Caprice: Part Two

Summary:The Captain and Commander hit their first bump in the road and someone unlikely comes to the rescue.

Rated NC17

It helps to have read the first part of the story.

Caprice: Part One can be found in the Adult index of this site. 

 

Disclaimer:CBS/Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.

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“Captain Janeway the time is 0600. Captain Janeway the time is 0600.” Kathryn rolled over and mumbled tiredly, “Computer reset alarm for twenty-four hours.”

 

She opened one eye and looked at the man in bed beside her. He was smiling down at her. With a groan she closed her eyes but couldn’t help a smile from creeping across her features. It hadn’t been a dream. She rolled on her side, and her muscles rebelled. Just another reminder of last evening’s activities.

And what an evening it had been. Her body was still thrumming. She’d never made love like that in her life and she was a little embarrassed. But there was also the telltale throb of excitement. Her hand stole across to stroke up his abdomen and chest. His warm body drew her nearer, and he tucked her up against him as she draped her leg over his thighs, pressing herself into his hip. He smelled delicious and she could feel the heat of want beginning to stir in her groin. Rocking against him in a slow rhythm she whispered in his ear. “Good morning, my love.”

 

He grabbed her around the waist, rolled her under him and entered her, all in one swift move. Grinning down at her he pecked her on the nose. “Isn’t it? I can’t remember a better one. How are you?”

 

She raised her eyebrows slightly and smiled. “A little sore.”

 

He frowned and made to move away from her. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Where are you going? You stay right where you are.”

 

“But …. I don’t want to hurt you.”

 

“I said a ‘little sore’ and this is making me feel ever so much better.” He chuckled as she bucked against him wanting more. A few gentle thrusts and her eyes darkened and they were lost again in their own world of love and desire.

 

They made love slowly and gently, the wild gallivanting of the previous evening giving way to a quiet introspection. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight to him as their lower bodies ground together in a slow and steady spiral of arousal. Kathryn’s arms were holding him tight to her as she played her fingers over the warm skin of his back. A part of her still couldn’t believe that he was here with her at last. This man whom she’d loved for so long. This kind, generous, handsome and sexy man was hers. Just as she was his. That thought triggered her climax and she gave a whimper of surprise as it took her. The clenching of her inner muscles sent Chakotay after her into oblivion, and he groaned and pushed himself hard against her.

 

Kathryn writhed as he kissed her neck and along her jaw, tilting her head back as he nibbled on her ear lobe. It was so wonderful to be here with him. It filled her heart with such a feeling of peace and contentment.

 

She glanced over at the chronometer. It was 0640. They were due on the bridge at 0730. “We have to move. Damn it.” She sighed and stroked the side of his face as he slid from her. “How am I going to last all day without touching you? This is going to be torture. Now that we’re together, I don’t want to be parted from you. Do you think we could run the ship from our bed?”

 

Laughing Chakotay kissed her quickly. “A nice idea. But briefings would be a bit of a problem. There isn’t enough room in the bed for all the senior staff, and Tuvok would be a spoil sport for sure. Oh, and just think of poor Harry. He wouldn’t know where to look.”

 

“You’re right, and the thought of Neelix snuggled up beside us is incentive enough to get ready for work. We’d better get moving.” She swung her legs over the side of the bed.

Holding the sheet against herself, Chakotay watched as she tried to tug it from the bed, finally giving up and walking naked into her bathroom. She tossed a grin over her shoulder as she sashayed into the other room. His head thunked back onto the pillow. It was going to be a long day.

 

Eventually he climbed out of bed and gathered his clothes. Sneaking back to his quarters was going to take all his Maquis skills. The corridors were busy at this time of the day.

 

If he could have his way, he would open all subspace channels and announce their love to the Universe, but they’d decided for the time being to keep this to themselves. It was a rare and special thing and not something that they needed to share with everyone just yet. There were many varied and valid reasons why, but it was going to be difficult. The electricity that buzzed between them would be obvious to one and all. Taking a deep breath he slipped back into his clothes.

 

Once dressed he knocked on the bathroom door. “Kathryn, I’ll see you on the bridge.”

 

The door slid open and he found her standing in the swirling steam of her bathroom looking like a nymph emerging from the mists. She had a towel draped around her and his mind took him back to another time and place – a grassy clearing in the woods, a timber bathtub and a blue towel draped loosely around her body. A body that had fuelled his fantasies for so many years. She moved towards him and gave him a gentle kiss, cocking her head to the side and looking at him as though she could tell where his thoughts were. She smiled warmly. “Tonight we bathe together.”

 

Chakotay’s knees almost buckled. How was he going to get through the day now with that thought in his mind for the duration? He was going to be walking around all day with an erection. All bodily control seemed to have vanished. He grinned sheepishly and she laughed. “I’ll see you soon. Breakfast in my ready room?”

 

“Sounds good. It’s what we usually do, and it’s probably wise to keep to our regular routine.” He realised all of a sudden just how treacherous this was going to be. They had an intimate knowledge of one another now and that lent another dimension to their relationship and it would be difficult to hide. But they would just have to try. “See you there.”

