Disclaimer: Still Paramount’s
Notes: This is a sequel to “Unconscious” which you really need to read first in order for this to make any sense at all. It picks up directly after the last sentence.
By Mary S.
The Captain sat in her chair, shocked speechless, her eyes wide and her mouth forming a perfect ‘O’ in astonishment. Oops! She had most definitely not intended for the Commander to hear her last words.
His smile widened into a big grin, the dimples at full power. He was trying very hard not to burst out laughing at her, partly because it would make her mad and even more because it wouldn’t help his headache one bit. But she sure looked funny, sitting there, still too stunned to speak. He couldn’t remember if he had ever seen her at a loss for words, not for this long anyway.
“Uh, Kathryn. Maybe you should breathe. I think you’re starting to turn blue.”
She gasped and took a deep breath, which reactivated her tongue. “You were not supposed to hear that! Oh lord!” She buried her face in her hands, not sure whether to laugh or cry. “How much did you hear, anyway?”
“I came to when you were stroking my face. Felt really nice, by the way. You can do it some more, if you like,” He added hopefully.
“Don’t push your luck, Commander. I’ve already gone way past protocol as it is.”
“Since you’ve already gone past it anyway, would it really matter if you went a little further, just a bit, you understand. My head hurts so much,” and he gave her a sorrowful look designed to invoke as much sympathy as possible. Since she knew that Chakotay was one of the most stoic people she had ever met with a very high pain threshold, she was pretty sure he was only trying to get her hands back on his face – but she couldn’t be positive. The doctor had said his concussion was severe; maybe he really did hurt that much.
Tentatively, she began to stroke his temples again. He closed his eyes in utter bliss and sighed contentedly. “Ohhh. That feels so good!” Her fingers wandered over his features of their own accord. She could feel him relax. Hopefully, she thought, he’ll go to sleep and when he wakes up, he’ll think this was all a dream. And then I’m off the hook. The doctor spoiled that plan.
“Captain! Why didn’t you call me?! You should have let me know as soon as the Commander regained consciousness!” He was most indignant, bustling around the biobed, tricorder in hand.
“He just woke up, Doctor. I….uh, I was surprised. Yes. And, uh, I…we got talking, and…. I’m sorry. You’re right. I should have called you immediately.” The doctor stared at her. He had never seen her so flustered. Chakotay decided to bail her out.
“I caught her off guard, Doctor. She was startled when I opened my eyes.” Well, that was certainly true. “Please don’t be mad at her.”
Janeway regained her composure very quickly; she didn’t need Chakotay to defend her, particularly in his condition. “Again, my apologies, Doctor.” She got up. “Please let me know when you release the Commander from sickbay. Commander, glad to have you back.” She was in full captain mode now as she headed out the door.
Damn! thought Chakotay. Just when she had let her barriers down a bit. He sighed. Back to square one.
“Sickbay to the Captain.”
“Yes, doctor. What is it?”
“You asked me to tell you when I released the commander. I sent him to his quarters a few minutes ago. However, he is not free to go back on duty until I have examined him again – and that will be tomorrow at the earliest. He is to rest and relax. He said he could do that better in familiar surroundings. I have also instructed him not to undertake a vision quest without my express permission. Hopefully, he will take my advice to heart although I realize I’m probably asking too much. How this crew ever expects to recover properly from their injuries….”
Janeway cut off the familiar rant. “Thank you, Doctor, for letting me know. I’m nearly finished here. I’ll go and check on him, make sure he’s doing as he’s told.”
“If you have any trouble, Captain, please let me know. If he doesn’t behave, I can always bring him back to sickbay, where he can complete his recovery under my supervision.”
“I will be sure to inform him of that possibility, Doctor. Janeway out.”
She glanced over her desk and picked up the stack of padds still waiting for her attention. She would take them with her when she went to see the commander. It would make her visit more official. She really didn’t need a repeat of their last encounter.
As she rounded the corner near his quarters, she saw B’Elanna coming out the door.
“B’Elanna! How is he?”
“Not bad for someone who fell two decks.” She had been one of the first to get to him after everyone in Engineering had heard his cry followed by an ominous thump. “Certainly a lot better than the last time I saw him.”
“That’s good. I thought I’d just pop in for a minute.”
“He’ll be glad to see you, Captain. I have to go. Vorik and Seven were getting up to mischief with the warp core when I left. Can’t leave them alone for a minute.” And she hurried off at a jog toward the turbolift.
Janeway smiled to herself as she pressed the door chime. Some things never changed. She was still smiling when the door opened and she found herself face to face with Chakotay.
