Post Endgame vignette. Series of three.
Paramount own everything. No infringement intended.
Thanks to Kat Lady for the beta.
There she was, sitting on the wall with her feet dangling over the edge of the Judiciary Building. He’d been looking for her everywhere. The roof access door slammed shut behind him, but she didn’t turn around.
“Hi.” She lifted her hand in a half wave, but remained staring straight ahead.
“What are you doing?”
“Not much. I’m not going to jump, if that’s what you’re worried about? Although, if I could get over to the Astro Sciences roof, I could make a dash for it. Wanna come?”
He moved over beside her and peered over the edge. There was another ledge about two metres below, and the Astro Sciences rooftop a hefty jump away from that. “Sorry, I left my jet pack in my other suit. You’re on your own, I’m afraid.”
She still hadn’t looked at him, but he noticed her body stiffen, and she muttered. “Story of my life.”
Shit! He realised what he’d said, and could have kicked himself. Hesitantly, he lifted his hand to rest it on her shoulder, but then let it drop to his side, his shoulders sagging in defeat. What was he supposed to say and do? She was right. She was on her own, but he was in the same boat. Seven had left him almost the instant they’d arrived home, succinctly stating that now they were on Earth, her horizons had broadened and she felt it was inefficient to be tied to a single individual. If he hadn’t been so humiliated, he could have almost laughed at her parting words. “Monogamy is irrelevant in light of the extensive choices of male companionship that are available to me here on Earth.” In essence, ‘so many men, so little time to assimilate’. It certainly made him feel less than desirable. What a fool he’d been.
He could also understand Kathryn’s disillusionment. So far the debriefings had been hell. Unrelenting, tedious and just plain awful. How many times could they ask the same question – get the same answer – and then turn around and ask that same question again? There didn’t seem to be a point to it all; and that had just been his experience. He couldn’t begin imagine what Kathryn had been going through. It must be so much worse for her.
He watched her legs swinging back and forth and his heart ached at the thought of her feeling so alone. In short he just plain ached for her, loved her, wanted her, but his ridiculous fling with Seven had brought an awkwardness to their relationship that he wasn’t sure how to overcome.
She was looking out over Starfleet Headquarters towards the Presidio, the future resting place of Voyager. Her hair was glowing in the sunshine, her slim shoulders were slightly hunched and she seemed preoccupied. He wished he could do something to help her, but he didn’t know what. All he knew was he missed her.
She was still thumping her feet against the side of the building, and he was still standing close behind her, trying to decide what to do. Maybe…? “You’re only on your own if you decide to escape, but if you’d like some company tonight, you could join me for dinner?”
“Really?” He was surprised at her quick response. He’d expected her to refuse.
“Why not? We used to have dinner together all the time.”
“No, Kathryn. I mean… join me for ‘dinner’, as in a dinner date.” He leant forward a little to see her face. It was impassive.
He frowned. Did she understand what he was asking here? He mentally shrugged, then checked the time. Their afternoon sessions would be starting soon and he had to get back. “Um, I’ll pick you up at 20:00. Is that OK?”
She nodded. “I’ll be ready.”
“OK, I’ll see you then.”
“Chakotay?” She swung herself around and looked at him. “I’d like to have breakfast with you as well.”
He nodded slowly. They’d been meeting for breakfast most mornings, so that was a given. “Sure.” He stared at her, trying to discern what was suddenly different about her, but he was at a loss. It was time to go. “See you at 20:00.” Frowning, he turned and headed towards the door, but as he neared it, his pace slowed, her last words slowly working their way into his sluggish brain. Was she saying what he thought she was saying?
He stopped and spun around. She was sitting there swinging her legs on this side of the ledge, smiling.
“One word. Have or stay?”
“That’s three words actually, but the idea was to ‘stay’ for breakfast. Is that OK?”
His face broke into a broad grin and he stared at her for a long moment. “Sure.” He nodded and turned back towards the door, tossing over his shoulder. “See you at 20:00”
As he reached for the door handle her voice came from right behind him. He hadn’t heard her move. “Chakotay?”
He didn’t turn around, but she was so close that he could hear her breathe. She gave a small sigh. “I love you.”
All the tension drained from his body, and he closed his eyes. Then he felt it. Her hand slid slowly up his back and over his shoulder. As she moved around to stand in front of him, that same hand slid up his neck to cup his cheek. He looked into her clear blue eyes and felt his own fill with tears. “I love you too.”
