NOTE: Although it can stand on it's own, this story is meant to be a sequel to 'On the Edge' and is better if read in that order click to go there now.
RATED NC 17
It had been almost two months since the Celiena Prime away team 'incident'. It was fairly common knowledge, that the atmosphere had a violently toxic effect on the members of the away team and most people knew Ensigns Wildman and Roberts full stories. What happened between the Commander and the Captain was never defined. Although most crewmen knew they had both ended up in sick bay, only they themselves, the doctor and Tuvok actually knew the details.
What had spread like wildfire, was the Captain's admission of her love for the Commander. When Naomi asked the Captain straight out if she loved the Commander and she answered yes, a collective sigh of relief resounded throughout the ship. Long before the start of Alpha shift the next morning, it was already old news. In the time since, the Command team, had become comfortable with their changing relationship and, were widely accepted as a couple among the crew.
While the crew blindly accepted this relationship, it wasn't as easy as the couple made it appear. The very nature of the 'incident' made the situation difficult and although the couple had grown even closer they did not share the relationship the crew widely assumed. It would take time for each of them to recover emotionally and time was the one thing they had plenty of, so they moved slowly.
Voyager was in orbit around Hewlett, a pretty planet with a sparse but developed society. The planet offered much in the way of vegetation, but no mineral deposits that would be of use to Voyager. They had traded with the locals and their food stores were overflowing. The crew had taken a much needed shore leave and B'Elanna even convinced the Captain and Chakotay to accompany and Tom on a camping trip and a picnic to a great beach they had seen earlier in the week.
They beamed down and set up their picnic under a large shade tree not far from the edge of a sandy beach. It was a beautiful sunny day, warm and clear. Tom chased B'Elanna into the water, yelling and splashing, while Chakotay painstakingly covered every bit of Kathryn's exposed skin with sunscreen.
"Sure that's enough?" He teased. "I could do more."
"There is no part of me that could burn---unless I went skinny dipping." She laughed and held up her hand to silence him. "No--not happening."
"You sure?" He made a face.
"Yes, I'm sure." She got up and gave him a shove. "Let's go swimming."
They joined the younger couple in the lake. Kathryn wadding in slowly while Chakotay ran and dove under the water. He swam back under the water, grabbing her legs and tossing her high in the air. She came up sputtering and vowing revenge. She dove at him, dragging him under with her, and they came up together, laughing and coughing. He pushed the wet hair form her face she wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing drops of water form his face. Lips brushed lips and the kiss deepened -lost in each other----until suddenly hands grasped their ankles and dragged them under again.
"Save it for later." B'Elanna spat as the four surfaced gasping for air.
"And to think I used to like you guys." Chakotay sent a large wave of water in her face.
The splashing and dunking continued, they cavorted like children until fatigue forced them to drag themselves to the blanket to rest. They enjoyed their lunch and set up tents for the night. The campsite prepared, they changed and hiked up the hillside, planning to watch the sun set from the crest. It was a gorgeous sunset and a lovely ending to a beautiful day.
Hand in hand the couples slowly worked their way down the hillside in the moonlight. They joked and talked, relaxed and happy. It happened so quickly, no one had a chance to stop it. Several rocks came loose above them and tumbled downhill. They jumped aside to avoid being hit and Kathryn slipped and tumbled down the hill. It was basically an easy roll and would have only entailed a few scratches except that her fall was cut short when she slammed her head into a large boulder.
The others ran down the hill, Chakotay reaching her first. He lifted her, her head rolled back--she was limp in his arms. Tom ran up beside him, quickly checking her pulse and breathing.
"Let's get her to camp---the med. kit is there." Tom led the way.
B'Elanna opened the tent and Chakotay placed her on the sleeping bag. Tom brought the medical kit and began toscan her with the tricorder. It seemed like forever, it was only minutes, when she tossed her head and with a groan she opened her eyes.
"Kathryn." Chakotay studied her, she tried to sit up.
"NO---lie still--please." Tom held her shoulders down. "Let me finish the scan."
"I'm OK." She settled down and let him finish. Chakotay came over and took her hand.
"Looks like a nasty bump on the head--nothing more." Tom studied the scan and smiled. "Baby's fine."
"WHAT!" Chakotay looked up in shock, then back down at Kathryn.
"I said the..." Tom stopped smiling when he saw Chakotay's face.
"Kathryn?" Chakotay dropped her hand and now looked down at her with blazing eyes.
"Chakotay---I—I…" She looked at him with the closest thing to fear Tom had ever seen on her face. "I was going...."
"To tell ME?! When Kathryn---when the hell were you going to drop this on me?" Chakotay never raised his voice, but there was no mistaking the anger.
"When, Kathryn?" It was almost a growl.
