Sunshine (NC17)

Rated NC17

A post Endgame fixer upper for Kat Lady on her birthday. Have a happy one my friend. Hugs and many thanks for all you wonderful help and friendship.

 

Thanks to audabee and Ky for the beta.

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


Kathryn frowned at the words as they scrolled across the screen of her console.

It was another dreary diplomatic report that required ‘rubber stamping’. God, could things get any more tedious? She honestly didn’t see how they could.

Skimming most it, she quickly ran through the information and then marked it as read. As she hit the button that added her electronic signature to the file, today’s date flashed up on the screen.

19th May, 2379.

Good Lord! Tomorrow was her birthday.

She’d been so preoccupied with the daily grind of mind numbing tedium that she’d managed to lose all track of time and another year had passed. She didn’t even want to think about how old she was. Middle age was looming. In fact, if she was brutally honest with herself, it had pretty much ‘loomed’ already.

Slumping back into her chair, she stared at the date flashing on the screen. Who would have thought? All those years behind her, probably more than she had in front of her, and she was far from content with her life.

To anyone looking from the outside, she appeared to have everything a career officer could ever want.

And she did in many respects.

She’d accomplished all the goals that she’d set for herself all those years ago. As that wet behind the ears cadet who’d set her sights on the Admiralty, she’d forged ahead and hadn’t looked back.

Although her journey to this point had been a little more convoluted than she’d anticipated, in the end the result had been the same. She was one of the youngest Admirals ever appointed to Starfleet and although it was inconsequential to the appointment, she was the youngest female Admiral ever.

She’d pipped Nechayev by 2 years and secretly took great delight in the fact, although she knew she shouldn’t.

Flipping the lid down on her console before they could send her another piece of pointless diplomatic drivel, she stood and wandered over to the window.

The view across the bay was beautiful. Lights from the buildings and streets reflected in the water and shimmered like stars on the dark mirrored surface. Shuttles dipped and swooped through the sky like giant jewelled bugs, filled with beings going about their busy lives.

Looking down onto the streets, she could see all manner of humanity and otherwise, walking this way and that, their lives filled with purpose. They all appeared to have places to go and things to do.

Kathryn swung around and stared at her office walls. She wondered if they realised how lucky they were.

Huffing out a breath, she shook her head and gave a mirthless chuckle. Perhaps it was her age and her job that made her so cheerless. It seemed to go with the territory. How many miserable old Admirals did she know?

And having met her future self, it appeared she was well on the way to evolving into that brittle old hag.

With thoughts like this and a demeanour to match, it was hardly surprising that she spent so much time alone. Who the hell would want to be in her company?

Taking a seat again, she stared out at the inky sky.

She never used to be like this. Before the Delta Quadrant, she’d been a young…ish woman, filled with potential and promise. A Captain with a brand new, state of the art Starship to command, a loving fiancé, an active social life and an ego filled to the brim with self-confidence.

Kathryn looked down at her hands and wondered where that woman had gone.

She’d rather liked that Kathryn Janeway, but she’d been missing in action for quite some time now and there was nothing sadder than an old soldier whose halcyon days were behind him…. or her, as the case may be.

Heaving a sigh, she checked the time. It was well past 2000 and time she headed home. It was Saturday tomorrow and at the very least, she could celebrate her birthday with a sleep-in before she beamed to Indiana to spend the day with her mother and Phoebe.

Throwing a few padds and papers into her briefcase, she ordered the computer to turn out the lights then headed out the door.

The building was quiet; most of the staff was long gone and only the last few diehards like Kathryn were still there tidying up the remnants of their week’s work.

Instead of taking the lift she took the stairs for a bit of variety and groaned at how sad that seemed. The guard in the lobby nodded to her and wished her a good weekend, she wished him the same, then stepped out into the night.

She looked up at the dark sky again. God, she missed it. She missed everything about it. Never had the thought occurred to her while she was in the Delta Quadrant that she would long for that life. All her energies had been directed towards getting them home. There’d been little room to think about anything else except her dream that once she was back on Earth her life would begin again. Back home, was where she would be free.

Why was it that life never worked out the way one expected?

She was on a tighter leash here than she’d ever been in the Delta Quadrant. Tethered to her work and responsibilities with no room for anything else.

At least out there, she’d had ‘them’ – her staff and her crew. Here it seemed she had no one.

