Disclaimer: All the characters in their original incarnations belong to Paramount. These particular versions and this story belong to me!
First Place in Waves in the Ocean Third in Talent Night Wildcard
Rated PG 13
The Captain’s alliance with the Borg had been interrupted by the attack of the bio-ship. In its effort to protect Voyager, the Borg cube was severely damaged, several drones were beamed to the relative safety of Voyager along with Tuvok and a badly injured Janeway.
Chakotay stood next to the surgical unit looking down at the nearly lifeless body of his friend and captain. Kathryn had begged him to see their crew home and the Captain had ordered him to continue the alliance with the Borg; Chakotay couldn’t reconcile the two. He was not known for disobeying orders but he found he couldn’t live with this one. As First Officer, he had supported the Captain in her ill-fated alliance even though he never agreed with her decision, but now the responsibility was his and Chakotay had promised Kathryn he would do his best to bring the crew home. The alliance was over.
Chakotay soon found that even a handful of drones could prove to be a powerful force. Not only did he have to be concerned with species 8472’s impending threat, but he had to contend with the Borg on board Voyager. Chakotay decided to abandon them on the nearest uninhabited planet and continue home on their own; the drones had other ideas.
The struggle continued for days, Voyager had been forced into fluidic space by the drones and had engaged in battle with species 8472. After using the nanoprobe weapons effectively against the bio-ship, Chakotay was still faced a battle on board Voyager with the Borg. Even in light of the threat they still posed, the decision was not an easy one for Chakotay. The Borg were contained in cargo bay two when he ordered it decompressed and the bay doors opened to leave a trail of Borg corpses in space. Voyager set a course for home.
Chakotay headed to sickbay to check on Kathryn. The doctor had, of course, kept him informed of her progress and days ago had informed him that she no longer face any mortal danger. The force of the explosion had caused some neurological damage and the question remained as to what, if any, lasting effects they would find when she eventually woke.
“Commander, I was just about to call you.” The Doctor greeted him immediately.
“Has there been a change?”
“Yes, the Captain has regained consciousness, although she is resting now.” The Doctor ushered Chakotay into his office. “Mr. Tuvok will be joining us in a moment.
“How is she? Is she all right?” Chakotay impatiently asked.
“Yes, please have a seat and I will explain.”
Tuvok entered the office and took the seat next to Chakotay with a nod.
“Good, now that you are both here, I can begin. The Captain, as I told you, has regained consciousness. Obviously, she is physically weakened by the ordeal as well as her lengthly stay in sickbay, but that will pass shortly.”
“Are there other problems?” Chakotay’s stomach tightened in anticipation of the response.
“I’m not sure. You see she appears to be fine. She seems to have full recollection of who she is and what happened. We discussed briefly our current situation, she will of course need full reports from both of you. I don’t believe any of her cognitive abilities have been impaired, but she has expressed doubts.”
“Doubts? What kind of doubts?”
“This is the tricky part, she isn’t sure. The Captain told me, that while she believes that she is as fit for duty as she ever was, something is missing. Now, gentlemen I know that is not a very scientific explanation but it is all I have for now.”
“Isn’t it possible that she is merely experiencing a post traumatic reaction that she will overcome in a few days?” Tuvok spoke for the first time.
“Yes, those were my first thoughts, but she insists something is ‘missing’ although she can’t define it any further.”
“So, will you let her return to duty?”
“I have no reason not to. After a few days, with proper rest and, of course, if she is willing to take command again, I will have to release her for duty.”
“And is she willing?” Chakotay could not imagine otherwise.
“I believe so, but she wanted me to explain this to both of you, before she discusses it with you.” The Doctor stood. “Now, if there are no questions, I will let you know when the Captain is ready to speak with you.”
“May I see her?”
“Commander, she is sleeping now.” One look at Chakotay’s face and the doctor relented. “You may take a look but please don’t disturb her.”
Chakotay stood over Kathryn's sleeping form. She looked peaceful and well. He wondered how angry she would be with him for breaking her alliance. At the same time, he was grateful she would be capable of that anger. He was concerned about those ‘doubts’ of hers but also comforted by the fact that she was confident enough to freely admit to having them. He had work to do and reports to finish – reports that she would want to see while she waited to return to duty. Chakotay took one last look and left sickbay.
