Disclaimer: Paramount owns then all.
 
 

Second Place in Behind Closed Doors
 
 
 

NOTE:  Story is J/C  J/K
 

Rated NC17
 

Voyager had only been in Devore space for forty-eight hours and they had already been boarded three times.  Each inspection took just a bit longer than the last.  The most recent one was a close call; they were barely able to hide the teleapaths before the guards entered the cargo bay.  Prax enjoyed intimidating the crew with a show of strength, while the Inspector spent most of his time confined to the readyroom with the Captain.

The Captain knew her First Officer was concerned about all the time she spent secluded in the readyroom with Inspector Kashyk and after each visit, Kathryn had been made all too aware of Chakotay's personal objections.  He had voiced his displeasure more than once, and although there was little she could do about it, he was clearly angry with her.

At yet another emergency meeting, called the instant the Devore had cleared the ship, the senior staff had racked their brains trying to find that unused advantage, the one thing that could guarantee their safe passage.  It would be a long trip across the Imperium without one.  In the end, they were left with nothing but waiting and hoping their cargo remained undiscovered.

“Captain, there is one tactic you haven’t tried.”  Chakotay broke the silence in the briefing room.

“I thought we had been fairly thorough, Commander.  Care to enlighten me as to what I've missed?”  The slight upturn in the corner of his mouth irritated her and she could feel a headache coming on.

“Well, I think it is fairly obvious that the Inspector is–er-well, he seems to be rather attracted to you.”

“I don’t see how that effects this situation one way or the other.”  She gave him a warning look but he seemed unaffected.

“Really?  It seems simple to me.   A smart Captain would employ all the weapons in her arsenal to protect her ship, even Starfleet couldn’t argue with that rational."

“Other than insulting my intelligence, do you have a point, Commander?”  She was less than happy with this tactic and the fact that he was bringing it up in a staff meeting only fed her anger.  The pounding in her head doubled and the rest of the staff became increasingly uncomfortable.

“My point is, we are out manned, out gunned and we can’t out run them in this vast a space.  We are only one small ship against an entire fleet and we can only hope to be successful for so long at hiding our ‘contraband’.  What we need is a way around Devorian security and I think you maybe the answer.”

“Are you suggesting, Commander, that I seduce Inspector Kashyk?”  She kept her voice even but her fury was clear on her face.

“A little harmless flirtation, Captain.”  He locked his eyes with hers.  “Who knows you might even enjoy it.”

“I’m not looking for fun here, Commander. In case you have forgotten the Devore pose a very real threat to our future and while you may not mind the idea of life in a Devorian detention camp, it holds no appeal for me.”

“I can’t say I find the idea attractive either, but I’m sure you can manage to avoid that fate.”

“I was counting on it.” She glared at him then turned back to the meeting.  “Does anyone else have a suggestion?”

“Actually, Captain.”  Tuvok looked back and forth between the command team.

“Yes, Tuvok?  Do you have a suggestion?”  Her patience was clearly wearing thin; her hand automatically reached for the back of her neck.

“I believe the Commander has a valid point.”

“Care to explain?”  The Captain folded her arms across her chest, her glare momentarily focused on the Vulcan.

“The Inspector does seem to have an affinity toward you.  Using this apparent weakness to our advantage is logical.”

“So finding me attractive is now a weakness.”  Her glanced wandered toward Chakotay; he was as shocked as she was by this turn of events; she refocused on Tuvok.

“In a potential enemy, yes, Captain, such an attraction would be considered a vulnerable point.”

“Of course.  And you believe we should exploit this vulnerability?  Or rather I should?”

“As the Commander suggested,” Clearly a reminder she didn’t need to hear. “we have few advantages in this situation and we can not afford to over look any of them.”

“And how do the rest of you feel about this?”  Her gaze wandered the nodding heads in the room.

“It has merit, Captain.”  Seven considered the possibilities.  “The humanoid male tends to react uncharacteristically in the presence of a female to which he is sexually attracted.”

“Come on, Captain, admit it, the man has the hots for you..”  Tom stopped and grabbed the shin B’Elanna kicked. “I just mean that..”

“Mr. Paris, please try to keep in mind I’m a starship captain and not an Orion whore!”

“Captain,” B’Elanna moved between Tom and their outraged Captain.  “he only means that it makes sense.  Inspector Kashyk is in charge out here and if the Inspector is distracted, we stand a better chance of getting through their space in one piece.”

“Yeah and you can be one hell of a….” Tom’s words trailed off under her glare.

 “Harry, how do you feel about this?”  Kathryn turned her back to Tom.

“Well, Captain, I don’t like the idea.”  His face turned bright red, but he cleared his throat and raised his head to hold the captain’s gaze.  “But, it makes sense and I sure don’t want to grow old in detention- if anyone ever grows old there.”

“I see.”  Kathryn looked at each of them in turn.  “If this is the best you can come up with, I’ll take it under advisement.  Dismissed.”  She turned to face the view port watching their reflections as everyone but Chakotay left the briefing room.  “I believe I dismissed you, Commander.”

“Kathryn, I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?  Why?  Isn’t pimping out your captain just part of the job?”

“Kathryn, I never intended it to go this far.”

“Oh?’  She turned and faced him.  “What exactly was your intention?  Just to vent you own jealousy and completely embarrass me in front of my staff?  To disrupt this meeting and ensure our capture?  Just what the hell were you thinking?”

