Disclaimer - Paramount own 'em.
Bit of swearing, bit of nudity. In England, I'd rate this one a 15.
It was perhaps not the most elegant way to meet a future lover.
Kathryn Janeway - formerly Captain of the USS Voyager - was rushing out of Starfleet Headquarters, eager to escape the grilling she'd been receiving by the panel of Admirals. Yes, she worked for them. Yes, she supported them. Yes, she had long found comfort in their rules and regulations.
She just hadn't found them so...boring before.
She needed to breathe freely, that was all. Needed to escape from the confining room and the five sets of eyes that seemed to be perpetually judging her.
Having had quite enough of the six hour 'interrogation' - without even a cup of coffee for heavens sake - Kathryn had promptly excused herself and left, much to the stuttering amazement of several high-ranking Starfleet officials.
Reaching the exit she ran through, starting to feel an unknown weight lift from her shoulders with each step...only to get one of those steps mixed with someone elses and she promptly fell over.
Her ankle twisted unpleasantly and she swore as she fell, but before her body could hit the unforgiving concrete pavement, the stranger she had tripped over had enough presence of mind to grab her.
Her adrenalin levels skyrocketed; her breath escaped in a loud gasp.
For one second - one terrifying, exhilarating, horrifying second - she thought he was someone else.
Then reality reasserted itself and she realised that it wasn't him. It was, of course, a complete stranger she had just tripped over.
She couldn't decide which was the most embarrassing prospect.
"Are you okay?" The stranger asked softly, gently lowering her to the ground with a reverence she didn't deserve.
Once she was safely down, Kathryn raised her head to look at him. The eyes were different from his. A little paler, perhaps. And the face was significantly different enough that she knew without a doubt that he wasn't Chakotay.
But God, there were similarities. His hands felt almost identical. The skin tone looked the same. And when he smiled at her, silently questioning...
She moaned, then quickly tried to make it seem as if her ankle had made her do so. "I'll be okay, thank you. It'll just teach me to look where I'm going. I'm sorry for bumping into you, and for-" She stopped suddenly, realising where she had been heading.
"-staring at me?" He concluded, seeming determined to torment her.
Trying earnestly to ignore the growing redness on her cheeks, she lifted her chin defiantly. "You're not going to let me get out of this with a shred of dignity intact, are you?"
His grin remained in place. "Not if I can help it."
Rolling her eyes at him, she tried not to do so affectionately. "I apologise, again. You remind me of someone I know."
"Someone nice?" He asked hopefully.
"Yes," Kathryn replied with gritted teeth, wondering if she should try to stand up. Even though she was sitting down, he was kneeling beside her and still had a hand on both sides of her waist. She knew that, of course. Knew that his hands had been there the whole time. She just pretended that she hadn't noticed, not wanting to give away how...nice...they felt.
But perhaps she should pick a more opportune time to be groped by a complete stranger. Besides, there were a large group of impressionable young children over there, who apparently found them both fascinating. No doubt assisted by what she presumed was their teacher who also kept staring at them.
"I should get up," She announced.
The stranger hadn't missed a thing. "Why? Just because they're looking at us?"
Thinking that he was too damn insightful, she set her glare on him. "No. I just don't particularly want to remain on the cold floor."
Conceding her point, he helped her stand, somehow managing to maintain a respectful distance while still keeping his hands around her waist.
"I'm fine," She assured him, resting her hands on his forearms.
Nodding, he released his hold on her waist but didn't move away.
Pulling away from him, she took a testing step and nearly stumbled. He grabbed her arm again but she waved him off quickly. "I'm fine, really. I just tried to put a little more weight on it than I should have."
Peering down at her ankle, he frowned. "You really should go and see a Doctor or something."
"Absolutely not. I hate hospitals or any kind of medical facility."
He laughed, shortly, looking back at her face. "Then you must be either a Captain or an Admiral."
Kathryn glanced at the civilian clothing she was wearing, then rose an eyebrow in silent question.
"They're notorious for hating Doctors and medical exams."
"Says you," She responded, unable to stop herself grinning.
"Says me," He agreed. "Well at least let me apologise properly. It was *my* leg you tripped over, after all."
"That's really not necessary," Kathryn replied, trying to judge if this was a line or not. He certainly seemed sincere...
"I passed a lovely little place on the way here." He continued as she remained silent. "Just one cup of coffee?" He finally pleaded.
Kathryn's eyebrows rose as she studied him intently. Maybe he really was Chakotay... "Alright," She agreed before she realised she'd already made up her mind. He was quite a bit younger than her. Fifteen years, she thought. Maybe even twenty.
"Good," He said happily, holding out his arm for her to take.
She looked down at his arm, smiling at the antiquated tradition but finding it somehow endearing.