Chakotay stood outside the Captain's door. He had been surprised when the doctor informed him she had been released hours earlier and expected both Tuvok and him in her quarters at 1800 hours. As he rang the chime, Tuvok exited the lift to join him.
“Come in, Gentlemen.” Kathryn was dressed casually as she brought a tray from the replicator, placed it on the low table and took a seat in the chair. “Please join me. Take a seat.”
“Captain, it is good to have you with us again.” Tuvok sat uncomfortably on the couch.
“It’s good to be back. Thank you, Tuvok.” She picked up her coffee. “Please help yourself.”
“Welcome back, Kathryn.” Chakotay placed a stack of padds on the table and picked up his tea.
“Thank you, Chakotay. I see you're not wasting any time putting me back to work.”
“I thought you would want to read these in the next few days.”
“Yes, the doctor has given me his run down on recent activities, delighting of course in upstaging both of you.” She laughed. “However, I look forward to a more unbiased point of view. I understand that he also expressed my concerns to both of you.”
“Yes, but as Tuvok suggested it may only be a mild post stress reaction and it will pass in a few days.”
“The Doctor, suggested that as well. However, I’m not sure of the exact nature of this yet, at this point it’s only a feeling I have, but I’m all to aware of its presence. I don’t wish to make it obvious to the crew, but I would feel more at ease if one of you was with me while I’m on duty. That way you could observe my actions and reactions and give me a more objective evaluation.”
“Does that mean I get to go into the ready room to hide and drink coffee all day?” Chakotay teased.
“No, it does not!” She laughed. “I feel quite confident that I can handle that all on my own, thank you.”
“There is nothing unusual about both of us observing your actions on the bridge. Are you now suggesting one of us accompany you throughout your day?”
“Basically, yes. If I leave the bridge I want one of you with me.”
“Don’t you think that having us observe you that closely might lead to a bit of paranoia?”
“This is not blanket permission to be second-guessing all of my decisions, but then you both have analyzed my every move for years any way- so, this really isn’t very much different. I don’t expect you to openly question my decisions on the bridge –unless of course you perceive the situation to be life threatening- but I will be more than interested in your analyses in private.”
“When do you expect to return to duty, Captain?”
“The doctor has cleared me for duty day after tomorrow. We can begin then and continue until we are all comfortable. I don’t think it should take long for you gentlemen to convince me that I am my old infallible self.”
“Indeed.” Tuvok raised an eyebrow.
The Captain returned to duty as scheduled, although she held several ‘unofficial’ meeting in her quarters as she became more familiar with the actions taken during her time in sickbay. Although she did not agree with all of the decisions made in her absence, she conceded that they were for the most part sound and well within the authority of the person making them. The best course of action now was to move forward from there.
The Captain’s return to duty was uneventful. If any of the crew noticed a difference in her behavior, or that she never left the bridge alone, they didn’t mention it. After several days of observation and private meetings with each of them Kathryn met with both Chakotay and Tuvok together. They were all satisfied nothing had changed, but agreed to continue for a while longer.
After about two weeks, Kathryn was convinced that the true answer to her questions was not professional at all. This nagging emptiness was of a very personal nature. The missing pieces had nothing to do with her ability to command. She turned her attention elsewhere and began to examine her interpersonal relationships. Although something inside made her try to avoid it, she kept returning to the same conclusion until she could no longer deny it, even to herself.
Kathryn invited Chakotay to dinner. It was to be the first dinner they had shared since her return to duty. He readily accepted her invitation and even though several crewmembers had been within earshot at the time, no one reacted. The very naturalness of it all strengthened her resolve to get to the bottom of this empty feeling.
“Come in, Chakotay.” Kathryn smiled as she watched him enter dressed in casual clothes. His dimples deepened when he saw her.
“Hi. How are you feeling?”
Kathryn stepped closer carefully watching his reaction. His eyes held a question, searching her face for answers but the smile remained and he didn’t move away.
“I’m feeling good-physically.” She tilted her head trying to gauge his reaction. Didn't he feel this?
