Disclaimer - all characters belong to Paramount. Blah blah.
Dedicated to - hmm. Jannk, I think. She deserves itJ
Oh, by the way, this contains the playful version of Kathryn Janeway, who we see far too little of in my opinion.
"I'm not sure I can 'define parameters'. But I can tell you a story, an ancient legend among my people. It's about an angry warrior who lived his life in conflict with the rest of his tribe. A man who couldn't find peace - even with the help of his spirit guide. For years he...struggled with his discontent, but the only satisfaction he got came when he was in battle. This made him a hero among his people, but the warrior still longed for peace within himself.
One day, he and his war party were captured by a neighbouring tribe, led by a woman warrior. She called on him to join her, because her tribe was too small and weak to defend itself from all its enemies. The woman warrior was brave, beautiful, and very wise.
The angry warrior swore to himself, that he would stay by her side, doing whatever he could to make her burden lighter. From that point on her needs would come first. And in that way...the warrior began to know...the true meaning of peace."
16 weeks later…
Kathryn hummed as she tended the latest batch of Talaxian tomatoes. She felt ridiculously proud that they were flourishing, something Chakotay had teased her about endlessly. Despite her warnings, there had been no insects that had interfered with their development (ironic, Kathryn thought) and now she only had one food problem to worry about.
Growing more than just tomatoes.
He hid it rather well, but she could tell that he was getting sick of having tomatoes every night. It had been fun at first - she did the growing, he did the cooking. But after night after night of tomato soup, lasagne, spaghetti bolognese and other tomato-related meals, she would be quite happy to never eat another tomato ever again.
The problem was that she'd had no success in growing other foods. Maybe it was the soil on the planet, but anything else she tried to grow managed to die. The only thing that had survived so far had been the lettuce, and even that was looking a bit limp. She also suspected that Chakotay had been secretly helping the lettuce in some way to raise her flagging spirits. That was sweet of him.
He was sweet.
No, he was more than sweet.
He was gorgeous.
She'd known from the first moment they met just how attractive he was, but she'd always managed (well, most of the time) to push those thoughts away. There wasn't much of an opportunity to do that here.
Kathryn sensed rather than felt the object of her thoughts creeping up behind her. Acting as if she hadn't noticed, she had to lower her face almost all the way to the mud to hide her smile. She should have known better.
After feeling a slight push she soon found herself face down in the mud. She came up spluttering, screaming at him but unable to keep from laughing.
Rubbing the dirt off her face, she quickly turned to see him already half way toward the house. She could tell he was laughing - the slight shaking of his body was a definite give away.
So, attacking an unarmed civilian and retreating huh? Well there was only one solution for this.
Reaching behind Kathryn grabbed blindly for the tomato, never taking her eyes off her intended target. Finally finding purchase she grabbed one, then lobbed it full force at her enemy.
She watched as the tomato moved, to her eyes, almost in slow motion. Finally it reached him, hitting just where she'd aimed. Tomato juice and seeds splattered all over the back of his neck and down his top.
Grinning, Kathryn suddenly realised she should be up and running by now. It was not a good idea to be sitting here when the inevitable retaliation came. The narrow eyes which swivelled towards her emphasised that idea.
Inelegantly leaping up, Kathryn ran towards the nearest tree, knowing that he would head toward the nearest tomato patch. One of the things she had discovered about Chakotay in their time here was his sense of fun. It brought out her own.
Two tomatoes hit the side of the tree and Kathryn flinched. "Hold you fire!" she yelled. "I'm unarmed."
Another tomato struck just above her head.
Hmm. She'd have to try a different tactic.
"I didn't start this war - you did!" she shouted. "I just got caught in the crossfire!"
She heard a chuckle then, but was smart enough not to leave the relative safety of the tree trunk. It was a wise decision because, sure enough, another two tomatoes hit the tree.
"You're wasting our food supply!" Her mind was whirling, trying to think of other ways out of the situation without being tomatoed to death.
Finally he shouted back to her. "You're as sick of tomatoes as I am!"
Kathryn had to concede that he had a point.
"Actually, this is kind of therapeutic." He continued as another tomato hit the ground by her feet.
"What is?" she demanded in a teasing tone. "Throwing things at me? Am I really that annoying?"
She heard him tut. "No. I'm just glad to be getting rid of some of these damn tomatoes."
Silence fell then. Had he run out of ammunition? She doubted it. There were several patches of tomatoes available to him.
Glancing around Kathryn looked for something to defend herself with. Trees, sticks, stones…too dangerous. Finally she saw the lettuce, but the patch was too far away. If she could make it to that rock and hide behind it she might have a chance…
Without thinking things through, she suddenly found herself running toward the rock as if her very life depended on it. No missiles had hit her yet. Maybe she had surprised him. Maybe she had made it. Maybe she was going to make it. She was almost there…
The third tomato hit her leg and knocked her off balance before she could finish that thought. The exclamation that left her lips as she hit the ground was far more colourful.
Finally she came to rest lying on her back. Staring up at the cloudless sky, she was aware of two things. One, he was walking towards her. And two, she was covered in tomato juice. She felt some of it drip off her leg.
Chakotay looked down at her, tomato splattered and pride in tatters. His face was in shadows because the sun was behind him, but she knew he was smiling.
"Do you give?" he asked.
"Go on." She sighed. "Appreciate it while you can. You'll get pay back for this."
"Oh will I?"
Before he realised what she meant, suddenly Kathryn was up and running. Damn she can run fast he thought, with more than a touch of admiration. That didn't stop him from his pursuit.
She wasn't that far ahead and he managed to grab onto the back of her flowing dress. Fortunately for her, it was covered in tomato and his grip slipped as it discovered the sticky substance. He stumbled and almost lost his footing, but was soon back up to top speed.
