hand caressing her skin.
She noticed his eyes appeared even darker than usual in the dim light of her quarters, starlight reflecting in them, open wide as he took in the sight of her before him. His skin intrigued her, appearing softer now than she had imagined, and she gave in to temptation and reached out, cradling his face as he was doing to hers.
He sighed at the contact, and she watched as his eyes slipped closed. Peace emanated from him in waves and it consumed her, pulling her deeper and deeper into its embrace.
"Open your eyes," she whispered, "Please."
He did as she asked, and as they looked at one another, they both knew that tonight the barriers they had built between them would be shattered, and would never be raised again.
Needing more, Kathryn took the hand that cradled her face into her own, brushing a tender kiss across the palm. She felt Chakotay shiver, the sensitised flesh reacting to her touch. The fingers of her other hand soon joined in the quest to touch more of Chakotay, lifting to trace the outline of his lips, feeling their full softness, fantasising about how they would feel against her skin.
"Make love to me Chakotay." She was almost sure he hadn't heard her, but she saw his lips turn up ever so slightly, a smile forming. He didn't say anything, but instead took his hand from hers and lifted it to the side of her head, gently pulling her face towards his.
Kathryn's breath caught as she waited for their lips to touch. She wanted to keep her eyes open, to see his reaction. But as soon as his breath danced across her lips, she sighed contentedly and gave in, allowing her eyes to flutter shut. Slowly but surely his lips brushed against hers, both shuddering as sensations over-whelmed them. His lips were soft, but firm, moving over hers in a sensual motion, feather soft, not stopping until the need for air was too great. When they parted, she kept her eyes closed and placed light kisses on his mouth trying to prolong the feeling, delighting in the feel of him. That old saying suddenly came back to her. That when one sense is lost, the others work overtime to compensate. She knew now that it was true. The smell and taste of him lingered on.
Reluctantly she left his lips, trailing kisses along his jaw, working further down to his neck. She felt his hands raking through her hair, holding her as close to him as humanly possible. She started to move lower, but he stopped her, placing his fingers under her chin, bringing her back to eye level with him.
This time he dropped his head, his warm, moist lips making contact with her neck, nuzzling until he found the exact spot he had been looking for. She gasped as his lips moved over a very sensitive spot, and urged him on.
Chakotay understood, and left the spot on her neck, trailing his hands from her shoulders to her sides, moving them up to feel the weight of her breasts. His fingers traced the outline of her nipples through her uniform and she arched into his touch, trying to increase their contact. Kathryn whispered her pleasure in his ear, grasping at tufts of his thick dark hair, clenching and unclenching her hands in time with Chakotay's movements, her breathing growing shallower by the minute.
But she couldn't stop a smile as she felt Chakotay's reaction as her knee rubbed against his growing erection. She took advantage of their position, grinding her knee slowly over him, delighting in hearing his steady breathing growing more erratic.
"We need to get rid of the uniform Kathryn," Chakotay gulped, the first words he had uttered for some time. With steady, deliberate movements he slipped his hand inside her jacket, gliding it over her stomach then round her back, supporting her. She watched mesmerised as his eyes bore into her as he removed the jacket and let it drop forgotten to the floor, his hands then making quicker work of the tank top. The cold air on her skin was a shock, but his warm hands soon soothed her, heating her body with every second that passed.
Sensing his hands reaching round to the back fastener of her bra, Kathryn backed away stopping him. Rising to her feet, she held out her hands, silently inviting him to join her in the bedroom. Taking her hands, he stood, wrapped his arms around her, and bent down and kissed her deeply. He had taken her by surprise, but she eagerly kissed him back, wrapping her own arms around him, trying to pull him deeper into the embrace.
Their lips still joined, they stumbled towards the bedroom, removing pieces of clothing that remained in their way. Finally toppling to the bed, Kathryn groaned as Chakotay knelt over her, barely grazing her skin with his own. She reached out to pull him down, but when she saw him smile, she knew he had no intention of doing so just yet.