“It just slipped out and then you answered and then Tuvok picked it up…”  He threw his hands in the air. “You’re right – I am jealous and…”

“Captain to the bridge.”  Tuvok’s voice interrupted them

“What is it, Tuvok?”

“We are being hailed by a Devore ship.”

“On my way.”  She gave Chakotay an icy stare.  “Guess it’s show time, Commander!”  Kathryn brushed past him on her way to the bridge.  “Report.”  The Captain took her seat.

“Captain, we are being hailed by Inspector Kashyk.  He is in a small craft- alone.”  Harry shifted nervously.

“No shields; no weapons.”  Tuvok reported with a raised eyebrow.

“On screen.”  The Captain settled back, ignoring the sigh from her left side.

“Captain.”  Kashyk appeared on the view screen.

“Inspector.”

“Permission to come aboard, Captain?” He smiled.

“Asking permission?  How unlike you, Inspector.”

"It's urgent that we speak, Captain." Kashyk’s smile faded while he waited for her answer.

“Granted, Inspector.” She turned to Harry and nodded.

“Shuttle bay two is ready, Captain, sending coordinates.”

“Inspector, you know the way to my readyroom.”

The view screen went dark and the Captain slowly rose from her chair.  She started toward the door, stopping halfway but not turning around.

“Commander, you have the bridge.”

“Aye, Captain.”

“See that the Inspector is not delayed.”  She left the bridge before he could answer.

~~~^^^~~~

Kashyk crossed the bridge accompanied by two security guards, slowing momentarily to smile and nod at the Commander as he passed.  He was dressed in civilian clothes, Chakotay thought they made him less appealing.  He wondered if Kathryn would think so also. The door had barely closed behind the three of them when it opened again allowing the two guards to exit the readyroom.

After a tense hour on the bridge, the door to the readyroom opened.  The Captain was smiling as she and the Devore Inspector crossed the bridge, followed closely by the two security guards.

“Commander, you have the bridge. The Inspector and I will be in Astrometrics.”  Without looking in his direction or waiting for a reply, the Captain entered the lift and was gone.

It was barely forty minutes later when she called the bridge.

“Janeway to the Bridge.”

“Bridge here, Captain.”  Chakotay dutifully responded.

“Commander, please arrange a senior staff briefing in twenty minutes.”

“Aye, Captain.”

“Mr. Tuvok, the Inspector will be staying with us for awhile.  He will be using the VIP suite.  Have the replicator taken off line and arrange round the clock security.”

“Aye, Captain”

“I will be escorting Inspector Kashyk to his quarters on my way to the briefing.  Have the security measures are in place by the time we arrive.  Janeway out.”

~~~^^^~~~

The conversation around the conference table came to an abrupt halt when the Captain entered the briefing room.  She nodded her greeting and circled to her customary position at the table.

“As you all know by now, Inspector Kashyk is aboard Voyager.  He has requested safe passage out of Devore space and in return he has offered us his assistance in getting our cargo to the wormhole.”

“Do you trust him, Captain?”

“Not for a minute, Commander.  Even if his request is genuine, I have no doubt he would sell us short the minute a better offer arrived.”

“So will you grant him asylum?”

“Right now, he runs the only game in town and he has already assisted us.”  She looked across the table.  “Seven, would you explain what we learned in Astrometrics?”

Kathryn rubbed her neck.  Their attention was focused momentarily on Seven, giving the Captain a small respite.  Her head was throbbing as she tuned out Seven’s explanation, given in excruciating detail, of how the Inspector had adjusted the sensors to reveal a Devore ship lying in wait inside the nebula to catch would be refugees.

The meeting proceeded normally from there.  Tuvok raised an eyebrow at working with Kashyk, but said nothing.  The Captain was clear about the fact that he was not being given free rein and should not be totally trusted by anyone.  They were to work with him- carefully and clear any classified information with her first.  He had some modifications for their sensors, which she wanted Harry and B'Elanna to work with him on, Tom was to work on a flight plan with him and Tuvok was to be sure he had security at all times.

After making herself clear on these points, the Captain prepared to dismiss the meeting when the Commander interrupted again.

“And Captain, are you prepared to carry through on our earlier recommendations?”

“Since it has been repeatedly pointed out that we lack any other sort of advantage, I didn’t feel I had any real choice.”  She was clearly annoyed that he chose to bring this up in public yet again. And it was doing nothing to relieve her headache.  “Now, if there is nothing else, you should all be prepared to begin working with the Inspector in the morning.  He will be attending the second half of tomorrow morning’s briefing.  Dis….”

“Captain.”  Chakotay interrupted once again, completely ignoring her glare.  “Just how far are you prepared to carry this plan?”

“I thought I was clear on that, Commander.  As long as the Inspector is useful and shows no signs of betraying us, we will continue to offer him asylum.”

“I understand that.  What I was asking was how far you plan on carrying your personal assignment.”

“I assure you, Commander, I will do whatever is necessary to ensure your safety.”  Her face turned a flame red; the glare she directed toward him could have melted titanium. “Dismissed.”  The Captain was the first to exit the briefing room heading straight to the lift without further comment.

The last to leave the briefing room, Chakotay immediately handed the bridge off to Tuvok.  He too made a fast exit.  After determining Kathryn’s location he followed her to deck three. He rang the chime three times before the door slid back.

