“Computer, lights 40%.” She lit the candles scattered
around the room. The wine was chilled, dinner almost ready; she knew
this, after all she had check it three times already. “You’re acting
like a school girl.” She chided herself for her nervousness, then
laughed when she looked up to find herself in front of the mirror again.
“Well, a school girl you are not.” Laughing again, she shook back
her hair and examined her reflection yet again. Not only was she
not in uniform, but she wore a dress, it was nothing fancy just a plain
blue dress—he liked her in blue. “Not bad for a stuffy old Starfleet
captain. Besides he likes you this way—no not just that—he loves you this
way.” She smiled, allowing herself to even think that had been long
forbidden, now she was saying it out loud. She glanced back at the
mirror and Kathryn smiled back at her remembering the day, only a few short
weeks ago when everything changed.
Voyager had been in orbit around an uninhabited M class for nearly a week. Santros, as it was identified on her charts, was a gorgeous planet, lush and green. The largest land mass on it had a tropical climate and being totally uninhabited, a perfect spot for some real down time. The black sandy beaches ran into clear warm oceans, filled with colorful plant life and the largest assortment of interesting sea creatures they had run across in many years. The thick tropical forests gave way to snow topped mountains on the western portion of the largest continent, offering a wide variety of possibilities and making the choice of locations difficult for many crewmen.
As always, the Captain made sure shore leave was available to any crewmen who wanted it before she would even consider taking some herself. And as usual, Chakotay stayed behind until she agreed to go planet side with him. It was a ritual familiar to all, almost a game by now. Why, she even suspected Tom had a pool going, taking bets on just how long it took her to give in; it would be just like him. They had been in orbit almost a week and the majority of the crew, including Tuvok, had already taken leave. They planned on staying only one more day, so it was now or never.
“Come in, Chakotay.” The captain sat behind her desk, anticipating his arrival and already knowing she would give in. “What can I do for you?”
“Come planetside with me.” He smiled.
“Well, that was direct.” She laughed.
“No time to haggle; the captain says we leave tomorrow so it’s now or..” He stopped mid sentence and reconsidered. “now.”
“That doesn’t leave much room for negotiation.”
“It’s not supposed to.” He extended his hand across the desk and to his surprise she took it without argument.
“OK, I have to change first.” She stood and came around to his side of the desk. “What are we doing?”
“I though we would take a hike up the mountain trail. Harry says there is a beautiful waterfall only a short way up.” He walked her toward the door. “We’ll beam in just at the foot of the trail, so it won’t be hot and you should only need a light jacket further up; I already have the picnic prepared.”
“A regular boy scout.”
“Only ‘cause I have to be.” He grinned and she rolled her eyes.
“I meant you were prepared.”
“It’s my job.”
“Oh, I see.” Kathryn raised an eyebrow. “You only take me on picnics because it’s your duty?”
“Kathryn, there are no regulations that say I can’t love my job.”
Kathryn was laughing so hard when they crossed the bridge she could barely nod her acknowledgment of the crew. She and Chakotay had developed a good solid relationship over the years. The command structure was sound and their friendship was deep and true. It was good this way, warm and comfortable, so when she occasionally wondered if they could still have more she pushed it aside.
She watched him out of the corner of her eye as the lift descended the two decks to their quarters. He was a good man, the best first officer a captain could have, loyal and kind with a surprisingly quiet strength, a great friend and even more handsome now, with just that touch of gray at the temples, then when she had first seen him. She smiled to herself, remembering an angry Maquis captain standing only inches from her, her head swimming in the scent him mixed with that of the leather he wore, as she struggled to retain some semblance of professionalism.
“Kathryn?” He touched her shoulder. “Do I want to know where your mind was, that made you smile like that?”
“Probably not.” She smiled and stepped from the lift. “Just lost in thought. I’ll only be a few minutes.” She keyed in her code.
“OK, I’ll grab my stuff and come back for you.” He chuckled. “Don’t get lost, again.”
They beamed into a large clearing just at the base of the mountain. The bright sunshine was warm on their faces, but the light breeze made the temperature just right for a hike. A field of brightly colored wild flowers stretched out between them and the mountain trail they were planning to hike.
“Oh Chakotay, this is beautiful.” Kathryn looked down over the valley.
“Certainly is.” He came to stand behind her. “ And Harry says the waterfall is the most amazing sight he has ever seen. The sun reflecting off the water as it cascades over multicolored rock formations is supposed to be breath taking.”
“Well, let’s get moving then. I don’t want to miss it.” She took his hand and started across the meadow.
Their pleasant stroll, across the meadow, gradually turned into a more strenuous hike over the rocky trail. About an hour later their hike had turned into a climb.
“Here.” Chakotay passed Kathryn a bottle of water.
“Thanks.” She took a swig and wiped her face on the sleeve of her jacket. “Get much steeper?”
“Don’t know.” He took a sip of the water. “Harry didn’t mention this part.”
“Figures, that’s youth for you.” She laughed and slapped him on the back. “Probably didn’t even notice, ol' man.”
“What’s that old saying about a pot and a kettle?” He chuckled as he tucked the bottle back into the pack.
“Yeah, yeah, don’t remind me.” She rolled her eyes and started up the trail ahead of him. “These legs will let me know just how old I am by this time tomorrow.”
“Too bad that’s a waterfall up there and not a hot spring.”
“Ahh, wouldn’t that be nice.”
They continued their trek, fortunately it didn’t get any steeper and the view at the plateau was worth the trouble. As they topped the hill, the sound of rushing water signaled the end of their hike. Chakotay saw it first and stood open mouthed at the sight of a virtual liquid rainbow crashing into a deep muli-colored pool.
“Spirits.” Kathryn came up beside him and gasped. “Have you ever seen anything like that?”
It’s amazing.” He took her hand and tugged her forward. “Come on, let’s get closer.”
They moved close enough to feel the warm spray of the water on their faces. The brilliant colors danced in the sunlight forming kaleidoscopic patterns edged with white lacy foam.
“Let’s move back, you’re getting soaked.” Chakotay moved just out of the reach of the spray and spread the blanket. “Come sit”
“Thanks.” She sat on the blanket and took the towel he offered. “Isn’t it amazing, In all of my travels across countless star systems, I have never seen anything as magnificent as this.”
“It is impressive, but ..” He teased. “I didn’t think the ‘great Captain Janeway’ would be so taken with a mere flash of color.”
“Oh, so you think because I enjoy science and actually understand quantum mechanics, that I can’t also appreciate great beauty?”
“Well, I didn’t say that exactly, but you do have a tendency to prefer the more complicated things in life.”
“Not always...” She smiled. “I enjoy you, don’t I?”
“OK, so that takes care of appreciating great beauty, how about simple?”
“Yeah, OK. She rolled over on her stomach and looked
up at him. “I’ll let that one slide if you feed me.”
