Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Voyager and characters, and all things Trek belong to Paramount. No infringement intended.
This is the first story I posted, and it's unbetaed.
Thank you to Sue for hosting this site and my stories.
Captain Kathryn Janeway walked slowly and quietly along the corridor toward her quarters with her head down, thinking. Chakotay had, as was typical of him, given her a wonderful birthday present, and she had spent several luxurious hours on the holodeck running the programs. He had obviously spent a great deal of time creating the different scenarios, each intended for nothing more than her sheer enjoyment and utter relaxation. She was wondering how to properly thank him, yet still maintain the necessary, self-imposed distance she had kept between them. It was always a difficult balancing act; gifts like this only highlighted the difference in their goals for this relationship. It was a constant, bittersweet lifeline they both clung to, and fought against. The dichotomous nature of their relationship was a source of speculation among the crew, and even themselves. A satisfactory resolution continually eluded her. She felt vulnerable tonight, as if he had somehow broken through some of her defences with this gift, and she wasn’t really sure how she felt about that. The distance seemed to be lessening … but could it? One thing she did know – they needed to talk.
She turned the corner nearest her rooms, and almost ran into him, standing in front of her doors. She opened her mouth to speak, but he spoke first.
“I hope you enjoyed yourself tonight.”
“Thank you, Chakotay,I did. Very much. “
He must have heard something in the tone of the words. “But….. ?“
“Well, but… we both know why this won’t work.” Kathryn felt a wave of sadness wash over her.
He sighed and looked down, his shoulders sagging slightly.
“You’re dumping me,” he said, softly.
“Look, Chakotay, you are a wonderful person. You’re smart, you’re funny, you’re sweet and considerate and caring …. and you’re extremely handsome …..and very sexy! I’m extremely flattered that you’ve had any interest in me!”
He looked up at that, and she continued. “But… well, I just don’t see us going anywhere. I want more than you can give me. We both know that, don’t we? If I was younger, I’d happily take what we’ve had and it would be more than enough! You are good in bed!!” Kathryn felt as if she’d been punched.
He tilted his head to one side and started to speak, but she continued on, laughter in her voice. “I will definitely miss that! But it’s not enough any more. I need a full, committed relationship. I need someone who can love me, and who might even consider spending the rest of his life with me. And that won’t ever be you.”
He started to protest, but she interrupted again. “No, no, look where we are, Chakotay.”
Katherine moved quickly back around the corner as he turned to face the door. “We are in front of the Captain’s quarters… again.”
Chakotay sighed loudly, and shook his head. He sounded embarrassed when he spoke. “I’m really sorry, Michelle… again.”
“Hey, it’s ok. It’s no secret. Everybody knows how you feel about her. I knew going into this that I was up against some really tough competition. I was just hoping I’d be the one to break through that spell and change your heart…. Hey, it was kind of funny the first couple times you tried to walk me home and we ended up here …” She bit her lip and looked at him with raised eyebrows, smirking.
Chakotay ran his hand over his face, still shaking his head. “I am sorry. I can’t believe I did that to you again.” He sighed. “With the Captain, it’s … complicated. Really, I’m sorry. I just … ” He paused, as if unsure of what to do next. “Can I at least walk you home, to the right door this time?”
They both laughed, but she declined, smiling.
“No, thanks. I think I’ll just go back to Sandrine’s and drown my sorrows for awhile before I turn in. I won’t be responsible for my actions if you come back into my quarters!” She half-smiled as she reached up and touched Chakotay’s cheek. Then she stood up on her tiptoes, kissed him on the other cheek, and smiled. “Good night, Chakotay. I hope you get through to the Captain before you break the heart of every other woman on this ship!” She smirked at him. “Maybe I’ll help – I should just find her and tell her what she’s missing!” she asked mischievously. The look on his face must have been alarming, because she hurriedly added, “It’s ok, I’m kidding, really!” She stood quietly for a moment, then said goodnight again, and turned around and walked away.
Chakotay stood for several minutes, looking after where she had gone, occasionally shaking his head or sighing loudly and rubbing his hand over his forehead. Then he straightened up, took a deep breath, and looked at Kathryn’s door. He asked the computer for the time, nodded to himself, and then rang her chime. Kathryn felt a slight panic as he rung again, then asked the computer for her location. She rounded the corner at a fast walk, just as the computer told Chakotay that she was on Deck Three, just outside her quarters.