Looking up into the vastness of space she wondered how she’d let this happen. She frowned and felt the hot prick of tears. When had she become so resigned to her fate? This wasn’t like her and, looking towards the heavens, she made a pact with herself to do something about changing her life.

It was time to take control.

This weekend would be a turning point. With a small, satisfied smile, she hitched her briefcase to a more comfortable position and took off with a determined stride towards home and a better life.

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

Her birthday morning didn’t start off as well as she’d hoped.

The neighbour’s dog thwarted her planned sleep-in. It began barking and howling at 0530 and continued incessantly for more than an hour.

Kathryn declared her lie-in a lost cause just before 0630 and decided to take herself for a long walk in the misty dawn. She knew it would clear her head and it had been a long time since she’d just walked without a thought as to where she was going, what she was doing or how long it took.

If she was going to find the spontaneous, fun loving woman that she knew lived inside her, there was no time to lose.

So, climbing out of bed, she dressed, slugged down a coffee and headed off in no direction in particular. The morning was cool and crisp, the final days of spring putting in a last ditch effort before the heat of the summer took over. The sun was warm on her face but the cool breeze was exhilarating.

She smiled.

Her route took her along the edge of the bay, then up the hills and around the parklands that bordered the Academy grounds. She spent a few minutes looking out over the bay and breathing deep in the salty air.

After a good hour’s walk, she arrived home and trotted up the front stairs. She felt lighter already. Just the idea of taking back some control of her life was enough to get what used to be that fire in her belly, smouldering again.

Grinning, she opened the front door and moved through to the kitchen. Coffee and some breakfast was the next thing on the agenda and then a quick call home to see what her mother and Phoebe had planned for the weekend.

Kathryn took her coffee and toast out to the garden, and sat at the small table in the shade. The dappled sunshine danced on the ground around her and the birds sang in the trees.

It was as if they knew that today was special and a new start for Kathryn. She sat there smiling and feeling at one with life for the first time in many years. With a happy sigh, she finished her breakfast.

A few minutes later, she heard the chime of an incoming message on her comm unit. Taking a fresh coffee with her, she sat at her desk and opened the communication.

It was B’Elanna, Tom and Miral wishing her a happy birthday. Miral was sitting on B’Elanna’s lap and spent most of the conversation slapping her hand on viewscreen and squealing. She was a loud, but very happy, child and Kathryn couldn’t help laughing at her antics.

After the initial well wishes were given, B’Elanna looked at her suspiciously. “Kathryn, are you all right? You seem different somehow?”

Kathryn smiled broadly. “You know, B’Elanna, I am all right. For the first time in a long time, I truly am all right. Its taken a while but it feels like I’m finally finding my feet here in the Alpha Quadrant.”

B’Elanna smiled her understanding. They’d all had to deal with the aftermath of their isolation in the Delta Quadrant and the consequences of their precipitous return.

Some had taken longer than others to re-establish themselves and Kathryn had been the slowest of all to adjust. It made sense, though. As captain, she’d worn the heavy mantle of responsibility and carried the bulk of guilt for too many years. Her losses had been profound and she’d never had the opportunity to speak of them. B’Elanna was relieved to see the spark back in her captain’s eye.

“That’s wonderful news Kathryn. I’m so pleased.” And she really was.

They made plans to meet for dinner the following week and after another round of birthday wishes, they signed off.

Kathryn sat and stared at the blank screen for a moment and then keyed in her mother’s comm address.

Gretchen answered, her face breaking into a warm smile. “Kathryn, sweetheart, happy birthday. Are you coming home?”

Kathryn smiled in return. “Thank you, Mom, Yes, I’ll be home later today. Is Phoebe there?”

“No, not yet, but she’s planning on being here for dinner tonight. Jack and the children will arrive tomorrow. What time should I expect you?”

Kathryn checked the time, it was still only 0900. “Sometime after lunch, there are a few things I need to take care of before I leave. Can I bring anything?”

Gretchen shook her head. “No, I’ve got everything I need. How are you, dear?” Her mother looked at her more closely and smiled gently. “You look… happy.”

Kathryn smiled. “I am. I’ve been doing some thinking and I’ve decided that it’s about time that I got on with my life.”

Kathryn watched her mother closely. It looked suspiciously like Gretchen was going to cry and it occurred to Kathryn just how worried those closest to her must have been since her arrival home. She’d not been the same Kathryn Janeway they’d said goodbye to seven years ago.

As much as she wanted to reassure her mother, she decided to cut this conversation short. It wasn’t the time or place to have this sort of in depth discussion. “I’ll tell you all about it when I see you, Mom.”