The mountain air combined with the hike had left her famished. Together they polished off everything he had packed, ending with chocolate brownies and washing them down with hot coffee.
“God, that was good.” She laughed as she patted her stomach. “Good thing we have a long walk back or I wouldn’t get into my uniform tomorrow.” She settled back against him, making herself comfortable.
“A nap would be nice.” He stretched out in the sun taking her with him.
“Humm, sounds good.” She rolled toward him snuggling
up to his chest and drifted off to sleep.
Kathryn woke to find herself alone, the picnic carefully packed away and the packs neatly stored next to Chakotay’s boots. She sat up and looked around, but couldn’t see him nearby. She reasoned he wouldn’t have gone far with out his boots, then realized the only place he would have gone barefoot was into the water. Removing her own boots and socks. She rolled up her pants and headed to the edge of the water.
“Chakotay.” She called out over the rush of the water. “Chakotay.”
“Kathryn.” His voice was muffled by the sound of the water.
“Where are you?” She still couldn’t see him.
“Back here.” He jumped off a ledge behind the waterfall. “You have to see this.”
“What? The back of the waterfall?” She made her way over to him.
“No-well yes actually.” He laughed. “Those colored rocks Harry liked so much, I just had a closer look.”
“Come here.” He reached out and took her hand. “Be careful it’s slippery in spots.” He climbed back to the ledge and helped her up behind him. “Back here are Harry’s colored rocks, wait till you see them.” They edged along the ledge behind the crashing water until it opened up into a large cavern.
“Chakotay, this is beautiful. Is it natural, do you think?” Kathryn moved closer to run her hands over the rough, but exquisitely colored streaks running down the walls.
“It appears to be, I can’t tell without further testing but this appears to be corundum, a mineral comprised of aluminum oxide.”
“Gem stone quality? I don’t think I have ever seen a natural gem stone.” She continued to examine the thick colorful veins in the rock.
“Here.” He moved closer to her. “If I’m right this large red vein is ruby and the blue one there would be sapphire. Look at the different shades. On Earth the different shades would be found in many locations, not all part of the same vein.”
“On Earth, when we still had natural precious stones, this place would be worth a fortune.” She looked around at the other walls.
“Yes, and the beauty would be destroyed.” He shook his head sadly. “That’s why you have never even seen a natural gem—greed.”
“Chakotay, come here. Is this an emerald?” She motioned for him to join her. “I have synthetic emeralds, but spirits this is so much more beautiful”
“Yes, even in its rough unpolished state.” He examined it closer. “It appears to be. Emeralds are a beryllium aluminum silicate-- still a crystal, but a different composition. I wonder what sort of phenomena caused them all to be concentrated here. If we’re right, this rosy colored one would be morganites and this, an aquamarine.”
“I can certainly see why people treasured them.”
“It’s a treasure just the way it is.” He was standing close beside her.
“Thanks for sharing this.” She leaned into him. She always knew his heart was in a more ‘earthy’ science; his passion for preserving this natural kind of beauty was evident.
“Anytime” His arm was draped across her shoulder as she stood against his side. Together they took in the beauty surrounding them and he thought; perhaps this was the most perfect place he had ever been. “I hate to end this but it will be dark before we reach the bottom if we don’t get going.”
“I know.” She straightened up and smiled at him, offering her hand. “Shall we?”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He laughed at the face she made and
followed her across the ledge to the outside world.
The sun was still warm on the mountainside; they tucked their jackets into a pack and started a leisurely decent to the beam out point. Kathryn stopped several times to admire the wildflowers growing in the midst of the rocky slope. The colors and varieties of flowers were as oddly diverse as the stones they had discovered behind the waterfall.
“Why do you suppose this planet is uninhabited? It’s so beautiful.”
“I don’t know, but I think I am glad it is.” He set the pack on the ground and reached for the water. “It would be a shame to ruin this.”
“You’re right of course.” She lowered her pack, dropping it next to his. “Look.” She squatted next to him and pointed into the tall grass on the side of the trail.
“It’s a rabbit—well almost.” He chuckled at the sight of the small furry creature.
“Pretty close.” She stepped closer and the creature darted away. “Oh well. This planet has one native anyway.”
Slowly they wound their way down the mountain, following a scurry of small furry creatures one way, wandering a bit farther off the path to pick some interesting wild flowers. They talked, laughed and simply enjoyed this quiet time together away from the normal pressures of running a starship.
It was getting darker, as they picked their way slowly down the slope, the shadows dancing before them until the sun dipped behind the clouds. Without warning, the ground opened up beneath their feet, swallowing them. She landed with a thud, stumbling to her left over some fallen rocks and tumbling down a slight embankment. A shower of dirt kept her pinned to the ground for a few minutes.
“Chakotay?” She sat up and spit the dirt from her mouth. “Yuck.” She brushed off her hands and tried to stand; the pain that shot through her ankle quickly brought her back to the ground. “Ahh damn.” She gingerly touched her rapidly swelling ankle. “Shit, Chakotay, I think I broke my ankle.” She turned and searched for him in the darkness, wincing at the sharp pain in her chest. “Chakotay?” He had been right next to her when the ground gave way; he must have fallen too. “Chakotay?”
Kathryn forced herself to her knees and began inching her way up the small incline. With outstretched hands, she began feeling her way in the darkness toward the shaft of light that must have been where she fell through. Chakotay must be down here, he was right next to her. Concentrating on the light, she crawled slowly up hill; it hadn’t seemed this long on the way down, the farther she crawled the more difficult it was to breathe. She was only halfway to the light when she found him.
“Chakotay?” She had encountered a leg and worked her hands up his twisted body, without response. Kathryn held her breath as she counted the heartbeats. He wasn’t responding but his pulse was strong, breathing steady and even. Without much light she had to feel her way around him. One leg was badly twisted, but she didn’t think anything was broken, she moved up toward his head. “Chakotay, can you hear me?” Still nothing. Her fingers gently traced his face; nothing wrong there. She moved closer, lifting his head, something warm and sticky flowed over her fingers. Fear shot through her, she needed to be sure; she slowly brought her fingers to her mouth and tasted it, blood.
Kathryn’s first instinct was to hit her comm. badge, it wasn’t there, she must have lost it in the fall. She felt Chakotay’s chest for his, snatching it up, only to have it crumble in her hands. She sat still trying to breathe, she needed to be calm and assess their situation, but the pain in her chest was making it difficult. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed since the ground gave way, but before that had happened she knew they only had three more hours of leave left. When they didn’t return Tuvok would try to contact her, failing that he would send an away team to find them. They had wandered off the path, but not so far --- at least she didn’t think it was far. In any event, without anyway to contact Voyager, help would be hours away; she needed to do something now.