 

She waved as the doors to the bathroom closed. Chakotay looked around the room to make sure he hadn’t left anything behind. “Computer, is there anyone in the corridor outside the captain’s quarters?”

 

“Negative.”

 

He slipped out her door and hot footed it up the corridor to his door.

 

“There you are, Chakotay.”

 

B’Elanna came around the corner from the other direction. He jumped back guiltily and looked up towards Kathryn’s door. “B’Elanna, what are you doing here?”

 

She frowned and shot a glance up the corridor, following his gaze and wondering what was wrong with him. He seemed twitchy. “I was just going off duty and wanted to check that you were still on for dinner tonight?”

 

Damn. He’d completely forgotten about his dinner with B’Elanna and Tom. “Oh, B’E, I’m sorry. Something has come up.” That certainly wasn’t a lie. Thoughts of a naked Kathryn in the tub surrounded by bubbles…and him, flashed through his mind. Down boy. “I’ve got to go over some crew evaluations with the captain. I’ve… umm…. just been to see her to line up a time.” He again cast a furtive glance up the corridor to Kathryn’s door. “Can we make it next week perhaps?”

 

B’Elanna gave him a puzzled look. “Yeah sure, Chakotay.” She again followed his gaze up the corridor to the captain’s door. “No problem. Have fun with the evaluations. I’ll see you later.”

 

He smiled at his friend. “Yeah, sorry about that. See you soon.” He hit the code to open his door and slipped through the partially opened doors before B’Elanna could say another word. She stood there for a few minutes just looking at his closed doors and then up the corridor to the captain’s door again. There was something not quite right about this. There was something going on and she would need some help to get to the bottom of it.

She tapped her comm badge as she moved towards the turbo lifts. “Torres to Paris.”

 

“Hey, gorgeous. What’s up?”

 

She smiled to herself. Kahless, she loved that guy. “I’m going to the mess hall for breakfast. Can you meet me there? There’s… I don’t know, just…… well there’s something going on. I’ll tell you when I see you.”

 

“Your wish is my command. I’ll see you there in a minute. Paris out.”

 

B’Elanna entered the mess hall and headed to the counter. Neelix was bustling around in amongst bubbling brews and noxious concoctions that he alleged was food. “Good morning, B’Elanna.” He was eternally effervescent which, to a tired Klingon, could be infernally irritating.

 

She held her temper. “Good morning, Neelix. What have you got this morning?”

 

“Well, we have a Brill cheese omelette, made with aged Porakan eggs; devilled Woodthrok on toast with a drizzle of Drakian syrup, and oatmeal with Takka berries. What tickles your fancy this morning, Lieutenant?”

 

B’Elanna had to stop herself from screwing up her face in disgust at the idea of devilled Woodthrok. Just the thought turned her stomach and the mention of Porakan egg omelette almost made her gag. “I’ll have the oatmeal and easy on the Takka berries please, Neelix.”

 

He handed B’Elanna a steaming bowl of cereal liberally sprinkled with the mauve berries. “Thanks, Neelix.” She’d just have to eat around them. They gave her terrible indigestion; in fact they gave most of the crew indigestion. Most Delta Quadrant food did and they’d just got used to the discomfort over the years. In a strange way it was one of the first things that melded the Starfleet and Maquis crews. Nothing like shared dyspepsia to help you bond. Very early in the voyage, Neelix’s Delta Quadrant cuisine had become their common enemy.

 

She sat down and waited for Tom thinking back to those days over six years ago. It was hard to imagine a time when they weren’t all friends and comrades. If someone had told her back then that one day she and Tom would be together she would have disembowelled them on the spot. But here she was, happier than she’d ever been in her life. When she thought about it, being thrown halfway across the galaxy was probably the best thing that could ever have happened to them. Their lives would certainly have taken a grimmer turn had they been in the Alpha Quadrant. Tom would still be in prison, most of the Maquis would be dead or in prison and a significant number of the Starfleet crew would have died in the Dominion War. On balance, the Delta Quadrant wasn’t such a bad place to be.

 

Tom walked through the doors and straight over to her table giving her a quick kiss. “Takka berries? Don’t they upset your stomach… errr…stomachs?”

 

She rolled her eyes and then smiled grimly. “It came down to the lesser of all the evils on offer. Neelix has your favourite. Devilled Woodthrok.”

 

Tom grimaced. “Oh, urk! Devilled is the operative word. There’s something decidedly hellish about that stuff. OK, it looks like oatmeal for me too. Back in a minute.”

 

B’Elanna nibbled on her food as she watched Tom avoid being talked into having the omelette. He arrived back with his bowl and a couple of pieces of plain toast to share. Plonking himself down opposite her he took a couple of hearty mouthfuls before he looked at her questioningly. “Well, what’s this ‘something’ you have to tell me?”

 

B’Elanna looked around her furtively, checking that no one was within hearing, then leant forward. “Well, it’s Chakotay and the Captain. There’s something going on.”

 

Tom’s head shot up. “You saw them? Caught them? Oh, hallelujah. It’s about time. Tell me, tell me.”

