The Captain was working late in her readyroom. There wasn’t really a need for it; it was mostly habit and a little self-defense. Voyager was in orbit around a well-developed M Class, advance in technology but short on population. Apparently unions between natives seldom produced children and so the population at large was encouraged to court offworlders. This made visiting the planet unescorted rather awkward.
The Captain had spent many days in negotiations with government officials, too many of whom were unmated. She had many invitations to return to the surface but their rather bold courting practices made her wary. The Kempers were a direct race she had two officials ask her to bear their children even before she could remember their names.
In other times, Kathryn would have safely visited the planet in the company of her best friend, but he was otherwise occupied these days. It didn’t really surprise her, this wasn’t the first time he had tried to make a different life, but each time she wondered if it would be the last. Chakotay was spending his leave with Seven, a fact that made life on Voyager a bit uncomfortable and visiting the planet almost impossible. Kathryn had run into him, almost literally, earlier in the week on his way to the transporter room.
“Oh, Kathryn, I’m sorry. Did I hit you with that?” Chakotay juggled three bags on his way out of the lift.
“No, near miss. On your way planetside?” Silly question she thought to herself. He did hand you the leave rotation earlier, he’s carrying bags, where else would he be going?
“Yes, spending a few days in the mountains.”
“That’s nice, enjoy yourself.” Kathryn smiled and tried to get around him.
“Aren’t you taking leave? It’s a beautiful planet.”
“I don’t think so.
“You should, some relaxation would do you good.”
“Fending off–suiters—was stressful enough when I was on official business; I wouldn’t want to find out what its like otherwise.” Kathryn regretted her words immediately as guilt registered on his face. “Well, have a good time, see you in a few days.” Kathryn tried to get past him to the lift again, but she tripped over a small bag Chakotay had lost track of.
“You OK?” Chakotay dropped the rest of the bags to catch her before she collided with the wall.
“Fine.” Kathryn laughed and started to help him gather his bags. “Guess you don’t believe in traveling light.”
“I do, it’s Seven! She just can’t leave anything behind.” He shook his head. “I don’t understand, you never took…” His head snapped up and they shared a startled look.
“Well, enjoy.” Kathryn stepped back and let the lift door close between them.
That had been four days ago and she hadn’t heard from him since.
Of course, he was on leave and not expected to check in before tomorrow,
but she was so used to seeing him everyday, four days seem like a lifetime.
Even with their private time curtailed by his dating, Kathryn managed to
spend part of each day with him. If this was what getting home was
going to be like she didn’t want any part of it.
Kathryn thought of having another cup of coffee but, even by her standards, she had already had too many. She was stacking and restacking padds but truthfully she hadn’t been paying much attention to what she was working on for hours. Kathryn decided it was time to call it a night.
The Captain crossed to the lift nodding to gamma shift as she went. Some things never changed even after seven years they still stiffened in her presence. Most of the crew still only saw her as the Captain.
“Captain.” Ensign Roberts called just as the doors closed behind her.
“Halt lift, open doors.” The captain stepped back onto the bridge. “Yes, Ensign?”
“Sorry, Captain, but we are being hailed by Commissioner Santeris and he wishes to speak directly with you."
The Captain hesitated. Santeris had been one of the better behaved, he had several grown children as she recalled. Not that this fact had stopped him from cautiously propositioning her earlier in the week.
“I’ll take it in my readyroom.”
Kathryn replicated a quick cup of coffee and took her place behind her desk.
“Captain.” A smiling but clearly unhappy face greeted her.
“I’m sorry for the late hour.” His expression changed to one of concern. “You are in uniform, are you still on duty?”
“Technically, I have been off duty for many hours but I do have a ship to run.” Kathryn sipped her coffee. “How may I help you?”
“I have a small problem regarding your first officer and my daughter.”
“Chakotay? A problem?”
“Yes, Captain and well, could you come down here?” He held up his hands to starve off any protest. “I am sorry, I realize it is late, but if you could come down, then I think we could work this out.”
“Is that really necessary? Can’t we handle this by link?”
“Captain, I’m afraid I have shamelessly spoiled my daughter. She is not accustomed to rejection of any kind.”
“And what has this to do with Ch..my first officer?”
“Captain if you would indulge me? It is much easier to explain in person.”