She nodded and grinned at him. Her hand was still on his cheek and her thumb lightly caressed his lips. His body jolted into action and he grabbed her in a tight embrace, lifting her off the ground and slamming his lips to hers. They staggered back against the door, moaning into each others mouths as they kissed each other long and hard. Lack of oxygen finally forced them to jerk their mouths apart and they panted and laughed into each others faces. Her body slowly slid down his and when her feet hit the ground she took a small but reluctant step away from him. Blowing out a breath, she patted her hair into place and tugged at her uniform.
“Phew! Well, 20:00 it is.” She grasped the door handle, ready to leave, but turned back to him. “On second thoughts, let’s eat in. See you then.”
She opened the door and slipped through the narrow opening and was gone.
He stood there for a moment trying to calm his breathing and his thundering heart, then he laughed out loud. “Absolutely.”
Back and forth he paced. Over the last twenty minutes or so he’d become very well acquainted with the foyer outside her apartment, and he’d lost count of the number of times he’d checked his watch. He glanced at it again. 19:57. Was it possible for time to slow to a point where it seemed to almost stop? All he could think of was that old adage of ‘a watched pot never boils’. He’d been simmering all afternoon and was ready to explode. He looked at her door and took a deep breath. It all seemed so unreal, but so very right. All the years, the trials, the dangers and the despair had faded to nothing, and all he could think of was that at last they were where they were supposed to be. Together.
He still thrilled at the memory of her words. “I love you.” She’d said them so quietly but they’d resonated in his heart like an exultation. So simple and so perfect, but he was still having trouble believing it was actually true. How many times over the years had they almost tripped over into that moment only to have it snatched away from them by some disaster, Tuvok’s comm call, responsibilities or those dreaded protocols. He was becoming paranoid and kept expecting to see Q’s supercilious face appear in front of him with a ‘Wilderness Boy, the joke’s on you’ quip. He huffed out a breath and continued his pacing.
They’d made their date for 20:00, and he didn’t want to be early and appear too eager, although he’d been in a state of nervous excitement ever since this afternoon’s ‘moment’ on the roof of the Judiciary Building. Seven long years of loving and wanting this woman and all it had taken was an invitation to dinner. Of course he knew that the principal reason she’d lowered the barriers was because he wasn’t under her command anymore. Well, not in the Starfleet sense of the word. He admitted to himself happily that she would always rule his heart. He stopped in front of the window. Thank the Spirits they’d got home when they did, and looking out at the stars, he whispered. “Thank you, Admiral Janeway.”
Another deep breath, and head down again, he continued to pace. Six strides west and six strides east.
It was almost time.
“Janeway to Chakotay.”
He slapped his chest. “Chakotay here….” and then realised that he wasn’t wearing a combadge and the voice had come from behind him. He stood still and grunted out a laugh. Turning slowly, he grinned at her.
She was leaning against the open door of her apartment with her arms casually crossed and a beaming smile on her face. “Are you going to stay out here all night? You can come in, you know.”
He rested his hands loosely on his hips and smiled back at her. “I didn’t want to be unfashionably early.”
She cocked her head, and her smile broadened. “We could never be accused of being fashionable, so let’s not try and start now. Come on. Dinner’s almost ready.”
He gave her a look of mock horror. “Oh, really!?”
She swatted him as he passed. “Cut it out.” And laughing, she took the bottle of wine he’d been carrying. “You don’t have to panic. My mother made the main dish. I just put together the salad. Even I can’t spoil that.”
He looked at her sideways and she rolled her eyes. “Alright, alright. You can make the dressing. OK?”
“Sure.” He was looking at her adoringly. He loved this. The banter. The sizzle. It was something he’d missed.
She looked at him. “What?”
“Nothing. Just ….” He shrugged his shoulders. “Nothing and everything.” He gave her a sheepish grin. “To be honest, I was a bit worried about tonight. I was looking forward to it, but… anxious. That’s why I was out there pacing. I was concerned that we would be uncomfortable and awkward with one another. I should have known better. We could never be like that. Friends first…..”
She gave him that crooked smile, and moved closer. “I know what you mean. I could hardly concentrate at this afternoon’s debriefings I was so nervous. If it makes you feel any better, I changed my outfit about ten times before I gave myself a thorough talking to.”
He took a step towards her and picked up her hand, holding it lightly in his. “And what did you tell yourself?”
Her other hand drifted up to rest on his chest. “Well, I told myself that this was Chakotay, my best friend, and the person I loved above everyone else, and no matter what, he would always love me.”
He nodded and smiled. “Never a truer word. ‘Yourself’ is a very sensible woman.”