“Captain!” He exclaimed in delight. She looked happy; maybe there was hope yet. The smile disappeared. Then again, maybe not.
“Commander, the doctor tells me he has released you under certain conditions. I promised to make sure you were following them.” Her voice was stern, very captainly.
“Is that the only reason you came by?” He asked rather sadly. “If so, you can tell him I will be sure to obey all his instructions.” He turned towards his couch. “I need to sit down. I find I can’t stand for very long yet.” In truth, the disappointment had caught him by surprise. He should know better by now, he thought bitterly. But she had looked so happy when he had opened the door, that his hopes had shot way up.
Janeway came further into the room, concerned. She was more than a little unsure around him just now, but over and above anything else, he was still her friend. She couldn’t abandon him when he looked so miserable. She put the padds down on the coffee table.
“What is it, Chakotay?” She asked in a far gentler tone. “Is your head still hurting?”
“Yes, among other things,” He replied as he sat and leaned his head back.
She didn’t like the look of him at all. He seemed so – defeated was the word that came to mind. “Do you want to go back to sickbay?”
“Are you sure? You look awful.”
“I’ll be okay. I want to stay here.” He closed his eyes and sighed. “You don’t need to stay, Captain. I’ll be fine.”
Captain. She knew what the real trouble was, and sighed in turn. Well, she had two choices. Either stick to her beloved protocols, keep the barriers in place, or…. or let them all go and do what they both knew she really wanted to. She reached out a hand unsteadily, not at all sure if she was making a wise decision. She was following her instinct, not something she was used to doing. It felt right – that was all she could go on.
She let her fingers barely fall on his face, just touching his cheek. His eyes opened, startled, and then closed again as he turned into her hand, kissing the palm. He breathed deeply as a sense of profound relief swept over him. Thank the Spirits! All of them!
Her other hand came up to brush his hair at the temples and then she bent and very gently kissed him. His eyes remained closed but she could feel the smile, and smiled herself as she raised her head to look at him.
“Do you feel better now?” She asked softly.
“Oh yes. Much better. Could you – could you do it again? Then I’d feel better yet.”
“I’ll just bet you would. All right. One more and then we stop. You are supposed to be resting, you know.” This time, the kiss was a little longer as she let her tongue run across his lower lip and nibbled at the upper. Of course, he had to do the same to see how she tasted, and, when he liked what he found, he just had to work his tongue into her mouth, coaxing it open. Naturally, she had to reciprocate until they both had to break off to grab a breath of air.
She looked deep into his eyes, shining with joy. Well, she’d done it now and there was no going back. And, if she were honest, she didn’t want to. She felt his arms tighten around her and allowed herself to be pulled into him. Yes, she wanted this very much. It felt good and right. She stroked the back of his head gently, mindful of his injury. His face was buried in her neck.
“I love you, Kathryn,” Came his whisper. “Oh god, how I love you!”
“I…,” she took a deep breath. “I love you, too, Chakotay.” There, she’d said it.
“That wasn’t so hard now, was it. Why don’t you practice? It gets easier the more you say it, you know.”
She pulled back; he was laughing gently. “Oh you gorgeous man,” she sighed. “Yes, in spite of everything and against my better judgment, I do love you. I can’t fight this anymore, Chakotay. It goes against everything I was taught, everything I learned at the Academy, but it just won’t go away, no matter what I do.”
“I know, Kathryn. I learned the same lessons, remember. And I have tried not to love you. But you can’t control it, you know. You either love someone or you don’t. And if you do, the way I love you anyway, it won’t go away. No matter what I’ve tried to tell myself.”
“Then, I guess we’ll just have to let love take its course. But I want to go slow, Chakotay. This is not going to be easy. We will have a fine line to walk.”
“The best things in life are never easy, my love. We have each other, that’s the main thing. The rest will fall into place.”
She eased back from him, then stood. “I’m going to get changed, have a shower, and then come back to tuck you into bed. I want you all ready in your night clothes by the time I get back.” A sudden thought struck her. “You can manage by yourself, can’t you?”
He was really tempted to say no, but in the end, resisted. “Yes, I’ll be ready. Do you read stories, too?”
“If you want. But I had something a little more,” she paused, “soothing in mind.” She grinned at him and went out the door.
Really, he thought happily to himself as he got up very carefully. His head still hurt but he would never tell her that, unless it earned him more sympathy, of course. He walked slowly into his bedroom and began to remove his clothes. Soothing, she’d said. Oh lady, you can soothe me ‘til the cows come home. Or, in this case, ‘til the ship gets back to the Alpha Quadrant. Which, now that he thought about it, with any luck she would.