Summary:Surprise revelations follow some quiet moments in the ready room with Chakotay and Kathryn. I suppose this falls into the ‘busted’ category.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.
For Gine, who I’ve had the greatest pleasure in getting to know. For you my dear friend.
He was watching her. He loved to watch her. Especially when she was like this … enthralled and engrossed.
They’d stumbled across the unusual dark matter cloud two days ago and since then she’d been wading through the data from Astrometrics, and scouring the sensor logs trying to unravel its secrets. She was totally absorbed in her task, utterly and completely oblivious to everything around her. It gave him the perfect opportunity to observe her without the fear of being caught. He smiled to himself. She was magnificent.
They were sitting on the couch in her ready room. He’d just dropped off the latest report from Astrometrics and she’d asked him to stay for a cup of coffee. He sipped his brew as he indulged in his favourite pastime: Kathryn watching.
Her brow was slightly furrowed and she was chewing on the inside of her cheek as she concentrated on the latest set of readouts. Every now and then she would make small grunting noises. They were small affirmations to no one in particular.
She would read for a while, and then, with a slight frown, start stabbing frantically at the console or padd. After a few moments, she’d sit back, run a hand through her hair, then tug at her ear or tap her finger on her chin as she looked into nothingness. Her eyes would then spark as an idea fell into place and she would hunch forward again, stabbing and grunting and chewing. He smiled affectionately.
He loved this.
He loved that she was so enthusiastic about this puzzling phenomenon. He loved that her mind was so brilliant that she would eventually find the answer. He loved the way that he could see her chip away at the problem; working it, moulding it, and finally fashioning it into something that could be understood. He loved the way she became so totally immersed in her quest to find the answer, that all else became secondary.
Her total commitment to problems and situations was what made her the superb leader she was. Her tenacity and determination engendered trust, loyalty and devotion. It also engendered love, and he was her number one disciple. He loved her. He’d loved her almost since the beginning of this journey.
It was a deep, complex and all consuming love, and he could never imagine ever loving anyone as much as he loved her. She was his world and he’d meant what he’d said all those years ago. She brought him peace, and with that peace came strength and commitment.
He’d tried his best to share and lighten her load, and he would dearly love to do more, but she was strong, wilful and stubborn. Truth be told, he loved those traits as well, and as much as they caused him grief at times, they were also the solid foundation on which her character was built.
Kathryn sat back again and tugged on her bottom lip. He watched as she pinched it between her fingers and then as a new thought hit her, she let go, and caught it between her teeth. She leant forward again, and tapped at her console, checked and compared the readings with those on her padd, and turned to him suddenly with a beaming smile
He couldn’t help himself. He laughed out loud, watching her fondly as she smiled in return, their affection for each other written plainly on their faces.
“Well?” He looked at her expectantly.
“It’s a dark matter cloud, as we surmised, but, very dense in neutralinos and emitting extraordinarily high levels of gamma radiation. It must be billions of years old to have achieved that level of density. Extraordinary. Unfortunately there’s nothing in there that we can use for our energy reserves, but even so, it’s a truly fascinating phenomenon.” She was tugging on her lip again, and staring straight ahead when she felt his eyes on her. She turned, and dropped her hand into her lap to stare at him.
He chuckled. “Nothing.”
“Nothing my …. You’re staring at me and laughing. What’s so funny?” She quirked a half smile at him.
“Nothing. I just love watching you nut out a problem like this. It’s ….” He noticed her brow furrow as she looked at him.
“You ‘love’ watching me?”
Uh oh, he thought. Here come the parameters and protocols. He stood up abruptly and placed his cup on the table. “It’s ok, Kathryn, don’t worry about it. I’ll head back to the bridge and leave you to it.” He jogged down the stairs and was almost to the door when she spoke.
“Don’t…… Don’t go.” He swung around, not sure if he’d heard her correctly. She was looking at him intensely. “Don’t go. Please.”
He stood a few feet from the doors and looked at her. She was still sitting on the couch, watching him. She took a deep breath before she spoke.
“I don’t mind you watching me. In fact, I quite like it.” She held his gaze steadily, but she was fidgeting with her hands.
He, on the other hand, was completely stunned.
She continued. “I love watching you, too, when you’re concentrating.” He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You do this thing with your lips, and I can’t tear my eyes away from you.” She gave a little shrug. “And your hands on the console between our command chairs….” She took another deep breath. “I love to watch them as well.”
Chakotay began to take some slow steps back towards the upper level.
He watched her closely as he walked towards her, his eyes riveted to hers.
She was sitting very still, but as he got closer he could see a twinkle in her eyes, and the slightest hint of a smile around her mouth.
“You watch my hands?” He looked down at his hands and then up at her. “I’ve never noticed.”
“That was the idea. I couldn’t very well call attention to the fact that your hands fascinate me.”
He stepped up to the upper level, but stood still at the top of the steps. “They fascinate you?” He glanced at them again. “Kathryn, I’m a little lost here.”
She gave him an amused grimace. “You’re not the only one.” She shuffled back on the couch and slid her hands under her thighs to keep them still. Now that she’d said this much she felt compelled to keep going, but he wasn’t making it easy. He was looking at her with an endearingly confused look.