They drifted towards one another and kissed gently. He wrapped his arms around her and they swayed together. Soft music was playing in the background, and they shuffled slowly to the rhythm. Their eyes were closed and her head resting on his chest. It was bliss. His hands slowly stroked up and down her back and her hands mirrored his, stroking and softly kneading his back and shoulders. She was making small humming noises and if it was possible, moved even closer to him. Her body moulded itself to his, and undulated gently against him, soft, warm and responsive. He ducked his head slightly and kissed her neck. She tilted her head to the side and squirmed against him. He’d always known she would be like this. She was a woman of passion in everything she did. In love she would be no different. He was besotted.
Suddenly he could smell something burning, and reluctantly raised his head. “Kathryn, is that my dinner that I can smell.”
She sniffed the air and jolted out of his arms. “Shit! Mom is going to kill me.” He laughed as she ran into the kitchen. He followed and watched as she pulled the smouldering ruin of what would have been their dinner from the oven.
“Ouch! Damn!” She dumped it onto the bench and stuck her finger in her mouth, staring at the blackened mess. “Well, that figures.” She shook her hand and blew on it.
He peered over her shoulder, and smirked, then took her hand and inspected the burn on her finger. “Here.” He turned on the tap and held her damaged finger under the cold water. “Salad is good, and I’m not that hungry anyway.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “You’re too kind, but I suppose you’d better get used to it.”
He thrilled at the thought of this being an ongoing ritual. He’d probably lose weight from lack of sustenance, but the thought of having dinner (or not) with her every night, sleeping in her bed or her in his, and being in her company after a hard day at work, would make it all worthwhile. He couldn’t help smiling.
Her shoulders sagged. “You can smile, but my mother is still going to kill me.”
“You can blame me. Tell her it was my fault for distracting you.”
“Nice try, but she knows me too well and besides, she’ll want to know what we were doing that would have me so distracted that I forgot dinner. She’ll take one look at you and know exactly what we’d been up to. Are you going to explain that?”
“OK. We can lie. Tell me what it was and I’ll wax lyrical about it when we see her.”
She chuckled. “You’d do that for me? Lie to my mother? Now that’s what I call love.”
He pulled her hand out from under the running water and kissed the small burn on her finger. “You’d better believe it, woman.”
She swung around and leaning against the kitchen bench pulled him towards her, with her hands on his hips. “Say that again.”
‘That last part.”
“‘You’d better believe it, woman.’?”
She laughed. “That’s so cave man, but I love it. Your woman. It has a nice ring to it.” She ground herself against him, and her eyes flashed with something that stole his breath away. Her breathing became shallow and fast. “Tell you what. Let’s skip dinner and just go straight to dessert.”
He was having trouble controlling his body’s reaction as her hands slid around behind him and held his lower body tight to hers. He ran his hand through her hair and his fingers down her jaw line to her neck. Leaning forward he kissed just under her ear and she moaned softly. He spoke into her neck as he kissed and nipped at her. “Are you likely to burn dessert?”
She draped her arms over his shoulders and rubbed her cheek against his, whispering in his ear. “Quite possibly. I’m on fire.”
That was it. He groaned and lifted her onto his hips, and swung around. “Which way?”
She was laughing and pointing over her shoulder. “That way. Second door on the left.”
He barrelled through the kitchen door, down the hall and into her bedroom. There were candles lit around the room and the bed was pulled down in readiness. He stood just inside the door with her still in his arms. He grinned at her. “Dessert just might become my favourite meal from now on.”
She chuckled. “Mine too.” She stroked his forehead, running her fingers over his tattoo, then dropped her gaze to his. “Are you ready for this, my love?”
He looked into her eyes and could’ve almost drowned in their blue depths. He hadn’t a doubt in the world about this. He took a deep breath and stepping forward, tumbled them on to the bed. He nuzzled her neck and kissed his way along her jaw. His fingers traced the planes of her beautiful face and he lowered his head towards her. Just before his mouth met hers, he whispered against her lips. “Absolutely.”
Chakotay rolled over and looked at the woman in bed beside him. He smiled as he studied her sleeping face. She was burrowed into her pillow, her cheek a little squashed on one side. Her mouth was partly open and she was snoring softly. With her hair a tangled mess half obscuring her face and one hand tucked up beside her cheek, she looked so… human and vulnerable. A wave of protective desire washed over him and he wanted to hold her in his arms forever and not let anything hurt her ever again. An impossible task, considering her line of work and her challenging personality, but it was a heartfelt desire nonetheless.