Kathryn checked the immediate area hoping one of their packs or maybe the blanket had taken the tumble with them, but she found nothing. Having nothing else, she removed her blouse and used it to try to stem the flow of blood from the back of his head. She eased up his head and shoulders sliding herself under him so that his head rested in her lap. She rested one hand on his chest allowing her to easily monitor his breathing; he was having less trouble than she was in that area.
It was dark and damp and cold; Kathryn had lost all track of time. She thought they had been here forever; Chakotay didn’t move except for the steady rise and fall of his chest under her hand. She could feel the warm moisture of his blood as it seeped through her blouse onto her legs.
“Chakotay?” Kathryn leaned in close to his face. “Don’t leave me, Chakotay. Tuvok will come for us soon.” She watched as her tears dropped onto his pale, almost translucent cheek.
Kathryn was so cold; it hurt to shiver. Chakotay was so pale, so still, there was too much blood and still if seeped out. There was a point where even the holo doctor couldn’t pull off miracles. She began to wonder about the extent of his injuries. The blood loss was evident, but if he didn’t die of it before help arrived, it wouldn’t be a problem. The real concern was the extent of the trauma his brain had suffered. Her mind focused on the possibilities, none of them pleasant. Maybe he would never wake up; the idea frightened her so severely she couldn’t even consider the possibility. The longer he was unconscious, the longer he went untreated the greater the likelihood of permanent neurological damage. His memory, his motor functions, his speech, his behavior, his consciousness, the list scrolled on and on in her head. What if he wasn’t her Chakotay anymore? ‘Her’ Chakotay, it almost made her laugh, was he ever ‘hers’ and if so was he still? Did he still love her? Did it still matter? Was she being selfish, wanting him to hold on? Yes it was selfish, but she didn’t care; she was finally ready to admit what everyone else already knew. She needed him, without him she would exist but she couldn’t live. How foolish she had been all these years.
“Chakotay,” She remembered being told people in a coma could hear you; sometimes they remembered what they were told. Some times it helped. “Chakotay, don’t leave me. I need – I love you. No matter what happens, I will be beside you.” She brushed her tears from his cheek and traced the dark lines on his forehead. “I don’t have your faith, Chakotay—I wish I did; too much science I guess. I don’t know. I just know that I want you back and if I knew how to pray I would.
Kathryn must have drifted off to sleep, maybe you wouldn’t call it sleep exactly; she wasn’t sure. The dampness had seeped into her very bones; she was cold to the point of being numb. Except for the throbbing in her foot and the sharp stab in her chest with almost every breath, her body had no feeling. She focused her attention on the deathly still, ghostly white face in her lap; she bent forward brushing a light kiss across blue lips. His breathing was labored, his pulse not strong like before; she was losing him, even as she held him he was slipping from her.
She fought to drive down the panic; she had to maintain control. It was long past three hours, it had to be. “They will be here soon.” She spoke out loud to reassure herself. “I don’t know if you’re there –if you even exist, but—he believes in you.” She sobbed into the darkness. “He tells me of your kindness, your inherent goodness, he says you’re just and gentle. Maybe it’s wrong of me to ask—I don’t care. If all that is true and his belief is justified than you’ll listen, even to me. Don’t let him leave this way. He has so much more to give. If I am Voyagers brain, he is her heart and soul, a kind and gentle tower of strength for the crew---for me.” She grew angry, her fears were getting the better of her. “Damn it!” Her scream echoed back to her. “I don’t know how to talk to you.” Her yelling only caused more pain. She clutched her chest sobbing. “Please.”
Kathryn opened her eyes to complete darkness, the small shaft of light was gone. She felt warmer, that wasn’t right, the temperature would only have dropped with the sun. She tried to think, even her brain was numb. Yes, that was it, her foot no longer throbbed, her body was numb. She couldn’t find his pulse; her fingers were stiff and unfeeling. In the darkness, she couldn’t see if he was breathing. The panic was rising quickly; she bent low placing her face close to his. The short puffs of warm moist air brought new tears to her eyes.
“Chakotay.” It was difficult for her lips to form words; her stiffened fingers brushed the fresh crop of tears from his face. “Please hold on. I need you.” She snorted a sound something between a sob and laugh. “It’s always about me isn’t it? I’m sorry. No more, I promise. In the future it will be about both of us—us – is there an us? Can there be? Oh, Chakotay, I’ve hidden from you for so long I don’t even know how you feel. How do you feel? After all this time is it possible you still love me?” She rested her forehead on his. It was too hard to talk, too hard to think; she wanted to sleep. “I promise you Chakotay, no more hiding. I love you and when we get back I’m gonna tell you …..”
Kathryn forced open her eyes and slammed them shut against the glare of the light. She heard voices around her; slowly she opened her eyes to the familiar sight of Voyager’s sickbay. With a sigh she settled back enjoying the warm safety of her ship. Her mind slowly recalled her time on the planet.
“Chakotay.” She tried to sit up, but pressure on her shoulders was holding her back.
“Easy, Captain.” Tom pressed her shoulders to the biobed. “You need to lie still.”
“Tom?” Her eyes searched his face for answers.
“You’ll be fine, Captain, but you need to lie still.” He was trying to reassure her that she would recover, but when he looked at her face he realized that wasn’t what concerned her. “The doctor is with him now.” She stopped fighting him and waited. “I don’t know. You were both in rough shape, internal injuries, hypothermia, you punctured a lung and broke your ankle. You know he had a nasty head wound.” She nodded. “He still hasn’t regained consciousness.”
“I want to see him.”
“Later, as soon as the Doc. is finished.” He quickly
pressed a hyopspray to her neck. “Now, you need to sleep.”
Her eyes grew big as she glared at him “Sorry, doctor’s orders.”
Several hours later, Kathryn woke to a darkened sickbay.
Slowly she tested her muscles, wiggling fingers and toes, lifting a leg,
raising an arm. Her ankle was sore and the effort of just lifting
her legs exhausted her. Some one was standing close by, she could
hear them breathing; she turned her head to see B’Elanna’s back not too
far from her.
“B’Elanna?” Her voice was husky from lack of use.
“Captain?” B’Elanna wiped her face quickly with the back of her hand before turning around. “How are you feeling?”
“Groggy, what time is it?” She caught the glisten of tears in B’Elanna’s eyes as she turned to check the chronometer.
“How long?” She studied the younger woman, wondering why she was here at such an hour.
“You’ve been back for almost 24 hours now.” The sorrow was evident even without the tears.
“Chakotay?” Kathryn wasn’t sure she could handle the answer, but she had to ask.
“The same.” She saw the relief in the Captain’s eyes and realized she had feared the worst. “That is, the minor stuff is all taken care of. He lost a lot of blood but Doc has that under control. Bruises, hypothermia—all-- OK but, no change otherwise, he hasn’t woken up—nothing.” A tear slipped from the corner of her eye. “Sorry.”