“What now, Chakotay?”  Kathryn was seated on the couch her head thrown back, her eyes closed.

“I came to apologize, but I guess it’s a bit late for that.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I can’t stand that man near you.”

“Oh, now it makes perfect sense.”  She lifted her head and glared but the pain was too much so she dropped it back and closed her eyes.  “That explains perfectly why you have convinced the senior staff that my seducing the Inspector is our best shot at freedom.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t seem to stop myself.  I’m jealous as hell and I obviously can’t take it out on him or we’d all be in detention- so I keep lashing out at you and …”  He moved behind the couch and began to rub her temples.  “I’ve lost my mind, I guess—I have no other excuses to offer.”

“I can’t stand much more of this.  It’s difficult enough dealing with him; having to fight you every step of the way is killing me.”

“I’m sorry.”  He leaned in and kissed her head.  “Headache?”

“Ummm, a real killer and this won’t help me deal with him either.”

“Let me help.  Lean forward.”  He gently eased her forward and began to massage her neck and shoulders.  “You need to relax, Kathryn.”

“Yeah, that’s likely to happen.  I have a ship full of illegal telepaths, a runaway Devore inspector and a first officer who seems to delight in completely embarrassing me in front of my most senior officers- who, now that I mention them, have no qualms about selling my body to save their own necks.  Why wouldn’t I be relaxed?”

“It isn’t quite that bad.”

“Isn’t it?”

“Yes, I guess from your perspective, that’s exactly how it is.”

“And you see it differently?”

“Not really.”  He tugged on her jacket.  “This would be easier if you took this off.”

“Anything else?”  Kathryn pulled off her jacket, anything at this point to get rid of this headache.  She couldn’t think straight anymore and she certainly couldn’t deal with these two very contrary men or more precisely her reactions to them.

“Actually, if you get rid of a few of these layers and lie down I could do a better job.”

“Yes, but the objective here, is to get rid of my headache.”

“Come on, at least lie down.  There are so many knots in your neck and shoulders I’m surprised you can move at all.”

“All right.”  Kathryn feigned reluctance, getting up and moving to her bedroom

“Take the turtleneck off.”  She looked back at him eyebrow arched.  “Spirits, Kathryn, do you want rid of the headache or not.”  He gave her his best innocent look.

Kathryn laughed and tugged off her shirt, kicking off her boots before sprawling across her bed.  Chakotay kicked off his own boots and crawled up behind her.

“God, Kathryn.”  He worked to loosen the knots in her neck.  “A little tense?”

“Ummm.” Kathryn began to relax; the pain in her head eased somewhat under his expert fingers.

“Better?”

“Yeah.”  Kathryn groaned.  “Now I remember.”

 “What?”

“Why I keep you.”

“Sure that’s all?” He leaned over and kissed the back of her neck, two fingers expertly snapping open her bra.

“The headache, remember?”

“I remember, just thought I might distract you a little.”

“If you get rid of the headache, you can distract me all you want.”

“Sounds fair.” Chakotay sat up and began working the tight muscles from her neck to the base of her spine.  “Of course, the minute the pain is gone you’ll be asleep.”  He chuckled.

“Ummm.”  Kathryn rolled her shoulders and turned her head from side to side, stretching out the muscles as he worked them.

“Relax.”

“Then I will fall asleep.”  She snuggled into the pillows.

“So sleep. You could use it.”  Chakotay felt her relax and her breathing even out.

“Kashyk to Janeway.”  The comm started both of them.

“Janeway here.”  Kathryn shook her head trying to wake up.

“Captain, we were going to meet over dinner.”

“Yes.”  Kathryn looked at the chronometer.  “Sorry, Inspector I’ve been busy.  I must have lost track of time.”  Kathryn pulled the straps up, adjusting the bra; Chakotay hooked it.

“I understand completely, Captain, but the dinner you ordered has just arrived and I didn’t want it to get cold.”

“I’ll be right there, Inspector.  Janeway out.”

Kathryn rolled over sighing as she met Chakotay's eyes.

“You better get dressed.”

“Yes.”  She slipped off the bed and rummaged through her closet, pulling out a causal pair of pants and a sweater.

“No uniform?”  He watched her quickly change her clothes.

“I’m off duty.”  She didn’t look back but she knew his meaning without seeing his face.

Kathryn brushed out her hair and dabbed on some fresh perfume.

“Is that necessary?”  He caught her hand.

“Try to keep in mind this game was your suggestion.”  She flashed him an angry look and left him standing alone in her bedroom.

Kathryn stood for a minute outside the VIP suite before ringing for entry.  The guard posted there tried not to stare, or at least not to get caught staring, at his very flustered captain.  He had never seen her look quite like this before and he had been on the bridge for some pretty scary battles.  Kathryn smoothed down her sweater and raised her chin. She nodded to the guard and pressed the chime.

“Enter.”  The door slid back; the Inspector was standing just inside smiling at her.  “Captain, welcome to my humble abode.”

“Inspector.”  She stepped past him quickly allowing the door to close.

“No uniform, Captain?”

“I’m technically off duty, Inspector.”  She walked around the table looking over their dinner. “If you prefer I could go and change, but then dinner would be cold.”