"Chakotay stop---you need.."
"I need to get out of here!" He stormed out of the tent, looking back at Tom. "Take care of her---I'll be back later"
Kathryn rolled to face the side of the tent. B'Elanna and Tom stared at one another, then B'Elanna went after Chakotay.
"Captain---I'm sorry--I thought..."
"It's alright Tom---not your fault." She didn't look at him, but her could hear the tears. "There is no way you could have known.
B'Elanna ran after Chakotay, he didn't make it easy. He moved quickly through the underbrush not bothering to move it aside or caring about the cuts and scratches he received. His longer legs forced her to run to catch up.
"B'Ella --- just go back."
"No---not 'till you talk to me."
"B'Ella this doesn't concern you." He was still plowing through the brush.
"Hell it doesn't --- I just watched the three people I care about most--be devastated by one statement- a statement that should have spread joy. What the hell is going on?" She reached him and grabbed his arm to stop him. He spun toward her and the pain in his eyes was worse than his anger. "Chak---what's going on?"
He stood very still, staring at her---then he sat down and put his face in his hands. She sat beside him, putting her arms around him and waited. His breathing was ragged, she knew, he was crying. She waited for him to calm down.
"Chak--- this should be everything you ever wanted---what's wrong?" She spoke gently, still holding him.
"I can't deal with this --- I can't spend everyday of my like looking at that child." He drew a ragged breath. "I'm having enough trouble looking at her sometimes."
"Chak-- I'm confused. You love her ---things have been going so well--why? I don't understand."
"That's it B’Ella you don't understand. I do love her and normally this would be great--- but--this child---" He looked away and sighed then turned back. "B'Ella--Kathryn and I don't have the kind of relationship you think we do..."
"I think you two have a great relationship ---damn if there could be a perfect couple -- you would be it. You're best friends, you make the best work team I've ever seen. I've watched you guys for a long time--the last two month, well I thought everything had finally worked out for you--today--you two couldn't have been happier and gods you're mushier than Tom and I---what don't I know?"
"It isn't that simple---god it should be but it isn't."
"Why not? Chak what is it I don't know?" She waited, but he didn't answer. "Don't tell me she is still on the 'command structure--protocol' bull shit."
"No---she---she's been great---it's me." He got up and walked away, she followed him. "I can't handle this---- gods she doesn't deserve this -- I can't deal with this."
"Chak---what is it?" She stood next to him, her hand resting on his arm.
"B'Ella, Kathryn and I -we--we don't have a physical relationship." He took a deep breath and sat down again, "We have never made love."
"Never---Chak--what are you saying--never?" She dropped down next to him, "She's pregnant---Are you telling me this child isn't..." Her face reflected the total shock she felt.
"No--- the baby is mine-- I don't doubt that for a second." He hung his head, unable to look at her.
"Then what the hell are you saying? Is this another Seska thing?--No--she wouldn't do that--I don't understand."
"Celiena Prime---you remember the away teams reactions to that gas?" He looked at her--tears brimming his eyes. She nodded. "Everyone knows we ended up in sick bay-- but no one knows why."
"Chak-whatever you did it wasn't your fault---you know that." She tried to make him look at her-he wouldn't. "I thought you got past that."
"We tried--maybe she had--I can't. I don't remember, but I read the doctors reports--what I did to her..." The tears slipped from his eyes. She reached for him.
"What?--you can tell me--what?" She said softly.
"B'Ella it was disgusting and brutal." Sitting up, suddenly he grabbed her arms and looked directly into her eyes. "B'Ella, I--I raped her." He started a second longer--just long enough to see her expression turn from shock to horror, then he let her go and dropped his head and sobbed.
She didn't move, trying to comprehend what he had just told her. Chakotay would never do such a thing--never-never to Kathryn---gods --no--it was the chemical reaction--not him--he wasn't responsible. She reached out, wrapping her arms around his slumped form. They sat there a long time, until he had no more tears to cry.
"B'Ella how an I gonna do this?" He raised his head, hopelessness evident in his eyes. "Sometimes I find it so hard --just to look at her-- I can't make love to her--god knows I want to--She tells me -time--it will just take time---she's so patient--so understanding---I wish she would hit me-throw something--hurt me some how."
"Obviously, she doesn't blame you for this---you have to find a way to see this for what it is --a chemical reaction--an imbalance--something you had no control over---You would never have done something like this----not even on your worst day in the maquis--not ever--not to anyone--certainly never to Kathryn. Chak--you have to talk to her--she doesn't deserve this--neither do you."
"How can I---what can I say? Sorry, I can't handle this--you're on your own."
"Chak--you have to find a way to deal with this---move on---start over--what ever it takes--you just can't hide from it---She's pregnant this isn't gonna just go away."