“I want to see him.” Kathryn tried to sit up, but the dizziness forced her back.
“You can’t. Doc said you have to stay in bed. Please lie down.”
“B’Elanna.” Kathryn reached for the younger woman’s hand and drew her closer. “I need to see him—please.”
“The Doctor said you need to stay here for at least another 24 hours.” She tried not to look at moist blue eyes, pleading for her help. “I have orders not to let you up; please, Captain don’t…” She watched the tears run freely down Kathryn’s face and could no longer hold back her own.
“Please, B’Elanna.” Their eyes locked in a struggle of wills; B’Elanna lost.
“OK, but only a minute. Here sit first.” B’Elanna helped Kathryn sit up. “How’s that?”
“Not good—give me a minute.”
“OK. The Doc will have my head for this you know.”
“I’ll get you off the hook as soon as I’m on my feet.” She smiled through her tears. “Can I have something to drink?”
“Yes, in fact that is in my orders.” She made a face. “ ‘And get her to drink some water if she wakes up.’ Don’t move and I’ll get it.”
“Promise.” Kathryn gripped the table to hold herself up.
“Just sip it.” B’Elanna handed her the water. “We’ll take it slow, when you’re ready.”
“OK.” Kathryn took her time sipping the water. She wanted to see him—needed to see him, but she was so frightened. Finally, she handed the glass back to B’Elanna.
“Ready?” Kathryn nodded and B’Elanna helped her off the bed. “Lean on me, let me do the work—OK?”
“OK.” She clung tightly to the younger woman’s arm, as B’Elanna all but carried her toward the dark corner where only the hum of the monitors disturbed the silence.
Slowly they advanced toward the silent form lying beneath the monitors. He was pasty white and there was a deathlike stillness to him. Kathryn examined the apparatus surrounding him, closely watching the one that was synchronized with his breathing.
“He’s breathing on his own, it’s only monitoring it.” B’Elanna whispered.
Kathryn just nodded her acknowledgment, saving her strength to concentrate on standing. When they reached him, B’Elanna wanted to move back and leave her some privacy but Kathryn wavered without her support.
“You better stay.”
Kathryn leaned in close; B’Elanna stayed behind, her hands on Kathryn’s waist supporting most of the older woman’s weight.
“Chakotay.” One hand on the bio bed for support, she ran the other down his cheek, tracing his jawline and continuing on to touch his neck and shoulders, the only parts of him not covered by the monitoring equipment. “You’ve come this far, don’t leave me now.” She traced the deep blue lines on his forehead as she spoke to him. “What ever this brings we can handle it together. You are not alone. How many times have you told me that? I’ve lost count, but it doesn’t matter. I want you to know it holds true for you also. Take my hand, Chakotay, and we can beat all the odds.” Her legs gave out and B’Elanna caught her, holding her upright until she could stand again. “Thank you.” Kathryn glanced at her then returned her attention to Chakotay. “B’Elanna is here with us, helping me, but I need to go lie down before the doctor has both our heads. I’ll only be on the other side of the room.” To B’Elanna’s surprise Kathryn bent and placed a gentle kiss on Chakotay’s lips. “I love you, good night.”
Silently, they made their way back across the room; neither spoke until Kathryn was safely back on the bed.
“Do you think he knows?” Kathryn wiped her eyes as she took another glass of water from B’Elanna.
“They say people in a coma can hear things and remember them. I’m not sure if that’s true.” Taking back the glass, she placed it on the table. “But to answer your question—yes, I‘m sure he knows.”
“I promised him, when we were stuck down there, I wouldn’t hide from him anymore, no more excuses. I don’t know if he heard me or not, but I intend to keep the promise anyway.”
“He’ll be happy to know that—if he doesn’t already.”
“You think? I’m not so sure. He was in love with me once, but that was long ago and I have worked against it for so long—I just don’t know.”
“He loves you.”
“Yes, he’s my best friend and I’m sure he loves me. I just don’t know if he is in love with me any longer.”
“Soon you’ll get to hear it from him and then maybe you’ll believe it. Until then let me tell you, he’s my best friend too and love doesn’t even begin to describe how he feels about you. You are the other half of his heart, the missing piece of his soul, you are his peace and the main reason he gets up to face each day. And as much as you think you need him, he needs you more.” As she wiped away a tear, she took in the startled expression of the woman in front of her. “Now, you know I’m not the mushy type..” she tried to laugh it off. “so you must know those words aren’t mine. Now, please lie back and rest, before the doctor has my rank bar.” She helped Kathryn ease down on the bed.
“He won’t be in charge forever, Lieutenant.” Kathryn smiled.
“I’ll be in charge until I deem you fit for duty.” The doctor stepped up behind B’Elanna. “Lieutenant, has our patient been cooperating?”
“Yes, doctor.” B’Elanna winked at Kathryn before turning to face the doctor. “She has been a model patient.”
“Hump, why do I smell a conspiracy?” He looked from on to the other. “No matter, I’m here now and you need to rest. I would suggest that for both of you, but you Captain, I have control over.” He produced another hypospray and pressed it to her neck.
“All right, I’ll go. Guess I could use some sleep.” B’Elanna smiled at Kathryn. “Good night, Captain.”
“B’Elanna.” She took the younger woman’s hand. “Thank you.”
“Sure.” She started to leave but turned back. “Captain, any time you want to talk, I’m here.”
“Thanks, B’Elanna I just might take you up on that.”
“All right Ladies, this is all very touching, but the Captain needs her rest.”
“Yes, Doctor.” The said together both rolling their eyes and laughing.
The following morning, the doctor gave her a better idea of Chakotay’s condition.
“Captain, you are already aware of his condition. Without realizing it, you know almost as much as I do at this point. The excessive blood loss leading to haemorrhagic shock, the hypothermia and some minor injuries from the fall itself, none of these posed a serious threat once we got him to sick bay. The head injury is obviously the most serious problem. There was a time such an injury would almost certainly have been fatal and not so long ago you could expect severe impairment, especially in a person over 40. At that age the human brain loses its ability to regenerate damaged neuroconnections. However with advances in the last fifty years we have learned to synthesize the growth factors that effect their regeneration.”
“Are you saying he will make a full recovery?”
“No, but I’m not saying he won’t.” He came toward her and sat on his desk. “What I’m saying is that I have put to use the best technology modern medical science has to offer. His chances of a full recovery are very good, but the longer he remains unconscious the greater the risk.”
“Can you wake him?”
“No, it's always advisable to allow the patient to awaken in his own time.”
“Can’t we do anything?”
“Captain I am doing everything I can. I am closely monitoring him, maintaining all bodily functions at peak levels. He has to do the rest”
“Doctor, I, er, I've heard It said that --- Can he hear us, if we talk to him, will he know it?”
“That is a good question, one I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to. It’s been argued for centuries, but I would say that a familiar voice, caring and concern from friends and loved ones never did anyone any harm.”
