Moments of Dreams

Summary:A Waking Moments episode addition. This story is for Sylvia. Many thanks for the cd, it was greatly appreciated. 🙂

When Chakotay woke from his lucid dream, he had been asleep for 39 hours. What happened during those lost hours?

Rated NC17

 

Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.

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Chakotay walked slowly up the corridor towards his quarters. He still held the padd in his hand, and tapped it softly against his thigh as he walked. Duty call was at 09:00, which meant there was another two hours to kill before he was due on the bridge. He stopped in front of his quarters and looked up the corridor to Kathryn’s door. He wondered how she was feeling and what she was thinking.

 

He heaved a weary sigh. He could well imagine. She would be miserable, angry, and castigating herself for her weakness. He dropped his chin to this chest and contemplated the floor for a moment. What a nightmare! Giving his head a shake, he hit the door opening mechanism with his open palm, slapped the padd smartly on his leg, and stepped into his darkened quarters.

 

He’d spent the last hour in the mess hall with Tom, Harry, Tuvok and Neelix, having an early breakfast, and discussing ways to overcome the insomnia plaguing the crew. Many were being troubled by nightmares and sleeplessness; the uncomfortable and disturbing after-effects of their encounter with the Dream Aliens.

 

Unfortunately, Chakotay’s insomnia hadn’t been caused by nightmares, but by a long desired dream that had come true, and then been dashed when reality reasserted itself. He wandered over to the replicator and ordered a coffee, his thoughts drifting to the woman next door.

 

Kathryn. Kathryn. The sadness engulfed him again, and as the aroma of coffee wafted around the room, he was tormented by thoughts and memories of the last few days. Kathryn’s crooked smile as she joked with him about her nightmare. Her worried frown as she hovered over him in sickbay. Her eyes, bright with challenge, as she formulated theories and contingencies to deal with the aliens. Her touches and tentative caresses as they sat in the ready room; and her laughing face as they ate dinner in her quarters. He could still hear the echo of her voice as she asked him to stay the night.

 

He closed his eyes, as he relived sweet memories. Her eyes dark with desire; her naked body beaded with sweat and flushed with desire, her lips soft and hot under his. Her hair in disarray and her face contorted in ecstasy. It had been the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. His chest tightened, and he sat down with a thud on his couch looking at the padd in his hand. He’d been trying to write her a letter to explain how he felt about what had happened. There was so much that he wanted to say, but articulating it was difficult. His feelings were profound, and finding words to convey their depth was proving almost impossible.

 

He read over what he’d already written.

 

Dear Kathryn.

 

It’s the middle of the night and I cannot sleep.

My mind is in turmoil and I’m not quite sure what to do or say.

We’ve now woken from the Dream to find we have been manipulated and deceived yet again by circumstances beyond our control, but still a part of me wants to shout for joy. To revel in the moments and memories that we lived in that dream world, and I can’t help but hold them close to my heart.

 

My mind tells me, time and time again, that none of it was real, that it was all a figment of my imagination. But another part of me, the part that loves you beyond all reason, insists that at least a small part of it must be true, and I want so badly for it to be true. I want desperately for you to love me as I love you.

 

I can hear you next door, tossing and turning in your bed, and I wonder if it’s because you are suffering the same pangs of regret and wonder as I, or are you angry and upset about what happened? Objectively I know it is the latter, but my heart clings to the hope that you do feel at least some sorrow that what we experienced in that dream world cannot be real here in our waking world.

 

That was as far as he’d got, and he wasn’t sure what else to say. When he’d started this letter, he’d had every intention of giving it to her, but as the hours had passed and she’d failed to emerge from her quarters, his resolve had faltered. With padd in hand, he’d wandered the corridors until he’d finished up in the mess hall, where he’d found Neelix pottering about, also unable to sleep. A short time later, Tom and Harry had joined them, hot and exhausted from a series of hoverball games, and a little later Tuvok had wandered in. The hour or so he’d spent with them had been a pleasant respite from his torment.

 

He looked over towards the wall; just one of the many barriers that stood between him and the woman of his dreams.

 

He tried to imagine what she was thinking.

 

He knew her well enough to know that she would now spend days, weeks, or God forbid, even months trying to rationalise her behaviour. There would be anger and self-recrimination for allowing such a breach of protocols. That anger would soon transform into the cold façade of aloofness. She would distance herself, work like a demon trying to atone for her supposed transgression, and regress to the cold and brusque officer that she became after times of personal turmoil. It would take him many weeks of careful manoeuvring to finally break through the bitter shell of resentment and guilt to a point where they could start to rebuild their relationship. He’d been through it enough times to know what to expect. He feared though, that the catalyst for this episode may just make a resolution impossible.

 

He tossed the padd on the couch and moved to the replicator again. Dumping what remained of his coffee in the recycler, he slapped his hand on the top of the console. “Whiskey, straight.” He shook his head. What the hell was he thinking? Now she was driving him to drink. “Computer, belay that. Tea. Chakotay blend 7, hot.” He picked up the steaming cup and sat down on the couch again, inhaling the aroma of the calming brew. He picked up the padd again and tried to finish his thoughts.

 

I’ve tossed and turned, and paced and walked for several hours now, but peace eludes me. I told you once that you brought me peace and it seems you still do, because now that the tenuous balance between our personal and professional lives has been disrupted, that peace seems to be gone. But what I fear most is that you too have gone, and I don’t think I can survive without you.

 

I know that sounds overly dramatic and perhaps it is, but in the darkness of my quarters and the quiet hours of the morning, its how I feel.

I’m finding it difficult to put into words my feelings about what happened during ‘the Dream’. But what I can tell you is this. I lived my heart’s desire and my soul’s dearest wish in those few precious hours, and even though it wasn’t reality, it was real to me and will sustain me for many years.

 

Because Kathryn, I know now. I know that you love me as much as I love you, and if you would allow me to, I would keep you and that love close to my heart forever.

 

I love you Kathryn and I always will.

 

Yours for eternity.

 

Chakotay.

 

There, he’d said it all. As he looked at the words in front of him, the whole episode took on even more dreamlike quality.