"I thought I could--given time, maybe I could get over it, but I don't think I could deal with this baby---every time I looked at it---god children should be born of love, not violence and brutality. It would be a constant reminder---always there to say --you did this."
"That's just it--stop saying you did this--you didn't--you had no choice-no control." She straightened up and made him look at he. "What you can control is what you're doing now--You're hurting her now--you're hurting yourself. At least talk to her--explain how you feel--she deserves the truth."
"I'll just hurt her again."
"You need her, Chak-- I don't think you would be worth much without her anymore---she needs you too." She offered him her hand. "Come on, let's go back and make sure she's OK."
They walked back in silence.
He had no idea what he was going to say, how he was going to deal with
this, but at least he was ready to try. They reached the campsite,
Tom was outside by the fire, sitting alone.
"Tom, how is she?" B'Elanna asked as they approached.
"Physically? OK. She's inside--hasn't said much." He looked up, confused obviously she hadn't told him anything. "You OK?" He was concerned by Chakotay's appearance.
"Physically--yea." He nodded his head to B'Elanna and walked toward the tent.
B'Elanna sat next to Tom, he didn't ask--she debated what to tell him. He was feeling pretty low himself---blaming himself for what happened--whatever the hell had happened here. She decided to explain, so she quietly took him aside.
Chakotay entered the tent--it was quiet and dark-he waited for his eyes to adjust to the blackness. She was still lying on the sleeping bag, her back to him. He walked over quietly.
"Kathryn?" She didn't answer, he thought she might be sleeping. "Kathryn?" He spoke a little louder.
"I'm awake." She didn't turn around.
"Kathryn, I'm sorry--I was shocked--I didn't.."
"I should have told you." She spoke softly and turned to face him. "I was afraid." She saw he had been crying, it tore at her. "I knew how you would feel."
"Kathryn, I wish I could feel differently---I don't think I can."
"I see." The tears flowed freely down her face.
"I was hoping you were right--that in time I could cope with this, but a baby..." He sat down next to her. "How can we look at the child and not resent it---not remember it's violent beginning?"
"I don't know."
"Kathryn---maybe-maybe--it's not a good time to do this-now."
"Do what?-- Talk? We are way over due for talking about this...."
"No--not talk." He looked at her-then dropped his eyes. "The baby maybe it's..."
"I don't under..." She stopped as his meaning became clear to her. "Oh my god!" She got up and walked away form him.
"Kathryn." He walked up behind her, putting his arms around her waist.
"Here." She took his hand and moved it lower on her stomach. "You can't feel it yet---but I know it's there. There's a life in there--a innocent child--OUR child. Her voice was getting louder--stronger. "I won't do it, Chakotay----I will not murder my own child ---not even for you."
"Gods, Kathryn---that sounds so harsh---it's not..."
"It's not what?!" She pulled away from him and turned around "Don't tell me it's not a baby---I'm a scientist--I know the biology---but---I'm also a woman and I'm telling you that's my baby! Don't...." She turned away--then turned back. "Don't make me choose between you."
"Kathryn---I don't know what to say to you." He turned to walk out.
"Damn you---don't you dare walk out on me!" She screamed causing him to stop and turn just in time to duck the boot she threw at him. "DON'T. ." She threw the other boot. "YOU." A lantern came at him. "DARE." She hit him with the wrist light. "WALK" His backpack slammed into his side. "OUT." Her hairbrush just missed his head. "ON." she tossed the sleeping bag. "US!" She suddenly crumbled to the ground, sobbing "I need you--we need you." She choked between sobs.
Crossing the tent, he wrapped her in his arms and held her while she sobbed. He didn't know how he could do this--how they could do this--but now he knew they would. He kissed the top of her head and he gently rocked her back and forth. They sat together, just holding on long after she had run out of tears.
Finally he let go and
retrieved the sleeping bag she had thrown. He arraigned the bags
together and carried her gently to them.
"Let's get some sleep---tomorrow will be a new day." He settled down next to her, pulling her close.
She snuggled up close to his side, her head on his chest, he could feel the warmth of her body down the entire length of his side. Her hand, slipping beneath his shirt, played lightly across his chest, idly tracing circles, drawing apart the material, exposing skin to the chill night air. As the shirt fell back he could feel her warm breath blow across his nipples. Her hand moved down his stomach, stopping at his waistband, resting there fingers sprayed across his stomach, pinkie just under the band. She stilled, her breathing warm and even against his skin. He drifted off to sleep.
