Between Love and Trust

NC-17

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from Star Trek Voyager. The rights to those characters and to the show belong to the creators of the show and Paramount.

 

Kathryn leaned against the back of the couch and put hand to her forehead, it had been a long day. Miral had her up at six am and had flatly refused to go down for her morning nap at ten, holding on until three and then crashing rather spectacularly in the middle of the floor, which meant that Kathryn had to disturb her sleep in order to get her into the crib in the other room.

By the time she’d cleaned herself free of baby spit up and strained carrots, she figured she’d have about an hour before the baby was awake once again. Closing her eyes she tried to think of something pleasant to occupy her mind. Maybe that trip to Risa that she and Mark had always talked about taking. Now she could go on her own and perhaps meet someone new there - someone who had a little less of an idea that she was the famous Kathryn Janeway who had captained the Starship Voyager. And even if she couldn’t find a man, she could at least enjoy the waterfalls and get a breath of fresh mountain air before her next tour of duty. Yes, that was it. She would take a trip to Risa and get away from it all. After seven years she definitely deserved some time to herself. Perhaps she could even ask Chakotay…

Chakotay? She couldn’t ask him anything. The reality hit her like a hovercraft in the chest. He’d made sure they’d never cross paths again. She couldn’t blame him though. She was the one who’d started the argument that had ended their lives together and their friendship, and who had kept it going even after he’d implored her to see reason.

Kathryn closed her eyes trying to block out the memory of that morning as it threatened to overwhelm her. But to no avail. The memories came anyway.

That morning she’d been thinking about the homecoming ball, the eight weeks they’d spent together since, how much she’d enjoyed getting to know him and how wonderful it was to be able to love him freely. But she’d also known it was time to end it.

He reached for her in his sleep trying to pull her closer to him but she moved away to the edge of the bed. Not wanting to have to disentangle herself from his arms whilst breaking his heart.

She heard him stir, the empty space beside him having alerted him that something was wrong.

“Kathryn?”

“I’m here.”

“Why are you all the way over there? It’s freezing. Let me warm you up, I was pretty good at it last night.”

She heard the smile in his voice and it took all of her will power not to turn to face him.

“I’m fine here.”

“Sweetheart, is something on your mind?”

Kathryn swallowed hard. It was now or never. “Chakotay, I want to end our relationship. I know that you care very deeply for me and I care for you as well. I have enjoyed your friendship and you’re the kindest man I’ve ever known but I’ve come to the realisation that I can’t be the person that you want me to be. I have to be with someone who understands my need for emotional independence and space. I’m not demonstrative or openly affectionate and it’s clear to me that unless I change, you’ll never be happy with our relationship the way it is and, more than anything, I want you to be happy.”

Chakotay lay stunned for a moment before, he reached over and turned her to face him. His eyes lit up with an anger, so intense, that she hadn’t seen in seven years.

“Want me to be happy? And you’re leaving me. You must be as unstable as all those counsellors say you are.”

Kathryn felt her face pale and had to bite her lip to keep it from trembling – with rage or hurt, she wasn’t sure. Thinking quickly she said the first thing that came into her mind. “Well, I’m sure if I told them how desperately you hang on to me, they’d diagnose you with some sort of co-dependency disorder.”

She watched as the rage mounted inside of him and was almost afraid of him as he hissed. “Well, it’s better than figid bitch syndrome.”

Kathryn silently rose from the bed and began dressing as quickly as she could in the same clothes as she’d worn the night before. There really was no point to this discussion. She’d said what she had to say and if he was going to hurl abuse at her, there was no reason for her to stay and listen to it.

As she finished dressing she could feel his heavy uneven breath on her neck. He was obviously expecting her to say something. To continue the fight or to give him a chance to at least apologize. But she was done. She’d had it with his need to coddle her and to fix everything that went the slightest bit south in their relationship. They weren’t a couple from a holovid novel and she’d tried to tell him that as many ways as she could. Dimly in the back of her mind she wondered if the problem was with her and not with him, but dismissed the idea. No one she’d ever known had been as possessive as Chakotay.

Zipping up her boot, she turned to look him in the eye. He moved to speak but she cut him off. “No, not now, not ever. Have a nice life, Chakotay.”

As she strode towards the doors she heard him say softly. “You too, Kathryn.”

The next few minutes were a blur and before she knew it, she was in her shuttle, heading towards the San Francisco apartment she’d rented but hadn’t slept in, in two months. She put the shuttle on autopilot and allowed the tears that she hadn’t wanted to shed in front of Chakotay to run down her cheeks.

By the time the shuttle had settled itself in her back yard, she knew her eyes were puffy and that mascara-covered tear tracks streaked her face. When the noise of the engine died down she forced herself to stand and exit the craft. Cursing herself, she realised that she’d left all of her things at Chakotay’s and didn’t even have a change of clothes for the following day. Oh well, she’d just have to replicate some. Starfleet had certainly given her enough back pay that she could afford it. She had no intention of going back for them and risking another confrontation with him.

Squaring her shoulders she walked out of the shuttle with as much decorum as possible. Although she knew there was no one around to see her, it felt good to be in control again. She knew she had to keep her wits about her, even in private because if she slipped even once, people would know something was wrong and ask her questions she wasn’t prepared to answer.

What she needed now was some time to herself. Time to decide where her life was going to go and what she wanted, without concern for anything or anyone else.

She spent the next month behaving like a zombie as she mechanically went to work, came home in the early afternoon and slept until the next morning. Sometimes not even bothering to eat, except for the occasional business lunch at headquarters. That all changed, however, one chilly afternoon when she arrived home to find Tom and B’Elanna on her porch, with Miral asleep in the younger woman’s arms. Sighing, she thought quickly about the possible ways she could convince the younger couple to leave without seeming rude or having to acknowledge that something was amiss.

“Tom, B’Elanna, what a pleasure to see you.” Kathryn tried to smile and found that the expression was at least somewhat genuine. It was truly nice to see her former helmsman and chief engineer. She’d missed them dearly over the past few months. And Miral was growing faster than Kathryn thought possible.

“Admiral.” Tom stepped forward and extended his hand for her to shake, but Kathryn surprised him by pulling him into an embrace, then followed suit with B’Elanna, careful not to crush the baby between them.

She watched as their faces registered shock and then settled into nervous smiles. Something was up. Perhaps they knew about her and Chakotay’s separation

In an effort to relieve the tension, she moved forward and keyed in her code to unlock the door. “Would you like to come in for a drink? It’s kind of chilly out here.”

She ushered them inside and gestured for them to sit on the couch. Walking to the replicator, Kathryn asked if she could get them anything to drink or anything for the baby. At the shake of both of their heads, she ordered a coffee for herself and sat down opposite them, sensing that they hadn’t come here for a chat or to console her about Chakotay.

After a few minutes of tense silence, she said to no one in particular. “Out with it. What can I do for you and how much of my leave will it cost me?”

