By Mary S.
Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay sat in her ready room, one on each side of the desk, heads bent over a veritable mountain of padds. For hours, they had been wading through them, checking every one to be sure the information each contained was clear, detailed and accurate. Several times, one crewmember or another had been called in to explain a particular point or clarify a vague reference. Both senior officers wanted every report, every log, every scrap of data to be as perfect as possible. In another day, they would be going home.
A week earlier, Starfleet Command had sent a message giving the details of a newly-developed technology, which, if successful, would allow the scientists to create an artificial wormhole. It was all experimental – no one knew if it would actually work, but the simulations had looked very promising. Command had decided to make the initial test in Voyager’s direction. If it worked, they would have a shortcut home. If not, they were no worse off than before.
The first test had been highly successful. Tomorrow would see the second attempt. All being well, a stable wormhole should open right in front of them.
The captain sighed and leaned back in her chair, rubbing her eyes. “How many more?”
Chakotay looked over the heaps. “Only a few – and those should be fairly straightforward. I think we’ve broken the back of it.”
“Thank goodness. My eyes are all blurry.”
She got to her feet and stretched, then headed for the replicator, ordering two teas. Chakotay rose and followed her to the upper level where he stared out at the stars. He looked pensive, lost in thought. She placed the tea on the coffee table and stood at his shoulder.
“What are you thinking?” she asked softly.
“Oh, nothing – everything. Will this work? What happens if it does? What kind of reception will we get on Earth? You know….”
“Yes,” she sighed again. “A pardon for you and vindication for me, or – jail for you and a courtmartial for me.”
“Sums it up pretty well.”
She turned away. “Come and have your tea before it gets cold.” She sat down, continuing, “Let’s worry about it tomorrow. My head hurts.”
He sat beside her, smiling. “Want a rub?”
“Maybe in a bit.”
She sipped her tea, memories of another ‘last night in the Delta Quadrant’ coming to mind. Now it was his turn to get her attention.
“Kathryn? Where are you?”
“Just remembering the last time we did this.”
“You mean, the night before we tried the slipstream drive.”
“Yes. And I must admit, I feel a lot less confident of success now than I did then.”
“That’s because someone else is controlling events, not you.”
“Probably true,” she chuckled. “I think you know me too well.”
He smiled gently and took her hand. “Don’t worry, Kathryn. I’m still with you, whatever happens. We’ll get through somehow – we always do.”
She fell silent again as he watched her, then she turned to face him, staring intently into his eyes.
“Kathryn? What is it?”
“You’re always there, aren’t you? Right beside me, with me, no matter what. Through good and bad, you’ve kept your promise. Thank you for that, Chakotay.”
She leaned forward and kissed him lightly, her mouth just touching his for a few seconds. He reached out to hug her, then got to his feet.
“It’s late. Why don’t we get some rest? We can finish these first thing in the morning.”
He started for the door, only to hear her call his name.
“Chakotay? Would you…..stay with me for a while? I…..this is a request, not an order,” she added hurriedly, “so if you don’t want to….” Her voice trailed off uncertainly.
He crossed back to the couch and sat down again. “Of course I’ll stay if you’d like me to. I thought you were tired.”
“I am, but I’m too wound up to sleep. I’d rather be here, maybe we could talk some more – if you’re not too tired.”
“I’m here, Kathryn, for as long as you want me.”
He put his hands on her shoulders, turning her away from him. “How about that neckrub?”
“Ohh, that would be heaven!”
He eased his fingers down, working her tired muscles, kneading, massaging. She moaned unconsciously, feeling the knots vanish one by one and her body relax. Her head fell forward so he could rub her neck and the base of her skull.
“Ohh, Chakotay! That feels wonderful! You have no idea!”
He smiled and bent to brush a kiss across her nape before leaning back against the cushions. On impulse, he pulled her close to him, letting her lean on his chest and running his fingers lightly over her temples. She tensed automatically, then made herself relax. What he was doing felt so good, he felt so good, she decided she just plain didn’t care anymore. They were almost home, after all – what did it matter now.
As he stroked her, letting his fingers run through her hair and caress her face, he began to talk softly about how much he would miss her, that even if they kept in touch and met occasionally, it wouldn’t be the same.
At that, she sat up and turned to him in alarm. “But…..where are you going? Why won’t I see you? What are you going to do? Chakotay! What are you saying?!”
“Well, assuming I’m not imprisoned, I’ve been thinking of resigning my commission, or at the very least, taking a long leave. I could teach – I like that – but I also would like to go back to studying paleontology. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and have never been able to.”