 

He checked the chronometer. It was now 0810, and he had just time enough to have a quick shower and be on time for duty call. He tossed the padd on the table and headed into the bathroom to get ready for work.

 

——————————————————————–

 

Kathryn pulled the blankets up under her chin. She’d not slept. Lying there staring at the ceiling with a broken heart was her penance for breaking her own code of rules, and those of Starfleet. She took a deep breath and groaned inwardly. What the hell must he think of her? All these years of spouting protocol and parameters, and in one night, she’d blown the lot out an airlock. What made it worse was that she’d done so without a moment’s thought or hesitation. Yes, she knew it wasn’t real, it had only been a dream, but she hadn’t known that at the time, and it had all seemed so right, and so natural. It still did. Damn it all to hell!

 

She turned her head and looked at the chronometer. 0700. Still two hours until she was due on the bridge. She could hear the muted noises from his quarters next door, and wondered what he was feeling.

 

Responsible. That she knew for sure. He would also be apologetic and worried about her, and her reaction.

 

Was he appalled by her behaviour? Or was he like her, and reliving all those glorious moments in his heart and mind, over and over again. Had it only been yesterday? God. She closed her eyes and was swamped by memories.

 

She’d arrived on the bridge a little late for shift after a terrible night filled with horrifying dreams and vivid nightmares. She hadn’t been the only tardy one. Harry and Tom were also late, and as she slumped in her chair, she’d jokingly mentioned to Chakotay about her bad dream, complete with frightening alien. He revealed he’d also had a nightmare, with a very similar alien present. Tom had finally arrived, and on overhearing the command team’s conversation, mentioned that he too had been troubled by nightmares, also involving a strange alien. On further inquiry, it seemed that Tuvok and several other Bridge crew had also been victim to these alien infested dreams. Harry was still missing and when they couldn’t raise him on hails, she and Tuvok made their way to his quarters. They’d found him deeply asleep and unable to be roused. They knew something was very wrong.

 

Kathryn gathered the senior staff together to try and identify the Alien and discuss their options. There were at least ten crewmen in a similar state of Hyper REM sleep as Harry, and more were succumbing as time ticked away. The Doctor’s only suggestion had been to try and stay awake using large doses of Animazine as a stimulant. However, this could only be used as a short term measure. Chakotay then explained to them about lucid dreaming, and that his vision quests and use of the akoona allowed him to control his dreams. He was certain that if he used this technique he could contact the Alien and acquire the information they needed to leave this space and avoid a confrontation. Kathryn had reluctantly approved this unusual away mission, but ordered him to make the attempt in sickbay, under the Doctor’s close supervision.

 

She’d accompanied him to sickbay, and hovered worriedly beside him as he lay on the biobed. Her hand had lingered on his shoulder as she wished him ‘pleasant dreams’, but leaving him had tugged at her heart. She’d been deeply concerned, and as he began his chant and dropped into his dream state, she’d felt a real sense of foreboding. She’d hated leaving him, and shuddered at the memory. The crew had been falling asleep all over the ship, and when the Doctor paged her a couple of hours later to tell her that the commander was waking, she’d been so relieved, and had rushed down to sick bay to be with him.

 

She knew now that it had all been a dream, and she had fallen asleep in her ready room shortly after leaving sickbay. The point where reality had ended and the dream began had been seamless, and she’d been completely unaware of the transition. It wasn’t until much later, after Chakotay had disappeared from the cargo bay, that they’d finally realised what had happened. They’d all been part of a complex, and potentially deadly, communal dream.

 

But, as far as she’d known at the time she’d been there with Chakotay when he’d jolted out of his self-induced slumber. He’d sat bolt upright on the bio bed, and it had taken him a few moments to catch his breath and gather his wits. She’d been so relieved to have him safe, that she’d found herself unable to stop touching him. She’d rested her hand on his chest and held his shoulder, and after she’d helped him off the bed, and they’d begun their brisk walk back to the bridge, she’d kept a firm grip on his elbow. He was still a little unsteady on his feet, and she felt justified in maintaining some sort of contact; but in truth, she had needed the reassurance that he was safe and well.

 

While they walked, he quickly outlined what had occurred in his lucid dream, and gave a brief report of his confrontation with the Dream Alien. Just before they’d arrived on the bridge, he’d placed his hand over hers where it rested on his arm, and smiling at her affectionately, gave it a reassuring squeeze. Her heart warmed at the memory. It had all seemed so right.

 

After giving Tom the co-ordinates for the border of the Dream Alien’s space, they’d taken their seats and Chakotay had explained to her his theories regarding the Dream Aliens. He’d compared their existence to Australian Aborigines and their Dream Time beliefs and creation mythology. She now shook her head, and sadness gripped her heart, as she remembered her response. “That’s mythology. This seems to be fact.”

 

If only it had been true. She would give anything for it to have been real, and not just a figment of her imagination.

 

They’d eventually retired to her ready room to continue their discussion over a cup of coffee. Sitting close to one another on the couch, they’d reviewed his encounter with the alien in more detail. She could still feel the warmth of his leg as it had pressed against hers. Looking back, she should have realised something was wrong. Her hands rarely left him, and if she wasn’t touching his arm or chest, she was resting her hand on his thigh or knee. This was highly unusual behaviour for her, and the fact that he seemed to accept it as perfectly normal, should have set alarm bells ringing.

 

The Doctor had interrupted them at one point to give them their stimulant. Afterwards they’d sat together quietly as they finished their reports, and signed off on the department summaries.

 

She’d dropped the last padd on to the finished pile with a sigh. “That’s it, all done. Time for dinner, I think. It’s going to be a long night.” She’d stretched her arms above her, to straighten out the kinks. “We won’t be crossing the border of the Alien’s space until 06:00 tomorrow, and we need to stay awake until then. Perhaps we could have a game of cards or something after we eat?” She’d patted him on the knee and stood up. “Dinner in my quarters in say … half an hour?”

 

He’d nodded. “Sounds good. I’ll bring the wine.”

 

She’d grinned at him, and they’d left the ready room arm in arm, nodding to the beta shift as they walked to the lift.