Soft warm butterfly kisses, teeth gently grazing his nipples, warm breath, nipping, licking down his stomach. Hands gently caressing his hips, thighs, reaching past the opened fasteners of his trousers. He moaned as soft fingers closed around him, gently freeing his growing erection form the confines of his clothing. Light strokes, warm breath, delicate licks, tongue swirling, lapping salty drops of fluid, his body involuntarily moved with the gentle assault. A groan escaped, as the velvet heat surrounded him. Fingers tangled in her hair, gripping moaning, thrusting, gasping with the intensity.
He reached to pull her to him as fingers replaced lips and her mouth worked up his body stopping to suckle a taunt nipple, nipping at his neck before claiming his mouth. His hands caressed her breast as he rolled them 'till she lay beneath him. One hand gliding down her body, brushing lightly across her stomach, reaching between open thighs to delicately explore her rich moisture. Gasping she arched toward him, desperate to increase the contact. Throwing her head back, her fingers tightening around him, hips raised, deep groans escaping into his mouth, he opened his eyes.------------He watched the passion in her eyes turn to pain as his erection disintegrated in her hand.
He squeezed his eyes closed as she rolled away from him. He studied her from the back, then moved behind her. He kissed her neck, running his hand down her body, reaching her wet folds--she rolled away.
"Don't." Her voice was husky.
"Kathryn, please." He pulled her toward him, rolling her on her back. He searched her eyes. "Please----let me." He gently cupped her breast, running one hand down her body causing a shutter "I love you." He whispered as he bent to capture her mouth.
His hands caressed
her, his lips spreading moist kisses. across her jaw, nibbling her neck,
licking the sensitive spot behind her ear. She arched her back, moaning
as his teeth grazed the dark dimpled surface of her nipple. As his
lips and tongue devoured her breast, his fingers stroked their way across
her stomach and down her thighs. His mouth worked down to the junction
of her thighs, where his fingers gently spread her lips. He lapped
at her salty juices, running his tongue along her inner lips gently nipping,
sucking, as she raised her hips, straining, rotating, seeking the contact
she so frantically needed. She sucked in her breath, stiffening as he ran
his tongue across her aching bundle of nerves, her nails digging into his
scalp. Gasping, she strained toward him as he penetrated her
with two fingers, his mouth clamping down on the most sensitive nerves. She writhed beneath his mouth as he sucked, tongue swirling, fingers thrusting. She bucked against his mouth, thrusting against his fingers, he felt her inner muscles convulse as she shrieked her release. Her body convulsed, deep groans coming from the back of her throat as he continued his onslaught and waves of pleasure crashed over her. As her body stilled, he came up to hold her kissing her face. He felt her heart pounding as she fought to bring her breathing under control. As she calmed, she turned to face him, reaching one hand up to touch his face. A tear slipped from the corner of her eye and he kissed it away.
"I'm sorry." She whispered into his chest.
"It's not you--- Kathryn, It's me." He held her close. He knew she was crying, he could feel her tears sliding down his chest. "I'm the one who.."
"No, it happens when you look at me---when you become conscious of who you're with."
"No, Kat--none of this is your fault." He tightened his arms around her, kissing her hair. "I'm the one who's sorry---I love you--gods this is so unfair to you. You don't deserve this."
"It's unfair to both of us---if there is an us." She raised her head to look at him. "Chakotay---do you think---would it be better--if -if we went back to being ---just friends--if we stopped trying to force a relationship?"
"NO, gods-Kathryn---don't give up on me." He studied her face. "That's not what you want---is it?"
"No--I just think-maybe---I'm pressuring you--trying to force you to accept things ---you aren't ready for."
"I don't know how we're going to do this--time-maybe -I hope-with time---but please, Kathryn don't give up."
"I'll be here---when you're ready---god knows you waited long enough for me." She looked up and smiled through her tears. "In the mean time--I'll try to get a grip on these raging hormones of mine." She laughed.
"Don't curse those hormones--too much--they are allowing pretty amazing things to go on in your body." He smiled now torn between his guilt and love. Then he laughed and she saw it reach his eyes.
"Just a thought." He laughed again. "I was imagining you all round and plump."
"Oh good, I can tell you'll be real supportive." She gave him a playful push and he pulled her closer.
"Guess I'll need longer arms to so this in the future." He laughed when she punched at him.
"Thank you." She kissed him and snuggled to his chest. "Thank you for trying."
He kissed the top of her head, breathing in her scent, praying for the strength to be what she needed him to be. They drifted off to sleep.
Tom woke just before sunrise, he lay awake curled up in his sleeping bag until he heard someone moving around outside. He pulled on a pair of pants and ducked out of the tent. The fire had been revived and he could smell the coffee warming. He looked around and finally saw her. She was sitting on a rock looking out over the water. He poured two coffees and joined her.
"Morning." He handed her one of the cups.
"Thank you--you're up early."