He looked away for a moment. “I assume you’ll stay on? In Starfleet?”
It was her turn to look away. “I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it, or about what I’ll do when we get home. I guess I’ve been too busy trying to get us there.”
“Maybe you should – think about it, that is.”
Kathryn leaned against the sofa cushions, eyes downcast, brain clearly running in high gear. He could almost see the wheels turning as she examined, probed and analyzed each option – all in the space of a few minutes. Suddenly, she took a deep breath and sat up to look him in the eye. Obviously, she had come to a decision.
“I want to be with you, whatever you do, wherever you go. That is, if you want me.”
He sat there, in stunned disbelief, unable to say a word. He had thought he knew her so well, could predict her response to any situation, but she had caught him completely off-guard. As the silence stretched on, she bit her lip and looked down, worried now that he no longer loved her.
Finally, he found his voice and asked the only question that mattered.
“Kathryn, do you love me?”
She gazed at him with an intensity he had never seen; her voice vibrated with it.
“Chakotay, I have loved you for years, all my existence, it seems.”
He had to be sure. “As a friend only, or….how?”
“As a friend, a colleague, and as a man, the man I want to be with for the rest of my days. My heart, my body, my soul – they are yours to do with as you wish.”
He was awed into silence again, unable to get any sound past the lump in his throat. It was almost beyond belief. Kathryn, the captain, the control freak, putting so much trust in him that she would let him dictate the course of their lives. ‘I want to be wherever you are, do whatever you do.’ Her words ran through his head like a mantra.
She sat there, hesitant, becoming more and more nervous as he said nothing.
“Chakotay? Talk to me. Tell me what you feel for me. Please, Chakotay!”
Her voice broke the spell. He looked at her one moment longer, then his mouth began to curve upward. In a few seconds, he burst into a delighted laugh and swept her into his arms, burying his face in her hair.
“Kathryn, my Kathryn! I have loved you forever! I will love you forever!”
She laughed with joy and hugged him tightly, feeling a great contentment steal over her. This was right. This man was her destiny, her soulmate. The realization brought new ecstasy to her heart and she laughed again and kissed him soundly.
Eventually, he leaned back against the sofa, settling her firmly against him, reveling in the peace and delight sweeping through him. But even as he nuzzled her hair and pressed her tightly to him, he couldn’t help but wonder just what had caused such a revelation right then. Finally, he asked.
“Kathryn, why now? You’ve known for a long time how I felt about you…..”
She interrupted. “No, that isn’t true. I used to know, but lately? I wasn’t sure anymore.”
He continued. “Nevertheless, what brought about this declaration at this moment in time? I have to admit, I’d almost given up hope that I would ever be anything more to you than a friend, especially after your romance with Jaffen.”
She sighed a little regretfully – she had been very fond of Jaffen. “I guess that was the catalyst. For so long, I had denied myself any deep, emotional involvement with anybody in an effort to keep focused on the primary goal of getting home. But once the floodgates were opened, so to speak, I couldn’t ignore my emotional needs anymore.”
She turned in his lap to look into his eyes. “I did love Jaffen, it’s true, but underneath that, underneath everything, was the love I have for you. You’ve become part of me, Chakotay, part of my being, and I simply cannot conceive of an existence without you.”
He kissed her then, softly, gently, just brushing her mouth before pulling back to gaze into her eyes. She stared at him intently, then pulled his head down to kiss him more deeply, tasting him. He let his tongue flit across her lips, first the lower, then the upper. She responded at once, straining against him. He deepened the kiss, sliding his tongue into her mouth, exploring, touching, pushing against her. She moaned in her throat, her tongue now in his mouth, wanting, needy.
He lifted his head, unwilling to rush now that he was sure of her response.
“Kathryn, slow down, love. Let’s enjoy this – every step of the way.”
“I want you – all of you – so much.”
“I know, sweetheart. We have lots of time.”
“But what if we don’t, Chakotay? What if the worst happens and they separate us?! What if…..?!”
“Ssh now, relax. Let whatever happens, happen. Live for the now, enjoy it. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”
She continued to stare at him with huge, lust-filled eyes, but gradually, reality reasserted itself and she rested back against his shoulder. He caressed her gently and as he did, he spoke in a soft voice about the many possible futures they could have. Soon after, he felt her breathing slow, her body heavy against him, and knew she had fallen asleep.
himself more comfortably, then pulled her snugly against him before ordering
lights off and closing his eyes. Soon he slept as well.
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