 

They’d eaten quickly and moved to the couch with the last of the wine. They’d tossed ideas and theories back and forth about the Dream Aliens and their strange existence; as well as speculating on reasons for their somnolence, and where they might reside in the corporeal world. It had been an animated discussion. Chakotay’s knowledge of the cultural mores of various species from the Alpha quadrant, and his comparisons to those they’d encountered here in the Delta Quadrant, had resulted in a lively debate and exchange of ideas. He was a worthy foil for her arguments, and his intelligence an easy match for her own. It was like she was looking at him through new eyes, eyes that had at last been unblinkered, and with emotions finally unfettered by protocols and the restraints of regulations.

 

It was the early hours of the morning, after they’d finished yet another cup of coffee, that he’d turned to her. “Well, I’d best get back to my quarters. It’s going to be a busy day today. Thank you for the dinner and conversation, Kathryn. I’ll see you later.”

 

She’d looked down at his hand in hers and then up into his eyes. “Don’t go. Stay.”

 

He’d returned her look with gentle loving eyes. “Are you sure, Kathryn? This is a big step for both of us. I don’t want you doing something you’re not sure of.”

 

She’d reached over and trailed her fingers down the side of his face, cupping his cheek. “I’ve never been more certain of anything in my life. I know that this is absolutely the right thing to do. Come.” She’d stood and led him to her bedroom.

 

Kathryn rolled over in bed and hugged her pillow to her, closing her eyes. This was where it had all become like a dream.

 

They’d undressed each other slowly and fallen into one another’s arms. Their bodies had moved against each other’s in a slow and languid rhythm. Hands and lips had left trails of aroused flesh, tongues and fingers had known instinctively where to taste and touch; and when they’d finally joined, it was as if their bodies had always known each other’s. They made love like lovers of old, but each sensation was a revelation, each touch a joy. Kathryn had never felt anything quite like what she’d experienced with him. She revelled in the memory of his skin, hot and slick against her own; his heady scent as his arousal spiralled, and the comforting weight of him as he’d hovered over her and entered her. His beautiful face, grimacing in ecstasy as he climaxed, was something that she would never forget. It had been perfect. The culmination of years of wants and desires coming to a brilliant and glorious conclusion.

 

She groaned into her pillow. It had all seemed so simple. So perfect. So right. She loved him, and had done so for years, and even now, back in the waking world, she couldn’t really see any reason why a relationship between them wouldn’t work. The more she thought about it the more sense it made.

 

She’d felt more centered, more in control and more at ease than she had for a long, long time. She realised how much time and energy she’d wasted over the years, trying to sublimate her feelings for her first officer. The energy required to control them and maintain the distance was exhausting. They’d still managed to defeat the Dream Aliens. It hadn’t weakened their command status. In many ways it had strengthened it.

 

Together they were greater than the sum of their parts, and in those few moments when she thought that he might be killed by the photon torpedo aimed at the alien cavern, she’d felt peace in the knowledge that she would survive his loss. She knew that he loved her, and he knew that she loved him, and with that knowledge came a comforting sense of closure and fulfilment. He would not die with their love unrequited and unexpressed, and she could go on, with the memory of that love giving her strength.

 

As these realisations settled on her soul, a lightness and a freedom of spirit took flight within her. This was what she needed. They could do this. She knew that now.

 

She sat up in bed and smiled serenely. She would tell him. They were due on the bridge shortly. She would speak to him as soon as possible.

 

With renewed vigour, she bounded into the bathroom and prepared for her duty shift. Today would mark the beginning of their new life together.

 

——————————————-

 

Chakotay was a few minutes early. He wanted to be safely ensconced in his command chair before she arrived. He had to steel himself to behave as if nothing had happened. He wanted to prove to her that he could get past this aberration in their personal relationship, and not let it impact on their professional bond. He knew this would be what she’d want, and he hoped to avert the weeks of uncomfortable interactions that this episode was bound to precipitate. He hoped that if he appeared unaffected by the situation, then she too could ignore it, and they would be able to get past the embarrassment and discomfort more effectively. Then they could get back to matters at hand, such as running the ship and dealing with the next disaster that was bound to be just around the next nebula.

 

She would be here any minute. He took a deep cleansing breath and sat back in his seat, calling up the central console. He made himself busy by going over the previous evening’s reports. He heard the lift doors open, and almost came undone when he heard her husky voice wish everyone a cheerful good morning. Gritting his teeth, he plastered an impassive look on his face, and made sure that his eyes gave away nothing. He watched out of the corner of his eye as she tripped lightly down the stairs and strode towards her chair. As she approached, he took a steadying breath and then glanced up from where he was tapping away at their console and nodded an efficient. “Good morning, Captain,” before he dropped his attention back down to the console and continued his analysis of the reports.

 

Kathryn stopped dead in her tracks. It took all of her training to stop herself from gasping in shock at his cold dismissal. She’d expected at least some sort of acknowledgment of what had happened, even if it had only been a flush of embarrassment or sense of awkwardness. This complete non-reaction was a total shock, and she had terrible trouble hiding her dismay. An overwhelming sense of betrayal slammed into her chest, and she was finding it difficult to breathe. The blood drained from her face, and she was momentarily at a loss as to what to do. This turn of events hadn’t even occurred to her. She’d just assumed that he felt as she did, and that they would move on from this point and make the dream a reality.

 

The seeds of panic were starting to grow. She had to get off the bridge before anyone became aware of her distress. She blinked slowly and forced the captain’s façade to settle over her. She gritted out a brittle, “Good morning Commander, you have the bridge,” then turned abruptly and marched down the steps and into her ready room without a backward glance.

 

Once the doors had closed, she slumped back against them and pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes. What a fool she’d been, what an absolute fool. He was obviously trying to pretend that nothing had happened. He must have been mortified by the experience to want to ignore it so completely. This wasn’t his usual manner of dealing with things. She was forever avoiding his attempts to speak of matters that she felt were best left unspoken. Now the shoe was on the other foot, and despite her anguish, it occurred to her that this must be how he felt every time she brushed his concerns and needs aside.