“We wouldn’t want dinner to get cold.”  He moved next to her smiling at how much smaller she was without the boots.  “Uniforms can be deceiving.”

“Don’t let my appearance fool you.”  She moved to the other side of the table and took a seat. “Shall we?”

“Certainly.”  He poured the wine and handed her a glass before moving across the table.  “So is your staff ready to welcome me with open arms?”

“Hardly.  If you’re lucky they will tolerate you.”

“Then I’m lucky to have the backing of such a formidable Captain.”   He raised his glass to her.

“As long as you hold up your end of the bargain.”

“Don’t you trust me, Kathryn?”  He tried to look hurt.

“Not for a minute.”  She sipped her wine then smiled at him over the glass.  “And I don’t recall giving you permission to use my first name.”

“I apologize, Captain, but since you are off duty …”

“Technically.”

“Yes, technically off duty and I have no rank at all any longer.. well, you don’t really mind, do you, Kathryn?  Just in private, of course.”  He poured himself more wine.  “I imagine someone else on this ship must occasionally use your first name.”

“I am the captain of this ship. We have protocols to follow after all.”

“Are you telling me that no one ever uses your name?”  He laughed.  “Or merely politely saying it's none of my business.”

“Take your pick, Inspector.”  Kathryn lifted the lids off the dishes.  “We had better eat or it will be too cold.”

“Please call me Kashyk.  I never did like the title.”

 "All right, Kashyk.  Tell me about this sudden change of heart you’ve had."

"Not sudden at all, Captain.  I have been unhappy with my way of life for a long time now.  You just provided an opportunity for escape."

“How very considerate of me.”

“I suspect it’s something that comes naturally to you. However, these altruistic tendencies of yours seem in direct conflict with captaining a starship, at least by your Federations standards.”

“How so?”

“Well, I have had time to become acquainted with your data base and in it I find something called the Prime Directive.”

“Ahh, the Federation's cardinal protocol.”

“Yes.  You violated it when you rescued those telepaths and granting me asylum only serves to compound the error. You are risking an awful lot."”

"Perhaps, but so are you.”

“You may not be welcome at home either, should you ever get there."

"Oh, I fully intend to get there and as to the rest, well, let's just say I usually go with my instincts.”  She smiled. “...and sort it out later at the board of inquiry. Those admirals and I were on a first-name basis, you know," Kathryn waved her fork in the air for emphasis and gave Kashyk a conspiratorial wink.”

“And what do those instincts tell you about me?”

“You?  Well, now, you are an interesting case.  You have a commanding presence, a quick wit, you’re cunning and obviously intelligent. You seem to be a fairly attractive specimen of your species with a certain amount of charisma and--, in my opinion, deliciously evil.  My instincts tell me to run far and fast.” Kathryn smiled at his startled expression.

“Why, Captain, are you trying to seduce me?”

Kathryn stared at him then broke into laughter. This was not the polite light chuckles he had heard before, but full-blown uncontrolled belly laughs.

“Why is it I get the impression that wouldn’t take very much effort?”

“Perhaps because you are an intelligent woman?”  There was a definite twinkle in his eye as he spoke, so unlike the ‘evil Inspector’.

“Shall we have coffee on the couch?”  Kathryn smiled as she fought to contain her blush.

After that, Kathryn turned the conversation back to business, but the undercurrent remained strong.  It was 0200 hours before she finally tore herself away and headed back to her quarters.

Letting the door slide closed behind her, Kathryn leaned back, dropping her head against it and taking a deep breath.

“Enjoy your evening?”  His voice was soft but the tone made his position clear.

“Chakotay?” Kathryn jumped.  “You startled me.  I didn’t realize you were waiting.”

“Sorry, I didn’t expect dinner to take quite this long or I wouldn’t have waited.”

“We had a lot of work to do.”  Kathryn walked past him into the bedroom.

“Work is it?”  He followed her.

“Yes.  I think we have an idea on where to find…”

“Please.  I’ve been part of your working dinners.”

“What the hell does that mean?!” She turned back to see him following her.

“You’re an intelligent woman – figure it out.”

Kathryn just glared at him.  Yes, she was an intelligent woman and for the second time tonight, a man had pointed it out to her.  So why was she behaving so stupidly?  She could pretend all she wanted that this was strictly business and that Chakotay had pushed her into it, but that couldn’t hide the truth from her own mind.  She certainly didn’t feel the same way about both of these men, but she couldn’t deny she wanted them both.

“Chakotay, do we have to fight about this again?”  Kathryn tried to keep her voice calm.  “We had dinner, we talked business- we may have even made some progress- and yes I shameless flirted with the man just as you instructed me to.”  Kathryn continued into the bedroom, pulling off her sweater as she went.  “Now it is very late and I am very tired and I would like to go to bed.”

“Alone?”

“Suit yourself.” Kathryn shed the rest of her clothes and pulled on a nightgown.  “I need some sleep.”

Kathryn climbed into bed, snuggling down under the covers and turning her back on Chakotay who still stood in the doorway watching her.

“When you decide what you’re doing please put the lights out.”  She pulled the blanket over her head.

It took a few minutes but he finally called for the lights to go out and then she heard her door hiss shut.  Kathryn was so exhausted that she never even heard Chakotay enter the quarters next door, tonight was on of those rare night when she didn’t toss and turn.  The lights went out and she was asleep almost before the door closed.