 

“No, no, I didn’t see them or catch them or anything. I just ran into Chakotay outside his quarters this morning. He said he’d just been to see the captain, but he was weird…. I don’t know. There was just something about him that didn’t seem right. He was in a hurry to get away from me, and kept glancing up at her door. Oh, and he can’t come to dinner tonight by the way.” She quirked an eyebrow. “Crew evaluations with the captain.” B’Elanna took a mouthful of food and waited for Tom to cotton on.

 

Suddenly his face lit up. “Crew evaluations came out last month. They’re not due for another year almost.” He frowned slightly. “Do you really think that after all this time?” A slow smile broke across his face. “Damn, I hope so. For both their sakes. We’ll have to watch them carefully. They’ll slip up for sure. They can barely keep their hands off each other as it is. This should be great.” He had a spoonful of oatmeal poised halfway between his mouth and bowl and was looking sightlessly out the viewport. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful? They deserve some happiness. They really do.”

 

His eyes refocused on the woman opposite. The woman he loved more than life. This was something he’d wanted for his friends for such a long time. He considered himself one of the luckiest men alive, and all because of two women. The one who was sitting opposite him now – he reached across the table and took her hand – and the captain, for whom he wished all the happiness in the world. She had been instrumental in turning his life around and he would be forever grateful for her trust and faith in him.

 

B’Elanna was watching Tom. In this moment she realised just how much he had changed. Gone was the brash, irritating young lothario and in his place was this caring, warm, funny man whom she loved dearly. Something occurred to her all of a sudden. “Perhaps we shouldn’t pry. Maybe they want to keep this to themselves or something. That’s why Chakotay was being so evasive.”

 

“Well, we don’t know anything for sure, remember?”

 

“Yeah, I know. But I’m positive something wonderful has happened. It’s like there’s something in the air. Look at the crew. They’re all smiling and even Harren is talking to people. Kahless, he just laughed. There’s definitely something going on.”

 

“Hey, guys.” Harry moved over to their table and sat down. “Have you heard?”

 

B’Elanna and Tom looked at one another, then shook their heads.

 

“Harren caught the Captain and Chakotay hiding in a storeroom on Deck 15 yesterday.”

 

“What!? He caught them? Doing what?”

 

Harry’s shoulders slumped slightly. “Well, nothing, but it sounds very suspicious. Harren told Mitchell that Chakotay was showing the Captain how tidy the storeroom was.” B’Elanna and Tom looked at one another with a smirk. Harry blustered on. “Harren swears he didn’t see anything, but the whole ship is in uproar.”

 

Tom frowned. “What happens if everyone knows? Or if Starfleet find out?”

 

B’Elanna sat up and looked around her. “Does it really matter? Starfleet are a lifetime away. Surely they wouldn’t expect the captain to remain alone all her life. That seems so wrong.” She frowned. “But……”

 

She looked back and forth at Tom and Harry. Tom prompted. “But what?”

 

“Well if it’s against regulations and she thinks everyone knows and that word will get back to Starfleet…… she might call it off.” The three of them looked at one another worriedly.

 

Tom dropped his spoon in his bowl. “We have to do something about this. We have to stop them talking or it’ll be a disaster. Harry, can you go and have a quiet word to Harren and Mitchell. I’ll work out something for the rest of the crew.”

 

“Maybe we should get our facts straight first. No one knows anything for sure. I think we should stick with the original plan and just see what happens.” B’Elanna looked back and forth between the two men. “Well, what do you think?”

 

Harry nodded and Tom patted her hand. “You’re right. But let’s just try and keep a lid on it for the time being.”

 

It was 0725 and most of the day shift were making their way out of the mess hall to take up their duty stations. Tom headed to the Bridge, giving B’Elanna a kiss before she went back to her quarters for a well earned rest and Harry followed Harren to have a quiet word with him about keeping things to himself for the time being.

 

Chakotay was in his seat when the rest of the Alpha shift arrived. He was trying to look busy but noticed their stares and their overly solicitous good mornings and was immediately on the alert. How on earth could they know? He shook himself. He was being paranoid.

 

The lift doors swished open and Kathryn stepped onto the bridge. She gave everyone a cheerful good morning and took her seat. “Good morning, Commander. Did you have a good night?”

 

His head shot up and he looked at her twinkling eyes. It was going to be one of those days, but made torturously worse because of the events of yesterday and last night. He could give as good as he got though. “Well, I tossed and turned a bit, but all in all it was a satisfactory night, thank you, Captain. And you?”

 

“I did a bit of tossing and turning as well. Perhaps it was something we ate?” Chakotay noticed Tom’s shoulders stiffen as he eavesdropped on their conversation. Kathryn noticed as well. “How did you sleep, Lieutenant? Any tossing and turning?”

 

Tom swung around and briefly met Harry’s astounded eyes over the heads of his commanding officers. He smiled benignly. “Ah no, Captain. Slept like a baby.”