"You too---but you don't sleep much do you?"
"Captain--I'm sorry---I didn't mean...."
"It's OK Tom---I had to tell him--I just knew how he was going to react so ---I put it off."
"Are you guys gonna be OK?"
"I don't know." She looked away. "Did B'Elanna tell you what happened?"
"Yes." He sat next to her, they watched the sun start to rise.
"This is harder on him, than me----it's strange, but it's a possibility I've faced all my professional life. It's one of the first realities you're taught----and being a female Captain--makes you especially vulnerable. It doesn't change the facts it just prepares you to cope with it---to take into account the circumstances. To hang on to some shred of your sanity. I don't know how to help him."
"I don't know either, but what ever you threw at him last night seemed to do the trick." He gave her a grin.
"You threw your boots at him?" He was laughing.
"My boots, a lantern, a wrist light, a sleeping bag---I hit him with something--I don't remember what ." She was smiling.
"Remind me not to piss you off."
The sun was up, B'Elanna and Chakotay still were not. She got them more coffee and came back to sit by Tom.
"Anything I can do, Captain? B'E and I would like to help."
"No---well maybe--B'Elanna could continue to be his friend, that helps--And Tom, maybe-when we're off duty you could try to call me Kathryn, I could use some friends too."
"Yes Ma'am." He smiled a little shocked. "Err --- Kathryn."
"So---you make book on everything, what odds do you give on the crew accepting a pregnant Captain?"
"Come on, Kathryn, I can't make a single ration off that---not an objection on the ship." He watched her face and knew she was thinking of the only objection ---from the only person who really mattered.
"149 down, one to go." She smiled but he could see the hurt.
"He'll come around."
"Hope so---I know he'll try."
They finished their coffee in silence, it wasn't uncomfortable--just thoughtful. Tom decided the smell of breakfast might bring the other two to life, so after a futile attempt to get Kathryn to cook, he broke down and did it himself. They moved back to the fire and Tom started breakfast, Kathryn did consent to make another pot of coffee.
"Thank the gods." Chakotay came up behind Kathryn and wrapped her in his arms. "I was afraid you were cooking." He kissed her hair.
"She said she doesn't do that---I didn't believe her." Tom quipped.
"Let's just say I hope she doesn't do that." He held her arms down or she would have hit him.
"Let go---I need to hit you." She laughed as she struggled against him.
"Hey, I'm still bruised from last night." He loosened his grip allowing her to turn in his arms. When she did, he kissed her.
"Oh Kahless, do I need to see this before breakfast?" B'Elanna stumbled out of the tent rubbing her head and rolling her eyes at Tom, who just smirked and tended the food.
"Don't look." Chakotay winked at her.
"Kind of hard to miss..." B'Elanna poured herself a coffee and Tom served breakfast.
When breakfast was finished Kathryn volunteered for clean up, which Chakotay told everyone was only fair since she was NEVER gonna do the cooking. Tom went to scout up some more firewood, leaving B'Elanna and Chakotay sitting around the dying fire.
"You OK?" B'Elanna looked at him over her coffee mug.
"Yes, no--I have no idea..." He ran his fingers through his hair. "I've gotta try to do this."
"You two seemed OK this morning."
"We are---and then we're not. We're OK together--it's just--I don't know---it's me I guess, I don't know how to make this sick feeling go away." He shrugged.
"Well, you can keep this up----but I think she might kill you." B'Elanna laughed. "What the hell was she throwing at you---we couldn't help but hear you and we could see things hit the tent."
"Nice and you didn't come to my rescue?"
“Not me---I'm not getting between the two of you--on any level!" She laughed. "In fact, after the second thing hit the side of the tent, Tom and I went for a long walk---by the time we got back everything was dark and quiet. Thought maybe you were dead---but I figured it would keep till morning."
"Some friend you are!" They laughed together.
"What's so funny?" Kathryn brought the clean dishes back and repacked them.
"B'Ella thought maybe you killed me last night."
"Thought crossed my mind." She looked at B'Elanna. "So, why didn't you help me?"
"Thought crossed my mind." B'Elanna answered, ducking a blow from Chakotay.
"Hey, just cause you don't stand a chance in a fight against your woman, doesn't mean you can take it out on mine." Tom returned with an arm load of wood. "Kathryn, could you move those dishes so I can put this down?"
"Sure." She moved the dishes, Tom dropped the wood and they both smiled noticing shocked looks on the other faces.
"I think we missed something." Chakotay nudged B'Elanna.
"That's what happens when you sleep all day." Kathryn countered, taking a seat next to Tom.
"Kathryn, it's 0700---I would hardly say that's sleeping all day." Chakotay protested.
