Story Notes:

Disclaimer: Characters don't belong to me. I just take them out to play.

This is unbeta-ed. If you find glaring mistakes, please don't hesitate to let me know. I'm not a native speaker, so any input is helpful.

Her first thought when she opened her eyes was, ‘Oh god, why am I in the mess hall?’

Her stomach had already churned when she thought about just seeing Neelix' concoctions, let alone eat one of them for breakfast. But as it was, she had mysteriously run out of rations and couldn’t even have a single cup of coffee before she left her quarters that morning. She was still hoping Neelix could at least provide something resembling real coffee.

But when she took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a second and stepped through the doors to the mess hall, her apparent hangover hit her full force. It wasn’t really all that loud but the insistent chatter and Neelix cluttering in the galley made her think her head was going to explode. She had, of course, known that her best plan of action would have been going to sickbay and getting something for her nausea and headache first and then going to the mess hall. But she thought she had the nausea enough under control that she didn’t have to face the doctor and his indignant admonishing about a senior officer, and especially the captain, having too much to drink and setting a bad example for the rest of the crew. 

She actually thought that she hadn’t drunk all that much and remembered leaving Neelix’ First Night of Prixin party a little early since she had felt light-headed from the fruit compote. She also remembered running into Chakotay on her way out, or did she stumble into him? But after that her night was a huge blank spot in her brain. And due to the mere fact that she was terribly sore without knowing why and had woken up naked and clammy on top of her bed covers she had not wanted the doctor to scan her. And expecting his incessant nagging about her health as well, she had decided to treat her headache with coffee, only to find out that she had no more rations. She couldn’t decide if she even wanted to find out why she had woken sore without memory, rations, or clothes.

Deciding that under no circumstances could she stand to be in the mess hall with this headache, but also couldn’t face the Doctor right now, she headed for the bridge and straight for her ready room, raising a hand and the best death glare she could muster before Tuvok could say anything to her, only stopping when the doors to her ready room slid shut behind her. With closed eyes and a heavy moan she leaned back against the bulkhead out of the doors reach and let her head fall back against it with a thud, instantly regretting the action and wincing at the pain that shot through her skull.

“I wouldn’t do that.” A deep voice said dripping with silent laughter.

She slowly opened her eyes, knowing exactly who that voice belonged to and assuming that it was him who would most likely be able to fill the gaps in her memory. She was pleasantly surprised to find him sitting on her couch, a steaming cup of coffee and a hypospray waiting for her on her desk. When she smiled at him without a comment he quickly got up and helped her to administer the hypospray. At the hiss, she released a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding and visibly relaxed, causing Chakotay to chuckle at her antics.

“Thank you.” She said, craning her neck a little to test the effect of the pain reliever, then grabbed her cup and sat down on the couch with Chakotay.

“So since you’ve been waiting here for me all prepared, I presume you can fill me in, right?” She cast him an expectant look from under her eye lashes while she bowed her head to take the first sip of her coffee.

He watched her savor the taste in her mouth and let the liquid roll over her tongue a couple of times before swallowing with closed eyes and a heavenly sigh. He could practically feel that coffeegasm emanating from her and, gosh, it was sexy. Her tongue snaked out to remove the bit of coffee that was left on her lip and when she looked back at him she noticed that he was staring at her mouth rather than her eyes and was licking his own lips. When he got a grip on himself and looked back up she met him with a cocked eyebrow that even Tuvok would be proud of.

Not even a little ashamed for getting caught he gave her a sly grin. “I could, but where would be the fun in that?”

“I’m guessing I had a little too much fun last night.” She tried him, crossing her legs, when her body reminded her of some activity she couldn’t remember quickly uncrossing them again.

He noticed her slight wince and wondered if there was something he actually didn’t know about. “I wouldn’t say too much. You didn’t do anything that would embarrass you in front of the crew, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Yes,” She replied, giving him a curious look, “and no. Are you saying I embarrassed myself in front of you?”

“That depends…,” He leaned towards her as she took another sip of her coffee, “if you would define calling me coffee as being embarrassing.”

She choked on her coffee and had to cough a couple of times before she could say anything. “I did what?”

“You called me coffee.” He repeated, “When you tried to leave the party, you swayed into me, and the gentleman that I am, I accompanied you to your quarters to make sure no one else noticed how tipsy you were.”

“How charming of you. Without ulterior motives, I take it?” He was still amused at the color that was rising to her cheeks as he recounted the events of the previous night, but hell, there was that eyebrow again.

“I’ll have you know I was a perfect gentleman,” he laughed, “even when you invited ‘Mr Coffee in for a cup of Chakotay’.” He actually had to refrain from laughing out loud at the shocked look on her face. “And you even kept ordering black shackles from the replicator.”

“Black shackles?” So that’s why there were a dozen shackles on her table.

“Well, I’m guessing you tried to order ‘Chakotay. Black.’ but your pronunciation was lacking a bit and so you kept ordering ‘Shackle. Black.’ It really was a treat for sore eyes and you kept blaming it on the stupid machine. When I finally convinced you to leave the ‘stupid machine’ alone you announced that it was well past your bedtime and disappeared into your bedroom. That’s the last I saw of you.”

She leaned back against the couch and let her head fall back, not believing that she had gotten herself so drunk, but also thankful that Chakotay had accompanied her to her quarters. Who knows where she would have ended otherwise. Wait?

“So we didn’t…?” She asked suddenly, her head jerking back up.

“Didn’t what?”

“Uhm,” She tilted her head, her blush deepening into a crimson shade, “you know…”

“No, we didn’t.” He reassured her, although a bit pleased that she thought they could have, that she would have. “Why do you ask?”

“Just making sure, I guess.” She was relieved that Chakotay had seen to it that she didn’t embarrass herself in front of the crew and charmed that he had been such a perfect gentleman apparently. It didn’t solve her problem about how exactly she ended up the way she did, but if he was telling the truth, he didn’t seem to have anything to do with it.

Sensing her thoughts drifting away from him again, Chakotay observed her in silence for a while, wondering what had brought on her last question. While he had noticed that she was a little squeamish, he thought it had been because of her unease about what had he knew happened and her headache.

“Are we still on for dinner tonight?” He asked her after a while in silence and slowly stood up, willing to give her a few minutes of privacy before she had to get back to the bridge eventually. They had agreed on having dinner the night before and while he was more than willing to grant her time to herself now, he also wanted to make sure she was okay later. And he wasn’t about to let his chance of spending a quiet and relaxed evening with her slip away just because of her hangover.

“Hmm?” She looked him for a second confused at his questioning look, “Oh, sure.” She immediately said when his question registered.

When he left her ready room she contemplated reading up on some reports but quickly dismissed them when her brain couldn’t properly function on only one cup of coffee. She also still had to solve the mystery about her condition upon waking up but somehow she just knew that in her current state of mind and her lack of caffeine that was a moot point. When she checked her rations, still unable to believe that she had all run out, she noticed that Chakotay had transferred some if his rations to her account just now. She smiled to herself, reminding herself that she should thank him later.

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