“All right, Commissioner. I’m on my way.” The Captain ended the link and sat back to finish her coffee, while she tired to imagine what Chakotay could have done, now.
The Commissioner met the Captain in the transporter room. He explained the situation on their way back to the dinning hall, where Chakotay, Seven, and several others waited. It seemed that Serika, the first daughter, took very seriously the responsibilities of her position as a role model for the young women of Kemp. The current generation preferred to make their own choices, they shunned the practice of inter species mating that was only beginning to strengthen their population. Serika felt it her duty to lead by example and she decided that Chakotay would be the perfect mate. Changing Serika’s mind was a nearly impossible feat.
“I was under the impression that mating was by mutual consent.”
“Certainly, Captain, but in special cases certain means of—persuasion—have been known to change the mind of a reluctant partner.”
“Nothing violent, but say a certain ship was in need of repair or supplies--- they could be difficult to come by without cooperation.”
“Are you threatening me, Commissioner?”
“So harsh, Captain.” He shook his head. “I would never do such a thing!” He stood straight and gave her a seriously wounded expression. "However, my daughter is most difficult when she is displeased and…”
“Our business has already been concluded.” The Captain was over tired and never did react well to threats.
“Yes, but delivery is not yet complete.” He shrugged.
“I see. But, I thought this interspecies mating only applied to available partners.”
“That is correct, Captain. But according to the Commander there is no permanent bond between himself and Miss Seven.”
"Of course not!” Kathryn found the idea completely preposterous.
The Commissioner held open the dinning hall door allowing the Captain to enter first. Seeing B’Elanna and Tom on the other side of the room surprised her, but she tried not to react.
“Then he is free to bond with Serika."
“No!” Her words came out a bit sharper then intended, drawing the attention of the others in the room. The tall blonde came toward them.
“Father, has the Captain agreed with our plan?”
“Serika, the Captain and I were just discussing it.”
“I want him, Father. Make it so.” Serika eyed the much shorter woman with her father, smugly.
“I’m afraid there has been a misunderstanding.” Kathryn’s voice was syrupy sweet.
“How so, Captain?” Serika placed her hands on her hips striking a pose worthy of the captain herself.
“You see, Serika, the Commander belongs to me.” Kathryn carefully avoided the eyes of her crewmembers, as she stared down the younger woman.
“But he is traveling with Miss…”
“Chakotay has been kind enough to assist Miss Seven in some ritual exploration.” She locked her gaze with Serika’s and repeated her claim. “But he belongs to me.”
“Captain, I was unaware that you were bonded.” Santeris broke the tense silence. He smiled but the challenge could be clearly heard in his voice.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that it was required of trade to divulge that information.” The Captain turned to face him.
“Strictly speaking, it is not, but you manner earlier in the week---led me to believe you were available.”
“I apologize if my omission caused any misunderstanding.” Kathryn smiled and placed her hand on the commissioner’s chest. “ A little harmless flirtation can be quite entertaining, we all indulge in it sometimes—don’t we, Santeris?”
“Well, yes, I suppose we do.” He gently removed Kathryn’s hand from his chest, with a look that said he would rather not discuss it publicly. “I’m afraid we were confused–please for give us.”
“No harm has been done.” Kathryn reached out and patted his chest. “If there is nothing else?”
“I apologize again, Captain. We will detain you no longer.”
“Good night, Commissioner.” Kathryn moved closer to her crew. “I’ll be returning to the ship now, please try to have a less eventful stay. I would really like to get some sleep.”
“Thank you, Ca-thryn.” Chakotay noticed the Commissioner watching them closely. He stepped closer to Kathryn
“Not only my duty, but my pleasure, Chakotay. Good night.” Kathryn stood on her toes and kissed his cheek. “See you tomorrow.”
Kathryn made a quick exit and headed for the transporter room.
“Hey, wait up.” B’Elanna called after her. “We’re headed back too.”
“Not spending the night?” Kathryn held open the transporter room door.
“No, we were all on her way home when this happened.”
“How did this happen?” Kathryn watched them glance at each other, nervously. “It’s OK you don’t have to tell me.”
“Let’s just say that some couples shouldn’t spend too much time together.” Tom finally offered.
“You four didn’t get along too well?”
“Well this half of the foursome got along just fine.” B’Elanna smirked.
