The Language of Flowers -- Chakotay's POV
Disclaimer: All Voyager characters are the property of Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended.
"What was that all about?" B’Elanna asked glaring at Chakotay as she walked back from seeing Kathryn out.
"I haven’t a clue!………Honestly, B’Elanna!"
"Well she’s out like a light," Tom said as he walked in. "Coffee Admi…..where’s she gone?" he asked.
"Home……….and don’t ask me, ask him." She nodded at Chakotay.
Tom frowned. "What did you do?"
Chakotay opened his arms in supplication. "Nothing. I did nothing, said nothing, well I did smile at her."
"Oh that’ll be it then," Tom said. "You smile and she runs away. I don’t think so."
"Well that’s all I did." Chakotay was a little put out that they were blaming him.
"Perhaps she really has an early meeting she forgot!"
"Oh come on, old man. The Admiral forget anything about Starfleet? You must be kidding," B’Elanna laughed.
"Never mind. I’ll find out tomorrow from Dad. Let’s have a drink before Chakotay gallops off too," Tom said half seriously.
Chakotay had looked forward to dinner at the Paris’s with a mixture of apprehension and eagerness. Apart from a game of pool at Sandrine’s, when he’d hardly seen her, it would be the first time in Kathryn’s company since the Loran II incident.
They had been the best of friends for many years now, a friendship forged in fire and hardship that had got stronger with the passing years, but even so he had been surprised at the ease with which he had established an emotional link with her during his Spirit Walk and the feelings he had encountered there. Indeed his own response was a little unexpected.
The potential for a romantic relationship had always existed between them. Kathryn was a charming, beautiful, charismatic woman and a natural born flirt to boot but circumstances had been against them. The first tentative flutterings of romance on New Earth had quickly muted into warm friendship, but now home and no longer in a command relationship those flutterings had quickly gathered into a storm of feelings that had taken him by surprise.
Despite this he didn’t think the love she felt for him had been romantic love until tonight when she had been teasing him about Miral and he had looked up from the floor into her laughing face and saw the joy in her eyes and the deep affection as she looked at him. Hell he wasn’t even sure if she knew herself. She had seemed so startled and then she had done what she usually did when confronted by her own personal feelings, run away.
But he wasn’t standing back this time, no sir! They were home and it was time to face it head on, whether she liked it or not. At least that was what he thought until he tried to pin her down the next morning.
Kathryn was a master at ‘fight or flight’ when it came to her emotions and she’d definitely decided on flight this time. She was totally unavailable. He’d tried sending messages to her office, her home, her mother’s. He’d even tried accessing her comm. badge, and each time he’d come up with a big, fat nothing.
She’d done this on the ship whenever she hadn’t wanted to discuss anything that had happened. She’d become a blur of motion flying through the departments leaving a trail of shell-shocked crewmen in her wake, filling her waking hours with jobs until she had managed to bundle whatever was bothering her away into the back of her mind or slept from exhaustion.
Well ‘nil desperandum’ or whatever. He wasn’t giving up that easily. He just needed a plan and quickly. Tom had spoken to his father and Kathryn was leaving on a diplomatic mission to Deneb in less than ten hours.
He wracked his brains, pacing back and forward across the floor. Romance, he needed romance. But how? He’d never actually had to court anyone before. Things had just happened. ‘Court’ he chuckled, ‘my how old fashioned that sounded.’
He stopped and grinned. ‘That’s it’ he thought, remembering details of the conversation he’d been having with Kathryn the night before about her sister’s latest commission. Phoebe was supposed to paint a series of panels depicting emotion for the Betazoid Botanical Institute and had been stumped for an original way to do it. Kathryn had remembered reading somewhere about flowers having meanings and suggested using flowers to complement the models seeing as the job was for a Botanical Institute.
He guessed it was actually one of those God awful holonovels she used to enjoy early on in their journey. Period romances they were called, though how you were supposed to get romantic in such dreary surroundings wearing such ugly clothes he would never know.
