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Thanks to purpledog for the terrific and ever patient beta read.

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.

Rating: G



“You really need to stop doing that, Chakotay.”

“Doing what?”

“Disappearing on us.”

“I was here the whole time, Captain,” he smirked as he set down the casserole.

Kathryn poured both of them a glass of wine before she placed her napkin in her lap and waited for Chakotay to fill her plate with the deliciously smelling vegetable lasagna. He knew her well enough to know that she hadn’t eaten and that she probably needed to talk about what had happened with the Komar. He had written his report and she had read and signed off on it, but he knew she would have questions that weren’t answered in his report.

Chakotay filled both plates with the lasagna and sat down opposite from Kathryn, placing his napkin and taking his glass to clink with hers.

“To a corporeal existence,” he laughed.

“To hopefully not losing your mind again,” she returned the gesture, raising one eyebrow in a mock smile.

He had to shake his head and offered her an amused smile before he started on his lasagna and gestured for her to do likewise. “Dig in.”

They ate in silence for a while, but Chakotay noticed Kathryn’s eyes skittering over to him a few times and decided to put a stop to it.

“Spill it,” he said, putting his fork down between bites. She looked up in surprise, not aware that he had caught her staring at him. “What’s on your mind?”

“Nothing,” she lied and took another bite.

“You keep glancing at me as if I’m going to possess you,” he cocked his head to the side and coaxed her to speak her mind, “so spill it already.”

“Alright,” she started, putting her fork aside and wiping her mouth with her napkin, “you were in our heads.” She leaned back in her chair.

“Yes, I was.” he nodded, willing her to go on.

“I can’t help but wonder…” she trailed off unsure how to say it.

“Wonder what, Captain?”

“It feels odd knowing someone else was in my head,” she said, but Chakotay could see that wasn’t what was really on her mind.

“I’ll try not to do it again.” He let her get away with it for now, hoping she would tell him another time what was really bothering her..

Kathryn looked down at her hands on the table and Chakotay noticed that she kept rubbing her right hand and wrist and took it in his, rubbing the spot.

“Does it hurt?”

“I don’t know why,” she shrugged, “it feels really sore.”

Chakotay had to chuckle at that. Obviously, he had forgotten to put that part into his report. It was no wonder her hand was sore. He had not expected her to be that strong and punched Tuvok harder than he had intended to.

“Sorry about that,” he grinned sheepishly at her.

“What did you do?” her eyes opened wide at the realization that he must have done something while he had occupied her mind.

“I may have knocked around Tuvok a little.”

“A little?” she asked, “My hand feels like I hit a brick wall full force.”

“I underestimated your strength,” Chakotay shrugged, “and hit harder than necessary.”

“I’m stronger than I look, Commander.” She raised her eyebrow at him and gave him a mock glare.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“At least you finally got your payback then,” she smirked.

“I apologize for dragging you into it, though.”

“I’m happy to be of service.” Chakotay saw the gleam in her eyes and knew she really wasn’t anything but amused about it. He had done what was necessary, after all.

“You know,” he said after taking another sip from his wine, “Paris basically shot me. You should demote him for that.”

“I’ll remember that next time he gets too cocky on the bridge.” Kathryn laughed at the thought of Tom’s face if she should ever demote him for shooting her First Officer. The idea did have some merit.

She lifted her wine glass to her mouth and looked at Chakotay over the rim, pondering how much he had left out of his report. Kathryn knew him well enough to know that he would have left out anything that wasn’t scientific for her benefit, but it still bugged her to know the full extent of his recent experience. While she had struggled with the thought of losing him yet again, he had roamed the ship and possessed several crewmen. It was eerie and she felt a shudder run through her when she thought about him occupying her own mind.

Chakotay saw the movement and looked up at her, wondering what she was thinking. He could see the curiosity written clearly on her face, but something held her back. Surely she knew he wouldn’t keep anything from her.

“When you were in our heads,” she finally asked quietly, looking at her fidgeting hands rather than him, “did you have access to our thoughts and memories?”

So that was it. Of course, there would be things she wasn’t willing to share with him, or maybe anyone. She was afraid that he had been able to read her mind when he occupied it.

“No,” he didn’t hesitate to answer, “I was only able to control my host’s actions.”

Chakotay could practically feel the tension leave her body. Kathryn was a private woman and as much as he wanted to know everything about her, he could understand her desire to keep her private life private. They were alike in that regard. He liked to have control over what knowledge other people had of him. To be honest, he wasn’t sure if he would have occupied her mind if he had been able to read it. Sure enough, there were things he desperately wanted to learn about Kathryn Janeway, but at the same time, he was certain that he might not be ready for the deepest recesses of her mind.

Kathryn didn’t reply. She was obviously lost in thought. Chakotay watched her move her fingertip in circles along the rim of her wine glass, a far away look on her face, her eyes unfocused. She stayed like this for a couple of minutes before she blinked, laid her hand gently on top of her glass and lifted her eyes back to him with a content sigh.

“Ka..ptain?” he caught himself before he slipped.

“Well, you gave us quite a scare, Commander,” she sat up a little straighter.

He knew what she was doing and he let her. Because going down the road they had just avoided wouldn’t do either of them any good. Chakotay knew that road from his own thoughts. It was an inappropriate back alley that had a place in the back of his mind, but not in the real world. And he wouldn’t go dragging her down that road with him.

He did give her a grin, though, that brought out his dimples and was relieved when she reciprocated the gesture.

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