She looked so relaxed and peaceful. It was in stark contrast to the voraciously passionate woman of the night before. His head thunked back on to his pillow. What a night it had been. Their lovemaking had been intense, uninhibited and at times almost savage. All those years of denial and abstinence had unleashed a demon. She was vocal, unbridled and bold in bed and he loved her for it. What man wouldn’t be enamoured of a woman who knew what she wanted and was outspokenly appreciative of his performance. My god, he became aroused just thinking about it. He blew out a breath, grateful in some ways that they hadn’t crossed that barrier on Voyager. He would never have been able to contain himself. His mind swept him away through a myriad of fantasies. Taking her in her Ready room, on the bridge, over the consoles in the Astrometrics lab, practically anywhere he could think of. She’d have been game too. He just knew it. Looking down at this woman who owned his heart, he realised that his life was going to be one hell of an adventure from now on. Thank the spirits.
He needed to get up, so he slid gently out of the bed trying not to disturb her. She mumbled something in her sleep and then rolled over into the warmth he’d just left. As she did so, the bed sheet slipped down her back, leaving most of her torso and one leg exposed. He was tempted to lean over and kiss his way up her body, but restrained himself. She must be exhausted after last night. He certainly was, but he was also invigorated and a little preoccupied. He couldn’t sleep anymore, and the quiet hours of the early morning would give him some much needed time alone to come to terms with the extraordinary changes that the last twenty four hours had brought to his life. They were momentous and wondrous and he was still a little disbelieving.
Grabbing his boxers off the floor, and closing the bedroom door quietly behind him, he moved silently down the hall to the bathroom. After using the head and having a quick shower, he hauled on his shorts and made his way to the kitchen. He smiled as he looked at the mess. The unrecognisable charred remains of their dinner was still sitting on the bench and a bowl of wilted lettuce, limp tomatoes and soggy onions sat on the counter next to it. He shook his head. If they were going to survive the next fifty years together, he’d better get used to the idea of cooking all their meals. His heart swelled at the thought, and at the fact that someone as capable and brilliant as Kathryn Janeway could burn water if given the chance. It lent a wonderful humanness and fallibility to her otherwise larger than life persona. It made her all that more endearing and he loved her for it. But then again, he just plain loved her.
A cup of tea was the first thing on the agenda and carrying his steaming mug out to the patio, he looked out over the bay. The warmth of the rising sun was gently melting away the morning chill and it looked like a beautiful day ahead. No matter what the weather though, in Chakotay’s eyes it would have been a beautiful day. The first day of their life together. He laughed at himself. He’d seen romance in everything over the last twenty four hours, but he couldn’t help himself. The realisation of his dream had left him filled with wonder and love for the world. Swigging down the last mouthful of his tea, he made his way back into the kitchen.
Time to get rid of the evidence. He picked up the burnt offering and tossed it into the recycler and did the same with the bowl of salad/compost. He put the plates and glasses away, taking a few minutes to investigate the kitchen cupboards to find where they lived. He was busily wiping down the benches when he heard the front door slam. He was standing with the dishcloth poised in midair when an elderly woman strode into the kitchen.
“Kathryn! Well, how did it go, dear? Did he like…….Oh! Good morning.”
Chakotay stood like a deer in the headlights, not sure if he should try and make a run for it or attempt to bluster his way through this very embarrassing meeting with the woman in front of him. She could only be Kathryn’s mother. Their resemblance was uncanny. The same eyes, the same stance and the same laugh.
She guffawed. “I see dinner was a success, although….” She sniffed the air. “She burnt it, didn’t she?”
He darted his eyes left and right. The evidence was gone. How did she……?
“Don’t try to deny it. I can still smell the distinct aroma of charcoal vegetarian pie.” She stepped forward and held out her hand. “How do you do? I’m Gretchen Janeway, Kathryn’s mother. You must be Chakotay.”
He extended his hand, only realising at the last moment that it still held the dishcloth. He snatched it away with his other hand and shook hers. “Um…. Good morning, Mrs Janeway. Yes, I’m Chakotay. I was just cleaning up and I… um… I should get some pants on. Excuse me.”
He tore out of the room and down to the bedroom. He quickly dressed as Kathryn snoozed on. After a few fortifying breaths, he closed the door behind him and moved back out to the living area. Gretchen was standing by the large window looking out at the view. She turned to him as he entered the room and smiled. “There’s coffee here if you’d like a cup. Is she still asleep?”
He nodded. “Yes.”
She smiled and nodded. “Good. She’s got a lot of catching up to do. Would you like me to pour?” As she was speaking she’d moved to the table and had poured him a cup. “Cream, sugar?”
“Ah, yes please. Both.”
“Good, just how I like it. I could never understand how she could drink it black. Tastes like paint thinner to me. Here we are.” She handed him a cup.
“Thank you, Mrs Janeway.”