‘Anyway back on track old man.’ He had a book somewhere his sister had given to him. It had belonged to his mother. He rummaged through his bookshelf. ‘Damn where was it.’ He cast his eyes around the room. Time was short. Where in the hell had he put it? He ran his hand through his hair then caught sight of himself in the mirror. He looked like a demented hedgehog. He needed a haircut. ‘That’s it,’ he thought. He’d had it in his hand when he was looking for the clippers. He hurried into the bedroom. There it was on the window seat.
‘The Language of Flowers.’ He’d been about to offer to loan it to her when something, he couldn’t remember what, had changed the subject and then he’d not got the chance again.
Well now he had the idea, all he had to do was figure out how to do it while they were light years apart. He groaned. It should be a snap. After all he was supposed to be an expert in tactics, wasn’t he?
Better start with the book. He had very little time and a lot to do. Funny, that sounded very like something from one of those strange films Tom was always watching.
An hour or so later he had his list of flowers and a plan. Now all he had to do was casually bump into Kathryn’s aide before she embarked, plant a few carefully chosen suggestions and make an appointment to see Phoebe.
Kathryn might think she was safe running away on this mission but she was actually trapped in a space smaller than Voyager and with six weeks to kill and no command duties to fill in her time.
He felt an evil chuckle coming on. Chakotica strikes again. He really did chuckle out loud this time. He would definitely have to stop spending so much time with Tom and Harry.
Back to the job. Kathryn was going to be courted whether she liked it or not. If it turned out to be not, and his heart sank at the thought, at least she could pretend she didn’t understand and she wouldn’t have to be embarrassed. He tried to push away just what that would do to him. That was something he hoped beyond hope he would never have to face.
It was funny really. He’d had plenty of girlfriends before but none had been that special. The affairs he had in the Delta Quadrant were few and far between, two of the most significant being the result of mental manipulation. He still wasn’t certain that hadn’t happened with Seven. The Doctor had told him that the neural implant Riley Frazer had implanted in him was inoperable but no longer functioning. However he was unable to explain his strange attraction to Seven because despite the voluptuous wrapping, she wasn’t really his type. That was probably why the break up had practically no effect on him emotionally.
He’d always believed that some people were destined to be happy on their own and he’d truly come to think that he was one of them, especially over the last year. After all he had a full life – a good job, a home of his own, independence, friends and interests; even the best of children with his nieces and nephews and Miral. All the pleasures and none of the work.
Travelling back from Phoebe’s, Chakotay reflected on how well his plans had gone. He had dropped into Kathryn’s office after checking that Kathryn had already boarded but her aide hadn’t yet joined her.
The young woman was a little nervous, this being the first mission off planet she had been on with her boss. Chakotay had hastened to reassure her with a few anecdotes of his own early missions. He had then taken the chance jokingly to tell her about keeping Kathryn supplied with fresh coffee every day and fresh flowers every week. He’d even slipped her a list to help her out.
She had left thinking he was such a good guy. Actually he felt like a bit of a heel taking advantage of the poor girl like that, but he hadn’t told her any untruths and it was most definitely in a good cause. His future happiness with Kathryn for the rest of his life was a very good cause.
Phoebe had been a breeze. When he had called her, mentioning the book, she had immediately invited him for lunch. In a way Phoebe was very like Kathryn, slightly taller with the same blue eyes but with a crop of short curly brown hair. She had the same drive and energy, but in Phoebe’s case it was all focused on art. They talked about Kathryn and laughed together as he recounted some anecdotes of their time on Voyager, then they’d had a pleasant lunch. She had been delighted with his book, promising to take very good care of it knowing how precious it was to him. He left her already lost in its pages looking for inspiration to start her work.
Well that was it. All he could do now was wait. It was going to be a long six weeks.
Chakotay awoke early. Only one more day then Kathryn would be home. He could hardly wait. He was torn between the hope that she understood the message of his flowers and returned his feelings, and the heart stopping dread that he had been mistaken all along and she didn’t care for him that way.
He planned on going in to his office and getting as much work out of the way so that he could either have a few days off to spend with her when she got home or to crawl away somewhere to lick his wounds. Positive, he had to think positive. She loves me, she really truly loves me. Wish it hard enough and it’ll be true.
