"While You Were Sleeping"
Setting : Anytime post "The Q & The Gray"
Disclimer: Paramount and the ViaBorg own all the characters taking part, but the story is mine - all mine! I'm not making any money off this, just having some fun.
Chakotay woke with a start, knowing that something wasn't right... Then he remembered where he was and how he got there.
"Computer, what time is it?"
"The time is 05.30hours."
He rubbed at his eyes and sat up. Looking around he saw that Kathryn's bedroom door was still shut. Realising that she must still be asleep he debated whether to leave quietly or wake her with a cup of coffee. No, better not.
"She kissed me!"
The unexpected sound of his own voice made him jump slightly. His mind repeated what he'd said aloud and a slow, silly grin appeared on his face. Still grinning he got up, neatly folded the blanket and laid it on the end of the couch with the pillow on top. Picking up his boots and taking one last look at her bedroom door, he went to exit her quarters.
Suddenly realising what he'd look like leaving her quarters at about 05.30hours with his boots in his hand, he paused.
"Computer, check the corridors East and West of the Captain's quarters for four intersections - are there any lifesigns?"
He left quickly and entered his own quarters, just next door. As his door swished shut behind him, he realised he'd been holding his breath. He let the breath out slowly, shook his head and grinned at himself again. He hadn't skulked around in the early morning - boots in hand - since his last year at the Academy. Dropping his boots onto a chair he headed for the bathroom, peeling off his uniform as he went.
He stepped into the shower and felt himself relax under the punishing fingers of hot water. As he washed his hair he closed his eyes and thought about how Kathryn's kisses had felt ; so whisper soft and shy... he still didn't know how he'd managed to just lie there, perfectly still, with his eyes closed. The urge to slip his arms around her, pull her closer and tell her how much he loved her had been overwhelming. Something had held him back though and with hindsight he was very glad that it had. She certainly had deep feelings for him, feelings that went far beyond simple friendship. Now that he knew that, he was very, very... deliriously happy. He whistled loudly as he rinsed his hair.
After he'd dried himself off, combed his hair and cleaned his teeth he put on clean clothes and stamped his feet into his boots. Exiting his quarters, he headed for sickbay.
"Computer, location of Commander Chakotay?"
"Commander Chakotay is in Sickbay."
Kathryn left her quarters and took the turbo-lift. Arriving at deck five, she walked the short distance to Sickbay and entered to find Chakotay standing by B'Elanna's bio-bed, holding her hand. B'Elanna saw her before he did and quickly let go of his hand.
"Hello, B'Elanna. It's so good to see you awake, how are you feeling?"
"Oh, just a little shakey, Captain. The Doctor says that'll pass though."
B'Elanna didn't miss the look that passed between Kathryn and Chakotay before Chakotay said,
"Good morning, Captain." And she replied, "Commander."
The look lasted for only a second, but B'Elanna had to look away to keep from smiling.
Thankfully, the Doctor suddenly appeared from nowhere.
"Good morning, Captain... and Commander. Back so soon?"
Kathryn took one look at Chakotay's face and stepped into the breach.
"Doctor, when will Lieutenant Torres be fit for duty?"
"One more complaint or ridiculous request should about do it, Captain. I am a physician - not Room Service! I'd like to release her to quarters today for bed-rest just to be sure, but she should be up to light duties tomorrow."
Smothering a smile, Kathryn folded her arms and glanced at Chakotay. "Make sure you get plenty of rest today, B'Elanna. Report to my Ready Room first thing tomorrow. We have to have a little chat."
B'Elanna didn't have time to think that over before Chakotay added,
"And after that, you can report to my office. We have to have a really 'big' chat."
Glancing nervously from Chakotay to the Captain, B'Elanna got that sudden, sinking feeling.
"Yes, Captain. Yes, Commander."
Later that day, Kathryn sat in her Ready room working flat-out to finish the Crew Evaluation reports. She vaguely heard the doors swish open and eventually looked up to find Chakotay leaning on her desk.
She smiled, warmly. "Did you manage to catch up on your sleep?"
"Yes, and I feel much better. Thanks for covering for me."
"You're welcome. Do you still feel up to dinner tonight?"
"Most definitely. That's what I came to see you about, actually. I'd like to say thanks for the loan of your couch last night. Will you let me cook dinner for you, Kathryn? I've got the okay from Neelix to use the kitchen and I can serve it in my quarters."