Gretchen cleared her throat and spoke in a voice gruff with emotion. “I can’t wait to see you, dear.”

“You too, Mom. I’ll see you soon.” They broke the connection.

There were several birthday messages that Kathryn opened and read. There was one rather stern one from Tuvok and another from Harry. The Doctor sent his regards with a reminder that her yearly physical was due. He rarely missed an opportunity to harangue her about her health.

There was a brief message from Naomi and Icheb, which made her smile, a rather official birthday greeting from Admiral Hayes and a less officious one from her old Quantum Mechanics instructor, Admiral Patterson. She sent replies and thanks to all her well-wishers then decided that a long soak in her tub was in order before she packed and beamed to Indiana.

With a blissful sigh, she slid into the hot water and, blowing the bubbles away from her face, she rested her head back against the back of the tub and closed her eyes. Her mind began to drift.

Thoughts jumped and skipped from one thing to another, accompanied by splashes of colour that danced behind her eyelids. Familiar faces began to appear.

Family, friends, her crew.

Chakotay! Her eyes snapped open. Damn! It had taken her months to train herself to avoid random thoughts of her former first officer. The self-discipline it required was immense, but she’d finally succeeded and found some semblance of peace. And now she’d gone and ruined it. On today of all days.

The pain in her heart was back as well. Damn, damn, damn. It had taken a good deal of time to get over the loss of his presence in her life… and Seven’s.

She missed them both, but she missed him more.

Their friendship had been an important part of her life and to have lost that, along with everything else, had left an aching void. She wondered what he was doing these days. He’d all but disappeared from their lives after their arrival home.

His affair with Seven had shocked most of the crew. It had certainly come from left field, to coin one of Tom’s phrases. No one had imagined it for a minute and the shocked disbelief and outraged anger of some of the crew had been enough to drive him away.

She’d wanted to be more supportive, but she’d been as upset as everyone else and along with her debriefings she just didn’t have the time or the emotional wherewithal to nurse him through it. Besides, he’d made his bed and he had to sleep in it. She shuddered.

That wasn’t a pleasant analogy to consider.

It still made her shake her head in disbelief. Seven. Seven! Of all people. She just couldn’t see what they had in common. Granted, she was beautiful and blond; a rather deadly combination as far as Chakotay was concerned.

But long term? Kathryn just couldn’t see it.

They were poles apart in personality, interests, knowledge… just about everything, but she supposed they must have found some common ground to establish their relationship.

Tom had an interesting theory about that, but she’d tried to ignore the implications. It was a little disturbing. Tom conjectured that it was their shared love for her that had brought them together. As far as she was concerned, that was a flimsy foundation on which to build a life together. The whole concept made her shudder and worry. It wasn’t healthy and she truly hoped that it wasn’t the case.

To distance herself from the thought, she slid under the water and held her breath as she stared up at the ceiling through the ripples and few remaining bubbles.

When her lungs were about to burst, she shot out of the water and gasped for air. She was out of practice. When she was younger, she could stay under water for a good two minutes. She and Phoebe used to time one another. But that was a different time and a different Kathryn. She hoped that Kathryn wasn’t hiding too far away. It was important that she find her.

She shampooed her hair and then soaked for a little while longer. Once the water began to cool, she climbed out of the tub and dried herself. Wrapping her wet hair in a towel, she sauntered to her bedroom, found a pair of comfortable pants and rolled up the cuffs. Throwing on a loose button up shirt, she then padded downstairs, towelling her hair as she went.

She was contemplating another cup of coffee when the door chime rang.

Looking down at her outfit, she shrugged. It would only be someone she knew so she tossed the towel on the back of a chair and pulled open the door.

She almost slammed it shut again. He was the last person she’d expected to see. “Chakotay!? My God. What are you doing here?” She blinked slowly. Yes, it was him. As large as life, standing there grinning at her on the front doorstep.

“Happy birthday, Kathryn.” With that he thrust a huge bunch of roses into her hands and leaning forward, kissed her cheek.

Kathryn just stood there and stared.

He was grinning broadly but his brow furrowed slightly. “Kathryn?”

She jolted at the sound of his voice. “Huh?”

“Ummm, perhaps I could come in?”

“In?” She shook herself and an automatic smile lit her face but inside she was at sixes and sevens. An unfortunate metaphor, she thought to herself. “In. Oh, of course. Please.”