“CAPTAIN THE TIME IS 0500 HOURS.  CAPTAIN THE TIME IS 0500 HOURS.”

When the alarm woke her, Kathryn automatically curled into the warm body next to her.  Strong arms closed around her pulling her closer.

“Sorry.”  He whispered as his lips brushed the top of her head.

“Me, too.”  She raised her head and smiled at him.  “Do we have to keep doing this until he’s gone?”

“Is he leaving?”

“First inhabited planet outside Devore space- I promise.” Kathryn softly kissed his chest, contently breathing in the warm scent that was so uniquely his.

“Another good reason to get out of here.”

“Yes, and we have a theory on the wormhole.  We are going… Ahh shit!”  Kathryn lifted her head.  “I’m supposed to meet him in less than an hour.”

Chakotay sighed, easing his hold on her.

“I’ll make coffee; you better shower.”  He gave her a weak smile, kissed her forehead and rolled off the bed.

The Captain was in the readyroom before the chime signaled his arrival. She had barely had enough time to program the computer to run the algorithm they had discussed the night before.

“Come.”

“Good morning, Captain, I trust you slept well.”

“Fine, Inspector, and you?” Kathryn motioned him to the upper level.

“Kashyk, please and yes, your VIP suite is quite comfortable.”

“All right, Kashyk.  Come and have some coffee; the computer is working on the calculations.”

Kathryn went to the replicator for the coffee and Kashyk wandered to the viewport.  He stood transfixed by the show of pulsating light, a glowing, twisting array of color warming the cold dark of space.

“It’s beautiful.”  Kathryn came up behind him and handed him his coffee.

"We call them the kolyan kolyar--infinite spirals....As a boy, I spent years gazing at these lights. This is the last time I'll ever see them." His voice had a sad, faraway quality to it.

“We have a similar phenomenon on Earth-the aurora borealis.

“And you, too, may never see that again. I suppose we're both refugees, in a way."

"I told you, I'm still counting on getting this ship home." There was a passionate determination in Kathryn's voice.

“Why is it I believe you?”  Kashyk smiled but never took his eye off the viewport.

"Are you saying good-bye? There'll be other spirals, you know."

"They've just never looked quite so...beautiful before." Kashyk looked down at Kathryn and smiled sadly. "Could be the company I'm keeping."

"Or the polarization axis of the windows."  Kathryn cocked her head and smirked.

“Yes, that must be it."

Kashyk held her gaze as the heat rose between them.  He reached out and traced her jawline with one finger, moving just a bit closer; Kathryn didn’t move away.  Their eyes locked, the mere touch of his finger on her face was making her heart pound. He was clearly working as hard as she to control his breathing as his face inched closer to hers.

“ANALYSIS COMPLETE.”

The sound of the computer broke the trance. Kathryn carefully stepped back and led the way to the computer terminal.

“It worked.”  She was as excited as a child with a brand new toy and he smiled enjoying her excitement even more than the solution to their problem.  “It looks like it’ll appear in about three days.”  She moved aside giving him room to see the screen.  “Look, less than eight light-years form here.”

“The Tehara System.”  Kashyk’s smile faded.

“What is it?”  She placed her hand on his arm.

"There's an automated sensor array between here and Tehara.”  He fought his reaction to her nearness.

“Can we go around it?”  Her voice was sounding a little husky even to her own ears.

“Not in time.  We will have to find a way to avoid detection.”  He looked down at the woman at his side and knew the ship was not the only thing in danger.

“If we power down, do you think we can drift past without detection?”

“It's possible.”

~~~^^^~~~

The power output was as low as possible, the bridge was quiet and dark; as Voyager coasted toward the array.  The Devore array unleashed a pulse and Tuvok counted down the seconds until the bright light crossed the bridge. The first pulse passed and Voyager remained undetected, the second lit them up like a Christmas tree.  Two Devore war ships were now on an intercept course.

The Captain handed the bridge off to her First Officer and headed for engineering, ex-inspector in tow.

“Captain, do you intend to fight your way to the wormhole?”  Kashyk trotted along beside her.

“If I have to.” She raised her eyebrow but continued her fast pace toward engineering. "First we'll check those shield modifications. Then we'll see if we can adjust our phasers to penetrate the Devore shields. If torpedoes don't work, I want an alternative."

"Captain, we have to talk. But not here." He reached out and took her arm, stopping her. His tone is urgent.

Kathryn nodded and led him to a small room at the end of the corridor.

“I’m leaving.”  He saw the disappointment on her face before she covered it with the captain’s mask. "It's the only way I can guarantee your safety."

"Kashyk..." Kathryn took a step forward but stopped herself.

"I'm still a ranking officer. I can take command of the inspection teams--make sure the refugees aren't discovered."

"You said yourself they're suspicious. You'll risk being caught."

"I'll keep them off track long enough to get you through that wormhole."

"It's too dangerous!"

"Kathryn..."  He noticed she didn’t object to the use of her name this time, but she backed away from his advance and the mask fell into place.

"You asked for safe passage and I agreed under the condition that you follow my orders." The command was back in her voice.

"Captain, you may stand a chance against one of our warships, but not against two. If I stay your best chance of escape will be lost."

"I could confine you to quarters." She said in a lighter voice, smiling at his laugh. "I was planning on asking you to stay with us once we got through the wormhole. I wouldn't mind having someone around who appreciates a bit of Tchaikovsky now and then."

"Generous--but something tells me I wouldn't fit in any better on Voyager."  He laughed. “Besides you might find yourself with a mutiny on your hands if I stayed.”

"Well...you wouldn't be the first wayward soul we've folded into our ranks." Kathryn sighed knowing he was right. "Your shuttle will be ready for launch within the hour."