“Then it’s worth a try?”
“Definitely, Captain.” He stood and helped her off the chair, “Now, you need to rest.” She allowed him to lead her from the office.
“Could I?” She motioned in Chakotay’s direction.
“For a moment, but only if you promise to rest afterwards.”
“I will, thank you.”
“Now, I want you to understand..” He walked her over to Chakotay’s bed. “When he wakes from this, it may not be all at once. If could be slow, drifting in and out for days or even weeks. He may recognize us or he may not, only time will tell. We must let him do it on his own schedule.”
That evening the doctor released the captain to her quarters; she was off duty for another three days but grateful to be in her own space. A warm bath and comfortable clothes went a long way toward speeding her recovery, but not being able to see Chakotay was a major draw back. The doctor wouldn’t let her come back to sickbay. Well only until tomorrow, but right now it seemed like forever. His condition hadn’t changed, she knew that, but she wanted to be able to see him for herself; it was reassuring somehow.
“Janeway to Torres.” Kathryn was a little nervous doing this but it was the closest thing to going herself
“Yes, Captain. Torres here.”
“B’Elanna, do you have a minute?”
“Sure, Captain. What can I do for you?”
“I need a favor.”
“Sure, shall I come there?”
“First I would like you to make a stop..” She wasn’t sure how to phrase this. “The doctor has confined me to my quarters until tomorrow and..”
“Oh, gotch ya—no problem, on my way now.” B’Elanna suddenly understood what the Captain wanted. “I’ll be up directly afterwards.”
“No problem, Torres out.”
It took B’Elanna half and hour to make the stop in sick bay and reach the Captain’s quarters. When she finally got there the door open almost before she rang the chime.
“Come in, B’Elanna.” Kathryn was waiting just inside the door.
“OK.” B’Elanna was a little stunned by her anxiousness.
“Can I get you something?” B’Elanna watched her wring her hands as she tried to be polite.
“First, let me tell you, there is no change, well almost no change. Doc. says he thinks the coma is not as deep as it was, but he can’t really explain that. Basically, he isn’t any better but he isn’t any worse either.” B’Elanna stepped past the Captain. “And yes, I think I could use a glass of wine, if you don’t mind.” She realized, from the expression on her face, Kathryn hadn’t really expected any change and decided she just needed to hear it and maybe she needed the company.
B’Elanna made herself comfortable on the couch and waited for the Captain to join her.
“White—OK?” She handed B’Elanna the glass.
“Great, thanks. So how are you feeling?”
“OK. Tired but other than that I’m OK.”
“And scared to death?” B’Elanna was a bit scared herself, pushing like this, but she felt she needed to.
Kathryn just stared her for a minute, then started to laugh.
“Yes. Scared to death ” Kathryn sipped her wine. “I’m afraid of losing him and afraid of what happens if I don’t. This is one of the reasons I never let us get beyond friendship.”
“You still haven’t. Don’t you see? Nothing has changed, really.” B’Elanna put her glass on the table. “Sure, you decided to try and change things, but you haven’t yet. You’re not even sure he knows about your decision.”
“So it will only get worse then. What if this fear paralyzes me when I need to take action? What if I can’t act in a crisis?”
“That’s not going happen.”
“How do you know that?”
“I just do. You’re the captain and you will always react as the captain.” She knew she wasn’t getting through so she took one more chance. “OK, it’s like this. You don’t have to answer me, but you need to think about this. Do you love him anymore now? Anymore than you did last week or last month or whenever? Has how you feel about him changed at all over the last few days? When you figure that out, then you’ll know. You never had a problem acting in a crisis before and you won’t in the future.”
“I see why you are such good friends.”
“Oh yeah? Is that good or bad?”
“Oh. It’s good. You can both cut through all my excuses and get to the heart of the matter.” Kathryn laughed. “I could use another friend like you.”
“I’m here, anytime.”
“But I’m keeping you away from Tom and the baby.”
“And you think that’s a bad thing?” B’Elanna laughed “Don’t get me wrong. I love them both but sometimes they deserve each other.”
“Then let’s have another wine.”
The following day the Captain spent time in sickbay, but little changed. The Doctor insisted that Chakotay was improving but so slightly it was hard to detect. Kathryn took that as a good sign. She was in and out for most the following two days and, for the first time, the doctor was sorry she had followed his orders. To his relief, on the third day she went back to work. Still she checked on him before her shift, called the doctor mid morning and stopped in at lunch just to be sure.
“Captain.” What a surprise.”
“Doctor. Any changes?” She did her best to ignore his sarcasm.
“No, Captain. Nothing significant. I will notify you immediately if anything changes. That is of course if you and Ms. Torres ever leave me alone long enough to tend to my patient.”
“I’ll just check in on him and be on my way.” She left the doctor standing by his office door, but he followed.
“Of course.” He busied himself adjusting the monitors. “I am only the chief medical officer..” He mumbled. “I realize I am not in charge here and Ms. Torres made it quite clear that with her talent and your authority, I could be reduced to a toaster in no time.”
“I’m waiting for you, Chakotay. Please come back soon.” She placed a kiss on his cheek. “I need to get back to the bridge, but the toaster here has promised to call me with any changes in your condition.” She laughed. “I’ll be back later.” She turned to go. “Oh, good bye, Doctor, I’ll…”
“Yes, I know. You’ll be back as soon as alpha shift is over.” He turned away still mumbling. “I can hardly wait.”
Two more days passed, the doctor insisted Chakotay was greatly improved but no changes were visible to Kathryn. She made her ritual stop in sickbay before her shift, then spent most of her morning in her ready room.
“Kim to Janeway.” Harry was the senior officer on duty today, so in her absence he had the bridge.
“Captain, I am picking up two unknown ship on sensors. They are moving fast and we are directly in their path.”
“Alter course, Harry, just enough to move us out of their way.”
“Aye, Captain, Kim out.”
Kathryn returned to the pile of padds on her desk. With Chakotay in sickbay and Tuvok on gamma sift, she was sure glad they were in a quiet sector or she would never catch up. An hour later she was interrupted, again.
“Captain to the bridge.”
It was unlike Harry to panic. She wondered why he was so jumpy today and reached for her comm. badge to question him, just as the klaxons sounded.
“Report!” She barked as she crossed to the chair Harry had already vacated.
“Two ships approaching at warp speed. We have changed course twice, Captain, but they move right along with us. Their weapons are powered and they refuse to answer our hails.”
“All senior officers to the bridge. Harry open a broad channel.” She took a breath and waited for Harry’s nod. “Alien vessels, this is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. We are on a peaceful mission, stand down your weapons.”
“No response, Captain.”
“Send it again.” She breathed a little easier when Tom took the helm and Tuvok stepped behind tactical. “Shields.” She knew B’Elanna would ignore the order to report to the bridge; it was understood; unless she was called to the bridge by name, engineering was the best place for her.