 

Chakotay almost burst out laughing as he heard Kathryn mutter under her breath. “Pity.” She then looked Tom in the eye challenging him to say something. “I’m pleased to hear that, Mr Paris. So you’ll be alert and attentive today.”

 

He backed down and nodded. “Yes, Ma’am. Um.. Captain.” Swinging back to his console, Kathryn grinned at Chakotay.

 

Harry was watching their exchange from his console. B’Elanna was right. Something was definitely going on. The captain was far too happy and the air around the command team seemed to buzz with electricity.

 

She sat up straight in her chair. “Right, reports everyone. Tuvok?”

 

They now ran through the morning routine of verbally reporting information from each station, and once finished, Kathryn stood. “Tuvok, you have the bridge, Commander, you’re with me.”

 

All eyes, except Tuvok’s, followed them as they entered the Ready room.

 

Once the doors had hissed shut behind them Kathryn turned and wrapped her arms around Chakotay. “See, that wasn’t so hard.” She pulled him closer and grinned up at him. “Then again.”

 

He put his hands on her shoulders and moved her away from him. “Kathryn, I think they know.”

 

Frowning, she looked at the closed doors. “What? How could they? You didn’t say anything, did you?”

 

He stepped further away from her. “Of course not! But B’Elanna caught me outside my quarters this morning and she’s very perceptive. I was meant to have dinner with her and Tom this evening. I called it off and used the crew evaluations as an excuse.”

 

Her brow creased in irritation and with an exasperated sigh she shook her head. He smiled apologetically. “It was the first thing that came to mind. Sorry.” He watched as her lips thinned and her eyes flashed. She was angry. Damn it.

 

Kathryn walked towards the upper level and with her arms crossed over her chest, she looked out the viewport. This was something that she hadn’t banked on happening. Well, not yet anyway. It would’ve been nice to have had a little more time to get used to the idea themselves before having to share it with the rest of the crew. But if they did know, there was little they could do about it. It wasn’t like the crew were oblivious to how they felt about one another. She took a deep breath and pulled her shoulders back. They would just have to weather the storm. Their love was strong enough and besides, they were a family and she was sure the crew would only be happy for them.

 

Chakotay looked at her back and felt the joy drain from him. He could see the tension in the rigid set of her shoulders and knew that she was going to do it. Old habits die hard and she was going to pull away again. He should have known. His disappointment was like a gut punch. He took a step towards her but then saw her shoulders set and he knew she’d made up her mind. What a fool he’d been. Anger spiked and his jaw set. He wasn’t going to wait around to hear the words. The way he was feeling at the moment he couldn’t guarantee his reaction, so retreat was the only option. “I’ll see you back on the bridge, Captain.”

 

The doors had hissed shut behind him before she’d even turned around. “What the…?” What the hell was he doing? Damn it. She strode down to her desk and plonked herself into her chair. What did he think she was going to do? After last night, did he really think she would pull away from him? Men! She tapped her communicator, hard. “Commander Chakotay to the ready room.”

 

The bridge crew had swung around when they heard the ready room doors open and they’d all slumped when they saw him. The aura of disappointment was tangible. Now he knew for certain that they’d somehow gotten wind of what was going on. For the life of him he couldn’t understand how. But that was beside the point. It reaffirmed the fact that now it was going to end. Shit. He gritted his teeth. Keeping an eye on Paris’s back he had this overwhelming urge to swing him around and punch that supercilious look off his face. The meddling bastard was probably in someway responsible. All these years and then finally a break though only to have love snatched away. It had only just begun and it broke his heart to think that it could be over so quickly. He trudged to his chair, but before he could sit down her voice echoed around the bridge. “Commander Chakotay to the ready room.”

 

Harry’s head shot up from the ops station. Tom swung his chair around and various heads snapped up to look. There was a communal holding of breath. “On my way, Captain.” He wasn’t sure he wanted to go. Did he really want to hear what she had to say?

 

He walked slowly back down to the ready room doors. They slid open on his approach and he stepped inside. She was standing on the upper step with her arms crossed and a frown on her face. “Well?”

 

He frowned at her. “Well what?”

 

“Why did you leave?”

 

“I don’t need to hear it, Kathryn.”

 

“Hear what?”

 

“Aren’t you going to call this off, now that the crew know?”

 

“So, one night together and you can read my thoughts?” She was angry with him. She couldn’t believe he was being so stubborn and contrary. He was willing to give up on them at the very first hurdle. Where was her warrior? The man she thought would fight for her tooth and nail. She hadn’t expected him to withdraw at the first sign of trouble.

 

He hadn’t moved towards her. He was just standing there looking troubled. He’d been so forthright yesterday. So in control and so strong, and now he was vacillating. She needed his strength. He was no good to her like this.

 

His eyes narrowed as he tried to keep a lid on his anger. How dare she be so high handed. What did she expect? Every time they’d ever come close to taking this road together she’d pulled back. Yesterday’s behaviour had been completely out of character, but it seemed that she was reverting to type. He bit back. “I’m just going on past performance, Captain.”