"Kathryn and I have been up for hours." Tom put an arm around her shoulder. "It was a beautiful sunrise---wasn't it?"
"Sure was---More coffee, Tom?"
"Why thank you, Kathryn."
"OK---OK we get it --now knock it off." B'Elanna stood up. "And with all due respect---Captain...". She knocked Tom's hand off Kathryn's shoulder. "Watch where you put those hands, flyboy ---or they might get broken." She gave Tom a mock glare.
"OK--than." Kathryn got up and moved next to Chakotay. "I'll just move over here---where I might actually get to win a battle occasionally."
"Occasionally?" He ducked as she punched at him.
"B'Elanna, they are hopeless, want to go for a swim?" Kathryn got up and headed for her tent.
"Right behind you." B'Elanna gave Tom a push and went to change.
There was a small island in the river, B'Elanna and Kathryn raced out to it. When they reached it, out of breath, Kathryn dropped down in the grass panting.
"I knew there had to be something I could beat you at." B'Elanna collapsed next to her.
"Not by much----Hell considering I'm fourteen years older and pregnant---I didn't so badly."
"Oh my god--I forgot---are you OK, Captain?" B'Elanna suddenly looked stricken.
"I'm fine." Kathryn laughed. "Tell me, are you concerned cause I'm old or pregnant?"
"You're not old." B'Elanna laughed now. "If you were old, you wouldn't be pregnant."
"Good point.---and B'Elanna--please call me Kathryn--we're not on duty now."
"Oh, so this isn't something you and helm boy have going? I was beginning to wonder."
"Yea---that really concerned you---please. I'm almost old enough to be his mother."
"Like that matters." B'Elanna studied her face, "Don't you know?"
"Oh, he has it bad for you---I mean- he would say it was a crush he got over long ago---but don't believe a word of it.---I don't."
"Tom? Please---it's just a power thing."
"Yea, part of it---but it's you. I mean it's nothing to worry about--I don't --- It's like a dream--ya know-you're like his walking fantasy."
"How does one live up to that?"
"That's just it--you don't have to --to fulfill the fantasy would destroy it--so just be happy and go on with your life knowing somewhere there are ensigns and lieutenants, especially one Thomas Eugene Paris, and god only knows who else--lusting after you---harmlessly of course. Good for the ego."
"Of course---now if one Commander would come around."
"It's not a fantasy with him---it will work out."
"I hope so. B'Elanna-thank you. You're a good friend and he needs that now---I'm glad he told you--maybe it will help."
"He is pretty ripped up over this---you seem OK---are you -really?"
"No- not totally---but more so than I thought I would be. I think --if he didn't take it so hard---I think it helped me in a strange way to worry so much about him--other wise I could have just wallowed in self pity and maybe never have gotten over it.
"Kathryn, if I can do anything-and I know Tom feels the same way---we're here. If you wanna talk or just throw something---what ever."
"Thank you, B’Elanna ---Tom said about the same thing this morning and I'll tell you what I told him --just be a friend---that's enough.
"Well maybe...." There was a sparkle in her eyes. "Maybe we should work on your aim --you're great with a phaser -- but not so hot with a boot."
"Gods, I can't believe I threw things at him."
"It was good for him -- good for both of you, I think. Hell, I'm half Klingon --- I think it's not only great, but normal!"
They spent over an hour just sprawled out on the grass talking and soaking up the sun. They swam back to the shore, but B'Elanna refused to race again. The remainder of the day passed quickly and quietly. This would be their last night on leave, they were due back on Voyager at 0800 hours the next day. They sat around the fire until it died out and then retired to their own tents.
It had gotten cooler that evening, so Kathryn changed into a tee shirt and sweat pants. She sat on their sleeping bags brushing her hair and watching him get ready for bed.
"Did you mean it?--last night --when you said my body was doing amazing things." She watched him struggle with an answer.
"Yes." He finally said coming to sit next to her. "I know it's not very scientific---but I find the whole process amazing."
"I know, it baffles the scientist in me too---I mean what was almost nothing, will soon be an entirely whole and independent person. It's funny--I can accept transporters and replicator technology, warp speed and space travel very matter of factly and until recently this never impressed me either. Now that it's my body that will produce this---person--I'm totally amazed. Completely in awe of the process."
"Maybe it's because it's completely natural---we didn't have to study it, invent it, work at it, refine it---it just happens--almost on it's own." He put his arms around her drawing her back to lean against him, while he rested his hand on her stomach. "Kathryn----I'm still torn over this--but I'll find a way to deal with it."
"I know." She put her hand over his and snuggled deeper into his arms.