"Let me help you," He said softly when he saw her hesitation.
Lifting her head, her eyes widened as she looked at him until, eventually, she extended her own arm and wrapped it around his elbow. Slowly, they began to walk.
"Who are you?" Kathryn asked.
"Stephen," He responded. "Who are you?"
"Annika," She answered immediately, even though she knew he didn't believe her for a single moment.
Kathryn had smiled when she realised just where he was taking her - The Night Owl. Of course. Shaking her head, she had stepped inside. She hadn't been here since before she took command of Voyager. She'd meant to come here, of course, as soon as she returned to Earth. But she hadn't had the time. Hadn't had the time for so many things.
Deliberately forcing the morose thoughts out of her head, she focused her attention on the man sitting opposite her. He really was rather attractive, she thought idly - or not so idly if she were truthful with herself. She almost frowned as she took a sip of her coffee and continued studying him. Somehow, he was talking about the weather and making it *interesting*.
He had quite the knack for holding her attention when talking about absolutely nothing. Which is mostly what their conversation consisted of. She let him know by dodging several questions that she didn't want him to know anything personal about her. It wasn't important what she had done before now. He was interesting to talk to, seemed a nice person, and was equally nice to look at.
She hadn't been able to just enjoy herself for years.
She wasn't sure of the exact moment when she made her decision - perhaps it was the second she looked at him, spoke to him, let him order her a cup of coffee...but she was going to enjoy herself.
And of course, the fact that he was at least fifteen years her junior and was interested did everything to encourage her ego.
When she invited herself to his apartment, later, it seemed only natural.
She hadn't done anything natural in years, either.
It was the first time he wanted an honest answer. "Why? Because you want to, or because I remind you of him?"
It was the first time she gave an honest answer. "Both."
He nodded, stood up, and held his hand out over the table towards her. "Then I accept, milady. Please allow me the pleasure of escorting you home."
Meeting his gaze, she smiled, then extended her hand to hold his.
He was an excellent lover. She considered, at first, that it had been so long since she had been with anyone that she could well have been prejudiced. But...no. He was good. It was simply a fact. A very pleasurable one.
And he was extraordinarily good with his hands.
Kathryn moaned as he expertly manipulated her foot, his warm, kind hands treating her to the massage to end all massages. He avoided her injured ankle obviously, but he warmly caressed and held her other foot, pushing in with his thumbs and grasping with his fingers. Kathryn had been known in the past to be rather ticklish in that area (something Stephen had found out to his amusement a short while ago) but he was using just the right amount of pressure to prevent even the slightest degree of amusement.
Kathryn moaned again. "God..." She managed to utter, despite the fact that she felt like a big pile of goo. And he'd only been working on one foot.
He grinned. "Enjoying yourself?"
Keeping her eyes closed, she smiled a little. "What gave me away?" She almost purred as he moved to her calves. "I must say you have a dab hand at using your hands."
Stephen laughed lightly.
Smiling indulgently, enjoying the feel of his hands on her body and the sensation of the soft covers holding her naked form, Kathryn continued. "Did you take classes or something? Something to give you a little edge with the ladies?"
"Not quite," He answered, splaying his hands over her right leg. "Runs in the family, I suppose you could say. My aunt used to suffer from terrible backache and refused to take modern medicine. Massage became the only way she could find relief and when my cousin wasn't around I'd take over - when I was visiting anyway-" His hands stopped moving as he noticed something. "Annika...are you okay? Your entire body has just gone-"
"-tense," She finished for him as she tried not to swear. "So...your...cousin was good with his hands." She stated because she knew damn well that he was.
"Very, from what my aunt used to say. He was the only one she really trusted, but Starfleet usually kept him away, and when it did my uncle and I took turns. Not that I was particularly good because I was so young. Of course then he-"
The sound of someone beeping for entry into his apartment stopped his train of thought. Releasing her he stood up and quickly pulled on a pair of pants. "I'd better see who that is. Be right back."
Sitting up on the bed, Kathryn forced a smile and watched him leave.
The moment he stepped out of the room, Kathryn threw her hands over her face and fell back onto the bed.
"-joined the Maquis," She finished quietly, muttering into her hands.
Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit...
She continued the litany for a few seconds before her awareness of bad luck kicked up. Jumping up from the bed and being *very* careful to land on her good ankle, she started throwing on what clothing she could find. Not particularly caring quite what her hair looked like, she peered around the doorway. Good. He or his 'visitor' were nowhere to be seen.
She knew who his visitor was. She absolutely knew who his visitor was. Fate liked to be that cruel.
Sneaking in the opposite direction of the front of the apartment, Kathryn came upon the kitchen. There was no other way out. The doorway she had just stepped through was the only way in or out of the room. Damn.