 

She felt quite sick with the thought, but that soon faded, and anger began to surface. How dare he? What the hell did he think he was playing at, shrugging her off like that? What happened to them couldn’t be ignored. The ramifications were manifest. If they didn’t deal with this, it could have long lasting consequences in regard to their command relationship.

 

Relationship! Hell, what relationship. She didn’t think she would be able to even look at him after this. Goddamn it, now she felt like crying. That would teach her for not getting any sleep.

 

What was she going to do? She had to think. She had to try and get this whole episode into some sort of perspective. She was the captain. She had responsibilities. Besides, in essence, it hadn’t really happened. It was just a dream and she’d had plenty of those before involving her first officer. Was it anymore relevant than those other dreams? Just because he was aware of her fantasies, did it make them anymore salient or significant?

 

The answer was a resounding, no.

 

She just had to file it away with all the other dreams and delusions she’d had regarding Chakotay. His attitude would make it so much easier. If she didn’t have to worry about his feelings being hurt by her disregard, she could get on with the job at hand and forget about that glorious, earth shatteringly wonderful few hours that she’d spent in his arms.

 

Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn! She stomped up to the upper level of her ready room and slumped down on the couch, staring out the window at the passing stars. She bit her lip and closed her eyes against the tears.

 

——————————————————————

 

Out on the bridge all was eerily quiet. Harry had witnessed the entire incident and knew something significant had happened. The captain had looked shattered. He’d never seen her look quite like that before, and he’d seen her in some pretty dire situations over the years. He had a feeling though, that this had nothing to do with the captain, but something very much to do with Kathryn.

 

Tom swung around from his console to watch her march into her ready room, and then after a quick glance at Chakotay, he’d looked at Harry with worried eyes. The tension was palpable. Tom risked a glance at Tuvok, and even the imperturbable Vulcan was looking a little disconcerted by the whole scenario.

 

What the hell had happened? The captain had entered the bridge cheerful and happy, and in the space of a “Good morning Captain” from her first officer, the temperature on the bridge had plummeted, and the emotional stress levels had gone through the roof. Something very significant had happened and it needed to be dealt with. Quickly.

 

Tom looked at the commander as he sat working at his console. He could tell Chakotay was concentrating on appearing unruffled and was trying to ignore the stares and gapes of the bridge crew. Tom figured if he stared at him long enough, Chakotay would be compelled to raise his eyes and acknowledge him. This would leave an opening for him to speak about the captain’s brisk departure.

 

Unfortunately Chakotay was on to him, and he spoke without looking up. “Mr Paris, unless Mr Kim or I have somehow acquired the forward viewscreen on our persons, would you please turn around and keep your eyes on the road.” Tom rolled his eyes in Harry’s direction, then spun around and faced the viewscreen.

 

What the hell had happened? He was dying to know.

 

He sent a message to B’Elanna giving her a quick rundown of what had occurred on the bridge and asked her to see if anyone knew anything. While he waited to hear from her, he and Harry sent messages back and forth to one another trying to work out what the hell had gone on this morning. They’d seen Chakotay earlier in the mess hall and he’d seemed fine. Something must have happened between then and duty shift.

 

Tom had a bad feeling about this.

 

The shift dragged on and Tom had never been so pleased to see the Beta shift arrive. The captain hadn’t come out of her ready room all day, and as soon as hand-over was finished, Chakotay left the bridge without a word to anyone. The sense of impending doom was heavy in the air.

 

The next two days were carbon copies of the first. The commander would arrive early for his shift and sit quietly in his command chair, pulling up his console and getting to work almost as soon as he sat down.

 

The captain would arrive a few minutes later and brusquely hand over the bridge to the unresponsive commander, then hide in her ready room until well after the alpha shift had finished. Those on Beta shift had informed them that she would emerge at around 20:00, give a brief nod to whomever was in charge of the shift, stride into the lift and leave without a word to anyone.

 

The whole ship was on tenterhooks wondering what the hell was going on, and those closest to the command team were more than a little concerned.

 

———————————————————————-

 

The captain looked terrible. Tuvok had surreptitiously checked her replicator logs and she hadn’t ordered a meal in almost 48 hours and according to Neelix, she had not been to the mess hall either. He tamped down his frustration. She could not go on like this for much longer, but he did not relish the idea of stepping in and trying to negotiate a peace between the command team. He did not feel adept enough to deal with the emotional fallout of whatever was troubling the Captain and Commander. He would talk to the Doctor and Mr Paris and get their input as to what could be done about this predicament. This situation would require a multi pronged attack.

 

Chakotay sat quietly in his command chair, as he’d done for the last few days, looking busy as he ploughed through maintenance reports and provision inventories. He heard the lift doors open, and could feel her presence. His heart clenched and then pounded in his chest, and it took all his will power not to turn and watch as she walked down the stairs. He’d been correct in his assessment of her reaction. She’d been rigidly aloof, and had spoken only a handful of words to him over the last few days. He hoped she would get over her discomfort soon, because this was literally killing him. He wanted his friend back. He missed her terribly, and he knew that it was taking its toll on her. He momentarily toyed with the idea of speaking to her, but when she frigidly handed the bridge over to him, without even looking in his direction, he rejected that idea, and sighing to himself, went back to counting kilos of Leola root.

 

At the end of shift, Chakotay left the bridge, but Tuvok hung back and waited for Mr Paris. He entered the lift with Paris and Kim, but before anyone could request a destination, Tuvok called for the lift to halt.

 

Tom and Harry both stared at the Vulcan.

 

“Tuvok? Is there a problem?” Tom was wondering what he’d done that would provoke such an action from Tuvok. For the life of him he couldn’t think of anything.

 

“Yes Mr Paris, there is a problem and one with which you might be able to lend some assistance. It concerns the Captain and the Commander. Do you have any idea why they are behaving as they are towards one another? It is having a detrimental effect on the command structure and in turn the crew, but I am also concerned for the Captain’s and Commander’s well being.” He turned towards Harry. “Mr Kim, any information you could volunteer regarding this situation would also be helpful.” He raised his eyebrow and looked steadily at both the junior officers.