She stepped aside and stared after him as he walked past. He was the last person she’d expected to see. She hadn’t seen him in months and now he turns up at her door as if it was nothing out of the ordinary.

He looked wonderful. But that was beside the point, she chided herself.

What the hell did he think he was doing, just lobbing up here after all this time without a word of warning or explanation? She rubbed her forehead and then she realised what she must look like. Great. A drowned rat came to mind. Her hair hung in limp tendrils, she had no make up on, was bare foot and wearing probably the ugliest clothes she owned. She looked to the heavens and huffed out breath. Typical.

She felt his eyes on her and she turned to him and gave him a small smile, indicating with a nod that he should move through the doorway to his right. There was nothing to be done about her appearance now and, besides, he’d seen her looking worse. She was clean, at least.

Once they were in the living area, she spoke. “This is a surprise, Chakotay. I wasn’t expecting to see you today.”

“I haven’t missed your birthday in seven years; I wasn’t going to start now. I hope you don’t mind me dropping in like this, but I was a bit concerned that if I contacted you and asked, you might say no.” He gave her a guilty smile as hers faded.

An awkward silence followed as they stood and stared at one another. She couldn’t deny the truth in that statement. If he had contacted her, she probably would have made some excuse not to see him. The moment was becoming too intense, she had to move. “I should put these in water.” And with that she disappeared through a doorway towards the back of the house.

Chakotay watched her leave and frowned.

His heart was thudding uncomfortably in his chest and his whole body was on hyper alert.

It had taken all his nerve to come here today and it looked like his presence wasn’t entirely welcome. He knew it wouldn’t be easy for either of them, but he so badly wanted to mend the rift in their relationship. He’d missed her dreadfully and there were things that needed to be discussed.

Blowing out a harsh breath, he decided that there was no time like the present. Taking a chance, he followed her through the door and wandered towards the back of the house. He could hear the sound of running water so he honed in on that.

Passing a stairwell that presumably led up to the bedrooms, he stepped through another door to a sunlit kitchen. Kathryn was standing at the sink with her back to him. She was staring out the window as a vase overflowed with water in the sink.

Chakotay walked up beside her and turned off the tap. She jumped.

He pretended not to notice. “I think you’ve got enough water there.”

Kathryn gave him a distracted smile. “Yes, thanks.”

“Here.” He took the vase from her, tipped some of the water out and placed it on the bench. Unwrapping the flowers, he placed them in the water, rearranging one or two of the stems. He then stood back to admire his handy work. “What do you think?”

Kathryn had been leaning against the kitchen bench watching him, trying to decide if she was angry or relieved that he was here. She still hadn’t decided. “Nice job.” She picked up the vase and walked out of the room but tossed over her shoulder as she left. “Stay there. I’ll be back in a minute. You can put the kettle on if you like.”

Once she’d left the kitchen, she heaved a deep sigh.

This wasn’t going to be easy. There was a lot of resentment harboured beneath her courteous exterior. He had plenty of explaining to do.

She placed the flowers on the stand in the hall and toyed with the idea of running upstairs to change but then thought better of it. She didn’t want him thinking that she would go to any trouble for him. Besides, he was the one who had turned up out of nowhere and it was her birthday, she could wear what she liked and look however she wanted.

It seemed anger was outweighing relief at this juncture. She rolled her eyes. Well, she’d wanted a change and this certainly was it, but she was wondering if spontaneity was a bit overrated.

He turned towards her when she walked back into the kitchen. Her face was set in a stern frown and he tried to lighten the mood. “Kettle’s on. I found the coffee, but I’m having trouble finding the tea. I was wondering if it was blacklisted here.”

Kathryn gave a halfhearted smile and walked to the pantry. She found a packet of tea bags in the back of the cupboard and handed them to him. “Here you are. The mugs are in there.” She pointed to the cupboard just above his head.

He looked at her and took a step towards her. “Kathryn…?”

She frowned and took a step back. “Just get the cups, Chakotay. We’ll talk in a minute.”

His brow furrowed to match her frown and his teeth clenched at her officious tone, but he turned and got the cups.

This wasn’t going exactly as he’d planned, but then this was Kathryn Janeway and it was almost a forgone conclusion that anything that involved her would be complicated.

She was the most exasperating, stubborn, frustrating…. and wonderful woman he’d ever known and he wouldn’t have her any other way.

The kettle boiled and Kathryn made their coffee and tea. She handed Chakotay his cup. “Outside?”