“Oh, trouble in paradise?”
“You might say that.”
“Too bad.” Kathryn tried to sound convincing.
“Yeah, right.” B’Elanna rolled her eyes.
“Well, Before you four dragged me down here, I was headed to bed.” Kathryn changed the subject as she stifled a yawn.
“Shhh, don’t say that too loud in this place you’ll wind up with unwanted company.” Tom looked over his shoulder to be sure they weren’t followed.
“All too true, I’m afraid.” Kathryn laughed and signaled for transport.
They vanished in the blue haze just as Seven and Chakotay entered the
“Remind me not to play poker with you, Captain.” Tom laughed as he followed her into the corridor. “You lie very convincingly.”
“I didn’t lie, Tom. In every way that matters, he belongs to me.” Kathryn stopped and turned back to face them. “Just as I belong to him. Good night.”
They stood dumb founded as they watched Kathryn step into the lift and order it to deck three.
“Did…?” Tom turned to B’Elanna in disbelief.
They never even noticed he was there until he walked past them. Chakotay called for the lift and waited. B’Elanna looked around but Seven wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Tom shrugged.
“Chak, you OK?” B’Elanna moved up beside him.
“Hell, yes, even better. Three strikes and your out- right Tom?”
“Huh.” B’Elanna looked from one to the other.
“Baseball.” Tom explained. “Three strikes and you give up your turn at bat.”
“Good advice, Tom. I think I’ll do just that.”
The lift arrived and the three of them entered.
“What three strikes are you talking about?” B’Elanna was a little lost in this conversation.
“I lost three woman in one night that should be more than enough for anyone.”
“You can’t really count that alien control freak.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Chakotay shook his head. “Miss Seven is not appreciative of my imperfections. What the hell was I thinking with her anyway?”
B’Elanna and Tom looked at each other and shrugged. Neither could find an answer to that question, especially after spending the last two days with them.
“You know Chak, hard as you have tried, you haven’t lost the only important one.” B’Elanna shook off the warning look Tom gave her.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” The lift stopped but no one got out.
“It means you better take a good around before you give up.”
“What the hell is she talking about?” Chakotay was tired and irritable and in no mood for games.
“Maybe you should ask the Captain that question.” Tom gently pushed B’Elanna out of the lift. “We’re going to get some sleep, good night.”
Chakotay followed them down the corridor, shaking his head as he entered his quarters. Ask, Kathryn? He wondered why she even talked to him, anymore. He had once again flaunted an ill-fated romance and this time he had dragged her to the surface in the middle of the night. He didn’t even expect her to be on speaking terms with him, never mind explaining B’Elanna’s riddles, now—or ever. He undressed and climbed into bed.
Chakotay watched the changing patters of the passing stars on his ceiling, tired as he way sleep eluded him. After tossing and turning for what seemed like a millennium, he sat up and checked the time. It was 0530. Well it wasn’t strictly night any longer.
“Computer locate Captain Janeway.”
CAPTAIN JANEWAY IS ON DECK THREE SECTION A301. THE CAPTAIN’S QUARTERS.”
“Computer, is the Captain’s sleeping?”
“NEGATIVE. BIO SIGNS INDICATE THE CAPTIAN IS CONCIOUS AND ALERT.”
Chakotay climbed out of bed and dressed in casual clothes. He left his quarters and hesitated only briefly before ringing her chime.
“Come in, Chakotay.”
“How did you know it was me?”
“I asked the computer or maybe I’m just psychic. Could also be that its 05:30 and only one person would come here at that hour.” Kathryn replicated two cups of tea. “Take your pick.”
“I wasn’t sleeping.” She put the tea on the table. “Sit.”
“I mean I’m sorry for dragging you out in the middle of the night.”
“What are friends for? Besides you didn’t ask for her attention- did you?” Kathryn raised a questioning eyebrow and sat beside him and he shook his head. “So?”
“So, why are you here?”
“Nice, can’t I visit my best friend?”
“Sure, but it’s 05:30 and you are on leave and last I saw you, you were on the surface with your…Seven.” Kathryn shrugged. “So, I figure there is more to it than just a friendly visit.”
“It’s 05:30 and I can’t sleep and my leave didn’t go very well and Seven…. Well anyway, so now, here I am crawling back with my tail between my legs. Again.”