His stumble had given Kathryn the time she needed and by the time he caught up with her she was standing in the middle of the food, a tomato in each hand.
He stopped running and took a nervous step backwards.
She was fully loaded. And she had a vendetta.
Pushing a tomato stained hair out of her eye with her forearm, she regarded him with a smile on her lips. "Are you alright Chakotay? You almost look nervous."
Okay, he needed a plan. He knew there was another batch of tomatoes to his right, but didn't look at it. If she followed his gaze she'd know where he would be headed. Of course she probably knew anyway. She'd gotten to know him well over the past four months.
He jolted his feet to full awareness and pelted toward the tomato patch. It wasn't enough. Evidently her aim was off (more likely she was giving him a sporting chance) because only a few of her throws managed to hit him.
Reaching the fruits, he yanked two of them up and threw them at her. One got her in the stomach and she yelped slightly. They continued throwing them at each other, giggling, neither one giving up any ground.
Finally they were almost face to face, but neither one threw anything. Why it seemed almost rude to throw tomatoes as this close range. Kathryn soon dispelled that notion as she reached up and smothered one on his face.
Blinking, Chakotay stared down at her, his eyes saying what his tomato-filled mouth couldn't. I can't believe you did that.
Kathryn snorted. He obviously had no idea how hilarious he looked. Wet, covered in pieces of tomato, and some juice dripping off the end of his nose.
Chakotay finally managed to swallow the tomato pieces left in his mouth and spoke. "Was that a snort? Did I just hear a snort?"
That shut her up. "I do not snort."
She was kidding right? This woman had just tomatoed him and she was offended that he said she snorted when she laughed? Clearly she wasn't.
"Kathryn, I think you need to work on your sense of humour." He told her.
"Definitely." He insisted.
"Uh hu." She replied, not committing herself to the idea. Then she reached down for another tomato.
He wasn't going to let her get him again and he grabbed her. Her foot slipped in the mud and they thudded to the ground, the tomatoes left in the mud squelching in agony at their untimely deaths.
Chakotay raised an eyebrow at her and at their current position. She was on her back and he was lying on top of her. She was completely vulnerable to attack.
Kathryn meanwhile, was trying to think of escape. He was too heavy for her to push off. She needed a distraction. She needed…yes! That was it!
Yanking his head down with her hands she kissed him. Chakotay's eyes widened but soon closed as he let himself enjoy the unexpected kiss. He knew she was using it as a tactical manoeuvre but he didn't care.
Kathryn's plan was rapidly being forgotten. She no longer cared about winning the tomato war. All that mattered were the wonderful things he was doing with his mouth.
Groaning, she pulled him closer, deepening the kiss. Their tongues met frantically before their lips finally had to part so they could breath.
Panting, they looked at each other and at the state they were in. She began laughing and he soon joined in.
"You know," she laughed "we're going to need to get cleaned up. I don't think we'll both fit in the bathtub."
"Well we still haven't taken that tour of the river…" he suggested.
Her eyes twinkled as she nodded in agreement. "That's a good idea. In fact that's a very good idea."
He moved to get up but she held him still. "Wait. You've still got some tomato on your face."
"Well so have you-"
His words were silenced as she leant up and kissed away a piece of tomato skin from his cheek. After the kiss they had just shared it shouldn't have affected him, but he found it incredibly intimate.
When she pulled her head back down she was blushing, although there wasn't much of a difference due to the tomato war.
"You're blushing." He told her inanely.
"You're staring." She replied, unable to look away.
Their lips met again and there was something deeper this time. A desperation.
Between kisses they talked to each other.
"We could…mmm…take the boat ride another time."
"Definitely. I…oh God!"
Lips still clamped together they rolled until she was on top. Kathryn wrenched her lips from his and he groaned. He needn't have worried. Lazily pressing another kiss on his mouth she began to whisper.
"You know…maybe tomatoes aren't that bad after all."
6 weeks later
Kathryn swore as she examined the results of her data. It couldn't be possible, could it? But the evidence said otherwise.
"Kathryn?" Chakotay's voice was heavy with concern as he saw her frown. He moved from his seat and kneeled down next to her. "What's wrong?"
Her eyes were glistening as she handed him the PADD. "I found it."
He couldn't say anything. He slumped back onto his rear, unaware of how childlike he looked at that moment. He was dazed. He also knew what this meant. They would send a subspace message to Voyager which would catch up with the ship far quicker than their shuttlecraft could. They would inform the crew that they were to reverse course and meet the shuttlecraft which would be travelling toward them at warp four. They would tell the crew nothing of the relationship that had been forged here.
He knew the crew would not object delaying their journey home.
For one wild insane moment he thought of asking her not to tell them. They could have a wonderful life her. They would have a wonderful life if they remained.
But just as instantly the thought vanished and he almost laughed at the idea. No, she wouldn't quit. She was first and foremost the Captain. Kathryn was her secondary persona who had finally found somewhere to exist. After they left New Earth, she wouldn't anymore.
Nothing would be the same.
Kathryn jumped down from her seat and wrapped her arms around him. Rocking back and forth she whispered continuously. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
They were both crying now, and clutched at each other desperately. They didn't make love. They couldn't. They couldn't make love again knowing they never would again. But they spent every night until Voyager rescued them in each others arms.
There it was. Voyager. Kathryn was amazed by how little she had missed it. She looked over to the man in the shuttlecraft next to her who looked at the ship and then at her.
A tear ran down her cheek. "I'm so sorry." She didn't think she could ever say it enough times.
He couldn't reply. Instead he turned back to his station and hailed Voyager.
"This is Commander Chakotay and Captain Janeway. We're ready to come…home."