He arrived in his office with his mantra still going through his mind and there on his desk was a vase of red roses, beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, blood red roses. He stood and stared. It was true. She loved him, really truly loved him. A huge grin spread across his face. He let out a loud whoop and punched the air. His heart was racing. He buried his face in the beautiful blooms and took a sniff. The heady fragrance calmed him. He slumped into his chair with a thump. She loved him, she truly loved him back.
The chirp of his consol alerted him to an incoming message. Checking the sender before switching on, he realised it was Kathryn. ‘Stay calm, Chakotay’, he thought, ‘don’t make a fool of yourself’. He flicked the switch to open the channel. Kathryn’s smiling face appeared before him.
"Hello, Chakotay. I thought I’d call and thank you for your flowers."
Chakotay leaned back in his chair and a slow smile spread across his face. "You’re welcome, Kathryn. I’m glad you liked them. You did like them?"
Kathryn smiled right back at him, "Oh yes, and such a meaningful gift I thought. I see you got the ones I sent to you." She nodded towards the vase of red roses on his desk.
"Yes, thank you, Kathryn. I really appreciate the sentiment."
"My pleasure, Chakotay………….I was wondering……..I’ll be back early afternoon tomorrow and debriefing should be short. Would you be available for dinner?"
"I’ll look forward to it."
"Good. My place about 19:00. Okay?"
"Anything special I should bring……wine……or something else?"
"No, that won’t be necessary. I have loads in." Kathryn leaned forward in her chair and her eyes seemed to search his face. She paused then said, "There is one thing that you might find useful if you want to bring one along."
She laughed at the look of shock on his face and closed her channel.
He stared open mouthed at the Starfleet logo for a while then started to laugh. God, that woman was something else. You thought you had her pegged and you were in control and then she’d come up with something like that and completely throw you in a spin.
Arriving at her door, I checked the time. 19:00 on the dot. I was as nervous as a kitten. I held the single red rose I had brought for her in front of me, took a deep breath and rang the bell.
The door opened and this vision of perfection in a short green dress and bare feet opened it to greet me. She moved aside to let me in.
I held the rose out to her. "This is for you." Kathryn smiled and took it as we looked at each other.
"I don’t think I have been this tongue tied since I called to pick up my first date," I said shuffling my feet.
Kathryn laughed and said, "Well, aren’t we a pair?" She moved forward and lifted her hand to my cheek. I slipped my hands around her waist and pulled her closer to me. She lifted her mouth to mine and I closed my eyes as our lips met.
Some days have perfect moments when everything seems to fall into place and at that perfect moment, time seems to slow down. Today is such a perfect day and now is that perfect moment. I know that outside the sky has become a brilliant ocean of blue, the air is heavy with the scent of flowers and I am praying that the beauty and joy of this perfect moment will never end.
Lack of air caused us to break apart slightly and her hands slid around my back.
"I don’t see your toothbrush," she murmured.
"I didn’t bring one."
Kathryn tried to pull back, "I thought ………."
I tightened my arms around her, holding her close.
"And you thought right. I want to very much, but when we do this I’m not going to be playing at it, Kathryn. None of this ‘you live in your house, I live in mine’, ‘we meet when it’s convenient and work permits’ crap. I want to wake up every morning if possible with you in my arms. I want to eat my meals with you and even just sit quietly after work and enjoy each others company. So no! I didn’t bring my toothbrush."
"Okay. If you’re ready for that, we’ll find a house and set up home together."
"We will?" There she goes again, sending me into a tailspin.
"If that’s what you want, Chakotay."
"That’s exactly what I want."
That’s okay then. If you have the time, we’ll start looking tomorrow."
Chakotay thought his heart would burst it was so full of joy.
"I have the time Kathryn. As much as you want."
Her hands crept slowly up my chest and back around my neck. She leant close and rested her head against my shoulder. Her breath whispered across my ear.
"But just for tonight," she said, "I happen to have a spare toothbrush."
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