For a moment no one said anything and then Kathryn watched as Tom and B’Elanna stumbled over one another to get their request out before she had time to think about what either of them were saying. By the time they’d both finished, speeding through their explanations, Kathryn has managed to piece together something about Miral and their shuttle. Somehow she didn’t think that was all that they were trying to tell her and their unease was beginning to give her a headache.

“Both of you, stop!” she barked, waking the baby and sending both parents into a frantic scramble to settle the child.

Kathryn rubbed at the spot between her eyes and wondered how much longer it would be before she could sleep.

Several minutes later, the baby was finally calm and Kathryn was able to face her former officers once more.

“Now, slowly this time. Tell me what’s going on and what you want me to do about it.”

“Admiral, we have a favour to ask of you.” Kathryn watched as B’Elanna turned to Tom, silently seeking confirmation from Tom and receiving it with a nod and a squeeze of her hand. B’Elanna turned back to her and Kathryn could see the apprehension now clearly visible in her eyes.

“We’d like to know if you could keep Miral for a while. Starfleet is sending us to the former Demilitarized Zone as part of a peace keeping operation they have mobilised.

For a moment Kathryn couldn’t breathe. Her take care of a baby? She was a woman who survived on coffee, no food, and death glares, none of which were conducive to baby rearing.

Once she regained her equilibrium she thought fast. Tom’s parents were available weren’t they? And even though they were a little older they would have to be more adept at baby care than she was. After all they’d raised three children of their own, while Owen balanced a career in Starfleet.

Before she had time to put more of a congenial spin on her thoughts, the words came tumbling out. “But what about your parents Tom?”

Tom seemed prepared for the question, launching into his answer with gusto. “Well, you see, Dad’s going on the mission with us, and Mom’s with my sister, Jenny on Betazed. She’s due to have her third baby any day now and besides, who better to teach Miral the ropes than the intrepid Admiral Janeway.”

Kathryn rolled her eyes at Tom’s last comment and sighed. “How long is the mission expected to take?”

“Two months.” B’Elanna said quietly, the young mother not meeting Kathryn’s eyes.

At Kathryn’s shocked look, Tom raced ahead. “But don’t worry, you’ll only have her for a month, Chakotay is going to take her after that.”

“We had plans for you guys to take care of her together but…”

“You can say it… We’re no longer seeing one another anymore.”

“I’m sorry.”

Kathryn raised her hand to stop anything else the couple might say about the subject. “There’s no need.” Straightening her shoulders she asked in her best command voice.

“Chakotay will pick her up in a month then?”

At the couples nod, she sighed and began the litany of questions she needed answered before taking her charge.

And with that, she entered into the unknown and awkward situation in which she now found herself. Chakotay was gone, she was alone and completely beholden to someone else. Her dreams of a happy homecoming were sailing further and further towards the distant horizon.

***********************

 

Chakotay leaned back in the deck chair and closed his eyes, a smile spreading slowly across his face. It had been a long time since he’d had an afternoon to himself juat to feel the Arizona sun on his skin. There was a slight breeze in the air but its pleasant tang only heightened his awareness of the beauty around him. He was once again in harmony with nature in a way he hadn’t been since his childhood and he had Sherisse to thank for it. She’d reminded him about what was important in life – his own happiness- and convinced him that there were people who wanted to provide it for him as much as he wanted it for himself.

He’d met her in a coffee shop, of all places, when he’d still been pining over Admiral Janeway, as he now referred to her. He’d been sitting alone at a table in the back drinking green tea, when he’d noticed a dark haired woman, with bright green eyes, peering at him from across the room. He was used to people looking at him and paid no attention at first. He was the renowned former first officer of Voyager, after all, and he was used to every woman and their mothers going after a piece of him. But there was something about the gleam in her eyes and the way she seemed to be daring him to approach her, that caught his eye. Three weeks later, he could honestly say it was the best dare he’d ever taken in his life.

With his eyes still closed, he could feel a presence beside him and felt Sherisse’s long hair brush his face as she leaned over him in the chair. She probably thought he was asleep and if she was going to wake him up the way she’d woken him this morning, he was content to let her think anything she wished. Instead of the sensuous kiss he was expecting though, he felt a firm shake on the shoulder and heard her slightly strident voice in his ear saying. “Isn’t today the day that we’re supposed to go and pick up that baby? What’s her name again?”

Chakotay opened his eyes and looked up at Sherisse. “Her name is Miral and she is my sister’s baby. So I’ll thank you to remember it in the future.”

Although he loved Sherisse, he didn’t particularly care for her tendency to forget about anyone who wasn’t directly involved in her life or in something she wanted. He was hoping he could help her overcome some of these shortcomings now that they were living together. Even though it was a bit sudden, he was firmly convinced that Sherisse was the woman for him, she didn’t mind him being affectionate in public or looking after her financially or emotionally. And she had in turn taught him how to have fun again. So he was willing to overlook the fact that she didn’t know his niece’s name and the fact that she seemed apprehensive about looking after the baby. He was sure that Miral would melt her heart.

His eyes lit up. That was it! He would send Sherisse to pick up the baby. Tom, B’Elanna and Miral had all met her and he was sure the couple wouldn’t mind if she went to get the baby from Kathryn. This way he could kill two birds with one stone, he could avoid seeing Kathryn while also convincing Sherisse of the wonder of children. After all he wasn’t getting any younger and he wanted to ask Sherisse if they could start trying for their own, sooner rather than later.

“Sherisse, honey,” he spoke softly, reaching out to stroke her face. “Would you feel comfortable getting Miral from Admiral Janeway’s? I’ve got some papers to grade and it would give you a chance to get know the little one before she spends the month with us.”

He watched as Sherisse debated whether or not to honour his request and his heart swelled when she agreed, bending down to kiss him, gently on the lips and tousling his hair the way she liked to, before heading off towards the shuttle garage on the far end of the property.

She truly was a wonderful woman and he was lucky she’d chosen him rather than the multitude of men who seemed to follow her everywhere. For what seemed like the hundredth time, in the last month, he thanked the spirits for the way his life was finally going, now that he was free of Kathryn Janeway.

***********************

 

Sherisse was thoroughly sick and tired of Chakotay. For the first week they were together he was a nice change of pace from the usual men she dated. Kind, considerate and almost chivalrous in his treatment of her. He seemed to think that her tendency to party and be a bit wild at times, was something that she wanted him to fix and she was content to play along as long as it suited her. She was even willing to move in with him if it meant getting access to the notoriety of the Voyager circle. Hell, she could even see herself marrying the man., if that’s what it took to make sure that she lived the kind of extravagant life that she was destined to live.