 

Tom and Harry looked towards one another, shrugged and then turned back to Tuvok. Tom spoke. “Sorry Tuvok, we’d love to help, but we don’t know any more than you do. All we know for sure is that it started after the Dream Aliens visit, and that’s about it. There’s been plenty of speculation on the lower decks, but no-one really knows anything. Harry? You haven’t heard anything different, have you?”

 

Harry shook his head. “No, sorry Tuvok. I don’t know anything either. What I can tell you is that the crew are worried, and would like to see the problem fixed. It upsets everyone when the command team are out of sorts.”

 

“Indeed.” Tuvok agreed with the generalisation, as much as he regretted having to do so.

 

Tom frowned. “Look Tuvok, B’Elanna mentioned about maybe going and talking to Chakotay. I think she’s a bit hesitant about sticking her nose in where it’s not wanted, but if she knew you approved….” Tom shrugged.

 

Tuvok nodded. “If Lieutenant Torres is willing to speak to the commander, I would of course support her. This unfortunate situation has gone on long enough. Would you like me to speak to her? I could….”

 

Tom jumped in. “No Tuvok, don’t worry, we’ll speak to B’Elanna. We’re just going to meet her now as a matter of fact. We’ll let you know what happens. OK?”

 

Tuvok nodded. “Computer, resume. Thank you, Mr Paris, I would appreciate a report as soon as you have any information.” They stopped on level three and Tuvok stepped out of the lift. He nodded again to both Tom and Harry. “Gentlemen.” And then walked up the corridor.

 

Tom grimaced and puffed out a breath. “Deck Six. Well, it must be serious if it’s got Tuvok worried.” He slapped his comm badge. “Paris to Torres.”

 

“B’Elanna here, Tom. What’s up?”

 

“Can you meet us in Sandrine’s now? We need to speak to you. It’s important.” Tom looked at Harry and grimaced.

 

“Sure, I’m on my way there now. See you soon. Torres out.”

 

——————————————————————————–

 

The three collaborators sat in Sandrine’s with their heads together trying to come up with a plan of action.

 

“If I go and see Chakotay, do you think someone should go and speak to the captain? I don’t want Chakotay to feel that we’re singling him out. I’m sure that whatever the circumstances are, the captain’s most likely had a hand in it.”

 

Harry frowned. “I don’t know, B’Elanna. Under normal circumstances I’d say you were probably right, but this time …. You didn’t see the look on her face on the first day. She looked … I don’t know … heart broken.” B’Elanna gave him an unbelieving look.

 

“I know, but it’s true. Even Tuvok saw it and looked worried.” Harry shrugged.

 

Tom took B’Elanna’s hand. “Look there’s no point speculating. Will you go and talk to Chakotay, B’E? After that, if we need to, one of us can go and speak to the captain. You could even make it official if you want to. I’m sure Tuvok would back you up if you needed it.”

 

She gave Tom’s hand a squeeze. “No, no need. Chakotay’s my friend before everything else. I’ll just tell him I’m worried about him, which is true.” She tapped her comm. badge. “Computer, locate Commander Chakotay.”

 

“Commander Chakotay is in his quarters.”

 

She tapped her comm badge again. “Torres to Chakotay.”

 

“Chakotay here, B’Elanna. What can I do for you?”

 

“Hey Old Man, I was just wondering if you’d like some company. Tom’s busy losing rations at Sandrine’s and I thought we could catch up. I haven’t seen you for a while.” Tom stared at her open mouthed, and Harry stifled a laugh.

 

“Sure B’E, I could do with the company.”

 

“OK. On my way. Torres out.” She grinned at Tom.

 

He shook his head in amazement. “You’re much too good at that. I’ll have to watch my back.”

 

She shrugged her shoulders. “Never mess with the experts, Helm boy.” She gave him a quick kiss and waved to Harry. “I’ll contact you later. ‘Night, Harry.”

 

“Good luck, Maquis.”

 

“See you later, B’E.”

 

Tom slapped Harry on the shoulder. “Come on, Harry. Want a game while we wait? See if you can’t make a truthful woman out of B’Elanna, and win a few rations. What do you say? Five for a win?”

 

Harry shook his head. “When will you ever learn, Paris? OK, but only three. I’m trying to save up for a saxophone.”

 

Tom looked sideways at his friend. “Ohhkaaay. Three it is, but that’s a very lame excuse.”

 

Harry just laughed. “My break” After that the only sound that could be heard was laughter, and the ‘clack’ of billiard balls on the green baize.

 

————————————————————————–

 

B’Elanna pressed the chime on Chakotay’s door. The panels slid open and she stepped through the door into his dimly lit room.

 

He was over by the replicator. “Hi, B’E. I’ve got a couple of raktajinos here. Do you want something to eat?”

 

She shook her head. “No thanks, the drink’s fine.” She moved towards him and took one of the steaming cups from him.

 

He indicated the couch with a nod of his head. She moved over and sat on one end, and he sat on the other. She took a sip of the syrupy liquid. “Hmmm, delicious.”

 

“So B’Elanna, how have you been? Things still going well with Tom?”

 

She gave him a smile and nodded. “Yeah, they are. You know… they really are. I’m the happiest I’ve been in a very long time.” She looked at him steadily. “I know there’s no love lost between you and Tom, but he’s a good man and he really loves me. It’s good. I hope you can be happy for me?”

 

He reached forward and patted her hand where it rested on the back of the couch. “I am B’E, I’m very happy for you. He’s a different man these days to the one that landed out here all those years ago.” He took a sip of his drink and then mused quietly. “We all are.”

 

She watched him carefully, and then asked just as quietly. “How do you mean, Chakotay? How are you different?”

 

He gave her a sad smile. “Different?” He thought for a minute. “In some ways so different that I’m unrecognisable, and in others, nothing has changed at all.” He sipped slowly. “But I suppose that’s life, no matter where you are. You rarely stay the same and neither do circumstances.” He gave a harsh laugh. “Pretty boring if they did. Although, sometimes it’s the things that you want most to change that never do.”