Okay, okay, try to look on the bright side. She was dressed, she looked quite respectable. Catching her reflection in a shiny surface, she gasped. Frantically she tried to woo her hair into some semblance of control with her hands, patting here, licking saliva on her palm and rubbing there, running her fingers through several strands. This was possibly the most grateful she had ever been for deciding to get it all cut off.
Voices were approaching with matching footsteps.
Stephen was finishing the end of something. "-I know you're going to like her."
Then the other man spoke. Then the other man spoke. Her stomach lurched at the familiarity. "You've always had good taste Steve, I'm sure-well, well. What's this?"
"Um...well...that would appear to be a bra."
Shit! Kathryn suddenly grabbed her breasts protectively. How the hell could she have forgotten that?! Oh God she couldn't face him now, couldn't do this...
"Maybe this isn't such a good idea, Steve. If she knows I found her bra lying around she might be a little embarrassed-"
"Trust me, Chakotay. She's not the type of person who gets embarrassed very easily. Let's just get rid of that shall we?"
He must have stepped into the bedroom then. "Oh...she must have gone into the kitchen..."
Kathryn had the sudden urge to empty the contents of her stomach. Lowering her hands from her breasts she stood tall, proud, nothing less than the Captain she had always been.
Stephen appeared first, cautiously, apparently relieved that she was dressed. "There you are! This is who I'd like you to meet." He said to the man behind him, who now stepped into the room. "Chakotay, this is-"
"Kathryn," He almost whispered, and she wasn't sure which of them turned whiter.
"Hello Chakotay," She said as bravely as she could, amazed that she had the capacity to speak. "It's been a while."
His eyes were wide, possibly wider than she had ever seen them before. Shaking his head slightly he looked down at this hand - no doubt the hand that he had been holding the bra in earlier - then looked back at her.
It was then that the realisation seemed to hit Stephen. "Oh shit..." He began, looking from her, to him and then back to her again. "This is the guy, isn't it? The guy I remind you of. And this," He continued, looking between them once more "is that woman you never stop talking about. Wait a minute..." His eyes were now probably even wider than Chakotay's. "So you're *Captain* Kathryn Janeway?"
That just about summed up everyone's sentiments.
Ten minutes had passed and she was already on her eighth cup of coffee.
Chugging that one down she eagerly poured the rest of the pot into the cup, not taking the time to savour the aroma but just needing to get the caffeine into her system.
After Stephen had left them alone in the kitchen - looking as hideously embarrassed as she felt - she hadn't been able to construct a single word to say to the man who she just knew was studying her intently as she consumed every digestible form of caffeine that Stephen possessed.
The bar of chocolate had disappeared three minutes ago.
And the less said about the coffee beans, the better.
That had been extremely undignified.
Lifting the cup up once more, she nearly shot across the room when a disturbingly familiar hand touched her skin. Christ, he was so much like Stephen and Stephen was so much like him...she was so absolutely confused.
Her arm jerked and the contents of her cup spilt over the counter. A little horrified at the waste and still horrified by the realisation of...well...that he was his...and he was his...and it was so *typical*...she stared at the dark liquid as it made trails across the counter, continuing its journey until it reached the edge and began to drip to the floor.
Neither made a move to clean it up.
"Don't you think you're overdoing it bit?" He asked softly, his mouth close enough that she could feel his breath on her flesh, her hair.
This was not how she had next imagined seeing him. Perhaps at the next Voyager reunion, perhaps at someone's Birthday, a wedding, perhaps they would finally have actually become more that friends one day...
"I don't know Chakotay; I've just discovered that I've been screwing the cousin of my best friend - who, by the way, has made it clear on more than one occasion that he wants more than friendship. What *is* the usual procedure in this kind of situation?"
He removed his hand and she almost cried. "I don't know, but I doubt it includes inhaling every source of caffeine within one hundred yards."
Well, at least he was trying to see something funny in it. Shoving her cup to one side, she lowered her head until it rested on the counter. A few moments later, she raised it again. "I have coffee on my forehead, don't I?"
"And your hair."
Kathryn sighed, trying not to give into the ridiculous urge to start crying her eyes out. She began looking for a cloth when one appeared in front of her in his hand. Dammit, did he have to be so *nice*? "Thanks," She muttered, rubbing the cloth over her face and lightly over her hair, really not caring what she looked like anymore.
Thumping the cloth down on the counter, she watched as it slowly absorbed some of the coffee it had landed on.
Shifting on the stool she had rather inelegantly thrown herself onto earlier, she finally thought of something to say to him. "Well, this was something of a surprise, huh?"
Pulling up a stool of his own, he sat opposite her. "Not quite what I was expecting."
She stared at the cloth; he stared at her.
"I bet you wouldn't have predicated this in a hundred years."