~~~^^^~~~

The shuttle was ready.  The Inspector was once again in uniform as he and the Captain entered the shuttle bay.  With a verbal command, Kashyk ordered the preignition sequence. She watched him out of the corner of her eye, once again questioning her motives and maybe even her own sanity.

"I've made one adjustment to your plan," Kathryn turned to face him. "After the inspection, we're going to wait at the wormhole for as long as we can...until it begins to collapse."

"I may not be able to join you this time."

"Try."

Their eyes held in a long awkward moment, the entire space around them electrically charged. Grasping her shoulders Kashyk leaned down and pulled her close merging their lips.

 Unprepared for the sudden surge of emotion, Kathryn pulled back in surprise. Studying him, she raised her hands up to cup his face.  Slowly, she inched forward, sliding her fingers into his hair.  Their breath mingled, her lips softly touched his pulling back slightly before they locked onto his. Kashyk readily accepted the invitation of her parting lips, his tongue exploring her depths savoring the taste of her. Finally breaking apart Kashyk turned into the hand on his face kissing her palm, his moist lips trailing down to her fingertips.  Kathryn sighed as she held herself close to him.

Turning abruptly, the Inspector boarded his shuttle.  The bay doors opened' he retracted his landing gear and disappeared through the force field into the void of space leaving Kathryn standing along in the shuttle bay.

~~~^^^~~~

It didn’t take long for the Inspector and his war ships to return and begin yet another search of Voyager.  The Inspector once again ‘invited’ the captain to join him in the readyroom.

"Tchaikovsky. Of all the selections in your database, this remains my favorite."

"Mine, too," The Captain nodded in his direction.

"I'm afraid Prax isn't impressed. He's solely concerned with his work, aren't you, Prax?" Kashyk nodded in Prax's direction.

"As you say, Sir," Prax rsponded stiffly.

"Yes, but he is curious why you entered this sector. You're aware it's restricted."

“We were studying the remnants of a supernova. We are explorers." Kathryn casually explained.

"Yes, I remember," Kashyk shook his head. "I also remember warning you about going where you don't belong."

"Exploring can sometimes be hard to resist, Inspector." There was little more challenge in Kathryn's voice.

"Well, it's a romantic notion, Captain, but one I can't allow you to indulge. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave our space immediately." He turned toward his subordinate. "Prax, why don't you check on our teams while I reiterate our protocols for Captain Janeway."

Prax and the guards dutifully left the readyroom and the mood lightened instantly.

"Do they suspect anything?" Kathryn asked moving closer to where he sat.

"Not yet--but our warships have been monitoring Voyager's movements for the past few days, and mine as well. I don't think we have much time. The Brenari?"

"They're in transporter suspension."

"And the wormhole?" Kashyk asked anxiously.

"We found it." Kathryn smiled leaning over the desk toward him. "It's 20,000 kilometers off our port bow. We've determined that a photon torpedo properly calibrated will force open the threshold long enough for Voyager to get through."

"Congratulations, Captain! For awhile, I wasn't sure if even you could find it."  His eyes grew cold. "Prax."  He never took his eyes off of Kathryn as Prax stepped back into the room accompanied by two burly Devore guards. "Go to Cargo Bay One. You'll find the transporter patterns for more than a dozen telepaths. Rematerialize them." His voice is icy.

"Yes, Sir," Prax almost smiled as he exited without argument.

"Impressive. You gave a masterful performance."  Kathryn's face was clouded but there was fire in her eyes.

“I'm the one who's impressed--with your selflessness, your humanity. It made all this so much easier."

"But what about your selflessness?" Janeway asked. "That touching story about the little girl--was that a fabrication, too?"

"Oh, that incident was real. What I didn't tell you was that after wrestling with my ethics I realized that I'd done the right thing in order to protect my people from a very real threat!"  His smile was anything but friendly as he gestured toward the door.  "Please."

The Captain stood her ground until he nodded and the guards raised their weapons.

"I insist, Kathryn."  He tone was overly friendly as he emphasized her name.

Kathryn walked onto her bridge; it was darkened now and completely staffed by Devore solders.  As she took in the sight, Kashyk stepped around her and took her chair offering her Chakotay’s seat.

“Access their forward sensor array.”  He glanced at Kathryn with a smile before continuing.  “You should find neutrino emissions roughly 20,000 kilometers off the port bow.  On screen."  As the screen lit up he covered Kathryn’s hand with his own in a show of mock comfort.  "Target two photon torpedoes.  When the first one detonates the wormhole will open.  Use the second one to destabilize its subspace matrix.  That will destroy it." Kashyk impatiently waited for the man at tactical to make the necessary adjustments to Voyager’s foreign tactical controls.  “Prax, report!”

“We have the bio patterns isolated, Sir.”  Prax reported from the cargo bay.

“Good let me know when you have them.”  He smiled at Kathryn and nodded to the man at Tactical  “Fire.”

Kathryn calmly watched the torpedo launch on the view screen.  It headed straight for its intended target – then nothing.

"It should have detonated." Kashyk checked the data on the console between their chairs; his eyes widening in shock.  "Those aren't neutrino emissions. They're antimatter residue signatures!  There's no wormhole here!"  Suddenly, he looked at Kathryn, his smile one of genuine respect.  "You created false readings."