“We are being hailed and Captain, I’m detecting an unstable warp core.”
“On screen, Harry.” Kathryn tried not to show her surprise when the screen lit up to reveal a beautiful but very young woman. “I’m Captain…”
“Yes, I heard you the first two times. I’m Captain H’oustar and I claim your ship, in the name of the Rontoula Empire.” The young woman tossed her long black hair over her shoulder and smirked.
“We are a….” The Captain was clearly annoyed at this arrogant ‘child’, but she tried to hold her temper.
“Yeah, peaceful – I heard that too. Now drop your shields and prepare to be boarded.”
“We are detecting an unstable warp core. Perhaps…”
“Your scanning equipment is defective. Drop your shields.”
“I will not hand you my ship. I’m sure that you and I can discuss this as civilized people.”
“Perhaps, but I would rather bring your ship home as my trophy. So drop your shields and I will allow your crew to live; resist and I will allow you to watch me space them one by one until it is your turn.”
“Captain.” The word itself was bitter on Kathryn’s tongue. “I do not wish to engage you, but I will not simply surrender my ship. I…”
“As you wish.” She raised her hand, the screen went dark and the first volley hit Voyager with a jolt.
“Report.” She flipped up the console next to her. “Tom, evasive maneuvers.”
“Shields holding 99%, no damage.” Tuvok reported, as the second round shook the bridge.
“Power phasers, target their weapons and return fire.”
“Direct hit, only minor damage.”
“Captain, the second ship is coming about, weapons ready.”
“Ready photon torpedoes, let’s even up this fight.” Wires sparked around her as the two ships continued to pound Voyager from opposite directions.
“Aye Captain, aft torpedoes ready.
“Lock on their weapons. Tom, hold her steady.” She tracked the second ship on her screen. “Tuvok, on my mark.” The ship rocked again. “Fire!”
“Direct hit.” Tuvok assessed their position. “Weapons off line, they are dropping back. “ The first ship continued to fire. “Shields at 80% and holding.”
“Captain, their warp core is overloading.”
“Hail them, Harry. Back us off, Tom.”
“No acknowledgment, Captain. Two minutes to breach.”
“Open a channel.” She waited for Harry’s nod. “Captain H’oustar, drop you shields and allow us to beam you out of there.” She looked to Harry, nothing. “Your core will breach in one minute—Let us help you.”
“Nothing, Captain. Breach in 29 seconds.”
“Get us out of here, Tom.”
“Aye Captain. Full reverse.”
A blinding flash crossed the bridge. Voyager shook and rolled propelled by the force of blast as Captain’s H’oustar’s ship shattered and vaporized. Darkness covered the bridge, as Tom struggled for control, wires sparked and consoles exploded. When the emergency lights came up, damage report flowed in and the Captain lay slumped over her smoking console.
Again Kathryn opened her eyes to dim nighttime lighting of sickbay; this was getting to be a bad habit. She remembered a voice, his voice, but she must have been dreaming. She knew he was in a coma. Kathryn tested her other memories; she remembered the attack, the other ship exploding and she was here, so she must have been hurt. She strained to see the chronometer on the wall, 0230. The attack occurred about 1200 hours, it hadn’t taken more than an hour, so she must have been here about 13 hours. She closed her eyes, she felt good, nothing hurt; she let herself concentrate on the memory of his voice. It was a soothing sound and she was drifting back to sleep, when a noise woke her. She didn’t know at first what it was; a deep breathy sound, she heard it again. Raising her head she peered into the darkness.
Sitting up she smiled, wondering for a minute if she was dreaming now. Chakotay was slumped in the chair beside her, his chin resting on his chest; he was snoring. She replayed the voice in her mind. Could he really have said those things? She reached out and brushed a strand of hair from his forehead; he stirred. Chakotay looked up at her, taking a minute to wake up and focus; he smiled.
“Hi.” She let her hand slide down his cheek.
“Hi, it’s about time you woke up.” He grasped the hand on his cheek and kissed it. “I’ve been waiting for you.” He smiled as he watched her recognize her own words.
“You heard me? You remember?”
“Yes, don’t you?”
“So you did talk to me? I thought I was dreaming,” She laughed “Maybe I still am.”
“No, you’re not dreaming. I love you and that’s very real.” He stood and placed a gentle kiss on her mouth.
“Chakotay.” She buried her face in his neck. “I meant everything I said, no more hiding, no more excuses.”
“Ahhh hemmm” The doctor stood behind Chakotay with his arms folded. Kathryn raised her head briefly then buried her face again. “This is exceedingly cute, but I believe Commander, you are supposed to be in your quarters, not here harassing my patient.
“Don’t waste your breath Doc. I’m not leaving.” He placed his arm around her and turned to face the doctor.
“You have obviously spent too much time with the Captain already, you are beginning to sound like her.” He waved his tricorder in their direction.. “You need your rest and this is the first time in three days she has been awake. I am certainly not letting her leave here.”
“Then I’m staying too.”
“Three days?!” Kathryn was so amused with their contest of wills, it took a moment to register. “I’ve been here for three days?!”
“Yes, Captain, now please lie down.” He tried to step between them. “And order him back to his quarters.”
Kathryn lay back on the biobed but, held tight to Chakotay’s hand. “How are you?”
“I’m fine. You two are the patients.”
“I think she was talking to me.” Chakotay laughed.
“Yes, of course. Why would anyone want to inquire about me?” He turned and ran the tricorder past Chakotay. “He’s fine, he needs rest and should be in his quarters. Now, may I examine you?”
“Certainly, Doctor.” Kathryn made a face over the doctor’s head and Chakotay laughed.
“Ridiculing the hologram will only cause you to be detained longer.”
Kathryn had just managed to calm herself when the chime sounded; he was here and she was nervous all over again.
“Come.” She called out as she did one last check in the mirror and hurried into the other room, to find him already waiting for her. “Hi.” She couldn’t remember a time she had felt this awkward; she was sure she had never felt this way with him before.
“Hi.” He smiled, extending the rose as he took in the candles and the music. Looking around he realized she had taken pains to prepare for tonight too. “You look beautiful, Kathryn.” He remembered telling her a long time ago he liked her in blue. Had she remembered? Damn what was wrong with him? His palm was sweaty and he hand was shaky; he hoped she didn’t notice.
“Thank you.” She could feel the crimson in her cheeks as she took the rose. “Pour us some wine, while I put this in water?” He hesitated just a bit and watching him she realized he was as nervous as she. How very strange this all felt. This was her first officer of seven years, her best friend for almost as long, her sounding board and confidant and suddenly she was uneasy with him.