 

Her eyes flashed. “Fine, Commander. If this is how you want it. Dismissed.” She moved down to her desk and sitting down, picked up a padd. Damn him. How could he think she would do this to him? She loved him, Goddamn it. She’d told him and showed him, how many times? And this is how he treats her. She refused to let him see how hurt she was, using anger as a cover for her pain.

 

As he watched her dismissive attitude his anger boiled to the surface. Yesterday it had all seemed so simple, but how many times had she pushed him away over the years? He never knew where he stood with her and this was so typical. After yesterday’s revelations he’d understood her reservations, but those didn’t exist anymore and he thought they’d come to an understanding. He should have known better. Oh, but spirits it broke his heart.

 

She was livid and desperately hurt. Pretending to be engrossed in the padd in her hand, a painful churn of emotion seethed just below the surface. The one thing at which she was truly adept was hiding her feelings. Over the last five years she’d become the master. There was no way she was going to let him see how much she hurt.

 

He took a step towards the desk. “Kathryn?”

 

She looked up at him with cold distant eyes and he took a step back and snapped to attention. Seething, he turned on his heel, marched out the doors straight to the turbo lift and was gone. Everyone on the bridge stopped what they were doing and looked at the closed turbo lift doors. Silence reigned until a thud against the ready room doors drew their attention, then all eyes turned to Tuvok. He tapped his combadge. “Captain, are you in need of assistance?”

 

There was a breath holding moment of silence, then her cool, calm voice answered. “No, Tuvok. I’ve had enough assistance today, thank you.”

 

Tom and Harry exchanged worried looks, and a distinct sense of dismay permeated the air. What had happened? Chakotay was angry. So was the captain if the sound of whatever that was hitting the ready room doors was any indication. She’d obviously got wind of the fact that the crew knew something of their change of circumstances. At Tuvok’s raised eyebrow, Tom swung back around to his console, but his mind was preoccupied with the command team’s dilemma. He hadn’t really thought that she would call it off just because the crew knew. It was too late to pretend that they didn’t know, but there must be something they could do. For the rest of the day the Alpha shift would go about their duties like automatons, their minds on the troubles of their Captain and First Officer.

 

The doors had snapped shut behind Chakotay, and Kathryn had held her breath for a moment. Then the anger surged. She picked up the nearest thing to her, which happened to be a padd with Seven of Nine’s latest Astrometrics updates, and flung it hard against the closed doors. It made a resounding and very satisfying thud. She counted to three. “Captain, are you in need of assistance?”

 

Tuvok. Reliable old Tuvok. Regular as clockwork. Shit! They’d all helped far too much already. They were like children, demanding attention all the time.

 

She tapped her comm badge. “No, Tuvok. I’ve had enough assistance today, thank you.” Did they realise what their idiotic preoccupation with her life cost her? It had cost her Chakotay. The anger vanished in an instant and all that was left was this terrible hollow feeling of dread. She dropped her head onto the desk and fought the tears. What had she done?

 

Alpha shift ended without any sign of the captain or commander and as the crew made their way to the lift they all took one last look at the ready room doors and sighed en masse. The sense of joy that had suffused the ship that morning had disappeared and all that they now felt was a sense of dejection and misery. The whole ship was in the doldrums.

 

Tom, B’Elanna and Harry made their way to Sandrine’s with the intention of drowning their sorrows. Several of the crew were already there and none of them looked particularly happy.

 

Tom brought their drinks to the table and sat down with a thud. “Well that was short and sweet. What the hell happened?”

 

Harry looked mournfully into his beer. “We happened.”

 

“What?” Tom and B’Elanna chorused.

 

“We, as in us. You, me, the crew.” He took a sip. “This is a small ship. They’re the commanding officers and their every move is scrutinised. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to maintain a relationship under those conditions? I think they wanted to keep it a secret and because we found out, they’ve called it off. I feel terrible. They seemed so happy.”

 

Tom looked indignant. “Surely they must realise that we don’t give a damn what they do. We just want them to be happy. Someone has to go and see them. We have to talk to them and make them understand that we didn’t want this to happen. We were just so pleased for them.”

 

B’Elanna was staring into her drink. “It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have said anything and I certainly shouldn’t have pushed Chakotay. He knew that I knew and I let him know that I knew.” She looked up at her companions and gave a grim smile. “Well, you know what I mean.” She shoved her drink away and made to stand up. “I’m going to talk to him right now. He’ll listen to me.”

 

Tom lunged across the table and grabbed her arm. “No, B’E. On second thoughts, let it go. At least for now. It’s all too fresh and chances are it’ll make things worse. I think we should give them a chance to sort it out for themselves. They’re big people and…” He looked over at Harry. “I think we’ve done enough interfering already.”

 

B’Elanna dropped back into her seat. A worried frown creased her forehead. “Damn it.”

 

Tom patted her hand. “Look, it’ll probably be fine by the morning. I mean look at us and some of the fights we’ve had over the years and we’re still together. This is most likely the first hiccup of many that they’re bound to have in their relationship. Come on. I’ll buy us another round and then how about a game of pool?”

 

Harry stood up. “I’ll get this round, while you organise the table. Beer again?” Tom and B’Elanna nodded and moved to the pool table.