The only obstacle in her path was Kathryn Janeway. Sure Chakotay referred to her as Admiral Janeway and for all appearances hated the woman now, but Sherisse had been with enough losers to know that the ex girlfriend always seemed to come back into the picture at exactly the wrong moment. She knew that if Kathryn Janeway came back into Chakotay’s life at any point, even if she and Chakotay were married, she would lose him forever, without question. That was why she decided to take matters into her own hands. All she needed was a bit of help from the ‘adorable’ Miral.

She started the engine of Chakotay’s personal shuttle and hurriedly flew out of the garage. She couldn’t be gone too long because Chakotay would be worried and, if he got worried, he’d ask questions. Questions that would cause her plan to fail and would also mean the end of their relationship. She couldn’t allow either of these outcomes so she kept a close eye on the chronometer as she flew.

The trip from Arizona to San Francisco would take twenty minutes. From there, she would have an hour to deal with Kathryn and then twenty minutes to get home without arousing suspicion. If Chakotay wondered why she’d been gone for that long, she could always say she’d been out shopping but had decided not to buy anything.

Parking outside the address the shuttle’s computer had given her for Admiral Janeway, she opened the shuttle door and squared her shoulders. If she was going to take down the legendary Admiral Janeway, she had to look the part. She crossed the porch and rang the door bell, trying to paste a convincing smile on her face.

Janeway answered moments later, hair dishevelled, eyes rimmed with dark circles and carrying a baby which appeared to be half Klingon, crying unceasingly against her shoulder. Taking a deep breath she forced her voice to be chipper as she addressed her lover’s former partner.

“Hi I’m Sherisse, you must be Kathryn Janeway and this little angel must be Miral.”

Sherisse watched as the Admiral’s eyes narrowed and forced herself not to cringe as the imposing woman looked her up and down. Finally after what seemed like and eternity, the older woman spoke. “And you are?”

“Oh, my apologies Admiral, I should have said. I’m Chakotay’s fiancÈ and I’m here to pick up Miral and take her back with me. Chakotay is waiting for her at our house.”

“Ah, yes. Chakotay just sent me a text message about you and your arrival. Miral’s things are in the other room. I’ll be back shortly, wait here.”

And with that Sherisse watched as Kathryn disappeared into the house with the baby, leaving her standing alone on the porch to wait.

Several minutes later Janeway returned, arms laden with multiple bags that smelled of a mixture of stale milk and baby powder. A smell that Sherisse instantly decided that she didn’t like. She watched the older woman hold the baby close, kissing her forehead and cheeks and whispering to her, before handing her over.

Once the baby was in her arms Sherisse watched as a lone tear streaked down the Admiral’s cheek. For a moment she allowed herself to feel sorry for the older woman but banished the thought as quickly as it had come and put on the act once more.

“Thank you, Admiral for looking after her. I promise she’ll be well taken care of until Tom and B’Elanna return. Have a good day.”

Turning, she walked down the path towards the shuttle craft, not wanting anything more to do with the woman.

Arriving at the shuttle she dumped the baby’s belongings on the floor and fumbled with the baby seat that Chakotay had replicated and installed in the back of the shuttle last week. Finally getting the screaming baby to settle, she made her way to the front of the craft. She started the engine and lifted off. Once in the air, she gave herself a few minutes of flight time before calling the San Francisco police. As the call was connected she did her best to make herself appear distressed.

After about thirty seconds a uniformed officer appeared on the screen and announced himself to be Officer Peter Donaldson of the Seventh InterPlanetary Police Union. Sherisse, introduced herself and hoped that with her quick shake of her head and her combing with her fingers, her hair was dishevelled enough to present worry but not to signal instability. She peered intently into her monitor and tried to convey the most sincere fear she could muster as she hurriedly explained.

“Officer, I want to report a kidnapping. Admiral Kathryn Janeway has kidnapped my boyfriend’s niece and has been holding her for over a month. We had initially anticipated that we could convince her see reason and allow us to care for the child in her parent’s absence, but it has become increasingly clear to both of us that she is too far gone to understand what is best for the child. As such we need you to intervene and make sure that the custody orders are carried out. A little girl’s life depends on it and I’d be eternally grateful if you would help us resolve this matter peacefully and perhaps get the Admiral some help

“Hold one, just a minute, Ma’am.” The officer said, half seeming to believe her story and half wondering if she was almost as crazy as Sherisse thought the story sounded. Crazy enough to be true, she thought as she smiled to herself.

“You say that the legendary Admiral Janeway kidnapped your boyfriend’s niece a month ago and you’re only now contacting us because you wanted to give her time to hand over the child peacefully?”

“Officer, you must understand that the child’s parents are friends of the Admiral’s as well and they didn’t want us to cause any undue stress to the child or to the Admiral by forcing her to give up the baby. You see she was just supposed to babysit for an afternoon but insisted on keeping the child overnight and since then we’ve been trying to get her to give the baby up to us, but she refuses. For the sake of all of us, we’ve let her go as long as we can, but now it has become apparent that she can’t take care of herself or the baby and so we called you, hoping that you could provide a positive end to all of this. You don’t know how stressful it’s been wondering if the little one is safe at night, wondering if we’ve done the right thing and her parents calling us wondering whether they’ve done the right thing, letting us leave her with Admiral Janeway for so long. We would really appreciate your expediency in the matter. We have reason to believe that the child’s safety is at stake.”

“Is the child in imminent danger?” The officer still seemed calm although, Sherisse could tell that her smooth talking had done its job and he was now going to help her.

“The child is in no imminent danger but if the matter could be resolved within the next few hours everyone would be the better for it, I think.”

The officer looked sceptical and Sherisse realised that she’d dropped the frantic tone she’d had earlier in favor of a more businesslike one that seemed to alert the officer to something amiss.

Quickly changing her tone to a happy medium she explained. “I’m so glad you’re going to help us officer, I didn’t know what else to do. I don’t want to hurt the admiral and Chakotay doesn’t either, but this has gone on long enough.”

“Your boyfriend is the first officer of Voyager?”

The officer’s curiosity was piqued but not quite in the way that Sherisse had hoped. “Yes Sir, but that’s not the point.”

“Oh, I think it is.”

“It is?”

“I’m willing to intervene this time but in matters of Starfleet security, it is protocol to take them up directly with Starfleet. Since there is a child in danger, however, our police force will co-ordinate with theirs to see if they can get a suitable place ready for Janeway if she’s as badly off as you say.”

“Thank you, officer, very much.” She wiped a non existent tear from her eye and the officer smiled sympathetically at her.

“We’ll do everything we can, Ma’am, for you, for the baby and for Admiral Janeway. You were brave to try and be kind to her. But when people are this far gone, it’s better to let the authorities handle it.

Sherisse batted her eye lashes and tried to look as innocent as she could. “I didn’t want to get her in trouble, Officer. She’s been through enough.”

“That she has, young lady and we’ll be sure to get her the help she needs. But first, we need to know, who are the child’s parents?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just been such a long day.”