Kathryn was seated on the couch by the time Chakotay poured the wine. He handed her a glass, taking the seat next to her as he did. She watched him out of the corner of her eye; he was awkward, almost clumsy as he poured and his hand shook ever so slightly as he handed her the glass. Sensing he was watching her too, caused an odd fluttering sensation in her stomach. When she looked up to catch him watching her, he quickly looked away. She turned the glass in her hand watching the golden liquid splash up to coat the sides. He chuckled, she glanced his way, but he was watching his own wine swirl in the glass. She laughed and he laughed with her, both raising their gaze until their eyes met. Smiles broke free, dancing in each other’s eyes, until the ensuing laughter nearly brought them to tears.
“Kathryn.” He gasped out past the laughter.
“Chakotay.” She forced out at the same time. “Oh spirits! We are so very pathetic.”
“We are.” He placed her wine on the table next to his, and took her hands. “I waited so long I..” He chuckled unable to put it clearly into words.
“I know…”She shook her head. “I’m so afraid I’ll screw this up.”
“No, you couldn’t do that”
“Yes, I could and….” She stopped laughing, her expression betraying all her fears. “and what if I lost my best friend in the process? How would I live?”
“That’s not going to happen…” He kissed her fingers. “You will never lose me.”
When he looked up, her fears began to subside. The truth of his words was clearly evident in his eyes, as they locked with hers revealing the depth of his commitment. Kathryn could feel herself surrounded by the love that poured from him; her only fear now was that she wasn’t worthy of it.
“I told you once I would always be here.” He cupped her cheeks in his hands.
“I know…” She turned and kiss his palm. “and you always have been. I’m the one who has pulled away.”
“And now?” He leaned in and kissed her head, breathing in the soft scent of her hair, feeling the gentle puffs of her breath against his neck, as she allowed herself to be drawn into the safety of his arms.
“I don’t deserve you but..” her arms around him as she snuggled deeper in his embrace. “I’m staying as long as you’ll have me.”
“That’s going be a long long time.”
“Well, in that case. ..” She moved back and smiled up at him. “I suppose I had better feed you.” Laughing she patted his stomach as it growled as if on cue. “Bring the wine, dinner should be ready.”
Dinner was sprinkled with fits of laughter, bright conversation
and the old camaraderie they knew so well. Their awkwardness, forgotten
in the safety and comfort of their deep friendship now newly enhanced by
a promising future. Together they cleared the dishes and took their
coffee to the couch. When the conversation died, the silence
was comfortable. Chakotay called for soft music; Kathryn kicked off
her shoes and curled up beside him. They enjoyed the music, snuggling
together nearly drifting off to sleep.
“Dance with me?” Standing she extended her hand and drew him off the couch, moving easily into his arms. “It’s been a long time since we danced.” She rested her head so that her face was nuzzled against his neck.
“Too long.” He closed his eyes enjoying the feel of her in his arms, the soft scent of her hair and the gentle press of her body against his. Dancing had always been his excuse to hold her; it was wonderful but somehow not quite like this. He couldn’t resist a chuckle as her fingers opened the fasteners, a small hand slipped inside his shirt, skimming across his chest, reaching around him, holding him closer as she lowered her head to lay her cheek on his chest. “Impatient?”
“I just want to touch you.” Her warm breath against his skin, caused him to shudder and it was her turn to laugh. “Do you mind?” She teased as delicate fingers lightly traced the muscles in his back.
“Not at all. I’ve often dreamed of you touching me; of being free to touch you.” His large hands caressed her back through the light fabric of the dress, one reaching down to cup her bottom, pressing her gently against his increasing hardness.
"Really, tell me about it." Her voice was thick, almost dream like as their bodies swayed to the music, hands touching, caressing, softly exploring.
“I always begin by peeling away each layer of clothing, slowly revealing your hidden treasures to my hungry eyes. I marvel at your delicateness as I watch my dark hands gliding over the pale satin softness of your skin. A soft rosy flush spreads across you with your growing arousal, as I learn your most intimate secrets. I need to know the feel, learn the weight and shape of your breasts, watch your nipples harden as they anticipate the first touch of my mouth.” He lowered his head so that she could feel the hot moist words flowing down her neck as he continued in barely a whisper. “I long to suck those nipples, to feel you arching to offer them to me, to hear you moan the loss, when I leave them and then to feel the quickening of your heartbeat as I lick my way lower. I to rest my head on the slight round of you belly and watch the contrast as my hands spread you wide, creamy white thighs, my fingers softly caressing your muscles beneath their velvety smooth surface.“ He felt the change in her breathing, noticed the ever so slight rocking of her hips against him. “At this point, I have to fight for control. My need to be inside you becomes painfully fierce as the smell of your arousal threatens to drive me over the edge, but I will hold on — it’s been a long time and I want to be sure you are more than ready for me – besides the best is yet to come.” He moved to slide one leg between hers; her rocking increased with her heartbeat. “I change my position so that I can lie between your legs, kissing you thighs, my fingers seek out and spread your abundant moisture. Slowly I’ll work my way to the center of your heat, kissing, licking spreading your lips ..”
“Chakotay?” She was breathless, her voice husky.
“What?” He fought the urge to chuckle.
“When, Chakotay? When are you going to do all this?”
“Not until you’re ready, Kathryn.” He smiled as she leaned back to look up at him.
“Oh spirits, if I were any more ready ….” She dropped her head to his chest. “Ahhhh”
“I don’t want to rush this, Kathryn…” He released her as she stepped back and took hold of his hands.
“Oh no, don’t rush.” She backed toward her bedroom. “Just show me, slowly—very slowly, show me exactly the way you told me.”
“First, we need to remove this.” He unfastened the dress, slipping it off her shoulders and allowing it to fall to the floor. “Now, I get to look at you.” He ran his hands down her arms then up again, one finger lightly tracing the soft skin peeking above her bra, while the other reached behind to unclasp it. He held her eyes; she held her breath as he slid the straps down her arms letting it fall away. She felt the heat of the blush spread down her body as his eyes dropped to watch his hands begin their study of her breasts. “So perfect.” Fingers traced the soft underside, thumbs lightly circling taut nipples. “So beautiful.” She sighed when he licked his lips; glancing up at her, he smiled and lowered his head. She arched up to meet him, her fingers weaving through his hair as his lips paid homage first to one then the other, nipping, kissing, licking the valley between her breasts. She groaned as his tongue flicked her tightly knotted nipples, her hands sliding down to push off his shirt and gripped his shoulders for support when his lips finally closed around her.
“Chakotay.” It was a soft sound from deep in her throat when he moved to swallow her moans and let his hands explore lower, freeing her from the last of her clothing. She fiddled with the fastener on his trousers but he moved her hands back and slowly lowered her to the bed. “Please, I want to touch you.”
“In time, Kathryn.” He ran his hands down her body, bending to spread moist kisses down her belly. “Slowly, remember?” He stepped back and removed the rest of his clothing, watching her study him as he had done to her earlier.