 

They spent the evening trying to best each other at the pool table and worrying about the captain and Chakotay. They hadn’t noticed Seven of Nine sitting quietly in the corner listening to their conversation.

 

 

Kathryn was sitting in her favourite reading chair, snuggled under the native blanket that Chakotay had given her for her last birthday. An open book rested on her lap as she stared sightlessly out the viewport. She’d read the same paragraph several times before she gave up even trying.

 

Feeling rung dry after having run the full gamut of emotions this evening, she heaved a sigh. Anger had given way to sadness. Guilt had visited for quite a while and now she was sitting here resigned to the fact that she’d allowed her stubborn wilfulness to hijack her happiness. He had every reason to feel insecure. How many times had she pushed him away over the years? He’d probably been waiting for it, although he’d seemed so content this morning.

 

This morning. She smiled sadly as she remembered waking up in his arms. God, she wanted to do that again. She wanted him again. Surely he would forgive her.

 

She frowned. As much as she’d had a hand in this, it wasn’t entirely her fault. He’d jumped to conclusions and hadn’t given her a chance to explain – tearing out of the ready room like there was a rocket on his tail. Where was the strong and reassuring Chakotay from yesterday? Maybe there wasn’t a way to balance their personal lives with their command duties. Perhaps seeing her in her uniform after such a passionate night made it too difficult to reconcile the woman with the captain. She snorted at that. What a load of nonsense. He’d always been able to see past the uniform. That had been half the trouble all these years. He saw too clearly. She threw off the blanket, got up and began pacing. This wouldn’t do. She would have to speak to him.

 

Her door chimed. She looked towards it hopefully. “Come.”

 

Seven of Nine marched through the doors. “Captain, you are still awake. Good. I have some questions that require answers.”

 

Kathryn pinched the bridge of her nose and swallowed a sigh. “Certainly, Seven. Can I get you anything?” She moved towards her replicator and ordered a coffee.

 

Seven shook her head. “No, thank you, Captain.”

 

Kathryn indicated a seat on the couch and sat back down in her chair as Seven perched on the edge of the settee. “What can I help you with, Seven?”

 

“I’m confused about what happened today.”

 

“What happened today?”

 

“With you and the commander. It was obvious that you had finally, after many years, given in to the attraction you both feel for one another and embarked upon a sexual relationship. The crew were jubilant, morale was at an all time high and the general air of well being on the ship was better than it has ever been. That was until you and the commander had your conversation in the ready room and he stormed off the bridge. I overheard some of the crew talking in Sandrine’s this evening and they are extremely upset that you and the commander seem to have ended your relationship just as it had begun. They feel responsible.”

 

Kathryn opened her mouth to speak, but Seven continued. “I am confused as to your reasoning. You took your relationship to another level last night after I brought you the information regarding the Caretaker array. Is that correct?”

 

Kathryn nodded, not at all sure where this was going.

 

Seven assimilated that information. “I am still unsure as to why this information changed your attitude towards the Commander.”

 

Kathryn frowned. “It’s rather complicated and somewhat personal, Seven. Now is probably not the time.”

 

“Very well, Captain, but I am assuming that you desired to keep your relationship a secret from the crew. Correct?”

 

Kathryn nodded again.

 

“However, the crew found out and the Commander assumed that you did not wish to continue with the relationship once it was common knowledge.”

 

Kathryn opened her mouth to refute this allegation, but Seven continued with her analysis as if she wasn’t there. “His assumption was based on your past behaviour and although it was an erroneous conclusion, it was not a surprising reaction considering your usual reaction to his advances.”

 

Kathryn raised her hand and then let it flop back to her side. There was no arguing with that either. Seven was right. She’d always been the one calling the shots where their relationship was concerned. Every time he would make an overture, she’d pull away. No wonder he thought she’d want to end their affair. It was what she had always done in the past.

 

A small frown marred Seven’s features and she looked at Kathryn. “Did you think that the Commander had told the crew?” Again Kathryn opened her mouth to speak, but Seven answered her own question. “I am sure he did not. Yours and the Commander’s demeanour was the only clue that the crew needed. Even I could discern a change in your attitude to one another. If I, in my limited understanding of human relationships could see it, I am certain the rest of the crew found it very obvious.” She looked Kathryn in the eye and asked a question that was like a well aimed phaser blast. If she hadn’t already been seated, it would have knocked her over. “Is it usual for two people to be able to fall out of love so quickly? Particularly two people who have been in love with one another for so long?”

 

Kathryn stared at the young Borg woman and wanted to scream. ‘No! Of course not. I love him. I’ll always love him’. Her heart lurched into her mouth and she had to stop herself from taking off at a run to find him, to reassure him, to tell him how much she loved and needed him. She tamped down her panic and swallowed past the tightness in her chest.

 

Seven was still sitting in front of her waiting for an explanation of their odd behaviour. Kathryn stared at the young woman but her mind was a whirling maelstrom of thoughts. If nothing else, Seven had efficiently laid the facts before her and their stupidity made her heart ache.