Instead, he slid his hands over her skin, beginning at her fingertips, moving up her arms, then down her sides to her waists. Kathryn's sigh of satisfaction slowly grew, escalating to low moans of pleasure as his hands explored, learning every curve of her body.
She called out when his lips closed around one nipple, his tongue swirling around it, her cries growing louder when he pulled it gently between his teeth. He lingered there before moving to the other, making sure it received the same attention. Moving lower still he kissed her navel, and she cried out again, her skin tingling with the sensations. Her hands wandered down towards him, just managing to reach his back, trailing her nails over his hot skin.
Gradually, he moved up again, this time his lips exploring where he had missed earlier, and murmured a gentle endearment against her lips as he settled against her body. She placed her hand on the back of his head, the other making random patterns on his back, and kissed him soundly, before pushing him onto his back and straddling him, keeping their lips moulded together.
Gradually easing out of the kiss, Kathryn looked into Chakotay's eyes, watching as they appeared to dance, and began her own exploration. She slithered lower down his body until she reached his thighs, brushing the back of her hands against them, not once breaking eye contact with him. Her hands travelled lower to his calves, where she suddenly stopped, making him wonder where she would go next.
But her hands were soon moving again, gliding up his calves, over his knees this time making a hot trail up the inside of his thighs. She felt his muscles tense as she neared his erection, her fingers skimming over the coarser hair she found there until they wrapped around him.
Chakotay bucked against her at the first touch, but Kathryn didn't speed up, she continued to move excruciatingly slowly, her fingers barely touching the tip of him. He shuddered against her as she moved her hand over the length of him and called her name when she quickly dropped her head to take him into her mouth. This time his cry was fevered, as her lips outlined him, taking him deeper and deeper every second. Enjoying herself, Kathryn used her lips and tongue to heighten his arousal, working until he was almost at the edge.
Knowing it was time to stop, she raised her head, letting Chakotay see her tongue run over her lips, tasting him. She was more than a little pleased with herself when she saw Chakotay's clenched jaw and gritted teeth, his hands grasping at the covers underneath him.
Desperate to feel the softness of his lips against her again, she climbed up his body ready to kiss him, but suddenly, she found herself lying flat on her back, Chakotay lying beside her. His hands reached for her waist, pulling her a little closer, and she held her breath as his fingers inched their way towards her centre, then dipped between her legs.
She arched into him, trying to heighten the contact as his fingers teased her, easing further and further inside. Kathryn urged him on, squirming under his touch, her insides tightening as the pleasure began to build. She quickly draped a leg over his thigh, opening herself to him, trying to feel him deeper inside her. But he withdrew his fingers, and pulled her close enough so she could feel his erection nesting between her legs.
Moving, he rolled her underneath him, and catching and holding his gaze, she watched as he took a deep breath and moved against her, into her. She gasped as she felt him stretch even further inside her, filling her completely. They relaxed, savouring the moment, just watching one another as they lay motionless.
With their eyes still locked, they began to move at the same time, the sensations coursing through them too much to delay any longer. Their cries rang throughout the room as he thrust against her, creating a rhythm, slowly moving deeper within her, then withdrawing almost completely. Suddenly Kathryn's eyes grew wide as he brushed against her clit, the sensations becoming more powerful. She tossed from side to side, Chakotay's name leaving her lips again and again, moaning as he came deeper and harder with each new thrust.
Just as she thought she could take no more, she felt her body stiffen and arch into him, disintegrating into a million pieces. She realised Chakotay was right behind her, pushing into her one last time before he relaxed against her, spent.
Lying together, all Kathryn could hear was their heavy breathing, a sound she more than welcomed. Slowly she began to recover, all the things she wanted to say to him fighting to get out. But before she could speak, Chakotay's lips gently pressed against hers again, murmuring words of love and affection.
She knew they had plenty to say to one another, but that was for later. Now, all that mattered, was that they had crossed that line; the barriers had been shattered, and there would never be any turning back.
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