He nodded. He’d only been here for ten minutes and they were already talking in monosyllables. He had real doubts about this now. In future he would have to think these things through more carefully. He was far too spontaneous and it often landed him in trouble. Today was a prime example. But it was too late now.

He followed her and took a seat at the small table in the shade. It was peaceful. The birds were singing and the dappled sunlight danced on the grass and paving. Chakotay looked up through the branches at the blue sky and smiled gently.

They sat in silence for a couple of minutes before he turned to her. “It’s wonderful to see you Kathryn. I’ve missed you.”

Her brows rose in disbelief. “Hmmm, have you? How’s Seven?”

She saw him cringe, but she wasn’t going to beat around the bush, even if he was. Her new ‘Happy Kathryn’ policy wasn’t going to be hijacked by Chakotay or Seven. She was going straight for the jugular. No prevaricating. Honesty ruled. Her heart pounded as she waited for his response. As brave as she pretended to be, she wasn’t very good at this sort of thing.

He looked her in the eye. “She’s well. But I haven’t spoken to her for several weeks.”

Kathryn took a sip of coffee. “Has she been on assignment?”

“No. She’s on Vulcan, working at the Vulcan Science Academy.”

Kathryn frowned. “Vulcan? How long has she been there?”

Chakotay shrugged. “A few months.”

Kathryn cradled her mug tightly in both her hands. It hid their shaking. A few months? Why hadn’t anyone told her? Why hadn’t Chakotay told her?

She turned to him. “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“You haven’t been very approachable Kathryn. But I know you’ve been busy with your new job, and… not very many people knew. I haven’t been around much either. I’m sorry.”

She ignored his apology. “So you and Seven aren’t together anymore?”

He shook his head. “No, we’re not.”

“Is she alright? I hope it was an amicable break up.”

Chakotay’s mouth twitched. “It certainly was and Seven didn’t seem to suffer. She has an uncanny knack for landing on her feet. She was fine.”

Kathryn made an assumption. “And you weren’t? I’m sorry to hear that.”

He wondered how she came to that conclusion. “No, Kathryn. I was fine. It was a mutual decision and neither of us regretted it. Our relationship would never have worked. We were too dissimilar.” He turned towards her. “I’m surprised you didn’t say something.”

Kathryn shot him a look. “It was hardly my place and would you have listened if I had?”

He frowned in thought then shrugged. “Probably not. I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologise to me.”

“Yes I do. I hurt you and for that I’m very sorry.”

Kathryn’s eyes narrowed and her lips thinned. “Who said anything about being hurt? That’s something of a leap and a bit on the narcissistic side, don’t you think?”

Now Chakotay was on the back foot. She always managed to do this to him. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed. I just thought….”

She put her cup on the table and leant forward. “What did you think, Chakotay? That I was pining away. The poor heart broken woman, crushed because she had lost the man she loved. Give me some credit. I’ve been down this road more times than I care to think about and I’ve made a point of surviving. My life did not revolve around you. No more than it did around Seven. I’m a Starfleet Admiral, my life is busy. I don’t have time to keep tabs on all the goings-on of my old crew. And I certainly don’t have time to waste sitting around languishing from a so called broken heart.”

Chakotay’s face reflected his distress and his discomfort. He’d made a grave error in presuming that she’d missed him. This was Kathryn Janeway, he should have realised that she didn’t need anyone.

Her self-assurance was enviable but he’d missed her and he’d wanted her to know that. His affair, if it could be called that, with Seven, had been an unqualified disaster. He still didn’t understand what has possessed him to pursue her, but it looked like his stupidity had irreparably damaged his relationship with Kathryn and that thought broke his heart anew.

He stood. “I should go. I’m sorry for interrupting your day, Kathryn. It was good to see you.”

She stood as well, her anger dissipating instantly.

As much as she pretended otherwise, her insides were doing cartwheels. The fact that he wasn’t with Seven anymore and hadn’t been for quite some time had shaken her and she’d automatically gone into defensive mode.

He looked hurt and that really hadn’t been her intention. She just didn’t want him to think that she was some pathetic creature who couldn’t live without him, no matter how close to the truth that was.

She laid her hand on his arm. “I’m sorry, Chakotay. Please don’t go.” And giving him a half smile she tried to make light of her behaviour. She wasn’t entirely successful. “I’ll try to be nice. I think I’ve been hanging around with Nechayev for too long. All that abrasiveness tends to rub off eventually.”