“Physically? Is there something you would like to talk about?”
“I’m just a bit unsure of certain things, still.”
“Both Tuvok and I have worked closely with you these past two weeks. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. As far as either of us can tell, you are the same captain you were before the explosion.”
“Yes, I feel confident that I have retained all the knowledge I had before and command decisions are no more difficult, it’s…” Kathryn thought Chakotay looked a bit uncomfortable. Was it because they were standing in the middle of the room or because she was standing so close? “Well, let’s have a drink before dinner. We have all evening to discuss it.” Kathryn stepped back and he seemed to relax a little.
Kathryn took a seat on the couch. Chakotay poured them wine before joining her. She steered the conversation away from herself and they enjoyed a light friendly banter by the time they moved to the table for their meal. The latest ship’s gossip, who was after who, – who have been caught doing what with who had them laughing uncontrollably by the time they finished their meal.
Chakotay suggested they have their coffee in a more comfortable setting, but when she sat close to him on the couch he gently eased away. Kathryn tried not to notice but she grew quiet and their easy banter was gone.
“Kathryn, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, really. Just an odd feeling.” She tried to make it sound light but it didn’t work.
“Want to tell me about it?”
“I’m not sure I should or that I even can explain it.”
“Kathryn, I think there's something troubling you and you don’t seem to know who you can confide in.” He didn’t want to push her but he wanted to make sure she understood he was there for her. She smiled and nodded. He really did know her well. “Before this happened, you confided in me. I don’t know if you are comfortable with that any more and if not, that’s OK-but I want you to know I'm still comfortable with it and I’m ready to listen any time you're ready to talk. You can tell me anything.”
“Chakotay, thank you, but..” Kathryn stared at her hands, twisting them in her lap. “I’m not..”
“It’s, OK.” He took her hands between his. “I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.”
“No, you haven’t. It’s me.” Kathryn fidgeted. “I’m not sure how to say this.”
“Just say what you’re thinking.” His voice was as gently as his hold on her hands.
“It’s kind of jumbled at this point. I’ve worked on this feeling for weeks with your help and Tuvok’s. I thought I might have stumbled on an answer but now I’m a bit confused I guess.”
“It’s OK. I’ll help you sort it out.”
Kathryn smiled. He was looking at her with those soft brown eyes. That was love she saw there but maybe not the kind she felt.
“Chakotay, I’m confused about- how we fit together.” She saw something change in his face, a guarded look–like he was trying to hide something from her. “I know how the command structure works and how we all fit together professionally and I haven’t had any problems there.” She wondered briefly if she were wrong. “You haven’t seen any have you?”
“No. Everything has been normal there.” He watched her inner struggle. The problem was clearly personal. “You’re confused about personal relationships?”
“Yes- well- no, not most.” She sighed. “Only one.”
Kathryn shifted away leaning back and resting her head on the back of the couch. She kept her eyes closed for a long time and he waited. Finally, she opened her eyes staring at the ceiling and with a deep breath she tried to explain.
“I’m confused because… well I feel...I’m just not sure.”
“You feel something you're not sure of?” He tried to gently prod her into explaining what she seemed to want to tell him in spite of her discomfort.
“No. I’m very sure of that.”
“You feel something and it confuses you?”
“No. It’s pretty straight forward.” She looked over at him when he laughed. “What?” She had to smile when he looked at her that way.
“Now, you have me confused.”
“I’m sorry.” Kathryn sat up, god this was making her crazy and now she was confusing him. Maybe she shouldn’t do this. What if she were wrong?” “This is silly and I’m ruining a perfectly nice evening.”
“No, Kathryn. Something is bothering you. I've seen if for weeks, but I didn’t want to push you. There is nothing silly about needing to sort this out and you are not ruining anything.” He picked up her hands again. “I treasure any time I can spend with you.”
“Oh, Chakotay.” Kathryn sat up. “Why are you so good to me?”
“It’s my job.”
It was an off-handed remark, said in jest, but the words hit Kathryn like a cold slap in the face. She stiffened. Oh god! Was that it? Was he just doing his job, taking care of his captain? Had her own feelings clouded her vision so thoroughly?