“No need to apologize, Ma’am, I’m just asking, so we can contact them and keep them apprised of the situation.”

“They’re B’Elanna and Tom Paris-Torres. The former chief engineer and helmsman of Voyager.”

“My, this is a big affair isn’t it? So the entire crew of Voyager is involved?”

“No, no!” Sherisse felt panic cross her face. If the rest of the officers knew what she was up to, she would no doubt be discovered. Chakotay had told her about the crew’s tendency to be one step ahead of most people and while a good thing on Voyager, it could spell trouble for her, but she needed to get Kathryn out of the way.

“Her parents are off world, Sir and I think they’re out of comm. range, but you can try reaching them. It’s just that….”

The officer cut her off. “I’m going to have to reach them, Ma’am if I’m going to do anything about your accusations. After all, they are the child’s legal guardians.”

Sherisse struggled to stop herself from blanching. If they said that Kathryn was supposed to be taking care of Miral, her entire plan would be discovered and she’d probably end up in a prison cell. All she could do now was hope that the officer didn’t ask the right questions and that the fates saw their way to making it work out in her favour.

“Of course Officer, do whatever you think is best.”

“We will, Ma’am and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.”

“Thank you.” Sherisse tried to make her voice sound as soft and demure as possible as she closed the link. Better to look like a grieving aunt to the last, even if she was nothing of the sort.

 

Once the comm. link had closed Sherisse turned back to look at Miral who had miraculously cried herself to sleep in the baby seat and hadn’t made a peep during the conversation. The back of the pilot’s chair had also obscured her from the view of the comm. Sherisse once again thanked the fates and then Chakotay’s spirits for being with her in her endeavours. At least the Gods understood how vital it was that she be with Chakotay and how necessary the removal of Kathryn from the situation would be.

 

***********************

Officer Donaldson put his head in his hands. It had been a long four hours since Sherisse Carrington had called his office. Immediately after closing the comm. link with her, he’d spoken to the child’s parents, by long range comm. connected through a top secret portal, the location of which Starfleet had refused to disclose. They’d only had two minutes to talk, the policeman only having time to ask who their child was currently supposed to be living with while they were on their mission. The parents had had to think about it for a moment which he found strange, but they’d eventually come up with Chakotay, the former first officer and his girlfriend, Sherisse Carrington as the current caretakers.

He hadn’t been sure before then that he believed Carrington’s story but after hearing the parents confirm it and seeing worried looks on their faces, he figured that Janeway’s illness had taken a toll on them all.

Still something niggled in the back of his mind and he was going to ask what they knew about Janeway’s condition when the link cut short and their faces were replaced on the screen by that of an Admiral Owen Paris, who seemed none to pleased that local police were even contacting two officers deep into a peace keeping mission. Donaldson had tried to explain to the Admiral that he’d only been trying to look after the Admiral’s grand daughter. But the Admiral hadn’t been interested in listening and had terminated the link, sternly warning that the police officers that they would face disciplinary action if they decided to try and compromise covert Starfleet operations with comm. traffic again.

Disappointed with the lack of information and still partly confused about where everything fell into place, it was with a heavy heart that Donaldson decided to instruct his officers to work in tandem with Starfleet forces to apprehend the child from Janeway’s custody. He also had to contact Children and Family Services and inform them of the issue, so that a worker would be on hand to supervise the hand over of the child and also to assess the child’s emotional and physical condition upon the unification with her proper caretakers. He also figured that the social worker would be needed to deal with Admiral Janeway herself. If she was as unstable as Ms. Carrington said, there would undoubtedly be trouble when the child was removed from her home.

Just as he readied himself to make the necessary calls to get the ball rolling for the custody intervention, Carrington’s face showed up on the vid screen once more. This time she was sitting in what looked to be a well lit dining room with a baby on her lap and a relieved smile on her face. “Officer, I’m so glad I caught you. Kathryn agreed to turn over Miral to Chakotay and she is with us now, but we’d still like to make sure that Kathryn gets the proper treatment she needs as she’s very distraught over the loss of custody. We fear she may be a danger to herself or to others. We don’t want to press charges, but we would like to see that she gets the psychiatric care she needs so that she’s no longer attached to Miral in this way and can finally get on with her life outside of Voyager.”

The officer breathed a half sigh of relief. He wasn’t going to have to arrest Starfleet’s golden girl. No, all he was going to have to do was place a call into Starfleet and they’d handle it from there. Perhaps one of their own psychiatrists would go to see Janeway and make a determination from there about what should be done concerning her psychiatric needs. What he cared about most now was that the baby was safe and the police department would no longer be interfering with Starfleet matters.

He went through the motions of thanking Ms. Carrington and asking after the baby before closing the link.

Now, all he had to do was write his report and then he could call Starfleet and then it would be out of his hands. His wife would be home from work soon and his son had a science project to complete, so he needed to get this case closed quickly and get home.

Smiling, he thought to himself how some days just seemed to be a roller coaster, first plummeting out of control and then evening out on their own without any help at all.

 

***********************

Kathryn sagged into the couch. Of all the nerve that Chakotay could possibly have, he sent his girlfriend to pick up Miral. Now how cowardly is that? Kathryn didn’t know why she sounded quite so indignant in her own mind but it seemed to make her feel better.

Kathryn was sure that Sherisse knew that she and Chakotay had once been involved. The woman was just a little too nice for it to be real and it rankled Kathryn that Sherisse had everything she wanted and she still found cause to be sweetly cruel to her. She was not in the habit of getting revenge but for a moment she imagined marrying Chakotay in front of Sherisse, having children and going to visit Sherisse. Celebrating their twenty year anniversary and seeing Sherisse in a restaurant, all by herself calling home to check on her fourteen cats. She wiped a tear from under her eye.

To make matters worse, she’d grown used to having Miral around and the way that woman handled the little one made her nervous as to what kind of a month the baby was going to have when Chakotay wasn’t around. She had no doubt that Chakotay would be a wonderful father, she’d even thought about asking him if he wanted to try for children as recently as a week before their breakup, but that was all gone now and she just hoped that Miral knew she was loved and cared for.

Children didn’t need to be caught in the middle of squabbles for power, money or partners. Kathryn had done her best to not even be sad around the little girl. Now, she would be going to a house where the couple were just getting to know one another and would undoubtedly want to spend more time with each other than the baby. She chided herself. Chakotay would never be that selfish. He loved children and he adored Miral. She had more toys from her uncle Chakotay than from herself or even from her own parents. It was disgusting and yet wonderful at the same time.

Sighing she wiped yet another tear off her cheek and thought about straightening up the living room, telling herself that she should be glad to have the little one gone as it would mean that there would be no more mess on the carpet or toys strewn about ready to be tripped on in a moment’s notice. Perhaps now she could even get a dog. Miral didn’t seem to like them and her plans for getting a dog that month had had to be put on hold.