His eyes crinkled in what was an attempt at a smile, and then he took a good look at her and tried to decide if it was wise to stay. She picked up his cup. “I’ll get you another tea and we’ll talk properly. In a way your visit has come at an opportune time. I made some decisions yesterday and I’d like to discuss them with you, if you don’t mind.”

He nodded. “I’d like to hear what you’ve decided.”

She took a few steps towards the kitchen door then stopped and turned. “I have missed you and I’m sorry for being so unpleasant.”

He gave her a wan smile and nodded. “I’m sorry for… so many things.”

Their eyes locked for a few more heartbeats then she turned and stammered. “I’ll get that tea.”

Kathryn stepped through the kitchen door then fell back against the wall just inside the doorway, hugging the empty mugs to her middle as she tried to catch her breath. She was out of his line of sight, but needed a minute or two to gather herself.

The day had begun with such promise, but his arrival had thrown her completely off kilter. Her heart was thudding in her chest but in a way it seemed appropriate that she deal with him and their relationship on this ‘day of decisions’.

For weeks she’d been trying to convince herself that she was over him, but his presence had put pay to that. Their connection was still there and as strong as ever.

Though what she should do about it, was another matter entirely.

She tamped down her flailing emotions and took a deep breath. Pushing herself away from the wall, she stepped over to the bench and put the kettle on. While she waited for it to boil, she looked out the window and watched him. He was standing in profile by the table with both hands on the back of her chair. His head was tilted back and he appeared to be looking up into the tree.

Kathryn moved to the other window so she could see him more clearly. His eyes were shut, as if he was praying. She studied his dear face. So handsome and so loved. She could admit now that it was doing her soul good to see him again. As much as she pretended otherwise, she had missed him. As she watched him a small smile played around her mouth. It would be wonderful to have him as part of her life again. She needed him.

With a slight frown, she leaned forward and stared at him. Was that what she thought it was? Suddenly her heart constricted in her chest and she clapped her hand over her mouth. There were tears. They shimmered on his lashes in the sunshine, just before they tipped and rolled down his cheek. Oh God. She slumped against the wall again and dropped her head into her hands, covering her face. He was crying.

His distress tore at her.

Without another thought, she swung herself away from the wall and walked out the door and straight to his side. She placed her hand gently on his shoulder and his head snapped towards her. Without a word, she lifted her hand to his face and wiped away the tears.

Their eyes met for a long moment and Kathryn let all the barriers and pretence crumble allowing him, for the first time, to see everything that was in her heart.

She could see his chest rise and fall in ragged breaths then with a groan he hauled her into his arms and whispered, “Kathryn, Kathryn, Kathryn.” over and over as her arms wrapped around him and she tucked her head into the crook of his neck.

Her breaths were coming in strange hiccuping gulps as she wove her hands into his hair and pressed herself close to him.

They stood in the dappled sunshine, wrapped tightly in each other’s arms. She could smell the spicy scent of him and the warmth of his body enveloped her. Her heart was pounding and she could feel his heart beating a staccato counterpoint with hers.

His hot breath burned across her neck, sending shivers down her spine as his hands kneaded and stroked her body. One of her hands curled into his hair as the other stroked over his shoulder and neck, her fingernails scouring his skin as she took great gulping breaths of him.

She found herself rocking against him and put in a concerted effort into stop the bump and grind, but without much success.

She needed to stop this. They were quickly losing control and they hadn’t really spoken of their feelings yet. “Chakotay?” His name came out in the breathy growl, which only made him lift her higher so that she was pressed against the hot bulge of his arousal as he began to stagger towards the back door. He hoisted her up and, without thinking, she wrapped her legs around his hips. “Chakotay?”

“Hmmm.” His lips nipped and suckled at her neck and his tongue laved the skin under her ear. Her thoughts were barely coherent. He bit her earlobe and she jolted. Then he whispered hotly in her ear. “I love you. I’ve always loved you and I want you.”

That did it. With a groan, Kathryn slammed her lips on his and they thudded against the wall inside the kitchen door. She dragged her lips from his and rasped against his mouth. “I love you, too. So much. Oh God.”

They were sliding along the bench top, knocking cups and containers everywhere. Kathryn reefed herself away from him and pulled his shirt open and leaning forward her mouth latched onto his nipple.

He groaned and slid his hands under her shirt, his hands palming her naked breasts before he pinched her nipples. She threw her head back and then pulled the shirt over her head tossing it onto the ground. With eyes fiery with passion, any thoughts of stopping this had long since fled. All she wanted now was him. In her, over her and around her.