“Please call me Gretchen.” She cocked her head to the side in a frighteningly familiar gesture, and sized him up. He could feel himself blushing. She then pinned him with a stare. “So, is everything alright?”
He relaxed his shoulders and met her gaze with a smile. “Everything is wonderful.”
She smiled broadly. “Marvellous. She’s missed you, you know.” Gretchen moved around to the front of the sofa and took a seat. He followed suit and sat opposite her, sipping his coffee.
“I’ve missed her as well. Things have been difficult, but it’s all fine now.”
She was watching him intently and he decided he had to bite the bullet. “I love her very much, Gretchen. I have for years, but there was nothing we could about it on the ship. It would have been far too difficult under the circumstances, and well, you know the rules.”
“Yes, and I know Kathryn.” She put her cup down on the table. “It won’t be easy even now, you know? She will have her moments.”
He smiled broadly and Gretchen blinked. What a smile. No wonder her daughter was so taken with this young man. That smile spoke volumes. There was an integrity and depth beneath that handsome visage. She relaxed knowing that Kathryn would be safe and secure. This man was her daughter’s equal and he had a calmness and steady strength about him that was just what Kathryn needed.
She smiled in return. “I suppose you’ve lived with her for seven years so you know what she’s capable of. You probably know her better than me these days.” Her eyes misted over for a moment and she turned towards the window. “It’s so good to have her home.” She gave her head a slight shake and looked back at him. “Do you have family here, dear, or are they elsewhere?”
The smile faded from his face and it was his turn to look out the window. Even after all these years when he thought of his family he was still hit with a painful pang of regret. He knew that it would always be that way. Shaking his head, he turned back to Gretchen. “I have a sister on Dorvan, but the rest of my family are gone.” Gretchen noted the haunted look in his eyes and regretted her question. For some reason she felt protective of this sensitive man who loved her daughter.
“Well, we must meet her one day, but for the time being, you are welcome in our family.” She continued in a lighter tone. “The more the merrier.” Leaning forward she patted his knee. He gave her a grateful smile and she nodded back smiling.
He liked this woman. He liked her a lot, and was deeply touched by her generosity. He felt the tendrils of familial bonds reaching out and taking hold. It would be good to belong somewhere again.
She watched as the tension left his shoulders and the grip on his coffee cup relaxed. He and her daughter had much in common. There were deep wounds within both of them, but they were the salve to each others battered souls. She was happy for them both.
“Mother?” Both Chakotay and Gretchen turned to the doorway and a bleary Kathryn was standing there, wrapped in her dressing gown.
“Good morning, dear. I’ve just met this delightful young man of yours. Oh, and you’ve got some explaining to do. How in heaven’s name did you manage to burn the pie? You can find your way back from the Delta Quadrant and you still can’t set the timer on an oven?” Gretchen shook her head in mock despair. “I suppose we should just be grateful that you didn’t have to cook your way home.”
Kathryn looked balefully at Chakotay. “You told!”
He laughed. “I didn’t have to. Your reputation is obviously renowned in both quadrants.” He grinned at her. “Coffee?”
She nodded her head gratefully and came and sat close beside him, placing her hand on his thigh as he passed her a steaming cup. She took a sip, and closing her eyes, savoured the dark liquid. “Mmmm.” She opened her eyes to find both her lover and her mother smiling at her. “What?”
Gretchen and Chakotay looked at each other, then back at Kathryn, and chorused. “Nothing.”
She rolled her eyes and groaned. “Great. You’ve only known one another for a few minutes and you’re already in cahoots.” She turned to Chakotay. “What has she been telling you?” Then looking at her mother. “And more importantly, what has he been telling you? Don’t believe a word of it, no matter what he says.”
She smiled at her daughter. “He says that he loves you.”
Kathryn turned to Chakotay and her face softened and her body melted against him. “Oh. Well, you can believe that. I love him too.”
Gretchen watched as they looked at one another, their connection a tangible entity that excluded all else around them. She rejoiced.
Placing her empty cup on the table, Gretchen stood. “Well, I’m off to see Phoebe and tell her the news.”
Both Kathryn and Chakotay stood to say their goodbyes. Gretchen hugged her daughter and whispered in her ear. “Congratulations, sweetheart. He’s perfect.”
She moved to Chakotay and hugged him too, then stepping back, cupped the side of his face. “Welcome to the family, my dear. Look after each other.”
He nodded and put his arm around Kathryn’s shoulder, hugging her to his side. “We will. Goodbye, Gretchen, and thank you.”
Gretchen walked to the front door and looked back at her daughter. “I’m so pleased for you both, and Kathryn, you take care of him, won’t you?”
Kathryn smiled up at him, her eyes filled with love. “Absolutely.”