Somehow none of this excited her though. She missed the little one. She wanted to put her to bed, wanted to feed her strained carrots and watch as the little girls face screwed up in disgust at how noxious the food probably was. She wanted to give her a bath and tuck her into bed and tell her stories about Voyager and the princes and princesses of the ancient stories of Earth. She wanted it all and she had nothing. No Chakotay, no Miral, no plans for that vacation on Risa, and no prospects on the dating horizon either. The only person who had approached her for a date was some movie star who looked like he cared more about his hair than anyone else. She wasn’t interested. She’d let the only man she’d loved slip through her fingers because she couldn’t manage to tell him that she was afraid of getting close to someone again.

Living alone was now her cross to bear, it would be the final testament to the struggle of getting Voyager home and to the loss of the inner Kathryn Janeway. Pretending not to notice the third tear that had streaked down her face in as many minutes, she finally began straightening up the room. This took all of thirty seconds without the baby and pretty soon she was right back where she started. Telling herself she needed to find something to do, she puttered towards the replicator and thought about making a fancy dinner for one. She’d all but convinced herself of the brilliance of the idea when the door bell chimed.

“Come in.” Kathryn called and then shook her head and laughed to herself, the doors in her home didn’t open with voice command the way they did at work. She must be tired. She’d forget the early dinner. As soon as she found out what the caller wanted, she’d replicate some soup and go to be early.

Opening the door, she found herself face to face with three uniformed Starfleet officers. One in red, one in yellow and one in medical blue, none of whom she’d ever seen before.

“Admiral Janeway?”

“Yes.” Kathryn replied, immediately suspicious of why they might be here especially since she hadn’t been expecting any colleagues.

“We have orders to take you in for a psychiatric evaluation.”

“What for?” Kathryn’s eyes grew wide. She’d been seeing counselors at Starfleet but that was all part of the post captaincy counselling regimen that command had come up with after the Dominion War.

“We believe you to be in need of medical help. We received a call from Sherisse Carrington regarding your kidnapping of Miral Paris.”

“Kidnapping!? What do you mean?” Kathryn stepped back from the three officers confused and slightly frightened now.

“Admiral, if you’ll just come with us, we’ll get you the help you need.” The medical officer spoke soothingly but with a touch of condescension that suggested that the three thought that she was slightly unstable.

“I did not kidnap Miral Paris.” she said, going further into the room and attempting to reach her vid comm.

“Admiral Janeway, we can’t allow you to make any calls at this time. We need to get you to the psychiatric facility and get you settled. Then you can make as many phone calls as you like to let someone know where you are. But you must come with us. If you resist we’ll have to use stronger measures.”

“Stronger measures, but I’ve done nothing. Miral was supposed to stay with me for a month and then with Chakotay for a month. Sherisse, Chakotay’s girlfriend, who you mentioned, picked her up this afternoon.”

“Ma’am, I think it’s best if you didn’t talk now. We’ll sort it all out later at the centre. Now’s the time for cooperation. We’ll tell you when its time to talk.”

“You’ll tell me when it’s time to talk!?” Kathryn knew it wasn’t a good idea to get upset but she couldn’t help it. These people were treating her as though she was not only a criminal but slightly deranged. Granted she was somewhat of a maverick after having spent seven years out in the middle of nowhere with the crew relying on her every decision for survival, but she wasn’t crazy. Even the counselors had agreed on the one occasion she’d quietly asked whether possible mental instability was the reason they were giving her such heavy duty counselling.

“I’ve been to the Delta Quadrant and back while you’ve sat on your ass and known absolutely nothing and you’re telling me when to talk? Owen Paris will hear about this before you can say….” The next thing she knew a hypospray was being placed on her neck and then she heard the familiar hiss against her shoulder as the officers called for a medical beam out to the Starfleet campus in San Francisco.

**************************

Chakotay absentmindedly turned on the vidcom as he struggled to get Miral to sleep. In the three days since she’d arrived, she’d hardly stopped crying in between miniscule amounts of sleep. At first he’d thought that maybe she was teething, but Klingon babies took longer to teethe because of larger teeth, so at five months it would have been almost impossible for her to have been teething.

Sherisse helpfully suggested that Miral just needed to grow up and accept life. Chakotay had started to realize that Sherisse wasn’t’ the person he thought she was. In fact she was downright cold and cruel and he couldn’t wait to get her out of his house. He told her as much the night before and she’d promptly told him he was a fool and he and Janeway deserved each other.

He’d heard that before from Seska’s lips and paid it no mind at the time, but now he knew that for once, Sherisse was being completely truthful. She’d moved all her stuff out this morning, leaving him a single uncle, trying to manage a baby, a bruised ego and a confused heart.

As he stroked Miral’s back for what seemed to be the thousandth time he heard something that caught his attention. The newscaster was saying something about Admiral Janeway. He was so tired, that for a moment he thought that it might be the late Admiral Edward Janeway, as he often had the history link open and constantly heard bits of historical information that the Federation thought to be of import to its citizens.

He was proven wrong a second later by Kathryn’s distinctive tone blaring from the vidcom. He stared speechless as he watched footage of Kathryn being dragged into a courtroom by two uniformed police officers. She was telling them repeatedly that she hadn’t done anything, alternating between demanding to speak to their superior and ordering them to tell her what the exact charges were. The anchor doing the voice over on the piece was saying that she was being charged with child endangerment and resisting arrest in connection with the custody of Miral Torres-Paris.

Child endangerment! Resisting arrest! What the hell were they talking about?

Quickly getting up from the couch, he placed Miral on his bed and threw on some clothes. He decided that the sleeper Miral had on would be warm enough for the two block walk to the public transporter and running through the living room, with the baby nestled in his arms, he haphazardly grabbed Miral’s diaper bag and his keys. Hoisting Miral onto his hip, he headed out the door.

**************************

Kathryn paced the inside of her cell like a tigress stalking her prey. She wasn’t exactly sure who the prey was. The guard was one possibility. The brutal man who had tossed her into the cell, making snide comments about how she was probably insane enough not to notice any pain, was another candidate and her Starfleet appointed lawyer was running a close third. He was convinced she was a few eggs short of a dozen and wanted to make the process as ‘gentle’ and expedient as possible. In other words he thought she was a fuzzy bunny.

And then there was Chakotay. Stupid-idiot-that-falls-for-crazy-bimbos-Chakotay. It was his girlfriend who had afforded her these luxury accommodations and who would probably care less about the loss of her freedom, not to mention her job. Kathryn couldn’t help but feel, despite her desire to take Chakotay’s head off at ten paces, that some of this was her own fault. Chakotay had only fallen for Sherisse because she’d pushed him away. She’d told him that their relationship had to end because he was too clingy but in fact she liked his protectiveness. She’d never felt needed or wanted the way he seemed to rely on her. It was comforting to know there was someone there for her at anytime and any point that she needed them. After seven years alone in the Delta Quadrant she’d had enough of being by herself and if she got the chance she would tell Chakotay that she’d just been afraid of what it would mean to him to be with someone who wasn’t exactly comfortable with being demonstrative. She’d have to learn to hug again, to kiss again, to love openly again. She’d known how in the first two years of their voyage, but slowly the easy affectionate nature that came naturally to her, ebbed away into a command persona that had all but knocked out every personal facet of her personality.