 

She frowned at him. “You sure haven’t been the same over the last few days. Is there something wrong, Chakotay? We’re all a bit worried about you and the captain.” His head shot up, and he looked at her suspiciously.

 

“So you’re here to see what’s up with the command team. Who put you up to this? Paris? Kim?”

 

Her hackles rose at his accusatory tone. “No. It was Tuvok if you really want to know. He thought you might feel more comfortable talking with a friend rather than with the Chief of Security. He’s concerned about you, and the captain. I’d been planning to come and see you anyway. I’ve been worried too. It’s pretty obvious to the whole crew that something has happened. I said I’d find out if there was anything we could do to help.”

 

Chakotay was angry. She could always tell. An aura of calm surrounded him. Or perhaps a better description was an aura of ‘calm before the storm’. She wasn’t afraid of his temper. She’d witnessed it a few times, and had been the focus of his wrath on more than one occasion, but she really didn’t want to provoke him in this instance. If she wanted him to talk to her reasonably, she would have to be conciliatory rather than confrontational.

 

“I’m sorry, Chakotay. I don’t want to poke my nose in where it’s not wanted, but I’m worried about you, my friend. I’m sure whatever the problem is you’re not responsible.” She looked over towards the wall that he shared with the captain. “But her attitude is affecting you, and that in turn is affecting the whole crew. It upsets everyone when she’s not getting along with you.”

 

She looked back at Chakotay and noticed the colour creeping up his neck. His eyes had taken on a steely glint. “What makes you think it’s the captain’s fault? Maybe it’s mine. What the hell do you know anyway? Damn it, B’Elanna, when will you all learn to leave well enough alone? Spirits!”

 

He stood up and began to pace angrily in front of her. “No wonder she won’t make a move. She can’t do anything without being scrutinised to within an inch of her life by everyone, from our meddling Chief of Security to the crewmen on Deck 15 cleaning detail. Damn it to hell!”

 

He strode towards his bedroom, throwing the rest of his raktajino and cup into the recycler on the way past.

 

B’Elanna took a deep breath. Whoa! Things must be really bad. She wasn’t sure if she should stay and risk a further blow up, or just hightail it out of there before he emerged from his room. She decided to take the road of least resistance and leave. She would contact him a little later and see if he’d cooled down, and apologise for upsetting him.

 

She could hear water running in the bathroom, so she got up and headed towards the door. Placing her cup on the table, she noticed an active padd sitting there, and glanced at it as she passed. It was a letter addressed to the captain, or rather to Kathryn. She had a quick peek in the direction of the bathroom. There was no movement, and she could still hear the water running.

 

She picked up the padd.

 

She had a moment’s unease about reading it, but it might give her some clue as to what had happened. It was her mission, after all, to find out what was going on. So having reconciled her discomfort at reading something not addressed to her, she scanned the padd. It only took her a minute or so to read the letter, but it was going to take her a hell of a lot longer to control her reaction.

 

Kahless! Her heart wanted to break for her friend. How could he bear it? He loved her so deeply, and she refused to acknowledge that love. Was the woman mad? How could she, the cold hearted, unfeeling, bitter damn….. Arrghh!

 

B’Elanna felt like hitting something. She lifted the padd to hurl it across the room when she suddenly had a better idea. Holding it in her vice-like grip, she marched from Chakotay’s quarters on an even more important mission. She was going to make that cold hearted and uncaring woman realise what she was doing to this kind and gentle man. Someone had to tell her what was what. B’Elanna wasn’t afraid of her. Damn, when she was this angry, she wasn’t afraid of anything. She strode up the corridor to her captain’s door.

 

————————————————————————-

 

Chakotay stood looking at himself in the bathroom mirror. He’d just splashed water on his face in an attempt to cool down. He watched the droplets of water drip off his nose and chin. It had been a hell of a week, and the last two days had been torture. His first instinct had been to contact Tuvok and tell him to butt the hell out, but he understood that he only had the captain’s, and the ship’s, best interests at heart.

 

His stomach churned. He felt much the same as he had when he woke up in sickbay the second time, to find the Doctor hovering over him with the news that he’d been asleep for almost two days. He’d been devastated to find that all that he’d experienced with Kathryn had been an illusion. Now it was affecting the whole ship. It was time to do something about it. He’d tell B’Elanna what had happened, and see what she thought he should do. He dried his face, and moved out to the main room. B’Elanna was gone. Coward, he smiled to himself. Then he noticed her cup on the table, and …… the padd was missing!

 

Damn it, B’Elanna! He raced out the door. He knew exactly what she was doing. Damn her.

 

———————————————————————-

 

Kathryn was sitting on her couch looking out the viewport at the passing stars. It was an achingly familiar sight. How many hours had she spent sitting here watching the streaks of light elongating and flying past her? Many; far too many. She sat and watched as the light years were eaten up. They were devoured, one after the other, relentlessly. And with each one that was consumed she was propelled closer to ‘home’. The trouble was, she’d finally realised that the Alpha Quadrant really wasn’t home anymore. It had taken her all these years to understand that home was not a place. It sounded so clichéd, but home is where the heart is, and for the last few years she thought she’d had a home, only to find that it wasn’t so.

 

Her heart wasn’t welcome in the place that she wanted to call home. She closed her eyes against the tears, and took a deep breath.

 

Her door chimed, jolting her out of her musings. She wiped her face hastily, and called for the visitor to enter.

 

She sat there completely stunned as an extremely angry B’Elanna Torres marched into her room, and standing a few feet away, hurled a padd at her. It hit the couch next to her leg with a wallop and bounced on to the floor at her feet. Kathryn stared at the irate Lieutenant.

 

B’Elanna fumed. “There! Read that and see what you’re doing to him. You’re killing him. How dare you? What gives you the right to do that to someone like him? He’s stood by your side all these years, never asking for anything. I can’t believe you could be so cruel. What an evil, cold hearted b…”

 

“B’Elanna!” Her name was bellowed from behind her. She swung around to find Chakotay standing in the doorway looking like he could do murder.