His smile lit up the entire hallway when he saw her. Kathryn returned his smile, but had difficulty meeting his eyes. She tried to look casual. She asked him if he’d been waiting long as she punched in her access code. Seven years, he thought, but said, “I’ve only just arrived. I wondered if you enjoyed your birthday present?” They went inside.
“Oh, Chakotay, it was .. good. Very relaxing.” She hurried over to the replicator, then stopped, took several calming breaths, and asked Chakotay if he would like anything. He hesitated, then asked her if she’d like him to grab some wine for them to share. She panicked for just a moment but then agreed. She laughed nervously as she turned to get some wineglasses. Chakotay thought she seemed on edge for someone claiming to be very relaxed, but let it go for now. He left to get the wine.
After setting the wineglasses on the coffee table, Kathryn groaned and flopped onto the couch. She was in turmoil. She was jealous and deliriously happy, both at the same time. She also felt hesitant and cautious, while wanting to jump in, heart-first. What to do? She stared out at the passing stars for inspiration, sinking deeper into the couch and deeper in thought. No, no, no….
Chakotay let himself back into Kathryn’s quarters a few minutes later, and found her seated by the viewport, staring out at the stars. She didn’t look up when he came in, nor when he opened and then poured their wine. He approached quietly, holding out her glass to her. Chakotay wondered if she knew he was there. He eventually set her glass on the table, sat across from her, and waited.
She finally turned and looked at him, and watched him for a long time. He couldn’t tell what she was thinking, and began to worry that she was upset because she felt he had again overstepped the limits of their friendship with his birthday gift. He watched her for awhile, and realized she didn’t seem angry, though, just pensive. That gave him hope that she would open up and talk to him tonight. He looked back at her, smiling slightly to encourage… something.
A few minutes later, she picked up her wineglass and offered a toast, “To friendship”. She smiled, with longing in her eyes. Did he realize the depth of her feelings for him? Did he know that he was her lifeline, that he kept her sane, and that he was the best friend that she’d ever had? Would he ever know what it had cost her to keep her distance from him, and not tell him these things? She could not involve herself in a relationship with him because of the circumstances of their situation, yet those same affections kept her going. By not openly admitting her affections, she was sure she was going to lose him one day… maybe to the next “Michelle”. It broke her heart to consider that. Her feelings tonight demonstrated that clearly. It was because of her feelings toward him that she could not reciprocate. Oh, the irony of it all.
He smiled back at her, and repeated, “To friendship” and they clinked their glasses. She did not understand the depth of his respect and admiration for her, nor the love and commitment he was willing to give. She did not know that she grounded him, and that being with her gave him a peace that he had never known in all his life. But he also felt incomplete, wanting to give her more of himself, and wanting all of her in return, and he wondered if she would ever know the strength of his passion for her.
They both knew they worked well together, and made a great command team. They frequently pondered if that was all they could ever be while they were stuck in the Delta Quadrant. They both hoped they’d make it home – soon enough, both still alive, and both still in love. Love? Did they both feel that way? They didn’t know; they never discussed it. They only knew how each of them felt about the other, and how that might affect their duty and obligations to Voyager. Chakotay knew it would work; Kathryn was terrified it would interfere with her responsibilities.
Kathryn took a sip of her wine, and forced another smile at Chakotay. He eagerly returned it, hoping to lighten the mood. He broke the ice with joke about his gift. They talked a bit about the holodeck programs he had given Kathryn, and she began to relax as she described the time she spent in her favourite scenario. She noted, with a smirk to herself, that although all of the programs were quite enjoyable for her, there were extended additional components that were meant to supplement the program when she had a ‘guest’ with her. She mentioned the ‘expandability’ of the program, and he merely smiled and winked. He never gave up, she mused, and then stopped suddenly, surprised at how happy that notion made her feel. How might she feel if he did give up one day? That was not something she wanted to think about. They talked some more, and she gradually relaxed into the comfortable familiarity of his company, secure in the knowledge that she hadn’t lost him just yet.
