Here's Part Two of the 'Lessons' series.
Set at the end of 'The 37's'.
Disclaimer - Paramount own all characters, and I'm not making any money from this.
Lessons, Part Two
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"I'm not sure I want to go in."
She looked so vulnerable right now. Hoping he wouldn't be going too far he lifted up his right hand and rested it gently on her shoulder. "No matter what happens, we'll make it. Remember that."
She mirrored his own small grin with a slight smile of thanks, turning her face to look up at him.
He squeezed her shoulder.
Silently burying her turmoil, she stood straighter and marched into the room determined to look like the 'Captain', her aura of professionalism returning.
He couldn't see her expression, but he imagined her eyes widening as she took in the sight before her. No one was there. No one was leaving Voyager. He was so proud of them for not leaving her.
She lowered her head and he could tell she was trying hard to keep her emotions in check. Finally she turned her head towards him and he could see the watery smile she sent his way.
His heart nearly burst.
Chuckling at his own foolishness he entered the holodeck. He was determined to learn some new dance techniques. He only knew a few and there was no way he wanted his lessons with Kathryn to end so soon.
Listen to me he thought. I'm already plotting how to spend more time with her. I must have it bad.
He was half right, he finally decided.
The party Neelix arranged had eventually been cancelled due to the discovery of the 37's and the Earth colony. Another party was being scheduled now they really did have something to celebrate - that they had all stayed together despite the obvious temptations of the colony. A real sense of community had been forged on Voyager, and everyone was only just becoming aware of it.
He had never felt so…settled. Happy. At peace.
Ten times. That marked the tenth time she had touched him so far. He was beginning to feel distinctly uncomfortable. He was sure she wasn't even aware she was doing it most of the time. She must have known subconsciously though. Despite the fact that she was very 'hands on' with the crew, she tended to steer clear of touching Tuvok. She knew how much he would disapprove.
This time however, she did have a good excuse. "Commander, can you join me in my ready room?"
"Certainly Captain." He replied, and got out of his seat perhaps a little too eagerly. She had already turned and was headed towards her ready room, so she hadn't noticed. But nothing escaped the roving eye of Thomas Eugene Paris, and he raised his eyebrow at the Commander's 'puppy-dog' performance.
Once in the ready room she motioned to the seat opposite from her own.
"Drink?" she asked.
"Whatever you're having."
She walked over to the replicator and ordered two coffees - extra caffeine.
As she handed him a cup he looked up at her. "You know you really should cut down on the caffeine Captain."
Sitting down opposite him she simply said "Cluck cluck Commander."
"I'm not apologising for it. I'm just looking after my Captain."
The way he said 'my Captain' made her pause momentarily. Then thinking she must have been imagining things she took a quick sip of her drink.
"I appreciate your concern Commander. Don't think I don't notice you looking out for me. It's just that I love my coffee far too much to give it up. I've already had to cut back more than I'd like thanks to rationing."
He nodded sympathetically. They'd got used to cutting back now, but every now and then someone would get wistful for something they used to take for granted.
"Anyway," she continued "I wanted to arrange our next dancing lesson. I want to be able to dance at least half as well as you before we attend the party."
That got his hopes up. "We?"
"You taught me to dance. It's only fair that I attend with you. Besides, I think it's important to show our 'unified front' every now and then. Let everyone know that everything's still alright."
Ah, that explained it. She didn't want just want to spend time with him. She wanted to spend more time with him for the good of the ship. He felt wonderful.
"When shall we have the lesson then?"
"That's fine for me. Is that all?"
Smiling he rose, gulping down the rest of his drink in one gulp. Instantly his eyes began watering. How could she drink this stuff?
He thumped his chest and then coughed. "Sorry Captain." He wheezed. "Just went down the wrong way."
Placing the coffee mug down on the table he turned to leave. Before he reached the door an idea popped into his mind and he swung back around.
"Captain…" she looked up from her coffee "have you considered growing your own?"
"Coffee beans. We've done it with most of the foodstuffs, so why not with the coffee? All you need to do is replicate some beans and…" his voice trailed off as he realised she was no longer listening to him. As he talked she had put her mug down on the table and had stood up. Now she was looking out the window, her left eye slightly closed as if she were running through something in her mind. She started speaking to herself.
"I couldn't ask Kes to give up room in the hydroponics bay for coffee beans - it's not exactly essential. Well, it's essential to me, just not to the crew as a whole." Now she started moving her arms to emphasise her excitement. "But if I save up a few replicator rations I can replicate my own beans and a container to grow them in. I could put them in the corner of my quarters; they wouldn't get in the way."
She turned to him and he was dazzled by the smile she threw at him. "Thank you Chakotay. That was an excellent suggestion. I can see why I made you my First Officer." She teased.
He felt ridiculously giddy about making her happy. "You mean you needed to be reminded?"
They had already danced once, and Chakotay had tried to maintain what he considered to be a 'respectful distance'. Trying to find a place between overt friendliness and complete isolation wasn't an easy task for him. It didn't matter so much when they were alone (although he still had a pretty tough time then), but they were in front of the crew now. He had to look like he wasn't being too attentive, but he also couldn't look like he was afraid to touch her.
Now they sat at the side of the holodeck that Neelix and Tom (after much jealous bickering) had converted into a dance hall, silently comforting the crew by co-operating with each other. It was important to do that, he knew, but sometimes he wished she would spend time with him just for him. He also knew he was being selfish, but couldn't help it.
He glanced at her from the corner of his eye. Something was bothering her. He'd noticed it in their dance lesson, and as she hadn't brought it up yet she might not want to talk about it. He had a feeling what it was that was bothering her, and knew she needed to talk about it even if she didn't.
"You miss her, don't you?" he asked quietly.
She looked into her glass of canar and smiled fondly. "Yes. She was…very special to me."
"I can understand that. You were a lot alike." She looked up at him asking a silent question. "You're both strong, independent leaders. Intelligent, resilient, wise, fiercely protective of the people you love…you demand and gain respect from all those you work with…" he suddenly realised it was turning into a long list. Looking at her again he tried not to flush as she quirked a smile at him.
"I didn't realise you held me in such high esteem Commander."
"Well it took a while Captain, but eventually you broke through my icy exterior."
END PART TWO