"You don't have to do that, Chakotay."
"I know, but I'd like to. Besides, I'm hoping to find the way to your heart through your stomach."
She felt herself blush. "I thought that only applied to men?"
"Well, as you're the Alpha Male around here..."
She pointed a finger at him. "Watch it. I might just take offense and say no."
He laughed. "I'm sorry. So?"
"Thank you, I'd like that. What are you going to impress me with?"
"Before, during or after the meal, Kathryn?"
Oh dear, it was going to be one of those evenings. She very briefly considered changing her mind. Oh, what the hell. She'd managed to evade his teasing and flirting so far, hadn't she? She'd just have to watch how much she drank. Giving him an exasperated smile she ground-out,
"For the meal, Chakotay... what are we going to eat?"
"Oh, right. Well, how about tiny, raw vegetables with a piquant dip followed by Ricotta, spinach and herb Canneloni, Crisp garden Salad, foccia-bread and if you have room, replicated lemon torte?"
"Sold! What time would you like me?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she closed her eyes and shook her head. She couldn't believe she'd just said that. She waited for the inevitable teasing.
"19:30hours alright with you?"
She opened her eyes in surprise. "Yes, fine."
He stood up straight. "Good, I'll see you then. Oh, and what would you like to drink... wine, cider or juice?"
"Red wine, but replicate some juice too. I don't plan on drinking too heavily."
He turned the full intensity of that smile on her and she suddenly had the feeling that he knew why.
"Alright, Kathryn. I'll see you at 19:30 hours. Bye for now."
She watched him leave her ready room and shook her head. The man was dangerous... drop dead gorgeous, and dangerous. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"Crew Evaluations, Kathryn. Just think Crew Evaluations!"
Picking up her padd, she tried to push all thoughts of dark brown eyes, sensual lips and a sunshine smile out of her mind. She was only partly successful.
Later that evening Kathryn sat at her vanity unit, tutting loudly as she caught herself spraying perfume onto her hairbrush just before pushing it through her hair. Now why had she done that? That would be teasing. She knew the effect her hair had on him and here she was, planning to wear it loose and lightly perfumed. She sighed heavily, stopped brushing and looked at herself in the mirror.
"What do you want, Kathryn?"
She heard her mind answer and shook her head, regretfully. Sighing again, she deftly pinned up her hair, gathering the length into a French twist. Rising from her chair she slipped off her robe and threw it onto the bed. Going to her closet she took out a simple white dress, threw the hanger after the robe and stepped into the dress. After a five minute hunt for her left shoe, she left her quarters, muttering to herself that she must be losing her mind.
Unnoticed by Kathryn, someone had watched her get ready. A face hovered outside the viewport, grinning mischeviously. This was going to be so much fun! Certainly more fun than hiding shoes! The face floated away from Kathryn's window and keeping pace with her, followed her to the viewport of Chakotay's quarters.
"You've outdone yourself,Chakotay. That was delicious - thank you."
"I'm glad you enjoyed it. Are you ready for dessert?"
"Oh, not yet. In a little while. Let's have it with coffee later."
"On the floor, again?"
"Of course," she chuckled. "It's the only place to eat cake. Always has been, always will be."
Chakotay laughed, "I have to ask. How on Earth did you manage at official functions, surrounded by Admirals?"
"Well, if they were a really stuffy lot, I just didn't have cake. If they were quite relaxed - or I knew lots of people I just went right ahead... you'd be surprised how many gruff
Admirals joined me. They always turned out to be wickedly funny people, too. The floor is a great leveller."
"Now that's something I'd like to have seen. Some more wine?"
After Chakotay had topped up her glass, Kathryn got up from the table and followed him over to the couch. They sat and talked for a while as they finished their wine. After about half an hour, Chakotay got up to replicate coffee and two pieces of lemon torte. Coming back to the couch, he waited as Kathryn slipped off her shoes and settled herself on the floor with her back against the couch.
Reaching up, she took her plate, fork and coffee cup from him. He returned to the replicator to collect his own then joined her on the floor, chuckling quietly as he settled himself next to her.
"If B'Elanna could see me now."
"She'd laugh, but I think she'd be secretly pleased, Chakotay. Only the other day, she told me that I was a good influence on you, and that she'd never known you to be so relaxed and calm."