She reached down and undid his pants, thrusting her hand down their front and stroking up and down his rigid length. He was hard and hot in her hand.

Groaning, he pulled his mouth away from her breasts, then tucked his fingers in the waistband of her pants and, lifting her up, he pulled them down and off.

Her bare bottom slapped down onto the bench but before she could even comprehend the fact that she was sitting naked in her kitchen, he knelt down in front of her and scooting her closer to the edge, he clamped his mouth on her.

She threw her head back and gave a wanton cry. He was hot on her aroused flesh, and his wet tongue laved at her opening and folds, flicking at her clitoris, back and forth, back and forth.

She collapsed onto one elbow as she held his head to her with her other hand, looking with heavy lidded eyes at his dark head between her thighs.

Chakotay’s mouth was making love to her. The thought sent her reeling. Oh, God. She was going to come. Her eyes opened wide in surprise as the jolts began. She cried out. “Oh, oh God, I’m coming.”

He pulled away from her and in one movement, he shucked his pants over his hips and entered her.

She screamed.

Her gripping muscles went into overload as her body arched and spasmed. The feeling was almost too intense, too exquisite. Those flashing colours behind her eyelids were now bright starbursts and her whole body juddered and thrust against him. Her face twisted into a grimace of pleasured pain when, with one final lunge, he pushed into her and came in hot, hard bursts, collapsing onto her and muttering her name over and over as she ran her fingers through his hair and kissed his cheeks, eyes and lips.

A tear or two escaped and trickled down the side of her face into her hair.

After a moment, he scooped her up into his arms and, turning, he slid to the floor with his back against the kitchen cupboards. They were still joined and Kathryn leant back a little and looked down at their matted groins and began to chuckle.

He followed her gaze and then with a finger under her chin, tilted her face up to look at him. Tears shimmered in both their eyes. He opened his mouth but Kathryn shook her head and leant forward and kissed him instead.

He moaned into her mouth and held her close.

She mumbled against his lips. “That’s all I need to know.”

He smiled against her lips. “I was just going to wish you happy birthday.”

She grinned. “Thank you. This was the best birthday present ever. But it’s going to be hard to explain it to my mother.”

Chakotay’s fingers were toying with her nipples and it was sending jolts of electricity straight to her groin. Everything was almost too sensitive. She lifted his hand and kissed his fingers, smiling. “Too much.”

He smiled and stroked down over her back. “I know what you mean. But I meant what I said Kathryn. I love you, I always have.”

She nodded. “I know that now and I suppose I always did. I just have to ask you one thing, though. It’s been bothering me ever since Tom suggested it.”

He kissed her shoulder and she shivered as bristles of his beard scratched at the tender skin of her neck. “Ask me anything, Kathryn.”

“This may sound stupid, but it’s been haunting me. Tom suggested that the common thread that held your’s and Seven’s relationship together was your mutual love for me. Is that true?”

Chakotay didn’t stop his ministrations, he barely registered that he’d heard her. “No, it had nothing to do with that – at least not from my perspective. My love for you is a part of me and has been for more than seven years. I can’t speak for Seven, but I have the feeling that she’s too selfish to even consider that as a reason. She’s very adolescent in her approach to relationships.”

“Should that concern me too?”

He shook his head. “No. Kathryn. We only ever made it to lesson four, Dinner Doubles. We had a meal with Ayala and Jenny Delaney. It wasn’t a great success.” He held her face between his large hands. “We were never intimate, Kathryn.”

She nodded. “I don’t… It’s really none…” Her shoulders slumped. “I’m glad.”

 

He grinned. “I thought you might be. Now, my butt is beginning to go numb. Do you think we could stand up?”

Kathryn wriggled and grinned. “I’m comfy.”

“I’m sure you are, sweetheart, but these old bones can’t take too much more of this. I’m an old man you know.”

“You’ll never be old.” She kissed him hard on the lips and felt him swell within her. “See.” She grinned at him and winked.

“That’s nothing new. You’ve always done that to me. I have no control when I’m near you. But I have to get up.”

Kathryn stood and grabbed some paper towel to stop the flow of their combined fluids as they trickled down her thighs.

She grabbed her shirt and threw it on as he pulled his trousers up and zipped up the fly. He left the top button undone and let them ride low on his hips. Kathryn hadn’t seen anything as sexy as that in a long time.