He nodded. "You'd be right."
"I never do anything on a small scale, do I?"
"It's not your style, Kathryn."
"Shit," She muttered, finally looking at him. "I'm sorry. I had no idea he was your cousin."
Chakotay shook his head. "You don't need to apologise. Whatever you do with him is none of my business."
"I don't believe that for a single second. And neither do you," She told him, frustrated. "I know you're trying to act like this doesn't bother you to protect my feelings, but we've been here a thousand times before and I'm tired of it! It never gets us anywhere." Pausing, she closed her eyes. "I'm sorry. That was out of line. I'm the one who's been screwing your cousin-"
"No," He interrupted, a tiny grin on his face. "You're right. Yes it bothers me. Of course it bothers me. But there's not much I can do about it, is there?"
"It is rather late now, yes," She agreed, finally chuckling, finally seeing the humour in it. "What are the odds of this, seriously? What are the odds of just this situation happening to us?"
He shrugged, smiling awkwardly. "About the same as anything else, I suppose." He kept quiet for a while, before asking something that of course wasn't 'bothering' him. "Are you going to see him again?"
She sat back on the stool, thoughtful. "I honestly don't know, Chakotay. Do you expect me to stop seeing him?"
"Of course not. Certainly not because of me." He was almost vehement about it.
Reassured, she nodded. "I don't know. But this isn't going to be a long term relationship, Chakotay. We both know that. I don't know if I could fall in love with him even if I tried. It's just...chemistry. Besides, he is...what? Fifteen years younger than me?"
"Twenty two," He corrected, then continued when he saw her wince. "And what does that have to do with anything? Age isn't supposed to matter."
"I suppose," She conceded. "It's just going to be short, brief, and enjoyable."
Chakotay smiled. "And what if it isn't?"
"What if what isn't?"
"What if it isn't just short, brief, and enjoyable? One thing I've learnt is that relationships have the ability to surprise the hell out of you."
"I just know," She told him.
"And have you asked Stephen how he feels about that?"
"I don't need to!" Kathryn insisted. "He's an attractive man Chakotay - you can't tell me he hasn't had this kind of fling before."
"I'm not going to tell you whether he has or hasn't. Yes, it's a fling to you...maybe it's more to him."
"Don't be ridiculous," She snorted.
"Talk to him," Chakotay encouraged. "Find out. He's a nice person, Kathryn. You could do a Hell of a lot worse."
Holding up her hand, Kathryn shook her head in disbelief, trying to wrap her mind around this conversation. "Wait a minute...are you trying to fix me up with your cousin?" When he said nothing, she lowered her hand by pounding it on the counter. "Will you stop being so *nice*?"
"I'm just trying to help..."
She cut him off, ranting. "I'm serious, Chakotay! These last ten years you've been the epitome of friendliness, niceness, gentleness...the only times you ever got angry with me was when I did something that was way out of line. Yes! I admit it! I was out of line! But you were *so* *nice*! Do you have any idea of what it was like living with that day in, day out?!"
He said nothing for ten seconds as they stared at each other.
Eventually, his voice carefully controlled, he spoke. "You don't want me to be nice."
"You're absolutely certain."
"Fine," He said, still carefully, then stood up and leant over the counter until they were almost nose-to-nose. "You've got it, Kathryn Janeway. Yes this bothers me, this bothers the *hell* out of me. For seven *years* on an isolated ship you kept me from getting too close, and even when we got home you still kept your distance. And then...you get a new lover...and it's my f*cking cousin! So yeah, this bothers me. That really is the limit, Kathryn." His eyes were dark. "I went to Hell and back on that ship for you, and now I feel like I'm doing it again."
"No one asked you to," She countered.
"No, that's the Hell of it," He almost laughed. "You didn't ask me to and I know you didn't want me to. I did anyway, because the moment you asked me to work with your crew, the rest of my life was screwed. You don't get it yet, do you Kathryn? *Everything* I've done, *everything* I'm going to do...somehow works its way back to you. You've given me dreams and nightmares and made my entire life different. And all I can think now is that I should be smashing Stephen's face in but I can't because you're actually with someone and it's good between you - it doesn't matter that he's my cousin." Pausing, breathing, he continued to stare at her. "And though at this moment I hate you both more than anyone I've ever met...I just want you to be happy."
Kathryn shook her head. "You're being nice again."
He finally, finally...lost it.
Standing back he kicked over his stool, walked to her side of the counter, grabbed either side of her head, and kissed her.
Had his mouth not been doing a thoroughly good job of exploring hers at that moment, she probably would have sworn.
Still, the suddenness of it - his lips on hers, his hands on her skin then her hair, the weight of his body against her - knocked her off the stool.