Kathryn waved her empty fork at him. "Uh-huh... It was the day we high-tailed it out of the Mess Hall and left you to sort out the argument between Neelix, Rogers and Dreen. She said that at least these days you could be trusted not to knock them all out cold, just to shut them up."
"That's rich, coming from B'Elanna. I never did thank you for your support, that day."
"It's the Captain's perogative to delegate. There are times when it's good to be the boss."
They shared a knowing smile and went back to the cake and coffee in companionable silence. Soon, Chakotay gathered up the plates and cups, took them to the recycler and came back to stand in front of her.
"Would you like to dance, Kathryn?"
She looked up at him in surprise. "Dance?! You mean slow dance? But I haven't slow danced in ages."
"Well, why don't we remedy that, right now. Computer, playback... what d'you think... a slow waltz, or an energetic Tango?"
Kathryn threw back her head and laughed. "The Tango? Tell me you're joking."
"Of course I am. I understand the passion, but I don't know the steps. Okay, a waltz it is then. Computer, playback ships music library, sub-heading Waltz, audio tape four. Shall we?"
Still laughing, Kathryn took his outstretched hands and allowed him to pull her to her feet. She stepped into the circle of his open arms and felt one arm go around her waist as he guided her to him and took her right hand in his left. She laid her other hand on his shoulder and looking up, she met eyes filled with mischief, humour, and something else. "We haven't slow danced with each other in years, Chakotay," she said as they moved around the small space they had. "I think the last time was at the party for B'Elanna when I appointed her Chief Engineer. By the way, I've lost count of the number of times I've been glad you insisted on that. "
"Was I right, or was I right?"
"Oh, you were so right. Are you going to gloat now, after all this time? You never did back then, you know. It's one of the things I've grown to love about you.. you never gloat, never take an unfair advantage or belittle anyone."
Chakotay's heart gave an erratic thud, but he only said, "I just wanted you to have the best you could possibly have. I realised the enormity of the task you'd set yourself, even then. You deserved the best, Kathryn. You always will." And with that he gently kissed her right temple, pulled her close and let his head rest against hers.
Kathryn was surprised, but she didn't pull away. His kiss had seemed affectionate... friendly and comforting, nothing more. His jaw felt good resting against her temple and she relaxed into him. Lost in their own thoughts and losing all track of time, they moved around the floor until the music eventually faded and the computer asked if they wanted the next tape.
Regretfully pulling away from him and the comfortable feelings of contentment and warmth she'd been enjoying, Kathryn sighed. "It's getting late. I'd better find my shoes and head for my quarters."
Chakotay didn't say anything, he just smiled down at her and nodded his head.
He let her go and watched as she slipped on her shoes. He walked her to the door
and raised his hand to key it open, then changed his mind. Turning back to her, he gently took her face in his hands and leaned down to kiss her. His lips slowly brushed over hers and he felt her respond to him briefly before she suddenly pulled away. She was delightfully flustered and he watched a slow, pink blush creep up her neck to her face.
"I'm sorry, Kathryn. I just wanted you to know how I feel. I know that I tease you a lot, but I want you to know that I lov___"
"Don't say it!" Kathryn cut him off sharply and took a step away from him. "Please don't say it." She took a deep breath and made herself look at him. "I know how you feel, Chakotay. I've always known. I just can't let myself return those feelings. You're my First Officer and
my friend. I need you to be those things for a very long time. We can't do this. We just can't."
Reaching past him, she keyed open the door. "Goodnight. I'll see you on the Bridge, tomorrow." She left quickly.
She'd been gone for about a minute before Chakotay keyed the door shut. "Goodnight, Kathryn. Captain." Turning away from the door, he slowly walked to the dining table and blew out the candles.
Kathryn left Chakotay's quarters at full tilt - intent only on staying in control long enough to hear her own door swish shut behind her. She keyed in her access code and was through the doors before they were fully open, but instead of stepping onto a lushly carpeted floor, she fell forwards into black, star-filled space. The words, "Computer Lights" caught in her throat and were violently pushed aside by a scream of cold fear and panic... she was going to die! She fell and fell, spinning over and over, unable to consciously stop her scream until a part of her mind became aware of 'Voyager' continuing on it's way, without her. Frantic words came without rational thought as she sobbed "Come back! Please come back. Chakotay, help me!"