The heat of want throbbed within her. God, no wonder she’d known not to go near him when they were out there. She’d never have been able to keep her hands off him. She shook herself and turned away.

His arms wrapped around her from behind and he nibbled at her neck again. “We could just go to bed for the afternoon. It’s your birthday after all.”

Kathryn’s eyes darted to the clock. It was lunch time. Damn. She turned in his arms and touched his face. “As much as I’d love that… how do you feel about meeting the family?” He was stroking his hand through her now dry hair. Again he didn’t react except for a small smile. She continued. “Not that I want to rush you or anything. It’s just that I’m due in Indiana this afternoon and I’d like you to come with me.”

“I’d love to.” He kissed her lips. “Should we contact your mother to tell her I’m coming or do you want to surprise her?”

Kathryn couldn’t help smiling. “I think I’ll comm. her. Knowing that you’re with me will be surprise enough. We don’t want to give her a heart attack. I think she was resigned to me being a crusty old spinster admiral. She’ll be relieved.” She bent down and picked up her pants and his shirt tossing it to him with a smile.

He shrugged it over his shoulders and stepped close to her. “You could never be like that. Just look at Admiral Janeway.” He waggled his brows. “She was a sexy old dame.”

Kathryn looked at him with an amused but worried look. “You’re scaring me now. You had a thing for the Admiral?”

Chakotay laughed. “I have a thing for you. She was you. It only goes to prove that I’m hopelessly in love with you.”

“Hopeless is about it.” She gave him a sideways glance. “Although it’s reassuring that when I’m as old and withered as she was, you’ll still love me.”

“I’ll always love you Kathryn. That will never change.” He ran his finger down along the collar of her shirt to her cleavage and kissed her sweetly. “By the way, you never did tell me what you’d decided.”

Kathryn shivered at his touch and then laughed quietly. “Well, it was simple really. I was going to take control of my life. I was going to become more spontaneous and find the parts of me that have been missing for so long.” She grinned as she pulled on her pants. “I think I found them. Spontaneity seems to be alive and well. I’ve certainly never made love in the kitchen before.”

“And just think how many other rooms there are in the house. We’ve got hours of ‘spontaneity’ ahead of us.” He caught her in his arms and held her small body against his. “Kathryn, this is a new beginning for us and we’re going to be happy. I love you and I don’t want us to be parted again. Are you okay with that?”

Kathryn nodded and hugged him close. “I knew today was going to bring some changes, but I hadn’t quite envisaged this. I’ve never been happier.”

He nodded. “Good, then, let’s go and visit your mother.”

Kathryn showered and dressed and while Chakotay beamed home to pick up some clothes for the weekend.

She put a call through to her mother. Gretchen was surprised, but happily so and was looking forward to meeting this enigmatic man that Kathryn had spoken of so many times. She didn’t care who or what he was, it was just such a joy to see her Kathryn happy.

They beamed to Indiana in the early afternoon and Gretchen was waiting for them impatiently. “Kathryn, happy birthday.” She gave her a hug and then Kathryn introduced Chakotay.

“Mrs Janeway, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

“And you too, young man. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Chakotay looked at Kathryn and she shrugged. “You were pivotal to most of the stories I’ve told the family. We were together most of the time… as the command team.” She was getting flustered.

He smiled broadly. “We were a team alright. Have you met any of the other command staff, Mrs Janeway?”

“Please call me Gretchen.” He nodded as she continued. “Yes, I’ve met quite a few. The Doctor visits quite often, as do Tom and B’Elanna. Young Harry has popped in and Icheb spends quite a few weekends here. Kathryn is often busy though. I think I see less of her than I do her crew.”

Kathryn gave a pathetic smile and shrugged. “Well as of today, that’s all changed, Mother.”

Gretchen smiled warmly. “I’m very pleased to hear that dear. What are your plans?”

“We’re going to marry.”

Both Kathryn and Gretchen stared at Chakotay.

He shrugged. “Or did you mean this weekend?”

Gretchen laughed. “Um, I had meant this weekend, but I’m pleased to hear that you’re thinking ahead.”

Kathryn muttered under her breath. “Spontaneity.”

Chakotay grinned.

Gretchen eyed them suspiciously and then took Chakotay’s arm. “Come and have a cup of coffee and we’ll discuss this shall we? I’ve got some caramel brownies here too.”

Kathryn watched as her mother dragged her now, ‘soon to be husband’ with her into the kitchen.

He winked at her over his shoulder and she grinned.

She was back.

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