It was several hours later when they awoke to crashing sounds loud voices and a roaring wind. The floor of the tent was wet, one side had collapsed and the other was sagging and blowing in the wind. Chakotay pulled Kathryn to her feet, searching in the darkness for their shoes. He found a wrist light, their shoes and grabbed the emergency backpack, just as the tent came down around them. He held fast to Kathryn as he pulled the tough canvas over them, until he found the opening. They worked free of the canvas and found themselves fighting to stand in a driving rain with gale force winds. B'Elanna and Tom were just crawling out form under what remained of their shelter. The entire campsite was a mass of swirling mud, Kathryn clung to Chakotay to maintain her position. They moved together for the relative shelter of the near by trees. Fighting the strong winds, they had almost reached their goal when Chakotay lost his footing, crashing to the ground bringing Kathryn with him. The rush of water and mud threatened to wash then into the now raging river. Kathryn clung to a large rock, reaching desperately for Chakotay. She clasped his muddy hand and prayed she could hold both him and the rock long enough for him to gain a footing. They were covered in mud, making holding on difficult. Chakotay struggled to his feet bringing Kathryn up just as her hold slipped. They made it to the trees, which provided little shelter, but gave them something solid to hold on to. At least the ground was more solid here.
B'Elanna and Tom half crawled and dragged each other toward the tree line. Clinging to the trees for support and anchor, the four of them watched as what was left of their camp washed into the river. Using each other and the trees for stability, they slowly worked their way deeper into the woods. The winds howled so loudly, communication was reduced to hand signals which were limited severely by their need to hold on to something solid to maintain an upright position.
The rain was cold and the wind piercing, the ground wet and mushy under their bare feet. It was dark, the wrist light had been swept away along with their shoes when they fell---thankfully the emergency pack was over his shoulder so it was wet and muddy, but he still had it. Tom and B'Elanna hadn't even gotten to take that much, all they had was the shorts and tee shirts which now clung to then in a mucky mess. They stumbled on until they reached a thick copse of trees that resembled pine trees. They were close together and gave them a reprieve from the biting wind. The ground was damp within the copse but most of the rain was blocked and the wind couldn't reach them. They sank to the ground.
They sat bewildered,
catching their breath. No one spoke for a short time, although the
howl of the wind was lessened, by the thick branches of the trees.
Kathryn instinctively reached for her comm. badge only to find it gone.
She looked around at the others--no badges. No way to contact Voyager.
"Are you OK?" Chakotay looked her over but, between the dark and the mud, could tell little.
"I think so---you?"
"OK--B'Ella, Tom --you OK?"
"Yea---never been better. What the hell happened?" B'Elanna was scraping the mud off her legs.
"Damned it I know---nothing we got indicated weather like this." Kathryn pulled her tee shirt out of her sweats using the clean end to wipe her face.
"Hey, can I use that?" Chakotay removed his own shirt, caked with mud from his fall. Kathryn moved over to him and used the least dirty part of her shirt to wipe his face. "You could have given it to me---I can wipe my own face." He placed his hands on her bare waist.
"Not like I can take it off." She smiled as he slid his hands up under the wet shirt.
"I see." He smiled, his hands contacting unrestrained breasts.
"Sure you can , Kathryn--we won't mind." Tom ducked a shot from B'Elanna.
"God---could you two knock it off---we're in trouble here." B'Elanna teased, turning back to the other couple.
"Not much we can do tonight, but try to keep warm. Looks like they have the right idea, B'E."
"Well maybe,---Hey what's in the pack? Anything dry?" She motioned to the emergency pack Chakotay had somehow managed to hang on to.
"Some emergency rations, a wrist light, a tricorder, water and ---this is your lucky day--two well sealed blankets." He took the packages out and tossed on in B'Elanna's direction.
Chakotay unwrapped the other blanket and handed it to Kathryn. He took his mud covered shirt to the edge of the clearing and shook all the mud off he could, then hung it in a relatively dry spot in the hopes it would be less wet in the morning. Kathryn mean while had wrapped the blanket around herself and removed her own shirt, she tossed it to him and he hung it next to his. Tom and B'Elanna quickly followed suit and soon all four shirts hung on a tree dripping mud. Both couples sat huddled under their respective blankets trying to keep warm and find a way to sleep.
Chakotay woke, he didn't know why. It was still dark, he could still hear the wind and rain outside the stand of trees. He was leaning against a tree in a semi reclining position, Kathryn was asleep on his chest. He moved his hands down her back, at least she felt warm --it was dark and damp but the shared body heat and the blanket made it--not comfortable but---at least bearable. Tom and B'Elanna were in a similar position across from him. He looked around and listened carefully but found nothing that should have woken him. He moved down so that only his head rested on the bottom of the tree and resettled Kathryn on his chest, pulling her body over his to keep her off the damp ground. She mumbled something, stirring in her sleep, but settled back quickly. He drifted back to sleep.