“Trouble in paradise, huh?”
“Far from paradise, but yes –trouble.”
“Are you – really?”
“Chakotay, I want you to be happy.”
“I’m sorry, Kathryn. I keep doing this and then expecting you keep putting me back together. Why do you put up with me?”
“You’re my friend.” She sighed and patted his hand. “Besides I’ve been known to-dally-a bit myself and you have never held that against me.”
“But you never tired to pretend you could make a life with them or that you even wanted to.”
“It’s not wrong to want a family, Chakotay. You deserve that happiness.”
“So do you.”
They sipped their tea in silence. Usually their silences were comfortable but tonight the undercurrent threatened her already much weakened resolve. Kathryn reverted to her thoughts from earlier in the day. If getting home meant being without him then she really didn’t want to get home. If she didn’t really want to get home, she couldn’t be the captain this crew needed. Was it logical or was she only twisting the facts to suit her own interests?
“Kathryn, what did you say to B’Elanna and Tom?” Chakotay broke the silence by voicing his own thoughts.
“What?” Kathryn looked up, a bit startled.
“B’E said I hadn’t lost the only important one and when I questioned her, Tom told me if I need to know what that meant I should ask you.”
“So, what did she mean?”
“You know Tom. He had to have something to say about---what I said on the planet.”
“About me belonging to you?”
“Yes.” Kathryn recycled their cups, ordering him a fresh tea and switching to coffee herself; sleep wasn’t going to happen anyway. “He thought I lied well, said I had a great poker face.” Kathryn sat beside him again.
“And you said?” Chakotay’s heart beat faster, he knew what she had said on the planet was true but he hadn’t expect her to admit it—especially to Tom.
“I said, I hadn’t lied.” Kathryn took his hand and looked up into the deep emotion displayed in his eyes. “In every way that matters you do belong to me. Every bit as much as I belong to you.”
Chakotay just looked at Kathryn and nodded, he wasn’t sure he was breathing so he knew he couldn’t trust his voice. She looked back very serious as she spoke. Chakotay tired to hold the same expression, but a silly grin slowly took over his face.
“So, when are you going to make me stop this foolishness?”
“When I can give you the life you want.”
“You are the life I want.”
“You want more than me. You want a home and children; you want the kind of life I can’t give you. Not out here.”
“Then I’ll take whatever you can give.” Chakotay held his breath. In all their years together, only once before, on a small planet far away, had they come so close. “I can wait for the rest.”
“It could take years.”
“I’ve waited years already; it won’t hurt to wait a few more.”
“There will be no blondes.”
“I’ll settle for one redhead.” Chakotay smiled. “For now.”
“For now?! This is not a temporary assignment.”
“You can’t expect me to give up totally.” He laughed. “I expect a periodic review of the family directive. I still want a few small redheaded crewmen.”
“I hardly expect them to have my coloring.”
“See, you’re thinking about it already.” Chakotay grinned as he softly traced her jaw with one finger.
“I’ve thought about for a long time.” Kathryn dipped her head and gave him a crooked smile.
“Me too.” Chakotay tilted her chin so that she faced him squarely as he leaned in closer.
“Seven?” The single word sent a puff of warm breath across his face and a brief sadness showed in his eyes.
“Miss Seven is not appreciative of my imperfections.” His lips were almost touching hers, their hot breath mingling as he formed the words.
“That’s too bad.” Kathryn lightly kissed the upturned corner of his mouth.
“It seems I am hopelessly flawed.” Chakotay gently press their lips together then spread feathery kisses across her cheek.
“Good thing I find imperfection incredibly sexy.” Kathryn moaned as his lips tenderly caressed her neck.
“Lucky for me.” He felt Kathryn tremble in his arms, as his mouth explored the tender flesh of her neck; his heart raced.
Kathryn clutched at the solid warmth of him, moaning as his hands roamed
her body staking his claim. Then with two shaky hands, Kathryn raised
his head and brought his mouth to hers. Her lips meshed with his,
coaxing them apart, her tongue sweeping in to take possession of his mouth,
as her hands claimed his body. Chakotay returned the kiss eagerly,
learning, exploring, their deep guttural moans signifying their mutual
surrender to the place where their hears had always been.
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