Compensating quickly he made sure she didn't fall, wrapping his arms around her and lifting her up onto the counter, no longer caring and no longer thinking about the coffee spillage she was sitting on. His mouth continued to assault hers, but she gave as good as he did, her hands now in his hair, on his face, going under the neck of his top...
Reality came in the form of an image that formed in Kathryn's mind of something very similar she had been doing to someone very similar earlier...
Pulling away she broke the kiss, but made another near-fatal mistake by meeting his gaze. He didn't regret it. Not for a moment, not for a single second. She almost melted.
Staring at each other, mouths bare inches apart, her hands on his shoulders and his still in her hair...it seemed as if everything they had ever said suddenly had meaning. His eyes were actually communicating with her, not wearing the guards he usually kept raised. In that fleeting moment she knew...she absolutely knew what was right and what was wrong and who was right and who was wrong.
Breathing heavily, she moistened her lips. And swore.
Then, the moment was gone. And she was as confused as she ever was.
His eyes still bored into hers, and it was all she could do to keep looking at him. Breaking that contact first she pulled him closer and he acquiesced, his hands lowering to go around her as she willed it all to go away; confusion, comfort, absolute terror.
She willed them to pass, and...eventually...the emotions subsided.
Holding on to his warm form tightly, she lowered her eyelids, feeling the moisture trying to seep out.
The words were out of her mouth before she even realised she was planning to say something. They were scratchy and barely identifiable: "Say something."
He apparently understood, not moving but speaking against her skin.
"You taste of chocolate and coffee."
Moisture escaped. But from whom, she wasn't sure.
Chakotay pulled away then, suddenly and completely. She watched, trying not to feel bereft, as he turned away and wiped his hands over his face before resting his forehead against a cupboard door. Kathryn looked on as the muscles at the base of his neck tensed and he drew back a hand and thumped it loudly against the door.
The action completed, he removed his hand and promptly left the room.
Blinking, Kathryn stared at the doorway, wondering what the hell had just happened. How *dare* he walk out on her after something like that!
Bracing her weight on her hands, she carefully lowered herself to the floor and headed towards the exit. She only stopped when she passed the cupboard door. Bending at the knees, she ran her hand over it, hardly touching the damage. It was barely noticeable, a few strain lines evident. But it was there.
It was there.
Standing once more, she jutted out her chin and ran through the doorway.
She had a man to hit, a stranger to face...and a bra to put on. Not necessarily in that order.
The bra turned out to be second on the list.
Bursting into the bedroom she abruptly stopped when she saw just who was sitting on the bed, and what he was doing. Approaching slowly, she sat down on the rumpled bed and took the bra he was holding out towards her.
"Thanks," Kathryn said, scrunching the bra up in her hands.
"I figured you'd need it at some point," Stephen smiled genuinely, if a little dazed.
Sighing, Kathryn fell back onto the bed, feeling the softness of the material under her. It had been so much simpler, earlier. She and Stephen had simply been lovers, interested in nothing else but giving each other pleasure. Why should that have to change, really, just because he happened to be related to Chakotay?
She was deluding herself, she knew that.
It changed everything. It just did.
Lowering himself down, Stephen leant next to her on the mattress, his head resting on the palm of his hand as he studied her. "What are you thinking?"
Her hands splayed over her stomach. "The men from your family seem to be psychic when it comes to the mind of Kathryn Janeway. You tell me what I'm thinking."
"You're thinking that maybe he's right. Maybe I do think this is more than just having fun. Maybe I'll get hurt when you go running after him."
"What makes you think I'll go running after him?" She countered.
He smiled, slowly. "I'm psychic, remember?"
Laughing silently, she shook her head as best she could considering she was on her back. "Were you listening in on our conversation?"
That really seemed to amuse him. "Absolutely not! Remember...I may indeed be psychic when it comes to you, but I know him even better: he's family."
Grunting in disgust, she rolled away from him onto her side. "God, do you have to remind me?"
He wasn't about to let her get away that easily. "Ah, I remember when I was young..." He informed her dramatically "...and I would ask my big cousin Chakotay how to woo a girl..."
"And he'd say," His voice dropped an octave "'Well Steve, always treat a lady with respect. Never, ever, under any circumstances...stick your tongue down her throat unless she asks you to.'"
"'And of course it helps if you're well endowed.'"
Finally giving in, she turned around and slapped him on the arm. "Stop that! You're awful!"
"And you're laughing," He pointed out.
Lifting a hand to cover her mouth, Kathryn sat up, muffled laughter escaping. Removing her hands she shook them about, willing some self control into place. Eventually, her laughter started to fade. Still sitting up, she spoke. "Will you be alright?"
Moving, matching her pose, he placed a hand over hers. "I will be absolutely fine, Annika."