When he next awoke,
it was daytime but not much lighter than before. He checked the time,
it was 0800. B'Elanna and Tom were up and moving about, Kathryn was awake
but still lying on his chest. The rain was coming down harder
and the wind was howling, neither sounded like they were gonna let up.
"Morning." He whispered into Kathryn's hair.
"Morning." She raised her head to look at him. Her hair hung straight, cakes of mud through it and streaks on her face. He laughed. She just smiled at him--he didn't look any better.
"Don't you two start." B'Elanna warned, then looking at them she laughed too.
"Guys---I hate to break this up but---I think---we have a problem." Tom shot them a concerned look.
"What?" B'Elanna walked over to him.
The water was rapidly rising, the swirling mud they had escaped at the campsite was starting to threaten their temporary haven. Though the trees they could see a large wave of mud moving in their direction. Thankfully it's approach was slowed by the number of large trees in it's path, the smaller ones however were swallowed up and carried along with the mud slide.
"Here." Coming to look, Chakotay grabbed his shirt and tossed Kathryn hers. "Check the other sides---we'll never make it out through that mud."
B'Elanna, Tom and Chakotay checked the perimeter while Kathryn packed up the blankets and few supplies they had. It didn't look good.---there was only one path open and no one knew where it led or how long it would be passable. Chakotay took the pack from Kathryn securing it over his shoulder and grabbed her hand as they started the unknown path. The going was slow without shoes, branches and bushes blocked their way and they were forced across an occasional small river of flowing mud. The tricorder indicated higher ground not far from their position so they headed for it. As the forest grew less dense the rain became harder, pelting them with spikes of icy cold water and making visibility poor.
The muddy swirl slowly
rose until they were plowing through ankle deep mud and fighting the rapidly
growing current for balance. The forest suddenly broke open and they found
themselves facing a steep rock wall. There was a ledge not too far
up-- far enough to raise them above the mud--they thought. They would
have to climb almost straight up. Looking around at the advancing
wall of mud they knew they had no choice.
They started up---Chakotay first, followed by Kathryn, B'Elanna and Tom bringing up the rear. The climb would have been only slightly challenging if it hadn't been for the driving rain and the mud, which clung to then causing difficult footing. Chakotay reached the ledge and pulled himself over. He reached down grasping Kathryn's arms and dragging her to safety. B'Elanna was still slightly behind, needing to get a little close before Chakotay could safely reach her. She reached for the next hold, as she grabbed it her foot slipped lose and she hung off the side of the cliff by her fingers. Chakotay still couldn't quite reach her as he lay on the ledge, leaning as far as possible, Kathryn sitting on his legs as an anchor. Tom came up behind her giving her a boost--just enough for Chakotay to get a grip. As he gripped her and yanked her over the edge, her feet slipped out again catching Tom squarely in the jaw. He yelled as
he flew backwards, hurling toward the now raging river of mud below. As the three helplessly watched, Tom came precariously close to the mud before the disappeared in the familiar blue shimmer of the transporter. All four officers materialized in transporter room one. They sat disbelieving as they gazed around at their surroundings.
Ensign Hillman working the transporter surveyed her 'catch'. Four humanoid beings. Wet, muddy, scraggily, barefooted and mostly unidentifiable. Tom had materialized on his back and now sat up. B'Elanna was kneeling as she had been looking over the ledge and Chakotay lay on his stomach with the Captain sitting on his legs. No on spoke.
"Bridge to Transporter room one." Tuvok's voice came across the comm.
"Ensign Hillman here, Commander.---we've got them---I think."
"You think, Ensign? Do we have them or not?" If a Vulcan could be angry--Tuvok was.
"Yes, Sir ---that is ---we have four---four..."
"Mr. Tuvok, we are all present. We will be getting cleaned up and reporting to sick bay." The Captain interrupted, rescuing the ensign.
"Aye, Captain. Good to have you back."
"Thank you, Tuvok---Janeway out." She smiled at the Ensign and looked around at her companions, and laughed.
"Kathryn---you can get off my legs now."
"Sorry," She scrambled to her feet offering him a hand. "Look at us! No wonder Ensign Hillman wasn't sure she wanted us." She turned toward the blushing Ensign. "I believe a site to site would be a good idea. Please send us to our quarters, Ensign. I will see you three in sickbay, as soon as you're cleaned up." With that the Captain disappeared.
Washed, mud free and
with a clean bill of health the Command team returned to the Captain's
quarter for a warm and dry nights sleep. Tomorrow would be a new
day, tomorrow they would find a way to go forward---at least for another
day. One day at a time, they would forge a life--make a home--create
a future. Life would continue on the Starship Voyager.
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