Her stubborn streak and her determination, two things that had made it possible for her to get back from the Delta Quadrant, had made living in the Alpha Quadrant an extreme challenge. One which had landed her alone in a jail cell with no hope of rescue and no one to miss her until Tom and B’Elanna came home later this month. By then it could be too late. The Admiralty could have certified her as unstable, and it would be hard to prove otherwise when she was safely locked away in a mental institution, with very little outside interaction and time to wallow in her failures. By the time the Paris’s had returned, their diagnosis might not be a fabrication and Sherisse would have won. With a rueful sigh she realised that the young woman must have known what kind of toll this ordeal would take on her and it riled her to realise that Sherisse didn’t care one little bit for her, for Chakotay, not for the past eight years, nor for the friendship Kathryn so hoped was somewhere beneath all his anger at their separation. Sherisse hadn’t cared for anyone but herself, which once again had Kathryn worrying for little Miral.

In the distance she heard two voices raised in anger, one more frightened than the other, intermixed with a baby’s cry. For a second, she thought the counselors were right and she was going crazy. After all, it wasn’t possible that a baby would be here in the San Francisco jail this late at night. If other babies were anything like Miral, they would be well in bed by this time, tucked under their covers, snug and warm with their bellies full, dreaming the pleasant dreams of the innocent. But the voices came closer and the crying grew louder and she realized that for some reason the quarrelling pair were heading for her cell.

Faintly now she could make out the voices. One was that of the guard who had tended her since her first day here and the other was that of her…former first officer!

Why was he here? He was supposed to be sitting on the couch with Sherisse, enjoying a nice quiet evening at home after putting Miral to bed. Miral! Yes, that was her cry. Strident and angry, indignant at being pulled from the sleep she had no doubt enjoyed before Chakotay dragged her out into the night to get here. What does the man want anyway, dragging a poor defenceless baby out into a cold night? Did he just come to gloat or had he seen reason and told Sherisse that he was going to find some way to get her out of this? Or was it something more? She hoped it was the second option, reasoned it was probably the first and knew it couldn’t be the last if her life depended on it. She laughed wryly, her life did depend on it. So she was sunk. There was no reason to place any faith in Chakotay, after all, she had abused the faith, trust and love that he’d put in her and had never looked back. Or so he probably thought.

“I demand to see Admiral Janeway.” Chakotay was saying. She could hear the anxiousness in his voice through the controlled bravado of his tone. “She has been wrongfully imprisoned and I have information that will force you to release her.”

She heard the guard dismiss his claim with the same line he’d been using on anyone who tried to visit. “The Admiral’s lawyers wish her to have no visitors and I’m to respect those orders, Sir.”

“Well,” she heard Chakotay say, seeming to have regained some of his equilibrium. “What if I told you she was my wife?”

“That’s impossible, Sir. The Admiral isn’t married.”

“According to my culture she is. She lived in my house for over two months and in my tribe that makes her my wife. You can check the Dorvan Anthropological database if you want confirmation of what I’m telling you but you can always just ask Kathryn herself. She’ll tell you that we spent those two months together, living as man and wife and as such, I not only have the right to see her, I have the right to see her without counsel’s presence and our conversation being monitored. Isn’t that right?”

“Yes, Sir, but I just need to….”

“You just need to what? I’ve just told you that I the right to see my wife without counsel and without monitoring. Anything else would be a violation of those conditions, Sir. And I will not hesitate to report you to my superiors. Not only is my wife a valued member of Starfleet, but I myself am a faculty member at the Academy and will have no trouble getting the attention of the Admiralty, including Admiral Paris, who I know oversees penal system and colony operations. Does he not? ”

“Yes, Sir. Right this way. She’s in cell twenty-two B. You may have five minutes alone with her while I go check your story against the penal system computer. If I find out you’ve been lying to me, I’ll have both of you locked up for a long, long time. Is that clear?”

“Crystal clear. Now will you take me to my wife?”

Chakotay appeared in front of Kathryn’s cell door and the guard buzzed for admittance but Kathryn couldn’t stand up to greet him. She was too shocked after what he’d told the guard. Man and wife! Married! She’d ended the relationship months ago and he was just telling her now that for all intents and purposes, they were married. When was he planning on giving her this information? Ire rose and she searched for the words to confront him but none of them came. Instead, comforting peace washed over her as she realised that, even if he was lying, it was comforting to know he was still cared about her enough to provide her the means of escape from this prison and that if he wasn’t lying, she might get another chance with him. Another chance to tell him what she’d been unable to tell him before, that she wanted him to teach her to love him the way she’d always wanted to. If she was honest with herself, caring for Miral had also brought up the thought of children, Chakotay’s children…

Now though she had more pressing matters to attend to. Talking over the issue of children was premature when she didn’t even know if she and Chakotay actually had a relationship. As she’d told herself before, it was possible he was just doing a kind favour for someone he respected. Although how he could respect her after the way she’d treated him, she didn’t know. She was only grateful that he seemed to retain his generous nature and seemed to be able to forgive her, her shortcomings, if only for a moment.

She too was still angry with him over Sherisse, but that too could wait until they’d solved the immediate problem of how to get her out of here.

Presently she saw him standing in front of the door, holding the baby close while he took stock of her. Surveying carefully whether she was injured or not, or had been treated roughly by any of the guards or prisoners. She’s seen that look in his eye before too. The angry warrior was back. At first she couldn’t tell if his anger was directed at her, the penal system, Sherisse or a combination of those things. When he finally spoke she expected his first words to be polite yet cursory to her, enough to be sure that she was all right but not so much as to arouse suspicion with the guard or to risk awkwardness between them. However, the first words out of his mouth were anything but perfunctory.

“Kathryn, sweetheart, are you all right? I’m so sorry about the issue with Sherisse. I had no idea she was going to do this to you. I know we have many things to work out but I’d like you to come home with me. I know you haven’t been home in quite some time but I still love you and I still want to be married to you. I’ve told Starfleet and the police about the misunderstanding concerning Sherisse and they’ve already questioned her. She’s admitted to everything and she did have the good grace to say she was wrong about you. That you truly didn’t deserve what she’d done to you.

“I don’t know if she truly believes that, but in any case she’s gone now and I’d like the opportunity to make it up to you. To start afresh, to show you how a wife should be treated.” He winked at Kathryn and her heart sank. He was just putting on a performance to fool the guard. His interest in taking her home was only to ensure that she got out of here unscathed. As nice a proposition as that was, she felt her heart tear in two when she realised that once free, he would again disappear without giving her an opportunity to right the wrong between them. She shook her head and saw the question in his eyes. But ignored it and resolutely turned away from him.