“Kathryn, what is it?” He felt her muscles tighten. She looked like someone had punched her in the gut. “Are you OK?” He grabbed her arms and turned her to face him. “Kathryn, speak to me.”
Kathryn stared at his face; the concern was genuine. But was it concern for his captain or for Kathryn? He was shaking her slightly trying to get a reaction. She needed to say something, but words wouldn’t form. She felt like crying, her stomach lurched and she fought to keep her dinner down. This was stupid. She was a grown woman – a starship captain- for god sakes, she was acting like a heartsick teenager.
“Kathryn.” His voice was soft against her hair as he pulled her into his arms. “Whatever it is, I’ll help you with it.”
Chakotay was holding her, soothing her, and now, she knew she would cry. Kathryn shuddered with the effort of holding back the tears, but it was useless. Silently, they slipped down her cheeks. Chakotay was completely confused. He imagined the personal relationship that was bothering her was theirs but she was crying in his arms. It didn’t fit. Kathryn had watched him very closely ever since she woke up in sickbay, but she had carefully observed others as well. He assumed it was all part of regaining that solid confidence that she was still herself and still in control. Now he wondered.
“I’m sorry.” Kathryn finally raised her head, searching for something to wipe her face. “I seem to be saying that a lot tonight.” Chakotay passed her a napkin. “Thank you.”
“It’s a stressful time. The Borg, your injuries, your recovery-it all takes time, Kathryn. You have done wonderfully. Maybe you are just over tired. I’ll go so you can rest.” He knew that Kathryn was not one to give in to emotional reactions and he could see her tears had embarrassed her.
“No, please don’t.” She reached for his hand as he stood. “I’m not doing this well, but I may never work up the nerve again.”
“All right, Kathryn.” He sat next to her again. “If you feel up to continuing, I’ll be here when you’re ready.”
“Chakotay.” She smiled at him, red-rimmed eyes still searching for something. “I feel an emptiness. I have since I awoke in sickbay that first day. I’m not sure how to explain. It’s like part of me is missing.”
“A personal part.” He wanted to be clear.
“Yes, now I realize it’s a very personal part. It’s like I’m.. “ She sighed. Giving him one more searching look she got up and began to pace the room. “You don’t feel it do you?” She held up her hand. “No you don’t have to answer; I can see it. Nothing is missing in your life and yet I have this gaping hole.” She moved to the viewport and leaned her forehead against it. “It’s probably unfair to even talk about this with you, but you are the only one who might have an answer for me.”
“What do you feel is missing?”
Chakotay was right behind her; she could feel his breath on her neck and she shivered.
“You.” Kathryn glanced at his reflection in the window; he didn’t understand. “You are what is missing from my life.
“I’m right here, Kathryn.”
“I know, but you’re not.”
“Can you explain this to me?”
Chakotay took her shoulders and eased her back against him. Kathryn sighed as he pressed her to his broad chest and his arms slipped around her resting together on her belly. She wanted to melt into him.
“I know you are here as my first officer, you follow my orders, you support my decisions. As my friend you share with me..” She took a deep breath. And you even hold me when I cry- you let me be human.” Kathryn reluctantly moved out of his embrace and turned to face him. “There isn’t anymore, is there?”
“There is a great deal to our relationship, Kathryn. You are my best friend and I wouldn’t know how to go on without that.” He was fumbling with his words, unsure of what she wanted him to say.
“But that’s it, right? We have nothing else.” The last was a flat statement, one that left her looking dejected and alone, like the day in the briefing room when she had told him she really was alone.
Kathryn stared at him, tears threatening her eyes once again. He didn’t know what to say. Part of him wanted to shout out that he loved her but he still wasn’t sure she wanted to know. She looked so vulnerable he wanted to scoop her up in his arms and never let her go, but was she too vulnerable? He didn’t want to take advantage of any residual insecurity. If ever they came together, he want it to be real.
“Again, I have to apologize. I shouldn’t have subjected you to this.”
“I’m the one who is sorry, Kathryn..”
“No. I needed to know. I wanted the truth and you gave it to me, thank you.” She crossed the room and cleared their cups from the table. “I think maybe I do need that rest now.”