Sometime during the second bottle of wine, which Kathryn belatedly realized was on an empty stomach, she came to the realization that their relationship really was no different than any other bit of ship’s business, and was worthy of an honest discussion and analysis. She had evaded this issue many times, but tonight she had a different perspective, no doubt aided by two bottles of Chakotay’s finest. There really could be no harm done, and it really should be addressed, in all fairness to everyone involved, she reasoned. She looked over her wine glass at his relaxed, happy face, and talked herself into initiating the discussion she now desperately wanted to have.
“Chakotay, can I ask you something?”
He eyed her speculatively, but with a smile on his face. “Anything, always,” he replied.
“I’ve been thinking about morale on this ship.. how is it?…” He told her that the crew seemed to have adjusted to the latest chaos that constituted the norm of their trip through this area, and that most people seemed content. She inquired specifically about a few crewmembers who had been having some interpersonal difficulties, then bluntly asked Chakotay how he was doing.
He smiled at her, curious at her tactics. “I have the best job on the ship! Look at me – discussing personnel issues with the Captain over a couple bottles of good wine! What could be better?”
She smiled indulgently, and then spoke more seriously. “I want to know how you really are… We talk about everything that is vital to the smooth running of this ship, but we rarely talk about us.”
“Uh…. us?” Chakotay stammered, clearly surprised. “As in, the physical and emotional well-being of the Captain and the First Officer, or ‘us’ as in, you and me, as in, together?”
Kathryn looked at him, swallowed, and calmly said, “Both. They are related, aren’t they?”
Chakotay sat still, trying to decide how to approach this. He was a great tactition, but this was a no-win situation, if past experience was any indication. He decided to give her the opening shot.
“Where should we start?” He honestly wanted to know.
“Smooth!” she said, as she gave him half a smile. “Let’s start with you. What’s on your mind? What’s been going on with you… good, bad and ugly. How are you feeling?” She paused, and looked away. When he didn’t respond right away, she looked back and continued, “Why did you go to so much trouble for my birthday?”
He sighed, and shook his head slightly. “It is all connected; you’re right… I wasn’t lying when I said I love my position here on Voyager. We have a great crew, and a great ship, and we make a hell of a team. It is an honour working with you. I have a great boss.” He paused, pleased to see a slight blush appear on her cheeks that he didn’t think was related to the wine. She didn’t look away. “The only thing missing for me is … “ Hmm, how to word this? “someone. Someone who wants to spend time with me, to share my heart, and … maybe, hopefully, more.” Her blush increased, and though she still didn’t speak, she continued to meet his gaze. She was pleased that they were embarking honestly on this conversation, but was feeling nervous nonetheless. He pressed on. “I’ve been feeling lonely lately, feeling a bit old, I guess. Feeling a bit like my life is passing me by and I have nothing to show for it, except for whatever kind of career this will be considered when we get back to the Alpha Quadrant. And it’s good, but it’s not enough; I want someone in my life. I need someone in my life. I guess I’m having difficulty with that, if you want an honest answer.” After that honest admission, he felt defeated, with all of his inadequacies and shortcomings laid open. He continued, slowly, hoping he wasn’t crossing the line that would shut her down. “I guess I thought you might be feeling some of the same isolation and stress … but maybe I was wrong….. It’s … not like we have that many opportunities for R&R on board…. I was just trying to help, Captain, to lighten your load... I guess I thought you’d be comfortable relaxing on the holodeck … I’m sorry if I … went too far.” He straightened up to look at her fully. He expected his hard work and loving actions to be rejected, but quickly realized she wasn’t angry. She wasn’t defensive either. She was looking at him with an odd expression on her face.
She completely surprised him. “Thank you,” she said softly, and smiled tentatively. She wasn’t going to let him hide behind their ranks right now. She took a deep breath, and then finished her thought. “I really did enjoy the holodeck; it really was wonderful. And thank you for telling me all that, too. You’re right, we are very isolated. One of the perks of the job!” she added with an ironic tone. “It’s hard to be friends with crewmembers and be their commanding officer. It’s also hard to be concerned about friendship and love when survival is paramount, but that excuse wears thin after awhile too … I value our friendship, Chakotay, more than you might ever know. I don’t know what I would ever do without you!” She smiled at him, and he felt very happy for the first time in a long time. The Captain didn’t often admit her feelings, and he was sure he’d heard the word ‘love’ in there. He’d have to remember this particular vintage!
