Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything, but if I did their lives would me much better.

An episode addition to Workforce.

 Best Character portryal Forever Love Awards

Crista, it’s all in how you look at it.  Your J/C cup is half empty and mine is half full.  This is for you—feel better.

Rated  PG:
 

“Captain –are you OK?”  He’d had to call her three times before she responded, he knew this couldn’t be easy for her.

“Oh, -- Chakotay.”  She turned from the view port, a small forced smile on her face.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the chime.”  She gave a weak laugh.  “Must have been a million miles away.”

“Not quite that far.”  He smiled, glancing past her at the planet outside the port.  “You alright?”

“Fine.”  She touched his arm as she walked past.  “I’m having coffee, want something?”

“Tea, please.”  He watched her measured movements as she replicated their drinks.  “The doctor and Harry are finishing up their meeting, did you want to speak with the Ambassador?”

“I think I’ll let our temporary command team handle this one---they’ve done a fine job so far.”  She sat on the couch and motioned him to join her.

“That they did, though not without a struggle.”  He chuckled.

“Oh, were our boys at odds?”  She smiled, mostly at his attempt to lighten the mood.

“Well there is no clear protocol here.  Is a member of the senior staff out ranked by an Emergency Command Hologram, because he is an Ensign or is the hologram outranked because the Ensign is a member of the senior staff?”  He laughed.  “They worked it out.”

“Interesting, How?”  She laughed with him.

“I didn’t ask—not sure I want to know.”

“I see what you mean.”  She watched her coffee cool for a few minutes, then placed her hand on his thigh.  “I have a –meeting, in my quarters.”  She studied his face before standing.  “After that, we will be ready to leave.”

“Alright, I will be on the bridge preparing to break orbit, if…”   He stood and placed his hands on her shoulders.  “You gonna be OK?”

“Fine.”  She smiled and shrugged.  “I won’t be long.”  She exited the ready room and cross to the lift without looking at, or speaking to anyone.

He waited until she entered the lift, before he left the ready room.  He knew who she was going to meet, it worried him.  He had know –and loved—Kathryn Janeway a long time and it hurt him to see her so torn.  She had fallen hard and fast for this Jaffen, which wasn’t like her at all.  She was happy when they found her on Quarra, happier than he had ever seen her—well maybe their time on new earth, but that was different.  On new earth she knew what her life had been and adjusted, here she needed no such adjustment.  As far as she knew, that was her life and she was very happy with it—happy with him

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She paced in front of her viewport, he would be here soon.  She straightened her uniform, wondered what she would say to him—how she really felt.  The door chimed.

“Come in.”  She took a deep breath and turned to face the entrance.  The door opened revealing Jaffen accompanied by two security guards, she nodded their dismissal and smiled as she watched Jaffen survey her quarters.

“I can see why you would rather live here.”  He gave an uncomfortable laugh, watching her shift her position.

“I’d offer you a job….”  She hesitated.  “I can always use another skilled engineer….”  She struggled, shifting again, trying to find words.  “But as Captain--- it wouldn’t really be appropriate for me to…”

“Fraternize with a member of your crew?”  He smiled trying to make light of it –trying to make it a little easier for her.  She nodded and smiled sadly in reply.  “At least my memories weren’t tampered with.  According to the medical records, I really did come to Quarra looking for a better life.”  He shrugged and set down the satchel he was carrying.  “And since I just got a promotion, I guess I’ve succeeded.”

“Promotion?”

“Seems they had to replace the shift supervisor.  Something about acquiring workers illegally.”

“Congratulations.”  She had to smile at this.  “You deserve it.”

“I thought you might want these back…”  He began to remove things from the bag, they were small decorative items she had place around their apartment.  She watched silently for a moment then moved toward him.

“I won’t need souvenirs to remember you….”  She stepped into his arms, pulling him closer as silent tears slipped from her eyes.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He sat quietly staring at the planet on the view screen, wondering if he had done the right thing.  She was so happy there and that was all he really wanted for her.  Was he wrong to bring her back?  He wondered if he had done it because she was the Captain and she needed to be here—or was it selfish?  Had he done it because it was right or because he couldn’t face his life without her?  She was taking longer than he expected, too long he thought—but how long was too long to change your whole life?

“Captain on the bridge.”  Harry’s enthusiastic proclamation interrupted his thoughts.

She looked a little dazed, but she smiled as she moved to take her place beside Chakotay.

“Ready to go?”  He leaned slightly toward her, watching her expression, as she thoughtfully gazed at the planet on the viewscreen.

“It may not have been real, Chakotay.  But it felt like home.”  She never looked at him, just continued to stare at the planet.  “If you hadn’t come after me, I would’ve never known that I had another life.”

“Sorry I showed up?”  He watched her stare at the planet, as he waited for an answer, then she slowly turned to him.