 

His voice was a low pitched growl. “Get out of here now, B’Elanna, before I do something that we’ll both regret.” He stared at her with cold hard eyes.

 

“But Chakotay, she…”

 

His voice became frighteningly quiet. “Get… out… now.” It was barely a whisper.

 

She looked back at the captain who was still sitting on the couch watching the proceedings with a wide eyed stare.

 

B’Elanna let her shoulders slump, but kept her head high, and levelled a glare at Chakotay as she swept past.

 

Kathryn looked down at the padd on the ground, then bent over and picked it up. It was a letter addressed to her.

 

She read the words, and then looked up at her first officer. “Did you write this?” His expression was unreadable.

 

He gave a brisk nod. “I’m sorry, Kathryn,” and with that he turned and left her quarters.

 

She was still stunned, but read the letter again. This time the words began to work their way into her consciousness. She read it again, and when she began to read it a fourth time, her eyes brimmed with tears, and the words blurred. But she didn’t need to see them anymore. They were already indelibly imprinted on her heart. She clutched the padd to her chest, as tears flowed unchecked. He loved her. After all this, he really did love her. The wound that had been her heart began to heal.

 

She had to go to him. She had to go to him now.

 

Still hugging the padd to her chest, she left her quarters and walked on air to his door.

 

Chakotay had beaten a hasty retreat from Kathryn’s quarters. Damn B’Elanna. Damn her to hell and back. He could tear strips off her, he was so angry. All the effort of the last week had been blown to hell. He groaned, slamming his hand on to the door mechanism, and striding back into his quarters. He began pacing back and forth, muttering and swearing to himself. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Damn! He ran his hand through his hair as he paced, and then stopped and put his hands on his hips, taking deep breaths as he tried to calm himself. What the hell was he going to do? Kathryn would slip further away now. It’s not like he could deny his feelings. She’d seen it in writing for spirit’s sake, and she still had the damn padd. He just hoped she’d erased it.

 

Fuck! Running his hand through his hair, he started his pacing again.

 

She would be here any minute. He knew she wouldn’t let this slip by unnoticed. He tried to centre himself. He needed to find some sort of calm if he was going to face an angry and upset Kathryn, and at the same time, have all his hopes and dreams dashed. Slow steady breaths, slow steady breaths. He closed his eyes, and tried to find a tranquil place amongst the turmoil. He wasn’t having much luck when the doorbell chimed and jarred him back to reality.

 

He turned and faced the door. “Come.”

 

It was Kathryn. She stood in the corridor and stared at him for countless seconds. With the padd held tight to her chest, she stepped over the threshold and the door slid shut behind her. He could see the tears shimmering in her eyes.

 

She swallowed, then took a deep shuddering breath. “Do you mean this?” She moved the padd away from her chest slightly, but still hugged it to her.

 

He didn’t trust his voice, so he just nodded.

 

He watched as she blinked slowly, a small smile playing around her mouth. When she opened her eyes they were lit by an inner glow that made his breath catch. Could it be?

 

“Kathryn?” He took a tentative step towards her.

 

Without taking her eyes from his, she placed the padd on the table, and with a couple of decisive steps strode towards him, threw herself into his arms and locked her lips to his. Her body melted into his, and they sank slowly to the floor of his living room. The dream was reawakened in this reality and before each was aware, hands were sliding under uniforms and over bare hot skin. Kathryn moved against him, her body completely in tune with his. He was hard and ready, and pressed against her belly. Her centre throbbed with need. Her jacket was gone, and her tank was pulled up, and as Chakotay leant down to pull a swollen nipple into his mouth, his comm badge chirped.

 

“Torres to Chakotay.”

 

He pulled back panting, his hand stilled on her breast. Grinning, she reached over and tapped the badge.

 

He raised his eyebrows and grinned down at her. “Chakotay here, B’Elanna.”

 

“Hi, Chakotay. I … umm was just wondering if you were OK?” He pinched Kathryn’s nipple gently and rocked against her. She closed her eyes and shuddered against him.

 

Keeping his voice steady, he answered. “I’m fine, B’Elanna.”

 

“Look, I’m sorry, Old Man. I didn’t mean to…well I did mean to… it’s just that……what I’m trying to say is. I hope I didn’t….”

 

Kathryn looked up at Chakotay, and then nodded towards his badge. She spoke quietly. “B’Elanna?”

 

“Captain! Oh Kahless. I’m sorry. I… I……I don’t know what to say. I shouldn’t have…. But I read the letter and then…. I… well you know what I’m like. I… well, I’m sorry.” Kathryn sat up a little and Chakotay pulled her against him, his arm wrapped around her bare back.

 

“B’Elanna, it’s alright. Everything is fine. In fact, thank you. I would never have seen the letter if it you hadn’t …thrown it at me. So I owe you my gratitude.”

 

“Oh. Ah… OK. Anytime.”

 

Chakotay smiled at Kathryn, and then spoke to B’Elanna. “Torres.”

 

“Yes, Chakotay.”

 

“Thank you. But if you ever do anything like that again, you’ll be busted down to crewman so fast it will make your head spin, and you’ll never see the outside of an exhaust manifold ever again. Do you understand, Lieutenant?”

 

They could hear her blow out a breath. “Yes, Sir. Absolutely, Sir.”

 

“Good. Now, go and inform Tuvok that everything is in hand, and get off this comm channel.”

 

B’Elanna snorted. “Did you just say ‘in hand’?”

 

“Torres, get going.”

 

“Aye Sir, I’m gone. Torres out.”

 

Kathryn laughed, and then pulled his head towards her and kissed him deeply. Tongues plunged and fought for dominance. She clutched at his jacket, and grabbing his comm badge she pulled it off and threw it to the other side of the room.

 

He then picked her up and carried her to the bedroom.

 

Standing by the side of the bed he took her mouth in another deep kiss. She groaned into his mouth as they collapsed on to the soft covers. They pulled at their remaining clothing, laughing as they got arms stuck, and legs tangled. After much thrashing and struggling they were finally naked, and lying next to one another panting.