God, he was making this so easy. What was it about the men in this particular family, anyway? Why were they all so *nice*? "You don't have any brothers, do you?"
He laughed, surprised by the question. "No."
"Thank God," She responded, then stood. "I was going through this family like a recessive gene."
Chuckling, he pulled her down for a kiss. "You take care of yourself."
Pulling away from his lips, she stood fully. "And you. Now I have to figure out just what to do about *him*."
Continuing to hold her hand, he smiled. "He won't have gone far. He never went far."
Frowning, she tried to produce a smile. "What makes you say that?"
Stephen shrugged, indicating that the answer was obvious. "You're Kathryn. He told me a story once-"
"He does that a lot."
"I know. But this one was unfinished. I hope you can give it a happy ending."
Stephen was right, of course. He hadn't gone far and probably never had done.
He was - of all places - in the bathroom. The door wasn't even locked so she stepped in, easily. He was sitting on one end of the bath, his back towards her.
Quickly approaching she lowered the lid on the toilet and sat down, facing him.
They said nothing for several moments.
"I made it to the front door," He murmured, still not looking at her, voice sounding a little off-key. A frown marred his face as if he found it difficult to comprehend or was disturbed by something he did comprehend. "All I had to do was press a button to leave...I lifted my hand, extended a finger...and I couldn't do it. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is? How little control I have over myself?"
It was a rhetorical question more than anything; she could tell that he genuinely believed that she wouldn't understand, or sympathise. "When we were on New Earth," Kathryn informed him, softly "I would spend hours just looking at you. So often I found you asleep on the grass, your face turned up towards the sun. You were so beautiful," She told him huskily, surprised at how emotional she was getting. "And though I'd tell myself a hundred times that I really should be doing something constructive - tending the plants, finding a cure - I would sit, and watch, and you would sleep. So yes, I understand. When everything you've ever been taught is screaming at you to do something, you find yourself doing just the opposite. The lack of control is terrifying. To have the need to look at someone *that* badly..."
Face still lowered, still breathing heavily, his shoulders moved. "I was never asleep," He admitted.
Genuine surprise flashed through her. "You were awake?"
"Every time," He confirmed. "Every single time. The tension of knowing you were watching and not being able to open my eyes almost killed me. I knew that if I did you'd walk away."
She almost apologised. "I suppose I did anyway."
Heaving a big sigh, he met her gaze briefly before looking away once more. "That's what it's all about, I guess. Terror. Lack of control for anyone - especially a Starfleet officer - is disturbing."
Pleased that he seemed to understand, she nodded vigorously. "Especially for a Starfleet officer who is the sole authority in the Delta Quadrant. No one to back her up. No one to give her orders. Control had to be maintained or everything was at risk. You understand that, don't you?"
"I only wish I didn't. I agree with you, I just don't agree with the way you went about enforcing that control. It left you so isolated."
Reaching out a hand, she touched one of his. She'd have to be blind to not see how much it had bothered him, how much it still did. "I'm truly sorry, but I'm not going to apologise for how I captained Voyager-"
"I don't expect you to," He chuckled, as if the very idea were ridiculous.
They remained still, silent, her hand still resting on his. His eyes flicked over her.
"Blue suits you."
It took Kathryn a few moments to catch the reference, but when she looked down at the hand she wasn't touching him with she realised she was still holding the bra. A smile tugged at her lips. "I bet you had me pegged as Starfleet-issue underwear girl, didn't you?"
He snorted. "More like leopard-skin."
She didn't believe that one for a single second and her raised eyebrow told him as much.
"Okay," He confessed. "I thought black."
"Thought or imagined?"
"Is there a difference?" Chakotay shot back.
"Absolutely," She told him. "For example, I *thought* that you wore briefs, but I *imagined* the way they cupped-"
"I get the idea," He cut her off, smirking despite himself. "If you really want to know..." He waited until she nodded. "I *thought* that you wore black underwear, but I *imagined* taking it off."
She really shouldn't have been blushing. She was in the bathroom of her newest lover - who just happened to be Chakotay's cousin - with Chakotay, discussing her underwear. She was way beyond embarrassed.
Her face didn't seem to think so. Within seconds she had a prominent and highly disturbing flush on her cheeks and down the front of her chest.
"Well..." Kathryn nearly stuttered. "I suppose I walked right into that one."
Chakotay nodded his agreement, but the smile faded quickly and his gaze locked onto the floor again. "Are you going to break me, Kathryn?"
That confused her even more. "What do you mean? I never broke you-"
"Every day. Every single day. It was never intentional, I know that. And it was partially my own fault for getting so involved when you clearly didn't want to. I broke myself as often as you did. It was easier, when we got back. I didn't have to deal with seeing you every day. Didn't have to keep up a pretence."