“Not for a second.”  She smiled, as she focused on his face and he returned it.  “Mr. Paris.”  She turned back toward Tom.  “Resume course.”
 

A short time later, the Captain retired to her ready room and remained there for the rest of her shift.  Trying to give her some time to herself, Chakotay waited until well into beta shift to check on her.  When she called for the door to open at the chime, she sounded distant and tired.  She was seated behind her cleared desk, empty coffee cup in her hands, looking a little lost, but she smiled.

“Captain, it’s getting late.”  He came to stand in front of the desk.

“Checking up on me, Commander?”

“That’s my job—taking care of the Captain.”

“Well, the Captain is fine, and we are both off duty—consider your job done.”

“Alright.”  He sat in the chair across from her.  “So, how is my friend, Kathryn?”  He gave her a dimpled grin, which she couldn’t help but respond to.

“She’s fin….”  She laughed.  “OK, maybe a little sad—but OK.”

“Think she will agree to some dinner?”

“I’m afraid she wouldn’t be very good company tonight.”

“That’s OK.”  He stood and offered her a hand.  “I can handle a quiet dinner.”

“OK.”  She shook her head.  “One quiet dinner, but it’s on you.”

“Agreed.”  He took her by the hand and walk to the door.

When she didn’t pull her hand away he was surprised, but he tried not to show it.  She acknowledged beta shift with a nod as they crossed to the lift, hand in hand.  Dinner was quiet just as she predicted, he did most of the talking, she tried to keep up, but he knew her mind was else where.  When they finished, she brought their coffee to the couch and he cleared away the dishes before joining her.

“Sorry, I tried to warn you… “  She sipped her coffee and placed it on the table.  “I’m not very talkative tonight.”

“I don’t mind.  I know you have a lot to think about.  If..”  He took both her hands.  “If you want to talk, you know I’m here to listen.”

“I know, thank you, but..”  She shrugged.  “Not tonight----- when I get it sorted out--- I just need to absorb it all—quietly.”

“Would you like me to leave you alone, so you can think?”  Her face was crossed by so many emotions, he couldn’t grasp them all.

“If you wouldn’t mind..”  She sat back and leaned against him.  “I would like you to stay with me awhile.”

“Sure.”  He leaned back on the couch and she settled against him.

It was a long time, maybe an hour before she spoke again.

“Chakotay---you sleeping?”

“No”

“Well I’m starting to drift off and I know how you hate to sleep on this couch.”  She sat up and laughed.  “So I guess you should go get some sleep and I’ll try to do the same.”

“OK.”  He stretched and got up.  “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Bright and early.”  She walked with him to the door.  “Chakotay?”  When he stopped and turned she stood on her toes and kissed his cheek.  “Thank you.”

“Anytime, Kathryn.  Good night.”

“Good night.”  She watched him until the door cut off her view, then she turned and went to bed.

She didn’t sleep well, but then she was used to that.  She was a bit apprehensive about returning to the bridge in the morning, but once she was there she found she felt better.  She wasn’t very talkative for the first few days and consequently the entire bridge crew was quieter.  It took another week before the crew began to relax again, by then she was well on her way to making peace with herself.  She had spent countless hours reliving her short time on Quarra, looking at every detail, remembering each hour spent with Jaffen and she was feeling much better.

Beta shift had taken the bridge and the last four members of the senior staff boarded the lift together.   Harry was on his way to the mess hall, Tom asked for deck eleven, on his way to meet B’Elanna in engineering and the Captain requested deck three.

“Commander, do you have dinner plans?”  She smiled imagining she could see Tom’s ears stand up, in front of her.

“Not unless that was an invitation.”  He grinned at her.  “Crew evaluations?”  He teased.

“No –this time I think the Captain need some evaluating.”  She stifled a laugh, when Tom stiffened.

“Humm that could be a tall order.”  He winked at her, happy to see her more herself and able to tease Tom a bit.  “I’ll bring the wine.”

“Great idea--- self evaluations can be arduous.”

The lift stopped at deck two and a reluctant Harry Kim got off with a promise to save a table for Tom and B’Elanna, which Kathryn took it to mean he wanted to know if he missed anything.  The lift reached deck three with out further comment and the command team bid Tom good night.

“I’ll just change and program dinner, won’t take but a few minutes.”  She keyed in her code.

“OK, I’ll grab the wine and be right back.”  She nodded and he left her at her door.

It took him only ten minutes to change his clothes, grab a bottle of wine and let himself into her quarters.

“Kathryn.”  He called out to her, as he entered to be sure she knew he was there.

“Hi.”  She called from the other room.  “If you’ll pour some of that wine, I’ll be right out.”

