Small Gifts/A Severe Case of Stubble Rash
by Suz

Disclaimer - Paramount own the names.

An early Birthday present for Claire. Love you!!


I've often studied myself in the mirror; I expect most of us have at one time or another. I'm not referring to the quick glance to check if we look presentable or the worried nit-picking at every little thing that suddenly becomes a crisis when we're expecting a date to beep for entry.

No, this is far more philosophical.

Looking for the inner-self. I hate that term - it has the word 'counsellor' stamped all over it whichever language you say it in - but it's appropriate enough, I suppose.

Of course, I've discovered over the years that only by really studying the outside can we see the inside.

I've often been told that my eyes are my most expressive feature. I've never noticed that myself, but when I look in the mirror I simply see me. I don't see what they do.

I asked him once to describe how he saw me. After a great deal of deliberation he eventually responded that I was "a woman with an amazing capacity for contradiction."

Needless to say, I wasn't amused. Nor particularly flattered.

To me my eyes are simply grey (although he insists they're blue), and it's actually my face that is the most expressive. However, this exercise is about studying everything, not just my face.

So I begin.

My hair is a mess. It's frequently been so ever since I had it cut, but this is even more mussed than usual. I'd love to see Tuvok's reaction to it. I know what Tom's would be.

My skin is flushed; not quite red but definitely pinker than usual. And of course there's the accompanying perspiration.

My hands can still feel the imprint of his, retaining the memory of our palms pushing together, our fingers twining.

My wrists bear faint bruises - witnesses to our eagerness. He will, of course, notice them later and apologise. He will, of course, not really mean it and be not-so-secretly ecstatic.

My neck wears several marks where his mouth got the better of him. He joked that it had been decades since he'd done that to anyone but I know he was telling the truth.

My face is suffering from a severe case of stubble rash, particularly around the mouth; it's a hell of a lot redder than normal.

How long has it been since that - any of that - has happened?

Mark was notoriously clean-shaven. I appreciated that in him; it was a preference for fastidiousness that we both shared. Sometimes though...I just wish he'd be dirty.

God, that sounds ridiculous.

I don't mean that with the sexual connotations it implies (although that would be nice). I just mean I wouldn't have minded a lack of order, for want of a better term. Things don't always have to be so neat.

Chakotay knows that. Perhaps it was his former lifestyle. Perhaps his upbringing. Perhaps just the person he is.

Oh, but he plays the part well. He plays the part very well. Always reports for duty on time, starched, clean, not a hair out of place. I get the feeling sometimes that he does it for me. That's hugely egotistical, I know, but...I think he knows that I need him to seem like that most of time in his capacity as First Officer and the bridge between crews. He needed to be an example to his crew.

But here...

The sound of him moving in bed draw my thoughts back to my observations.

My ears...still remember his mouth, hot, whispering my name. They listen to the gift that is the soft sound of him sleeping.

My mouth is wide, open, and it seems ridiculous to me that it is only at that moment that I become aware of the huge, utterly inelegant grin on my face.

Am I different for what we did? That we had sex? That we made love?


My eyes...but my eyes...

Are happy.


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