 

The facts were thus. She’d loved the man for years and he’d loved her for as long, if not longer. Why would she think that he’d stop loving her overnight? It was insane. Although love tended to do that to a person – make them a little insane. Her eyes re-focussed on the blond woman in front of her. “Seven, thank you for your analysis, and to answer your question, no, it is not usual for two people to fall out of love so easily. In fact, it’s impossible.”

 

“So you are saying that you and the Commander still love one another?”

 

“Yes, Seven. That’s what I’m saying.”

 

“Good. The crew will be relieved.” She stood and turned to go, but then turned back towards Kathryn. “Might I suggest that you tell the Commander? I think that he would like to know.”

 

“Thank you, Seven. I’ll take it under advisement.”

 

Seven gave her captain a sharp nod. “I’ll return to the Cargo bay.” She spun on her heel and marched out the doors.

 

Kathryn stared at the closed doors for a long moment and then bolted into action. She raced into her bedroom and rifled through her wardrobe. Ah ha, that’s it. Her green dress from New Earth. She dove into the shower and quickly dressed, dabbed on a little makeup and moved towards her door. Her pace slowed as she approached and then she stopped before she triggered the opening mechanism. Hmmm. Her face split into a wide grin. Yes, that would be perfect. She tapped her combadge. “Janeway to Seven of Nine.”

 

“Seven here, Captain.”

 

“Seven, would you please page the Commander and tell him that I need him. It’s urgent.”

 

“Certainly, Captain.”

 

Kathryn left her quarters and took the turbolift to deck fifteen. She hurried along the corridor and found the door she was looking for. Glancing up the corridor each way and finding it empty, she quickly entered the code and stepped through the doorway.

 

Chakotay was sitting in his quarters with a cup of herbal tea in one hand and a padd in the other. He’d been trying to catch up on some of the engineering reports he’d left behind when he’d stormed off the bridge this morning. So far he hadn’t got past the summary section of the first one and in irritation he tossed the padd onto the couch beside him. Shit! He’d spent most of the day wandering the ship spreading misery wherever he went. The black cloud that had been following him since his argument with Kathryn had successfully spread its gloom over the entire ship.

 

He hadn’t been able to shake it and it loomed ominously over him at the moment. It was time to do something about this. There was no denying that he shouldered a good deal of the blame and he wasn’t sure why he’d behaved as he had. The only thing he could point to was the fact that Kathryn had done this before, pulled away just when he thought they were going to move forward, but he realised now that there was no way she would have made love with him last night if she wasn’t wholly committed to this relationship and to him. He should have given her a chance to explain instead of tearing off and presuming the worst. What a damn fool. He could have very well blown his chance with her. Knowing that she carried her own insecurities, he should have given her the benefit of the doubt. She’d probably needed reassurance and instead he’d accused her of giving up on them. It was up to him to fix this. He knew her pride wouldn’t allow her to pursue him. Taking a deep breath, he moved into the bedroom and pulled off his uniform. Jumping in the shower he quickly washed and then dressed in the cotton shirt he used to wear on New Earth and a pair of tan pants. He would go and find her now to explain and apologise for his stupid behaviour.

 

He was attaching his combadge to his shirt and nearly dropped it when it chirped. “Seven of Nine to Commander Chakotay.”

 

His shoulders slumped as he answered. “Chakotay here. What is it, Seven?”

 

“The Captain requires your presence.”

 

Talk about déjà vu. “Where is she?”

 

“I do not know, but she asked me to contact you urgently.”

 

“What did she say, Seven?”

 

“The Captain asked that I contact you and tell you that she ‘needed’ to see you urgently. She did not elaborate.”

 

He frowned. “Okay, Seven, thank you. I’ll find her.”

 

“ gathered that was the idea. Good luck, Commander.”

 

Chakotay’s frowned for a moment. “Computer, locate Captain Janeway.”

 

“The Captain is on deck fifteen, section ten.”

 

The frown lifted and a light came on in his eyes. With a grin on his face, he tore out of his quarters and down the corridor to the turbo lift. He leapt in. “Deck fifteen.”

 

He paced the lift impatiently. Damn, these things took forever. The lift finally arrived on the lowest deck and he slipped sideways through the partially opened doors and ran down the corridor.

 

Taking a deep breath outside the storage room he hit the entry pad and the door whooshed open. The lights were dim and he couldn’t see her in the darkness. He stepped over the threshold and the doors hissed shut behind him.

 

“You took your time.”

 

“Kathryn?” She stepped out from beside the doorway and now stood in front of him. He shrugged. “I got here as fast as I could.”

 

Kathryn cocked her head to the side and studied him closely.

 

He held her gaze. “Seven said you needed to see me urgently.”

 

After a moment she shook her head and laid her hand on his chest. Her touch sent the air rushing out of his lungs, and she blinked. “She was wrong.”

Her hand curled into the fabric of his shirt. “I just need you. I told her to tell you that I need you and that it was urgent.”

 

“Spirits, Kathryn, are you sure?”