Chakotay watched with wide eyes and a heavy heart as Kathryn turned away from him. Apparently she wasn’t going to forgive him for smothering her and for being involved with Sherisse even if it meant getting out of prison. But he felt he had to tell her the truth.

“Kathryn, the truth is I love you.” he said, shaking with the effort of holding back his emotions. “The truth is that I probably shouldn’t have held on so tight. I know this, but if you’d only given me a chance to explain I would have told you that I was only keeping you so close because I was afraid of losing you and I enjoyed having you in my life every second of the day. You made life special, Kathryn. You make it worth living after years of having no one, but I won’t hold you so tightly anymore. I can understand how stifling that can be. Sherisse did it to me and I can only guess how much worse I was. But I truly love you.

“And, what a fool I was, falling for a woman like that. After you, I should have known the difference between true love and infatuation. That’s why I keep you around, Kathryn. You always save me from my biggest mistakes. You save me from my decision to travel home from the Delta Quadrant by myself, you saved me from being romantically assimilated by two Borgs and a woman I can’t even remember, not to mention Species 8472.You saved me from myself and from people who wanted to harm me and you saved me from a lonely life by being with me. I can understand if you don’t accept my love anymore, but please accept that I want the best for you. That I want you to be able to be free from the damage my mistakes and love have cost you. Both in our relationship and through my relationships with others.”

The softness and sincerity in his voice made Kathryn tear up, but she was determined not to show it as she turned to face him once more. “I accept, Chakotay.” Trying to be both sincere and an actress just in case he was still playing a game. One look in his eyes though, told her everything she needed to know.

He’d stopped playing the charade for the guard and decided that he was going to pour his heart out to her and she held it in her hands now. If she rejected it once more, she knew that he would be gracious enough to see that she was free, but any relationship between them, personal or professional, would be ruined.

Smiling shyly at him, she reached out towards the forcefield. “I’m okay, honey. I just want to go home. I’m all right, I promise.”

He placed his fingers as close as to the forcefield as they could possibly be and saw the sparks that flew from his fingertips where he’d gone too far.

She did the same on her side, pushing her fingers past the limit of comfort in an effort to come as close to touching him and the baby as she could.

Both of them grinned when they simultaneously realised that they were imitating the position from New Earth. That had been a beginning and this was one as well.

As soon as they got out of here she planned to tell Chakotay exactly how she felt him and reassure him that none of what she’d said that day, a month ago, was true.

She would ask him for help in regaining her balance again and she was sure that he would help her if she asked. Removing her hand from the forcefield, she pointed at the baby who had miraculously settled down and slept through the entire discussion between them.

“She’s fine. Just wanting to go home and have a nap.”

“I don’t blame her.” Kathryn said, sighing. For the first time she realised how utterly spent she was. This whole ordeal had taken a lot out of her and she just hoped that Chakotay would understand if she didn’t know exactly the right thing to say at the moment.

Again he seemed to read her mind, as he peered lovingly at her. “All I need to know is that you love me and we can work it out. The rest of it, we’ll deal with as it comes.”

Kathryn didn’t know exactly what to say but she decided that now was as good a time as any to try being more emotive and trust Chakotay to catch her if she let her emotions get away from her. “I truly do love you. I didn’t mean any of what I said to you that day. It’s been a long time since I’ve let somebody love me. I didn’t mind that you were protective of me it was just overwhelming for me after being alone for so many years.”

“It’s all right, Kathryn,” he said, pressing his hand further into the forcefield, wincing at the sharp pricks that he was receiving, but feeling it was necessary to regain his connection with her.

Kathryn raised her hand once more to repeat the process, but the guard stopped them.

“All right you two, I’ve had enough. You’re going to damage your hands doing that, not to mention our forcefields and the city isn’t going to pay for two Starfleet officers to mess up their equipment. So if it’s all right with you, I’ll let the thing down and you can call it a day. I’d rather you did this in private where I, and the baby, don’t have to watch.”

Both Kathryn and Chakotay blanched for a moment when they realised that they still had an audience but quickly regained their smiles as the guard regarded them thoughtfully for a moment, then spoke. “After seven years of trying to get that ship home, I doubt you need to spend another seven minutes in this cell. Your husband’s right Ma’am, police have taken that other woman into custody, they’ve also contacted the baby’s parents and explained the situation to them. They weren’t thrilled about what that woman had done and were awfully worried about you but we’ll give them a call as soon as you’re free. All right?”

“Yes, thank you.” Kathryn was on autopilot, unable to completely register that after the night she’d had she would be able to go about life as it had always been, albeit with some slight alterations. Chakotay seemed bent on being by her side.

Moments later the forcefield was lowered and the guard directed them to a room in which she could sign for, and retrieve, her possessions. Half an hour after that, they finally made their way out of the penal building, exoneration papers and Starfleet reinstatement documents in Kathryn’s hands.

As Chakotay snaked his arm around her, she only flinched a little before leaning into his embrace and sharing his shoulder with the baby, who was now wide awake and cooing happily at the sight of her Aunt Kathryn. For a day that had started out so horribly it seemed to be getting better slowly but surely.

Later that night, after they’d given Miral her bath and tucked her into bed, Chakotay having told both Kathryn and the baby the Angry Warrior story with a more complete and happy ending, they sat down to dinner.

Chakotay had made one of Kathryn’s favourite noodle dishes complete with a bean side salad and some Chateau Picard that Kathryn had been saving up for a special occasion when they’d been together the first time.

They retired to couch after dinner to catch up on each other’s lives over the last month and a half. Chakotay told her about Sherisse. How he’d fallen for her in the midst of his hurt over their break up and Kathryn had told him again how sorry she’d been about what she’d said to him and how Miral had taken the edge off her grief by giving her something to focus on during her leave. She also mentioned that she’d planned to take a trip to Risa but that after Miral had left, the trip had lost its magic

At this, Chakotay gently suggested that they go together as part of a belated honeymoon gift.

At her shocked look, he explained that he had it in mind to regard the two months together as a marriage, although he knew for them that for a marriage to be legal by Federation standards, they would have to do an official ceremony and that the crew would never forgive him, or her, for slighting them of the only chance to go to, what he called, the most long awaited wedding in both the Delta and Alpha Quadrants. He told her that he knew she wasn’t ready yet, but that he’d be there until she was.

She laughed and realized that it had been a long time since she’d been able to laugh with anyone. The fact that Chakotay was here with her and had forgiven her, had given her the best end to what has started out as rocky winter for them all.

**************************

 

“Thank you for the lovely meal, Chakotay.” Kathryn said, drinking the last of her wine before placing the empty glass on the table

“You’re very welcome.” He said smiling gently before reaching across the table to cover her hand with his own.