 

Kathryn took a moment to look at the golden body lying next to her. So familiar, yet so new. Her hand hovered over his chest and nails scraped lightly over his nipples. He gasped at the contact as she continued to stroke down his torso, and then over his hip and buttock. He draped his leg over her hip, and pulled her closer. He was hot and hard against her belly, and Kathryn closed her eyes and thrust against him as he ducked his head and again took her nipple into his mouth. He laved the puckered bud, tugging it gently with his teeth as she held her breath and pressed herself more firmly into his mouth. The feel of his hot tongue on her breast turned her heated insides to molten liquid. The throb of need pounded in unison with her rapidly beating heart.

 

He pushed her gently on to her back as he kissed his way from her breasts, over her belly, to her thighs. His hands stroked over her pale skin, leaving tingles and trails of smouldering flesh in their wake. He muttered quietly to himself as he worshipped her body. “So beautiful, so beautiful.” She writhed under his touch; and as he kissed her inner thighs and blew soft breaths over her swollen folds, she whimpered and thrust towards him, almost desperate with desire. He knew exactly where to touch and, oh God, taste her.

 

She let out a cry as his tongue plunged into her depths and then lapped over and around her folds. He moved slowly to tease and nip at her hardened clit. She was in heaven. He tormented her until she was teetering on the brink of orgasm, her gasps and whimpers giving way to moans and guttural mumblings. Her world pulsed and glowed, but just before she pitched over the edge into oblivion, he pulled back and grinned at her.

 

She groaned as she lay with her hips rocking towards him, the temptation to take matters into her own hands was overwhelming, but she had other ideas. Two could play this game of erotic tag.

 

She pushed him on to his back and began her own foray. His golden skin was so smooth and warm under her hands, and the contrast between her white hands and his bronze chest took her breath away. She teased and laved his nipples and nipped her way down his stomach. She stroked down his thighs and he thrust towards her, but she judiciously ignored where he most wanted her to touch. He was a big man, and his erection lay hot and heavy against his belly. Straddling his legs she rhythmically stroked up his thighs as she blew sharp breaths over the heated tip and watched enthralled as he jerked and thrust towards her. Her hands suddenly changed direction and cupping him with one and grasping the heated shaft with the other, she engulfed the weeping head. Chakotay let out a strangled cry and thrust into her hot mouth. She bathed the head with her tongue and then slid him deep into her mouth, sucking and grazing her teeth along his length. She repeated these actions, each time taking more of his length until she felt him pulse against her tongue and his scrotum tighten in her hand. She pulled her mouth away from him quickly and he groaned at the loss of silky warmth. He opened his eyes to see her smiling face above him.

 

She rose up on her knees straddling him. She looked like an angel, until she gave a devilish grin and lowered herself on to him in one swift movement. His eyes widened at the sensation of being surrounded by her quivering moist heat, and when she leant forward and whispered hotly against his lips, “I love you, my warrior,” his control snapped and he thrust into her, hard and deep. He wanted to bury himself inside her as far as he could go; to meld them so completely that they would be part of one another, forever. He clasped her to him, and then rolled them over so he reared powerfully above her. He wanted to possess her, to make her his for always. He held her hips close to him as he pounded into her. She draped her arms around his neck and pulled herself up to whisper in his ear. “I’m yours, now and always.” He drew back and looked into her trusting eyes and he was so filled with love for this extraordinary woman that he thought his heart would burst. He stilled and leaning down he pulled her close. His rampant lust giving way to a gentle and profound melding of souls.

 

Slowly she began to grind against him and he pushed gently but deeply in answer. With each slow thrust he breathed into her neck, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” The swirling mass of arousal boiled and foamed, churning and roiling until the world shattered into a thousand bright lights and then all around was shimmering white.

 

Kathryn could hear her voice crying out in blessed agony as she clenched and pulsed around him. Chakotay’s answering cries finally drew her back into her body again. She held him close as he continued to spasm and tremble, spilling himself deep within her. She felt her tears slide down the side of her face. The dream had been wondrous, but the reality was beyond compare. As she felt his body go limp and roll to the side, she snuggled against him, closed her eyes and drifted into a blissful sleep.

 

—————————————————————————-

 

 

She woke several hours later to the comforting sensation of her hair being stroked gently. She found herself tucked up against the glorious warm body of her friend and lover. His eyes were still closed but a gentle smile graced his beautiful mouth. She lifted her hand and traced the sensual mouth that had haunted her dreams for the last four years. Her eyes flicked up to meet his loving gaze. “Hi.” His voice was gruff with sleep.

 

She smiled lovingly in return. “Hi.”

 

He turned to his side and propped himself on his arm looking at her. “Sleep well?”

 

She grinned. “Best sleep I’ve had in years.” She leaned forward and kissed his chest. “You?”

 

“I didn’t get much sleep. I was busy indulging in my new favourite pastime.”

 

She frowned in question.

 

“Watching you sleep. You should try it sometime. It’s a wonderful hobby. One I’m going to delight in for the next forty or fifty years.”

 

She chuckled quietly. “Don’t you think it will get a bit boring?”

 

“Oh, I don’t think so. Anyway, I’m going to indulge myself until the novelty wears off. That should take care of the next couple of decades.”

 

She grinned and shook her head, snuggling in closer. “You’re an idiot, you know.”

 

He looked at her with eyebrows raised.

 

She laughed. “But you’re my idiot. I love you.”

 

“I love you too.” He pulled her to him and held her naked body flush against his. The sensation was exquisite.

 

She mumbled into his chest. “What’s the time?”

 

He turned and looked at the chronometer. “It’s 01:30. Late. We should get some sleep.”

 

“I was sensible and had some sleep. 01:30. Hmmm? That means we have seven and a half hours before we have to be on the bridge. That’s plenty of time.” With that she wriggled out of his arms and slid down under the covers.

 

“Kathryn? Plenty of time for …. Aaaaah Kathryn!”

 

A warm hot mouth engulfed him, and he hardened instantly. He heard her muffled voice and felt her breath against him. “Still want to sleep?”

 

“Nah ah. I’m convinced. Who needs sleep?” He groaned and dove under the covers after her.

 

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