"That is the theme for this evening, isn't it?"  Kathryn asked, for the first time returning his smile and enjoying the look of panic that crossed he face.

"Prax, do you have the telepaths?"  He never took his eyes off Kathryn

"I have cargo containers...filled with vegetables."  Prax’s voice held disgust and a bit of fear.

"Return to the bridge!"  Kashyk was clearly frustrated.

"Computer, change music selection. Mahler's Symphony Number One, Second Movement." She looked sympathetically toward Kashyk and patted his hand. "Maybe this will help you relax."

“Tuntz to Inspector Kashyk”

“Report.”

"Inspector, we've completed our inventory of the vessel.  Two of their shuttlecraft are missing."

"They couldn't have gone far.  Why didn't they appear on our long-range scans?"  He glanced to his left to find Kathryn smiling broadly.  "Of course!  Adjust our scanners to compensate for refractive shielding."

"Well, dear, you did give us the specifications.  Seemed a shame to waste them,” Kathryn’s patronizing tone irritated him.

"We've located the two shuttlecraft. Range 20 million kilometers."  The man at tactical reported just as Prax took over the station.

"Order our ships to pursue.  Maximum speed!"

"The shuttles have disappeared from sensors.  We've scanned for a wormhole.  If there was one, it's gone."  Prax announced

"Well played, Captain. It seems I never did earn your trust."  Kahsyk worked to control his temper.

"I had to take a few precautions.  You understand."

"Better than anyone," Kashyk took a deep breath and stood offering her his hand. “Captain, your readyroom.”  Kashyk moved back allowing her to proceed into the room without him.

It only took a few minutes for the door to open again; he stopped just inside allowing it to close behind him.  As he watched her standing by the view port, he pulled off the leather gloves, quickly unbuckled his shoulder harness and allowed the weapons to fall to the deck.  A distinct tension hung in the air between them, but it had nothing to do with the fear he usually evoked in opponents.  And this woman was undoubtedly a worthy opponent, but she was more than that and they both recognized it.

“Kathryn.”

She turned to face him, their eyes completing the charged connection.  Kathryn took two steps forward and stopped.

“You’ve never betrayed him before.”  Kashyk stepped over the pile of weapons, watching closely the emotions on her face.  “This is new to me too, Kathryn.  Never before have I jeopardized my whole life for a woman.  I don’t care what you tell him when I’m gone.  When I walk off this ship and you and your crew slip quietly out of Devore space, I don’t even care what Prax includes in his reports.  The only thing I care about is you.  I want you Kathryn and I know you want this as much as I do.”  He moved a step closer.  “Of course, I could just take what I want.”  He smiled.  “I imagine you would be a hell cat and I might even need Prax and his friends to help control you.”  A slow smile crossed Kathryn’s face.  “I want you, Kathryn, but not like that.”  He held his arms up to her.  “Come to me, Kathryn.”

Kathryn closed the distance between them, stepping willingly into his waiting embrace.  Tightly wrapped in his arms she could feel his heart beating against her breast, his warm breath against her hair.  Her own heart hammered in anticipation.  Kathryn wondered briefly at her connection to this man; she didn’t trust him even now and it certainly wasn’t love but it was definitely something she needed to see through to the end.

His hands were in her hair, gently tugging her head back, tilting her face up toward him.  Kathryn brought her own hand up gently tracing the spiny ridge that ran across his brow.  They studied each other, neither understanding their mutual compelling need.  Kashyk slowly lowered his mouth and she stretched up to him, their lips meeting as she molded herself against him.  Softly, her lips moved against his, parting slowly to admit his insistent tongue. Their breath mingled, tongues dueling, swirling, savoring the taste and feel of each other.  Her blood pounded in her ears, his evident arousal pressed hard into her belly as she fumbled with the fasteners on his uniform desperate to touch skin to skin.

Moving back Kashyk broke the kiss, taking hold and stilling her hands.  He had succeeded in removing her jacket and pulling the turtleneck free of her trousers, she hadn’t been as lucky.

“They can be quite tricky if you don’t know the secret, Captain.”  He smiled stressing the last word, fingering each pip on her collar as he spoke.  “Let me assist you.”

Kashyk stepped back, deftly unfastening his uniform; he kicked off his boots and stepped free of the cumbersome pile of material. Standing before her hungry eyes in nothing but short loose briefs that did nothing to hide his wanting.  Kathryn moved forward her fingers stroking his chest through the short curly hairs.

“One of us is overdressed.”  He moaned as her lips sucked a flat nipple.

“Then we need to change that.”  She could see the husky sound of her voice had pleased him and strangely she wanted to please him.

Kashyk grasped the turtleneck and pulled it over her head to reveal the soft black satin of her bra.

“I suspect this is not regulation.”  He smiled as he ran his finger along the edge dipping gently into the valley of her breasts.  “I’ll pretend you wore it just for me.”