Over the few weeks since the post incarceration evening, they’d been slowly getting closer and she’d allowed him to touch her again, hold her close, their kisses going from small pecks to more sensual explorations each other’s mouths. She’d even granted him access to the small spot on her neck which sent shivers down her spine. When they’d been together before this was the one spot she hadn’t liked him to touch, her reaction to his touch there having embarrassed her. They hadn’t gone as far as sleeping together again though, both had wanted to make sure it was going to work this time before taking such a step.

They had taken this time to do what Chakotay had fondly called ‘courting’. An old Earth term that to Kathryn seemed archaic but apt. It had been lovely. She felt more comfortable with him now than she had been since New Earth. But both were growing tired of reining in their desire for one another.

Chakotay leaned forward, picking up her hand and turning it over, lightly brushing his fingers over her sensitive palm before bringing it to his mouth and placing a kiss where his fingers had touched.

Kathryn watched him, mesmerised by the devotion she saw in his eyes and felt in his actions. When his lips touched her palm, a familiar warmth spread through her. She reached across and traced her fingers over his tattoo before running her fingers down his cheek and over his lips.

As her fingers drifted down over his chin, he looked up to meet her eyes, his senses still abuzz from her touch. With her hand still held in his, he stood and pulled her to her feet and into his arms in one graceful movement.

Not wanting to rush the moment, he simply held her close, her comfort of the utmost importance to him. She rested her head on his shoulder, and the fingers of his large hand wove through her hair, holding her head gently against him. A silence stretched between them as their bodies became used to the renewed closeness. It was comfortable and yet there was a sweet tension between them.

After a long moment, Kathryn lifted her head and gently pressed her lips to his, her hand sliding around his neck and holding his head to her.

Her mouth opened and Chakotay accepted the invitation to delve with his tongue, touching hers and feeling her press against him in response. A small sound, something between a whimper and a sigh, came from within her and he pulled her closer, his arms wrapping around her and his hands moving to cup her bottom.

With his erection pressed firmly into her belly, Kathryn pushed herself against him, the heat between them rising and bodies spinning further and further out of control.

Kathryn’s hand wandered inside the collar of his shirt. She slipped the buttons apart with trembling fingers and then leaning down kissed the warm skin of his chest, tracing a path with her lips, all the way down to the waist band of his trousers. She moved to unbuckle his pants but a gentle touch on her shoulder stopped her and Chakotay bent down and scooped her up into his arms to carry her into the bedroom.

He gently placed her on her feet before giving her another gentle kiss on the lips. Kathryn pulled her blouse from the waistband of her skirt and allowed Chakotay pull it over her head.

Tossing the shirt into the corner of the room, he leaned down and kissed the top of her breasts, palming each mound in his hands before rubbing his thumb over each nipple. She moaned and pressed her breasts further into his touch, feeling small bursts of sensation shoot through her. When he was sure she was completely ready, he reached behind her and undid the clasps of her bra.

Chakotay looked at her for a moment, admiring her form, murmuring, “Beautiful,” before leaning forward and taking one of her nipples in his mouth. She moaned and leaned into him, enjoying the feel of his mouth on her. After a few torturous moments he switched to the other breast, giving it the same intense devotion.

“Too much,” she murmured, pushing him away and trying to catch breath, she watched as he divested himself of his remaining clothing and, kneeling in front of her, he reached for the clasp in her pants.

Kicking off her boots, she helped him slide her pants over her hips and watched them puddle on the floor before leaning down and capturing his lips with hers. Amid their kiss, he rose to his feet and gathered her into his arms and whispered, “I love you,” into her hair before leaning her back onto the bed.

Chakotay ran his hands through her hair before stroking his hand down her body, over her hip and up her thigh, dragging his fingers back up her body and over her breasts, tweaking her nipples briefly before their fingers intertwined and he slid into her gently.

He waited until she adjusted to his size and then began a slow rhythm that she easily matched. Their gentle strokes giving way to more forceful ones, as they approached their climaxes.

His hands clutched at her, holding her hard against him as he increased his pace. He could feel her orgasm approaching with gentle pulsing of her inner muscles. Her rhythmic contractions were enough to trigger his own climax. He felt his movements become erratic as he spilled into her. Her climax peaking as he pressed into her for the last time.

Moments later, as they lay together catching their breath, she pulled him closer and kissed his cheek, saying softly into his ear. “Thank you for teaching me how to love again.”

Eyes moist, he kissed her gently and rolled them to their sides, each content to be in each other’s arms.

**************************

Kathryn woke early finding herself wrapped in only a sheet and Chakotay’s arms for protection, but unlike the last time she’d found herself in such a predicament, her heart wasn’t heavy with the thoughts of how it wasn’t going to work, but rather light with the idea of a future with the man she loved. She did, however, need to use the restroom and so she rolled out of Chakotay’s arms towards the edge of the bed, intending to be up and back before he even noticed that she was gone. But in what seemed like deja vu, she felt him pat the empty space where she had been and heard his sharp intake of breath when he couldn’t find her. Seconds later she heard his worried voice.

“Kathryn, where are you?”

“I’m here.” She said, knowing that he would remember how the conversation had gone before and momentarily cursed herself for not being able to think of a more unique thing to say to put his mind at ease.

“You’re here, Kathryn?”

“I’m here, Chakotay.” She said softly.

“If this is a repeat of the last time, Kathryn I’m in no mood.” He said seriously, some of the angry warrior coming through.

“No, no, my love.” She said turning quickly to face him and stroking his cheek before giving him a gentle kiss on the lips. “I’m sorry if I frightened you. I just need to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”

“Uh-uh, Kathryn Janeway, you’re not getting away from me that quickly. Come here woman.” He said, pulling her on top of him and kissing her soundly, causing her to laugh quietly.

“Chakotay, if you don’t let me go, I’m going to wet myself and that’s not romantic, believe me.

He chuckled and she felt it reverberate through her chest. “I’ll be right back.” She said again, scrabbling towards the edge of the bed once more.

“Hurry ” She heard him say behind her.

But the promise of the next encounter was short lived as both of them heard Miral squall from the next room.

“Well, I guess that puts paid to that, Chakotay.” She said with a mock frown.

“Yes it does, Kathryn.” He said, laughing. Certainly a reason not to have any of our own don’t you think?

She turned back to him, concerned that he truly didn’t want children.

But then she saw him a wink and relaxed. “Let’s not talk about that now, Chakotay.” she said in response.” Lets just go from here and see what happens. I’m not in any hurry, but I won’t say no.”

“And that, my dear wife, is why I love you.” Chakotay stood, putting his pants on before going to tend to Miral, while Kathryn made her way to the bathroom. ”You don’t mind all the twists and turns in our lives, and I’ll tell you something. “I don’t mind them either, as long as you’re beside me.”

 

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