Disclaimer - Paramount own them.
Okay, *my* version of what happened between 'Equinox part 2' and 'Survival Instinct', OR...why the heck Janeway's mood changed so quickly.
And the title is highly misleading.
"Come in," she called.
Thinking that her voice sounded a little distracted, he nonetheless stepped into her ready room, PADD in hand. He opened his mouth to get this over with as quickly as possible - they hadn't been on good terms since Ransom - but he hesitated when he saw what she was doing.
Kathryn was standing on the upper level, one hand resting against a hip, the other hanging by her side. She was staring through the viewport, studying the Markonian outpost with a slight frown marring her forehead. But there was nothing fake about her expression, nor was she concealing anything. It was simply unfettered interest.
He hadn't seen that from her in a long time.
He honestly believed she'd forgotten anyone had stepped in when she asked softly, "Yes?"
Chakotay began immediately, stepping up to the higher level because he knew instinctively that she wasn't going to move. "Captain, the Markonian representative has asked me to pass this on to you."
"What is it?" She asked quietly, still looking through the viewport.
"It's a list of the gifts they want to give us," He told her with a smile, gratified when she produced a small one of her own even though she really didn't seem to be paying much attention. On auto-pilot. "Apparently it's become a tradition that whenever they encounter a new race or ship they have to provide us with an itinerary of what they want to give us, just in case anything should offend us. Apparently it has something to do with an incident thirty years ago involving the equivalent of a Markonian cow and a Rabbi."
No reaction. Just a slight nod. "Very well. I'll look over it." Something about her tone of voice told him she wouldn't remember a single word she read.
Almost sighing, he handed the PADD over and turned away.
Stopping, he turned back. "Yes?"
"How long has it been, really? How long has it been since we've encountered a ship...a race...a spacestation...that was friendly?"
He knew the answer to that one immediately. "Gegen. The Voth ship."
"That was hardly friendly. They harpooned you."
"Yes, but he meant well."
She chuckled, then, and Chakotay felt a thousand weights lift at the sign of genuine emotion. "Seriously, Kathryn. He was extraordinary man. I often think about what he'd doing now, how he's doing. Chemistry was never his first love and they forced him into it."
"Palaeontology, as I understand it, was your first love."
He smiled at her words, at the phrasing. "Guilty as charged. I always found history fascinating."
Nodding, she continued looking at the spacestation in what almost qualified as a comfortable silence. "It's nice to be in friendly territory again."
"Yes," Chakotay agreed. "It is."
Excusing himself he once again turned to leave, only to be stopped as her free hand wrapped around his wrist. Surprised, he spun back to find her looking at his forehead.
"Chakotay..." She was clearly having a hard time getting this out. He recognised the moment that the Janeway resolve set in. Pushing her shoulders back, jutting out her jaw, standing taller...she looked him in the eye. "It's a beautiful view. Share it with me."
He didn't hesitate. Turning fully towards the viewport, he felt her hand slip away from his wrist and absolutely knew that the contact needed to be maintained. Grabbing her hand and looking out, he squeezed it. "I'd love to."
It really was beautiful, something that it should never have been because it was simply an amalgamation of a wide variety of technologies. The outpost...the docked vessels...but somehow the orange glow cast on everything reminded him of sunset on Dorvan.
It had been a long time since he'd watched a sunset with her.
He was glad he could do so again.
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