Kashyk’s lips and tongue were on her throat, his fingers unclasping the bra and gently sliding it from her body.  Kathryn moaned arching as his mouth moved slowly to her breast, tenderly nipping, sucking, arousing her more gently than she had imagined he could.  Her own hands touched and explored him, seeking and finding those places that made him groan.  Her finders trailed down the line of curly hair to where it thickened beneath the elastic band.  Sinking to her knees, Kathryn pushed away the last barrier and put her eager lips to the swollen head of his penis.  His hips swayed involuntarily as her lips continued down the silky skin of his exposed shaft.  His fingers twisted in her hair as she breathed in the musky essence of him, her tongue lapped at his salty flavor.

“Kathryn, please..’  He moved back gently drawing her up and claiming her mouth as he backed her toward her couch.

Kashyk opened her trousers and slid pants and panties together over her hips before easing her down on the cushions and kneeling between her legs.  Removing her boots, he tugged off her remaining clothing and slowly slid his palms up the inside of her legs, watching her reaction as he spread them wider.  With a gentleness, even he didn’t know he possessed, his fingers spread her open and he lowered his head to the junction of her legs.  The unmistakable smell of female arousal excited him; his tongue lightly stroked her moist lips, flicking her swollen nub, as he reveled in the sounds of her whimpers.  The husky sounds escaping her throat made his own arousal even more uncomfortable but, so uncharacteristically, he wanted her pleasure more urgently than his own.  He slipped his fingers inside her and she bucked against him.

Kathryn was gasping clutching at his hair as his tongue swirled, tightening the coil, bringing her to the breaking point.  His fingers thrust into her stretching, massaging; she didn’t want him to stop but she was overwhelmed by the need to hold him inside her.

“Kash please.”  She was so close, her hands tried to push him away, her legs clamped him to her. “I want.. ohgod”  She shuddered, bucking her hips, pushing herself hard against his mouth.

“What, Kathryn?”  His words vibrated against her causing her body to arch, her hips rising off the cushion.  “Tell me what you want.”

“Goddd.”  She gasped, her chest heaving with the effort to answer him.  “You—inside me, pleeasee.”

Kashyk raised his head and she groaned with the loss.  His fingers still gently worked inside her as he watched her struggle for control.  He didn’t want to stop, the smell, the taste of her had aroused him like nothing he had ever experienced.  The mere sight of her glowing with arousal nearly pushed him over.  Withdrawing his fingers, he gently lowered her to the floor and positioned himself between her spread thighs.  She reached between them, gripping him and drawing him through her drenched folds, his palms pushed against her inner thighs spreading her wider.  She positioned him at her entrance and he slowly slipped inside, inching forward with every gasp until his full length was embedded deep within her.  He leaned in and took her mouth tenderly then started a slow steady rhythm gauging his movements by the sounds escaping her lips.

“More.”  Came in a rush of hot air as she raised her legs higher to allow him deeper.  “Harder.”  She gasped her hands clutching at his buttock as she writhed beneath his quickening pace.

He was panting, gasping nearly incoherent syllables of her name.  Droplets of sweat fell on her breasts as he pounded into her.

“Ohgod yessss.”  Her thighs widened around his hips welcoming the pounding steel as he relentlessly thrust against her.

Kashyk thrust hard and fast, panting in her face.  She gasped, clutching wildly at him as the coil so tightly wound, suddenly sprang lose, her orgasm crashing over her.  Kathryn’s body erupted beneath his, shuddering, convulsing, her screams loud in his ear, as her inner muscles spasmed triggering his release.  With a final deep thrust, he flooded her body with his life giving seed.  He lay on top of her, pinning her to the deck his softening penis still pulsating and throbbing inside her as her body shuddered with aftershocks.

Kashyk raised up lifting his weight from her, watching as she regained her breath.  Her eyes opened and she smiled, a smile that shocked him with its effect.  He touched her face the gentleness in his eyes betraying emotions he claimed not to possess.

“You OK?”

“Yes.”  She lifted her head and placed a gentle kiss on his lips.

“I should go.”  He rolled away from her and searched for his clothes.

In silence, with their backs turned to one another they dressed in their respective uniforms.

“Captain.”  He motioned her to precede him to the bridge.

To Kathryn’s surprise her bridge was once again manned by her own people; the only Devore insight was Kashyk.  The Captain stopped and surveyed their faces; Chakotay looked away.

“Captain, the bridge is yours.”  Kashyk made a mock salute and turned toward the lift, stopping just in front of the doors.  “Have a nice life, Kathryn.”  He stepped inside and let the door close behind him.

“Report.” The Captain straightened her shoulders, moving to the command level she took her seat.

“All of the Devore with the exception of Inspector Kashyk have left the ship.”  Tuvok replied.

“The Inspector has now returned to his ship.”  Harry added.

“Mr. Paris, set a course for home.  Warp six.”

Kathryn looked to her left; Chakotay studied the blank view screen, avoiding her.  What would she tell him?  How could she ever explain this?  Kathryn reached across the console and took his hand.  He glanced up; she gave him a cautious smile. No matter the outcome, this man was her life.  He watched her face; she could see the guilt in his and hoped she could conceal her own.  How much could she tell him?  How much could he understand?  How much did he know already?  She wasn’t sure.  She squeezed his hand; he smiled.   She knew then that she would tell him the truth and somehow they would get past this too.

“Engage.”
 

The End
 

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