When she joined him, instead of her usual leggings and tunic, she was wearing satin lounging pajamas, in a deep silvery blue.

“What do you think?”  She smiled as she accepted the wineglass, and blushed at his appraising glance.  “Some thing different.”

“Beautiful.”

“Thank you, Jaffen gave them to me.”  She took a seat on the couch, tucking her feet up beneath her.  “I never wore them before.”

“Well you look great.”  He sat beside her cautiously, this was the first she mention Jaffen.  “And I thank, Jaffen.”  She laughed and watched him over her wineglass.  “Feeling better----about your stay on Quarra?”

“Humm.”  She nodded.  “It hurt to leave him----but, I had so many questions.”

“Care to enlighten me?”  He refilled their wineglasses.

“It was so nice—it felt so right…..”

“But?”

“But, it was so unlike me.”  She tilted her head, shaking it slightly.  “Too fast---we didn’t even know each other.”  She laughed.  “Still don’t”

“Oh?”  He raised a questioning eyebrow and she blushed.

“Well yea –we KNEW each other, but.”  She rolled her eyes, her blush deepening.  “We don’t know anything about each other.  Hell, I didn’t even know about me—how could he.”
 

“You don’t necessarily have to know, or have a memory to feel.  Besides you didn’t lose all of your memory just selected parts.”

“True, and I think that’s exactly my point.  They didn’t take away my memories, just manipulated them.  I was still an engineer, they just adapted my engineering knowledge and skills to suit their needs---to keep the power plant running.”  Taking another sip of wine she continued.  “They wanted me to be happy there, so they used what I already had.  They found scientific and engineering skills and they put them to use in the plant and when they found deep emotions---ones that could threaten my happiness there and maybe cause them to lose me—they manipulated them also.  Working next to Jaffen was no accident, they programmed me to be receptive, to do exactly what I did.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t really feel, I really care for Jaffen, in much the same way I know how to monitor the reactor core---it’s just there, but it’s still not me.”

“So that leaves you where?”

“Here, where I belong.”  She put her glass down and turned to face him.  “I could have asked him to come with me and I think he would have.  We can always use a skilled engineer, I even told him as much.”

“What stopped you?”

“I told him, I was the captain and it wouldn’t be appropriate….”

“OH the protocol speech.”  He chuckled and she swatted his arm.

“I’m serious here.”  She tried to give him a stern look.

“I know you are--I’m sorry, go on.”

“You’re right though, I gave him the protocol speech—but it was different and I knew it.  He wouldn’t have been my first officer—or an officer at all.  It was just…”  She studied him, trying to fine a way to explain.  “When I thought about it later, I realized - –I didn’t want him to come with us.”

“You seemed so happy with him.  I thought….”

“I know, I thought so too.”  She shook her head.  “Don’t misunderstand, I cared for him—the Kathryn Janeway of Quarra probably even loved him---but she is not me.”

“And you--- this Kathryn Janeway—the Captain of Voyager ---- my friend, Kathryn, what about her?---Is she OK with this?”

“Yes, I think so.  I think I understand what drew me to him and in the end what made me turn him away.  If I’m gonna throw caution to the wind so to speak—redefine protocols, reorder my life on this ship.  Quite possibly turn the entire social structure, of Voyager, on its ear………”  She took a deep breath, held both his hands and locked her eye to his.  “If I am going to do all that---Jaffen is not the man I want do it for.”

“Is there a man you will do it for, Kathryn?”  He asked jokingly and bit tentatively, but when she looked up at him, he could see she had an answer.

“Fishing, Chakotay?”  Her head was cocked to the side and the crooked smile graced her lips, sparkling playfully all the way to her eyes.

“Can’t fault a man for trying a little manipulation of his own from time to time.”

“I wasn’t programmed to love you, Chakotay.”  She still smiled at him, but it wasn’t playful any more.  “I just do.”  She reached her hand up to touch his face, fingers lightly trailing along his cheek, then stretched to gently cover his lips with hers.

Soft moist lips gently moved against him, with only the briefest of hesitation he responded in kind, letting her lead.  Parting his lips, to allow an insistent tongue to explore his mouth, feeling her fingers reach into his hair to gently draw him closer, his own tongue reached out, seeking to taste her.  Arms wrapping around each other, hands touching, caressing, gentle exploration growing bolder with need, she was moaning into his mouth, pressing her body to his.  He eased out of the kiss, pulling back to catch his breath, planting soft kisses along her jaw.  He stopped, leaning his forehead to hers.

“Kathryn.”

“Humm.”  He didn’t answer, so she raised her head to see his face, his eyes full of love and dark with desire, as they studied her.  “Chakotay?  Is something wrong?”

“No.”  He shook his head, seeing his own love reflected in her eyes, he smiled and kissed her softly.  “It’s finally right.”

The End

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