Gods, how did she get herself into these sorts of situations? Besides … he started this. She took a deep breath and then rolled her eyes. “You started this, by the way, Mr ‘I love watching you’. So don’t look at me all perplexed and flummoxed.”
“Flummoxed? That’s not the half of it, and I can’t help the way I look. Besides, I am perplexed. And I …… Well, I …. Alright, I suppose I did start this, but now I’m completely lost.”
She was rocking back and forth slightly on her hands. ‘In for a penny’ as Aunt Martha used to say. “I think I’m trying to tell you, in a very round about sort of fashion, that I love you.”
All he managed to get out was a strangled. “Oh.”
All of a sudden it felt like his head had swelled. He couldn’t see anything and his pulse was pounding in his ears. It was making such a whooshing sound that he couldn’t hear anything either. The blood must have come directly from his brain, because he couldn’t think or speak, or move for that matter. Through the rush of sound, he heard her say his name. He really wanted to say something, but it was as if time had stopped. Then all of a sudden the blood that had been pounding in his head, drained to his feet and he put his hand out and grabbed on to the railing before he made a complete fool of himself and fell over.
His vision cleared and she was still sitting on the couch, watching him with a worried frown.
“Chakotay? Are you alright?” This wasn’t going quite as she thought it would. He looked terribly distraught.
He blinked a few times and took a tentative step towards her again. He nodded his head. ‘Alright’ didn’t quite cover it, but it was a start. He took a big deep breath and moved towards the couch, managing to speak at last. “Just let me sit down for a minute.”
He dropped on to the couch with an ungainly thump. Then sat up straight with his hands on his knees, and took another deep breath. “You ‘think’ you’re trying to tell me?” He leant in close and peered at her. “When will you know for sure?”
He looked very pained and ran his hand through his hair. “Oh, umm, by the way. I love you too.” He watched and waited.
Her face softened into a gentle smile. “I know. You don’t hide it very well.”
He was still feeling very much on the back foot here and she seemed so calm. Why the hell was she so calm about this? Wasn’t she supposed to be irate or as least irked, or something. He always imagined her going totally ballistic if she knew of his feelings. And the fact that she loved him and had told him first, well …… it just didn’t compute.
He held his fists tight. “I didn’t now I was supposed to hide it.” The words came out sharply. He had to get a grip. This really wasn’t how he’d imagined this scenario.
For a start, it never happened here in her ready room. His fantasies usually involved candle light, soft music, and Kathryn, all tender and compliant. In some fantasies, he’d even imagined her to be grateful. Of all the scenarios he’d concocted over the years there had never been one that even remotely resembled this, but he should have known. Why in God’s name would he have imagined Kathryn being compliant and ……. He shook his head to clear it. She was still looking at him worriedly.
“You weren’t supposed to hide it. Besides, you told me, in so many words, way back on New Earth. I’ve always known and I’ve always cherished the knowledge.” He still looked a little flushed. “Are you sure you’re alright, Chakotay? You don’t look at all well.”
He tried to relax a little, dropping his shoulders and moving his head to release some of the tension in his neck. “No, really I’m fine. Just a little surprised, that’s all.”
“Sorry. I hadn’t meant to tell you like this. I’d always imagined things a little differently.” His head shot up and he stared at her. “You know, candle light, soft music.” She looked down at her rumpled uniform. “Maybe even civilian clothes. But ……” She shrugged her shoulders. “Sometimes the moment is just right and if you let it pass, it may not come again. Are you very shocked?”
He looked at her carefully now, and under her cool exterior and concern, he could see just the slightest hint of insecurity. His insides lurched. All of a sudden the profound importance of this moment hit him.
All his dearest wishes were coming true and the woman he loved above all else had just told him that she loved him. Here he was sitting here analysing and questioning, and generally behaving like a buffoon, when he should be holding her in his arms and kissing her.
Everything fell neatly into place.
“Shocked? A little maybe, but most of all…” He smiled at her gently and moved to sit on the table in front of her, taking her hands. “I’m profoundly grateful and deeply moved that you love me.” She let out a relieved breath and beamed a wide smile, nodding slightly. He lifted his hand and caressed the side of her face. She closed her eyes and leant into the touch. “I love you, Kathryn. Sometimes, so much, that it’s hard to breathe.”
She opened her eyes and looked at him with a slight frown. She could see a hint of tears shimmering in his eyes. “Oh, Chakotay.” She lifted her hand to cup the side of his face and pulled him towards her. Their foreheads touched.
They sat there for a few minutes and as the emotions ebbed and flowed in time with their breathing, he felt peace and contentment settle around them like a warm but well worn blanket. The tension left his body and he felt lighter and freer than he had in years. He still had his eyes closed as his face broke into a blissful smile. He could feel rather than see her matching smile. Their faces moved closer, and as their lips were about to meet, Chakotay whispered against her mouth. “Kathryn.”
She answered with a breathy. “Chakotay.” And then the world around them ceased to exist.