"I won't intend to," was all she could offer.
He smiled. "I know. So where does this leave us now? Right where we were? Friends? Lovers pretending to be friends? Strangers?"
Oh God, he wasn't a stranger. It was worrying that he could even think that. An idea formed in her mind then, an idea so obvious in its simplicity that she worried for her own sanity at not thinking of it earlier. She couldn't believe she was even considering it...her *lover*...Chakotay's *cousin*...was barely thirty feet away, and here she was considering something that went a little over the edge of what friends normally did for each other.
He could interpret it anyway he wanted.
Give it any meaning he wanted.
But she would know what she meant.
"I want you to help me, Chakotay." Not giving him time to react properly, she withdrew the hand that was still touching his and extended the other, which clutched her bra. "I really think you did quite a bit of ligament damage when you lifted me onto the counter earlier. My arms are very sore." Which wasn't true, of course. It was a complete lie. An utter falsehood, but it really didn't matter. For what she wanted to do, the vaguest of reasons were all that were necessary.
Seeming to realise that perhaps...something...he met her gaze once more. "What is it?"
Smiling, and thinking that he would probably never have envisioned this situation, she spoke: "I want you to put my bra on me."
To say that his jaw hit the floor would have been something of a rather large understatement. Sure, his mouth wasn't actually open, but the absolute shock in his eyes conveyed the same message. He looked, briefly, like a rodent trapped in the headlights of an oncoming automobile.
This particular driver put her pedal to the metal.
"You see," She continued, maintaining the lie that neither of them believed "I'd do it myself, but I really don't think my arms or shoulders are up to the challenge. And as yours seem perfectly fine, I thought you might like to help an old friend out."
"Shouldn't that be 'in'?" He shot back, apparently recovering.
"Why quibble with semantics?" Kathryn asked, the corners of her eyes crinkling up in humour.
Chakotay was trying him damnedest not to smile, she knew he was. She also knew he was horribly confused, but then she figured he'd finally understand what she felt most of the time.
"Certainly," He told her eventually. "Anything for an old friend."
Deliberately ignoring his emphasis on a particular word, she smiled pleasantly. The way friends did. "Thank you."
He nodded, perhaps expecting her to turn around.
Of course she wasn't going to. Still facing towards him she grabbed the bottom of her top and pulled it off in one smooth movement. Instantly released, the clothing flew through the air until it encountered a wall and stopped rather suddenly, its journey cut short.
In an amazing feat of self control, Chakotay's expression didn't alter.
As her top hit the floor, Kathryn extended the bra to Chakotay. "Here."
Continuing to look at her face, he took the item of underwear and unfolded it from its scrunched up existence. Satisfied that it was fully open he held it up - still not looking at her chest - carefully wrapped a hand around her bare arm, and inserted it through a strap. Mirroring the move, he repeated the procedure with her other arm, inserting that too through its relevant strap.
All the while, Kathryn maintained eye contact.
He broke that contact then, leaning forward and over her shoulder to fix the clasp of her bra together. As his chin grazed the skin of her shoulder, Kathryn closed her eyes. His arms were around her, his hands were warm on her flesh as his fingers confidently joined the two sides of the bra. She may or may not have imagined the tremor is his hands as they moved away from the bra and splayed across her back. Indulging, she inhaled the scent of him and her stomach lurched.
That was the difference. With one look, one sound, one scent...Chakotay could reduce her to a gibbering wreck. If she let him.
That was the power Stephen didn't have.
Chakotay's fingers moved lightly across his skin.
It was quite possibly the most erotic dressing she had even been involved in.
"What do you want Kathryn?"
Her back arched instinctively at his whispered words, her eyes still closed, a hand reaching up and splaying against the back of his neck. "What do *you* want Chakotay?"
He scraped his nails lightly across her back. "I want..."
Growling at his hesitation, her eyes snapped open and her grip on his neck intensified. "Tell me what you want. Stop being *nice*."
He stopped being nice.
Lowering his mouth to her skin, he showed her exactly what he wanted.
"You're a good liar. She believes you."
Lying out on the bed, he looked at the man who had just spoken. He was standing in the doorway, looking rumpled; clothes and hair mussed, red marks on skin and although it was obvious he was trying with all his will power to not looked pleased, it was equally obvious that he couldn't accomplish that particular goal.
Smiling, he lowered his head back down so it rested on the pillow. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Bull," Chakotay retorted, pulling away from the doorway and sitting on the side of the bed.
"I know what you think it is," Stephen answered. "But it's not. I've known her for...what? Three hours?"
"It took me two minutes."
"I'm not you, Chakotay. I don't fall for the type of woman who is quite capable of kicking my butt."
