In retrospect it was hysterically funny, but it certainly hadn't seemed that way when it was happening.
That fateful day had begun like all the others before it. The sun was rising as he finished preparing breakfast for himself and Kathryn. She appeared from her sleeping alcove, taking a seat at the table. Casting a surreptitious glance her way, he watched as her eyes closed in bliss as she held the steaming mug of coffee under her nose. He often wondered if she knew how sensual her expression was as she sat inhaling the aroma of her coffee. He watched as her lips made contact with the mug, sipping at the precious brew, and his mind wandered into dangerous territory as he thought about those lips.
"Chakotay?" she questioned.
Hearing his name he knew he'd been caught staring. He was standing before her, holding their breakfast plates of fresh fruits. "Sorry." he smiled as he quickly set them down. "It's just that, you and your coffee..." he nodded towards the mug she was still clinging to and hoped like hell she hadn't caught him staring for too long.
Laughing, she took another sip before setting it down. "Nothing comes between me and my coffee, especially my first cup of the day!"
He held his hands up in mock surrender. "Trust me, I learned that the first day I met you." he chuckled. "Rule number one, never come between you and your coffee!"
"Watch it mister, I'm invincible with this stuff." she smiled.
Giving her a dimpled grin he nodded towards the door. "And exactly how many coffee plants have you planted out there so far?"
"Enough so we won't have to use the replicator, it just doesn't compare to a fresh home brewed cup."
"What do you mean by we? You know I'm a tea drinker." He tried hard not to laugh at the indignant look she shot his way.
"We'll see about that. You'll change your mind once you've had a cup of the real stuff!" She popped the last of the fruit into her mouth and began to pick up her plate when he stopped her.
"I'll clean this up. Go tend to your coffee plants."
"Thanks." she smiled.
He watched as she left the shelter, coffee mug in hand. That radiant smile of hers had him grinning from ear to ear. He loved her so much and it warmed his heart to see her so happy and carefree. He knew she hadn't felt like this when they were first abandoned here on this planet, but as time moved forward she had begun to relax and accept their situation as it was.
Picking up a dish he started to wash it when he heard a cry of distress from her. Dropping the dish he bolted out of the shelter, almost taking the door with him, heading around the corner to where her plot of coffee plants were.
Sitting smack dab in the middle of all her coffee plants was that damn little monkey. He had torn up quite a few of the plants, and was now sitting there eating the ones he held in his tiny paws.
He couldn't help it as he burst out laughing. "It seems there are two coffee lovers on this planet after all Kathryn!"
Turning towards him with a glare she grumbled. "You're so wrong Chakotay, there's only one coffee lover on this planet, because I'm going to kill that damn monkey!"
He watched in utter surprise as she picked up a shovel and ran towards the monkey, swinging it with the obvious intent to harm. The monkey barely escaped, dropping the plants it held and making a beeline for the river with Kathryn in hot pursuit.
As the monkey ran along the hills edge that lead down to the river it suddenly veered to the right leaping into the air and landing high above in the tree branches. And that's when his heart stopped when he realized that Kathryn was most likely unaware of how muddy and slippery that hill was from the rainstorm the night before.
"KATHRYN!!" he yelled out in horror as he saw her feet slip out from under her. Landing hard on her backside she hit her head on the ground, and tumbled down the hill out of sight.
Panicking, he ran towards the hills edge barely stopping at the top in time. Looking down the hill he cried out in anguish at her still, muddy form at the bottom of the hill and without thinking he rushed down the hill towards her. The hillside was beyond slick and he couldn't keep his footing. He tried without success to grab at the branches of the shrubbery on his way down, which only caused him to lose control even more. Barreling down the muddy slope with arms and legs flailing, he finally landed face first in the mud beside Kathryn.
Groaning, he rolled to his side wiping at the mud on his face. Looking down at Kathryn he saw tears trailing down her cheeks, and her body was shaking. "Kathryn! are you ok, are you in pain anywhere?"
She opened her eyes to look at him and burst out in hysterical laughter.
"I'm sorry," she gasped, "but if you could have seen yourself coming down that hill..."
"Kathryn, it's not funny! I thought you were seriously hurt!"
I'm fine, really. I just had the wind knocked out of me, that's all, I swear."
"Alright then, let's get you back to the shelter. We'll have to walk along the rivers edge a bit until we reach a dryer point as there's no way we can walk back up the hill from here." He stood and held his hand out, pulling her to her feet. As she walked ahead of him trying to contain her giggles, he realized that the light cotton sundress she was wearing was not only muddy, but plastered to her body as well. He couldn't help it as he groaned inwardly at how beautiful the curves of her body were. He hoped that someday they could become much more than friends.
He must have let out an audible sigh as he now faced Kathryn who had stopped in front of him.
"I'm really sorry Chakotay, I don't know what got into me. I was just so damn mad at that monkey..." her voice trailed off and she looked down at where his eyes had wandered. Realizing that her dress was plastered to her, leaving nothing to the imagination, she quickly crossed her arms across her chest. "Men," she huffed as she promptly turned and started walking again.
"Men?" he repeated back to her. "I don't know whose worse at brewing up trouble now, you or that damn monkey!"
Laughter filled the air as they meandered their way back to the shelter.