Their lips met and the universe became their own. Tentative touches soon became more confidant; mouths opened and tongues tangled. Arms wound around bodies, and hands stroked and caressed. He slid to his knees in front of her and their bodies melded into one.
Kathryn could swear she heard bells ringing and the crackle of fireworks. They kissed for what seemed like an eternity, learning the scent, the taste and feel of each other. All these things so achingly familiar, but with an intimate awareness, that was now indelibly imprinted on each other’s souls. They pulled apart slowly, and smiled joyously into one another’s faces.
As reality reasserted itself she realised it wasn’t fireworks she could hear, it was applause. She peeked over Chakotay’s shoulder and there leaning against the open door of the ready room was Tom Paris, with a deliriously happy smile on his face. Behind him she could see all the bridge crew, and many others, congregated on the steps, peering over and around each other, smiling and clapping enthusiastically.
Chakotay was kissing her neck and running his fingers through her hair. She shivered and blinked slowly. Gripping his shoulders, she began to push him away slowly. “Ummm, Chakotay?”
He dove towards her neck again. “Hmmmm?”
“Chakotay, you’d better stop for a moment.” She pushed more insistently on his shoulders.
He mumbled against her neck. “Uh uh. Don’t ever want to stop.”
Suddenly the sound of clapping and laughter permeated his consciousness. He stopped dead, and pulled back slowly looking at Kathryn.
“Tell me Tom Paris isn’t standing in the doorway.”
She was trying to remain serious, but the look of dread on his face just made her want to laugh.
“And that noise is the whole bridge crew applauding isn’t it?”
She nodded her head slowly as the smile spread across her face.
He took a deep breath. “Damn.”
With the arm she had draped over his shoulder she shooed Tom out of the doorway and the doors slid shut.
“Come on, Commander. Be brave. It could have been worse. At least we had our clothes on.”
He sat back on his heels. “Kathryn Janeway!” He tried to look shocked, but the humour of the situation was starting to creep up on him. “Don’t tell me you’ve had lascivious thoughts about us without our clothes on.”
She looked at him with one eyebrow arched in a perfect imitation of Tuvok. “Lascivious? You have no idea the thoughts I’ve had about us over the years, with and without clothes.” She grinned then as a blush crept up her cheeks.
He laughed out loud and standing up he swept her into his arms and held her close. “Then I suggest we go to your quarters and do some investigating and analysis of these so called ‘thoughts’. I’ve had a few of my own. Perhaps we should do a comparative study?”
She grinned at him. “This study would be extensive. I can’t imagine that the results would be in for several years.”
“Oh, this is definitely a long term investigation. I’m thinking decades at least, quite possibly forever.”
She nodded sagely. “Yes, well, we’d best get started then. We don’t want to waste any precious research time.” She stood on tip toes and kissed him soundly. “Let’s go.”
Grinning, he tucked her arm under his elbow and they walked out on to the bridge. All eyes were upon them as they made their way to the turbo lift. Kathryn stopped in front of the tactical station. “Tuvok, the bridge is yours. The Commander and I will be in my quarters.” With that she turned and looked at Tom who had swung his chair around from the helm. He was still grinning like an idiot.
Chakotay addressed Tuvok while looking at their erstwhile pilot. “The Captain and I would like not to be disturbed. If we encounter any belligerent aliens you have my permission to use Mr Paris as bait/toll/bargaining tool, whatever. I’ll leave that to your discretion.”
Tom stared wide eyed at his commanding officers. “But…Wha…” Kathryn made a small circular motion with her finger indicating that he should turn back around. Tom’s shoulders slumped and he muttered a demure “Yes, Ma’am,” as he swung his chair back towards the front.
She and Chakotay grinned at each other and there was a suspicious twinkle in Tuvok’s eye.
She grabbed Chakotay’s hand, and they strode towards the lift. Just as they were about to step into the open lift, Tom spoke up from the helm.
“Um, Captain? Commander?”
They turned in unison.
“I,… ahh, think I can speak for the rest of the crew when I say, congratulations, it’s about time and … we wish you every happiness.”
Kathryn smiled. “Thank you, Tom.” She looked around the bridge crew still smiling. “Thank you, everyone.”
They stepped into the lift and just as the doors were closing Tom couldn’t help himself and piped up again. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, and pictures! We want pictures!”
The last thing they heard as the lift doors closed was a chorus of “Tom’s” and Tuvok’s stern “Mr Paris!”
Kathryn and Chakotay looked at one another and burst out laughing. If only he knew.
He was watching her. He loved to watch her. Especially when she was like this: tucked up against him in bed, all tousled and warm and beautiful.
He studied her face. It was softer in repose. The lines around her eyes and mouth had smoothed and the years fell away.
“You’re staring again, Commander,” she muttered sleepily without opening her eyes.
“That’s my job. I’m collecting data.” He watched her smile.
“Well, keep up the good work.” She moved her head ever so slightly and kissed his chest. She snuggled in closer and he watched, enraptured as her body relaxed and she slid back into sleep.
With joy in his heart and peace in his soul, he kissed her head softly, closed his eyes, and drifted off to join her.