“All right.” Chakotay watched her for a minute then crossed to the door. “Sleep well, Kathryn.” He didn’t turn around but he heard her choked voice say good night as the door closed behind him.
Kathryn ordered another cup of coffee and paced the room. How could she not remember something this important? She remembered their working relationship, their friendship and nothing more. Maybe that was because there was nothing more, but she still felt this gaping hole. There was no memory of this emptiness before. She threw her coffee cup in frustration.
“Another brilliant decision.” Kathryn berated herself as she watched the coffee drip down the bulkhead.
Kathryn picked up and recycled the pieces of the cup. She wiped down the wall and was trying to get the coffee out of the rug when the chime sounded.
“Great! Computer, what time is it?” She sat on the floor and leaned against the bulkhead.
“THE TIME IS 01:30 HOURS.”
The chime sounded again. She knew who it was.
“Kathryn?” Chakotay scanned the room for her.
“Over here.” She waved at him from her position on the floor.
“Oh, and what are you doing there?” He walked over and smiled down at her sitting on the darkly damp carpet.
“Cleaning up the coffee of course.” She shrugged.
“Of course.” He smiled and offered her a hand. “And do I need to ask how the coffee got there?”
“Probably not.” Kathryn took his hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet. “But if you must know- I threw it.”
“And what exactly did the coffee do to cause such a reaction?”
“Nothing at all- so be careful.”
“I always try to be.” He walked to the replicator and ordered another coffee and a cup of tea, before joining her on the couch.
“So?” Kathryn sipped her coffee.
“Don’t play dumb; it's unbecoming. I thought we said good night.” She smiled at him over the rim of her cup.
“Yes, I guess we did, but I didn’t think the conversation was finished.”
“I thought it was.”
“And I thought you were going to bed-needed rest, wasn’t it?”
“Touché.” Kathryn put her cup on the table. “So, you had more to add to the conversation?”
“Yes and now I will apologize just in case you don’t want to hear this and I don’t have time before I too slide down the wall.” He pointed to the still wet bulkhead.
“OK, apology accepted. Go on.”
“You asked if there was more, but I never really answered.” He put down his own cup and took her hands. “Yes.” His eyes held hers. “Yes, there is more- much more. I love you, Kathryn.” He saw the reaction in her eyes, felt her tense as she sucked in a deep breath. “I have for a long time and I think you love me too-but…” He tried to gauge her reaction. There was no denial in her eyes. “We have never spoken of it – not directly. And we certainly have never acted on it, other than our deep friendship.”
“And this was my decision?” She took advantage of his pause.
“Yes, it always has been your call. It had to be.”
“There are no regulations against it.”
“No, it would be unusual for the two highest ranking officer on the same ship but then our situation is unusual.”
“To say the least.”
“You believe or at least you did- that our positions on the ship were too important to risk a failed personal relationship.”
“And I have been foolish enough to not see that we already have a deep personal relationship?”
“Not exactly. I think you believe it’s controllable as long as we don’t..”
“I guess that about sums it up.”
“I guess.” Kathryn got up and returned to the viewport.
Chakotay gave her a few minutes then followed as he had done before.
“Wow.” This time she reached back pulling his arms around her as she nuzzled back against him. “And I always considered myself an intelligent woman.”
“Not very.” She turned in his arms. “How could I go around with this gaping hole in my life and not know it would someday destroy me? How could I think that if I denied my feelings they would go away? How could I believe that would be better for my crew?” She stepped back and looked up at him, tilting her head and sharing with him the crooked smile that was totally his. “How could I ever resist you? Oh and god those dimples!” Kathryn touched the depression in his cheek. “So, this was my call-my rules?” He nodded. “And if now, I think I would like to change those rules, how would you feel about that?”
“I would be the happiest man in the universe, but be very sure, Kathryn. There will be no going back. I won’t step back and give you up.”
“I understand. As much as I want to grab you and hold on it wouldn’t be right. We can’t change a long-standing relationship over night. It would be dangerous to try.”
“I agree completely and as much as I want to carry you off right now and make love to you, I don’t want to jeopardize what we can have in the future.” Chakotay smiled as Kathryn bit her lip and nodded in agreement. “So, how do you think we proceed from here?”