Shaking his head, Chakotay chuckled. "You really expect me to buy that? Because trust me, Steve, it runs in the family. Mom was the dominant personality, and as for my Aunt..."
"Mom isn't dominant! She just enjoys...voicing her opinion."
"That doesn't make her dominant."
Smirking, the older man shook his head before looking away.
"What now?" Stephen asked, sitting up. "Do we compare notes? Act like it never happened? Have a threesome?" At Chakotay's sudden glance, he laughed. "Just joking."
Chakotay looked away again. "We're not seeing each other again."
"Who? You and me, or you and her?"
"Me and her. We decided afterwards...quite rationally...that it wouldn't be right. To you. Not after what happened..."
"I don't believe this..." Stephen muttered, shaking his head in amazement.
"What?" He seemed genuinely confused.
Moving towards him, Stephen hit his cousin on the chin. "You absolute ass-hole! All that time together! All that emotional baggage you shared with me because you'd never share it with her! All the shit you went through together...separately...all the times she kept you away. You finally...finally get it together...and you decide to end it just because she's had sex with someone she's known for all of three hours!"
Standing up, Chakotay rubbed at his jaw, more out of shock than anything else. "You're *family*." He emphasised, trying to get his point across.
Clambering up from the bed, Stephen grabbed his shoulders. "And you're *Chakotay*. And she's *Kathryn*. I don't care what you say, Chakotay. I don't care if you mean it. This will not end here and now. Hell, it didn't end after she ignored you for ten years; it's certainly not going to end because of this little hiccup." Calming himself, he lowered his voice. "When did rational thinking ever mean a *damn* to you? Always lead with the heart, isn't that your way? You'll be drawn back together. You'll sneak around in case I find out, feeling guilty about every moment spent together when you should be enjoying yourself. But you will be together."
"What makes you think that?"
"You are Chakotay. She is Kathryn Janeway. That's all the equation needs."
Well, it had turned out that the bra was third on the list eventually. Although...Kathryn wondered if it really counted because technically it had only been on for about a minute. Maybe two. That could hardly be described as keeping it on. Putting it on, yes. It fit that criteria. But she couldn't help but wonder...
And she knew why she was wondering this particular wonderment. Anything to take her mind off...
What an absolute nightmare of a day.
She was in the shower, resting the weight of her body against the palms of her hands on the wall, head bowed as the water pounded down. Trying not to think...
...this was the room...
...where he touched her...
Trying not to think...
...this was the room...
...where they had agreed...
For his sake.
She was out of her mind, really. In one day...in the space of under three hours...she had met Stephen, had sex with him, discovered he was Chakotay's cousin, had been reunited with Chakotay, and promptly had sex with him, too.
And that registered as an absolute nightmare of a day.
Anyone else would have been enjoying themselves.
Oh, but Kathryn Janeway...sole representative of the United Federation of Planets in the Delta Quadrant for almost a decade, a woman obsessed with keeping control, with keeping the status quo...had given in to what she wanted.
And scared the shit out of herself in the process.
It had all been very polite. Respectful. Yes, it was enjoyable. Very enjoyable. Extremely-but that's not the point. It would be best for everyone if they didn't do this again.
The water swirled efficiently down the drain.
It would just confuse the issue, confuse their situation. Kathryn would no doubt continue to see Chakotay at crew gatherings. Chakotay would still visit with Stephen every now and then. Kathryn might even visit Stephen. It would have just hindered all their friendships.
The warm liquid continued its journey over her body.
She couldn't even remember whose idea it had been. Probably hers. Her old fears had flared up again; of course they had. She should have predicated that. She really should have.
A feeling of cool air moving passed over her.
Shaking her head out of the water, she blinked the moistness out of her eyes and looked.
Chakotay was standing there, bracing his hands on either side of the shower doorway. He was staring at her face. Just staring at her.
Kathryn idly noticed that he was getting soaked. "What is it?" She asked, instantly knowing what it was anyway and beginning to smiling.
"You know what I want?" He asked rhetorically, ignoring the water. "I want to be in your bed every night. I don't want to give a damn about anyone else's feelings, just being selfish and enjoying myself. It's been so long since I've been selfish, Kathryn. I want to indulge."
Her smirk remained in place. "And will you do that every day, Chakotay? Will you be selfish every day?"
"Yes," Then instantly changed to "No. Not all the time."
"Good," Kathryn retorted, her smirk transforming into a gentle smile. "I could still do with back rubs and ancient legends on occasion."
He appreciated the humour. "But no monkeys?"
"Thank the spirits," He whispered dramatically, stepping into the shower cubicle still fully clothed. "Turn around," He told her, and when she complied he wrapped his arms around her, joining his hands across her stomach.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
She could feel the smile on his lips as he placed a kiss on her back and simply held her.
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Suz's Voyager Fanfic