 

She nodded again. “I don’t have a doubt in the world. I’ve never doubted that.”

 

“I’m so sorry about this morning. I don’t know why I did what I did.”

 

“I do and it was hardly a surprise. I’m so sorry for putting you in that position. Can you promise me something?”

 

“Anything.”

 

She smiled. “Let’s never assume anything, unless it’s about loving one another. Do you think we can start again?”

 

He frowned. “Spirits, tell me we don’t have to go back five years.” His face slowly relaxed into a grin.

 

She grinned in return. “How about we just go back to my quarters?”

 

“That’s a much better idea.” He turned towards the door and then back towards her again. “Kathryn. I love you and I want you to know that I’ll never stop.”

 

“I love you too.” She stood on her tip toes and kissed him sweetly, and then moaned. “Come on. Let’s go.”

 

The doors to the store room swished open and they strolled out into the corridor and walked up towards the lift. Mortimer Harren came around the corner just in time to see them exit the storeroom. Leaning against the bulkhead he smiled as he watched his commanding officers walk arm in arm towards the turbo lift. Ah, this was a much better outcome. He wondered whether or not his storeroom was going to become a regular rendezvous and made a note to speak to Mr Kim about replicating a couple of comfortable chairs or a small couch. At least then they would have somewhere to sit. He shrugged and just hoped that things would be back to normal tomorrow. And he would be certain not to mention seeing them here tonight. It had been a lesson well learned. From now on he’d just stick to Cosmology. Wang’s second postulate was so much easier to understand than the people around him.

 

He activated his padd to input his latest calculations and with one more look up the corridor he shook his head and studied his data.

 

*****************************************

 

Tom, B’Elanna and Harry were still at Sandrine’s drowning their sorrows when Seven walked up to their table. “May I join you?”

 

Harry half stood and clumsily shuffled around to make room for her. He smiled apologetically and Tom and B’Elanna had to stifle their grins. Tom nodded towards her. “Sure. What can we do for you, Seven.”

 

“I thought you would like to know that I have repaired the damage to the Captain and Commander’s relationship. They still love one another and will be happy.”

 

Tom did a double take and stared at the young woman. “Seven?”

 

“I spoke to the Captain and explained that the crew were upset and concerned about them. I queried if it was possible to fall out of love with someone after having been in love with them for so long. The captain reassured me that she still loved the commander and that everything would be alright.”

 

B’Elanna was close to horrified. “You went to see the Captain, and talked to her about her relationship with Chakotay?”

 

“Yes. I was confused, and asked her why, after beginning a sexual relationship, they would call a halt to it just because the crew had become aware of their new situation. Is there a problem with that?”

 

B’Elanna’s mouth was hanging open. Tom shook himself. “No, Seven, not at all. It’s just that… well, it was a very brave thing to do under the circumstances.”

 

“Circumstances?”

 

B’Elanna eyed the Borg woman. “The Captain’s a damned good shot with those padds when she wants to be.”

 

“Oh, I understand. You expected her to throw something at me. I doubt she would do that, but if she had, the attempt to injure me would fail. My visual acuity is far superior and I would have been able to avoid or catch any well aimed airborne objects.”

 

Tom smiled. “Handy.”

 

Seven quirked an eyebrow and a small smile lifted the corner of her mouth. “Yes, I think so.”

 

Tom looked at B’Elanna and raised his brows with a smirk.

 

Harry swung his chair around so he was facing Seven. “So you spoke to the Captain?” Seven nodded as Harry continued. “How do you know that they’re back together again?”

 

“The Captain asked me to contact the Commander and to tell him that she needed him urgently.”

 

“She might just have wanted to see him for some sort of ship’s business.”

 

“No, she was very specific. She asked, ‘Would you please page the Commander and tell him that I need him. It’s urgent.’.” Seven raised her eyebrow again. “Even with my limited understanding of how relationships proceed, I gleaned this to be a ruse to spend some time alone with the Commander.”

 

“Where are they now?”

 

“I would assume they are together somewhere re-establishing their bond.”

 

Tom, B’Elanna and Harry all looked at one another. They were all thinking the same thing, but were hesitant about asking the computer of their command team’s whereabouts.

 

Seven was less circumspect. “Computer, what is the location of the Captain and Commander.?”

 

“The Captain and Commander are in the Captain’s quarters.”

 

“What is their proximity to one another?”

 

“Negligible.”

 

Tom grinned, B’Elanna laughed, Harry smiled broadly and Seven raised her brow. “In the words of the Borg, it appears that resistance was futile.” With that she stood. “Goodnight.”

 

The three friends watched as she strode from the holodeck.

 

Harry was shaking his head. “Can you believe that?”

 

“Stranger things, my dear Harry.” Tom slapped him on the back. “Okay, now that things are back to normal, how about another round? B’E, it’s your break, and Harry, you’re buying.”

 

Harry and B’Elanna looked at one another sceptically, but then shrugged. What did it matter? They were happy, the Captain and Chakotay were happy, and all was right with their world.

 

Laughter and the clack of balls on the baize drifted out the holodeck doors.

 

 

 

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