“Well,” Kathryn stepped closer her hand sliding across his cheek and into his hair. “I think maybe we start with a kiss.”
Kathryn unconsciously licked her lips as her eyes followed the slow decent of his mouth toward hers. Their lips met softly, warmly pressing together as they sighed into each other’s mouths. It was a gently loving kiss, she could feel it slowly fill the gap as the intensity grew, the underlying urgency kept their hearts pounding, as they broke apart. Chakotay pulled Kathryn closer to his chest, holding her as he worked on regaining his composure.
“So, um-er-you think we might try that again?” Her face was nuzzled against his neck, her warm breath making him shiver.
“Let’s sit down.” Chakotay stepped back tilting her chin up and brushing a light kiss across her lips. He took her hand and brought her back to the couch, flopping down and dropping his head on the cushioned back.
“Are you OK with this?” Kathryn ran a gentle finger down his exposed throat to the first button of his shirt.
“I’m more than OK with this, Kathryn. But I feel a bit like the damn has broken and I’m not sure I can hold back the rush of water for very long.”
“And I feel like I may die of the wanting if you don’t kiss me again.”
Kathryn’s voice was huskier than usual and the mere sound of it drove him crazy. Chakotay lifted his head catching the undisguised desire in her navy eyes. His mouth covered hers gently but less tentatively than before, his fingers tangling in her hair. His lips worked over hers and Kathryn responded eagerly unleashing that urgency once again. Chakotay’s lips parted hers hungrily and Kathryn’s tongue responded by rushing in to tangle with his. They moaned simultaneously as their tongues danced together for the first time, teasing and tasting each other, causing intense reactions in other parts of their bodies.
Somehow, Kathryn had unfastened his shirt and her hands roamed over the smooth hairless skin of his chest. Chakotay’s lips moved across her jaw, his tongue exploring the tender spot behind her ear that made her groan. Chakotay began to work the buttons on her blouse, pulling it open and pushing it off her shoulders. Kathryn moaned, arching as he kissed and licked his way down her neck, dipping his tongue into the valley between her breasts before sucking gently on the white mound above the satin material of her bra. Her hands were trailing fire across his skin everywhere she could touch; he nearly lost himself in the hot sensation. When Kathryn’s delicate fingers reached to unfasten his trousers, Chakotay grabbed her hands and stilled them. Kathryn groaned at the loss, as Chakotay pulled back and brought her hands to his mouth kissing her palms and gently sucking on her fingers.
"No," she moaned softly. "Please don’t stop.."
“Kathryn.” He smiled and pulled her close, enjoying the feel of her exposed skin against his chest. “We need to slow down.”
“Why?” She mumbled against his neck as her mouth eagerly sought the taste of his skin.
“Because I love you and I want to savor every minute of this.”
“And you’re afraid I’ll regret this in the morning?”
“The thought crossed my mind.” He moved her away from him. “I couldn’t bear to lose you like that. Please, just a little more time.”
“OK, but..” She reached her arms around him. “Could you just hold me a while?”
Kathryn settled comfortably against his chest, his arms holding her securely as she breathed in the musky scent of him. His hands slipped beneath her blouse stroking the warm skin of her back, pausing slightly at the strip of satin material that ran across it. Moist lips deposited occasional soft kissed on his shoulders and chest; her warm breath made him shiver. Chakotay was sorely tempted to snap open that strip of satin and allow her breast to fall free against his chest. Her touches became more aggressive her hands finding their way to his waist. When her fingers forced themselves beneath his waistband, he pulled back again.
“No, you won’t and neither will I – so I’m going home.” He stood up and walked toward the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“In the cold light of day?” Kathryn wrapped her arms around him from behind, her hands skimming over his chest, her tongue tracing along his spine.
“Yes.” He turned and took her in his arms. “In the harsh reality of your ship coming alive for another day.”
“Yes.” She looked at him seriously, then stretched up to kiss him softly. “And when you and Tuvok have followed me around and second guessed every move I’ve made and we've all gotten through yet another day in this god forsaken quadrant- I’ll be right here waiting.”
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