“Oh, my.” She gasped wide-eyed, then blushed deeper when he smiled.
“Approve?” He chuckled, stepping closer, bending to kiss her as her fingers stretched out to gently explore him. Moving to lie next to her, he hissed as her thumb spread the escaping fluid. “Ahh Kathryn, sooo nice.” He worked moist kisses along her jaw, his hand stroking across her hip, brushing the auburn curls as he prodded one leg aside, bending her knee, exposing her fully to him. Stroking her inner thigh, he bent lower and drew her nipple between his teeth, tugging lightly as his tongue flicked against it. He slipped out of her reach, kissing her belly, his tongue drawing lazy circles on her tingling flesh. He breathed in the musky sent of her arousal, his fingers lightly brushing her swollen lips causing her to strain toward him. Only his head was within her reach when he moved between her spread thighs, kissing them ever so slowly inching his way toward her heated center. Her fingers gripping his hair, twisted painfully, as he kissed her lips letting his tongue slip out to taste her abundant juices.
Kathryn's hips rocked, rising off the bed as his tongue explored her most intimate depths. Her head tossed, fingers almost tearing at his hair as he continued his luscious assault. He drew her bud between his lips sliding a finger deep inside her. “Ahhhhahoo. Chaaaa ohh” Her hands clasped and unclasped her fingers sometimes ripping out strands of hair; he sucked hard on her aching nerves, working two fingers deeply inside her. Her hips bucked off the bed, her body suddenly rigid, then exploding in convulsive spasms as she cried out her release.
Raising his head Chakotay watched her for a moment, body flushed, chest heaving, her hair shooting out around her head, dancing with the static her tossing caused. He ran his hands over her body, reaching up to start at her shoulders and continuing to lightly stroke her from shoulders to knees as her breathing slowed.
Kathryn's eyes opened to gaze into the love spilling over soft brown orbs only inches above her. Reaching up she trailed her finger along his cheek, slipping across to outline his lips as they parted to gently draw her in. She watched, the heat spreading again in her belly, as his sweet sensuous lips sucked in her finger, his mouth making love to it as it had the rest of her body. Slowly he released her finger, lowering his head until their lips gently brushed. She drew him closer deepening the kiss, her tongue exploring the depths of his mouth, tasting herself mixed with the flavor of the coffee they shared. He rolled them to their sides, his hands continuing their earlier explorations, their mouths meshed, tongues dueling. Desperate for the feel of him, her hands were everywhere, touching, stroking, at once gentle and demanding. She pressed every part of her close to him, draping one leg over his hip, allowing her to drag his swollen manhood through her slick folds. They panted into each other’s mouths, his hands gripping her hips, fingers digging into her soft skin.
“Kathryn..” He groaned and gripped her tighter as she stimulated her own nerve center with his over sensitive head. “Kath.. I – ahhhh”
“Chakotay..” She moaned, rolling onto her back, her hands still fueling the fire as she spread herself wide, inviting him.
He removed her hands from him, taking just a minute to control himself before moving between her open thighs. He brushed his hand across her dripping mound and she cried out, thrusting her hips at him, head thrown back, eyes tightly closed, she reached out to draw him closer.
“Kathryn.” He was poised above her, the tip of his penis resting just at her entrance. “Look at me Kathryn, please.” Opening her eyes, she ran her ran her hands up his arms and over the taut muscles of his back.
“Don’t make me wait any longer.” She thrust her hips toward him and he allowed himself to slip just a little deeper; she groaned and pushed up against him.
Chakotay held her eyes as he slowly moved into her, feeling her tight walls stretch around him, her chest rose and fell rapidly with her shallow breathing; he could hear his own heart beating. She gasped, her eyes slamming shut and he stilled until she opened them again and raised herself up to meet him once again. He inched deeper until he could move no closer then withdrew and began again; agonizingly slow steady strokes giving way to powerful thrusts. He was fighting for control, watching as each thrust drove her higher until she writhed beneath him moaning, her short nails scoring his back, his name barely distinguishable in her incoherent babbling. Her hips bucked up, her inner muscles gripping and releasing her body growing stiff then convulsing beneath him. His thrusts turned hard and fast; pumping erratically against her writhing body, until she felt his seed burst forth filling her with its warmth.
Reluctant to release him, Kathryn allowed Chakotay to roll them to their sides, holding him inside as long as possible. Her small hands stroking against his damp back, tracing the muscles as she rested her cheek against his chest. He breathed in the soft scent of her hair mixed with the musky scent of their recent activity, running his hands along the soft curves of her body. They were almost asleep when his sudden movement jarred her back to consciousness.
"Don't go." She snuggled closer to him trying to prevent him from getting up.
"I'm not leaving.." He sat up smiling at her pout. "I have something I want to give you."
"Ummm, there's more?" She rolled back smiling as her had drifted down his side and over his hip.
"Yes, if you let me get up. It's in my trousers."
"A present?" Her eyes opened wide, her face lighting up like a child at Christmas.
"Oh, I like presents."
"I know." He gestured toward his discarded clothing. "May I?"
"Yes, but come right back"
"I promise." He laughed at her excitement as she eagerly watched him fumble with his trousers, searching the pockets until he found the tiny package. "Here we go." He produce a small box wrapped in gold foil.
He handed her the box and watched the excitement on her face as she slowly turned the package around in her hand. She glanced up at him eyes shining, then carefully peeled apart the paper and lifted the lid.
"Oh, Chakotay." She lifted the perfectly square cut stone from the soft cushion it rested on. "It's so beautiful."
"You said you never owned a real emerald." He sat beside her on the bed. "It was lying lose behind the waterfall, so I brought it back for you. It took a while to cut and polish it and if you let me..." He tilted her chin up so that he could watch her eyes. "I have designed it to be mounted in a ring."
"Its lovely, Chakotay, just as it is.” She saw the disappointment reflect in his eyes. “I’m sure it will be even more beautiful once it’s set.” She stretched up and kissed him. “Thank you. I love this, I only hope you won’t be too disappointed if I don’t wear it always. Regulations don’t allow for much jewelry on duty and if I don’t obey them who will?”
“I understand Kathryn, but regulations do allow us to wear wedding rings.” He smiled as her eyes widened and her mouth dropped. “Will you marry me, Kathryn?” She stared at him, tears filling her eyes. “Kathryn? Did you hear me?”
“Yes.” It was just above a whisper.
“Yes, you heard me? Or …”
“Yes, yes I heard you. Yes I’ll marry you. Yes yes ….”
Kathryn's words trailed off as Chakotay scooped her up in his arms, kissing away the tears that trickled from her eyes. She laughed and cried and clung tightly to the tiny perfect green stone in her hand, and to the some what larger, less than perfect, man in her arms.
Some flowers used to make the contest graphics from