She surprised him when she continued speaking. She sounded embarrassed. “Chakotay, I need to apologize. I … overheard you speaking with Ensign Willette earlier tonight. I’m… sorry.”
Chakotay felt annoyed for being embarrassed and tried to calm down with a few deep breaths before speaking. Before he could decide how to respond, however, she asked, “Was that really the third time you walked her home to MY quarters?”
“Yes!” He groaned. He didn’t know what else to add, but the annoyance must have been evident in his voice, because she apologized again.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. I’m just … surprised, I guess.”
Their eyes met, but he couldn’t read her. “Surprised at what? That I’m such an inconsiderate dolt? Poor Michelle! Imagine how she feels.”
She stood up and stepped around to sit on the edge of the small table, facing him, and took his hand in hers. “You are not a dolt. No doubt you had too much on your mind, that’s all… She seemed to … understand,” she finished, gently running her thumb over the back of his hand.
He did not respond right away, still somewhat embarrassed. Then the rest of Michelle’s word’s came back to him. Kathryn was calmly looking at him, and was sitting so close to him that their knees were touching. If she wasn’t hiding, neither was he. He threw caution to the wind. “You mean she understands that I’m hopelessly in love with you?”
Kathryn was not surprised to hear him say those words, but still felt a jolt of excitement when he did. He had expected her to run away from him, but she just swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded. The silence that followed was not uncomfortable. They looked at each other for several seconds before she blinked a couple times, and a few stray tears made their way down her cheeks. He let go of her hand and reached over to wipe the tears away, and she leaned into his hand, surprising him again.
“Chakotay?” she asked, in a small voice. “Will you hold me?”
He didn’t need her to ask him twice. He pulled her toward him, onto his lap, and wrapped his arms around her. She relaxed gratefully into his arms, sighing loudly. Without thinking, he placed several light kisses on the top of her head as he sat there, rocking her slightly.
After a few minutes, she turned to look up into his face. The love shining from his eyes made her feel weak, and she was glad she wasn’t standing. “Chakotay, I’m … afraid. I don’t know how to do … this.”
His heart was beating madly. He leaned forward to gently cover her lips with his. It was a brief kiss. The second kiss lingered deliciously. He leaned back and smiled at her. “We’ll figure it out, Kathryn. Do you trust me?”
“With my life,” she answered, without hesitation.
“With your ship? Your crew? Your mission?”
“With your heart?” he asked, seriously.
“That’s the one I’m having trouble with,“ she admitted. “But we will figure it out. We need to. I don’t think I can go back, not after being kissed like that!” She smiled broadly at him, radiating the contentment she felt.
He smiled at her, unable to contain his joy. “We can do this. We will get this crew home, together. I said it before, we make a great team. This can only make it better, can’t it?”
“I think so. That’s what I’ve been wondering about… if we are together, and happy, that has to be good for the ship – for each of us, individually, as the command team, and as part of the crew. I know the ship will still come first for both of us, always. But we will be right behind!”
Chakotay nodded. “I know the crew will be very happy for us.” He laughed then. “Tom will be going nuts, paying out all those wagers. You did know that the rumours have been flying for years about us?”
“I wonder who won,” she laughed, nodding.
“I think we both did,” he answered, and hugged her. She laughed at his cheesiness, and hugged him back.
Both were very happy, a little nervous, and a bit surprised at the turn of events for the evening. For quite a while, they just held each other, kissed in an unhurried sensuous tease, and revelled in the feeling of each other’s arms. After a few minutes, Kathryn smiled and said, “So, what’s this other rumour I hear about broken-hearted crewmen out there? I’m jealous!”
“A falsehood, ma’am. A lie. No truth to that rumour, none at all,” he answered, surprised at her candor. He resumed his gentle kissing and caressing of her body.
“I hope so! I AM the Captain, after all. I hereby order all pretty young ensigns to keep their minds on their work and not on their Commander!” He laughed, and said he’d have Tuvok carry out that request.
She looked at him seductively then. “I can’t wait to find out if the other rumour is true, though.”
“If what’s true?” he asked, not really caring as he was busy nuzzling behind her ear.
“If you really are that good in bed… rumour has it –“ The rest of her comment was lost as he hungrily devoured her lips before they began to address that particular bit of speculation.