Gradually, her spinning slowed and nausea swept over her. She grimly begged herself not to throw up. But wait. She was in a vacuum ; the vacuum of Space! But she could breathe and she felt warm! With that thought her spinning descent stopped suddenly. She felt something firm beneath her feet and she gratefully stood still, feeling giddy and confused until her eye caught colour and movement, off to her left. Turning, she watched in disbelief and relief as the figure of a tall, haughty looking woman dressed in a very short, very tight red velvet dress slinked towards her on high heels. One look at that face and that flowing, dark red hair was all she needed.
"Miss Q. What the hell is going on?! Why have you abducted me from my ship?!"
"Miss Q? Oh, I like the sound of that. I like that alot. Good evening, Kathy. It's so nice to see you too, darling. Q sends his best. He wishes that he could be here himself, but it's his turn to babysit little Q."
"Why have you abducted me from my ship? I demand that you return me to it, this instant."
Miss Q looked slightly perplexed, but then she smiled. "That's so ill-mannered of you, Kathy. I come all this way to offer you a gift, and all you can do is go into 'I want' mode! Stow it, sweetie. Captain Kate cuts no diamonds with me. Besides, it's not as if you're missing much. You just turned down the gorgeous Chuckles for a glass of hot milk and a plodding romance novel - again."
The female Q flounced, sweeping some hair out of her eyes in an ages-old way before casually examining her long, scarlet nails. "Shame on you, darling! And him so cute, too. I've watched him take showers you know and you just don't know what you're missing! I'm seriously tempted to endure your looks and tiny body for a little while ... maybe treat myself to a hot night with him."
"You wouldn't dare! Of all the conniving, bitchy things to do___"
"Now, now, Kathy dear. People in a vacuum shouldn't throw insults and they definitely shouldn't dare me not to do something. This is my first night out in ages and I just have so much energy. And this is so much fun... better than sex! Well, better than sex with Q at the moment."
She sighed heavily and slowly walked around Kathryn, pouting.
"You've never had children, have you Kathy? Take my advice... don't! They are exhausting and so very, very clever. They always seem to know when you're both in the mood and when to play up. Which brings me back to the gorgeously put-together, child-free Commander Chakotay."
She was smiling dreamily now.
Kathryn hated to beg, but if she had to, she would.
"Please.... You don't understand Chakotay. He loves me. If you made yourself look like me and seduced him... when you went back to the Continuum and he realised what had happened he'd be distraught and so embarrassed - for me. Please don't do that to him - to us. If we ever do find a way to be together, I'd like our first night to be special and it won't be if you and he... if he thinks he and I have already___"
"___Have already hit the heights, reached for the stars, flown over the edge together? Oh, Pish! You Humans are so pedestrian. I could give him a night that would blow his tiny mind - literally! We could glow like thousands of novas igniting the Galaxy! What makes you think he'd even remember your name after a night like that? I can promise you Kathy, he wouldn't care that it was me pretending to be you."
Kathryn quickly bit her tongue and squashed the impulse to land a stinging back-hand across the haughty face. Much as she wanted to, she knew the sense of satisfaction would be brief. The Q was her only way back to the ship.
Miss Q sighed dramatically and slinked back around her. "He's tempting, but that's not why I'm here. I was teasing, Kathy dear. Q says I do that so well, and I wanted to make sure of your feelings for him. I told you, I've come to give you a gift. Shall we go?"
She clicked her fingers. There was a flash of light, some familiar tingling and Kathryn found herself in her Ready-room. Except, on closer inspection it wasn't her Ready room. There were subtle differences that only she would notice. The flowers on her desk - the ones that Neelix had given her that morning, were white and pink. She knew for a fact that they should be white and yellow. Her computer console was on the left of her desk here, she always positioned it on the right. There was a blue cushion on her chair - it should have been emerald green. Confused, she turned to Miss. Q
"Where are we?"
"We're in your Ready-room on the good-ship Voyager... an alternate Voyager."
The doors suddenly swished open and Kathryn saw herself enter. Again, it was a slightly different Kathryn. This one still wore her hair up in a French Twist for duty - not the more relaxed pony-tail Kathryn had taken to wearing. But, this Kathryn's face was heartbreaking... as white as snow, with dark circles under her eyes and filled with terrible, barely contained grief. She collapsed into her chair and sat staring into nothingness.
"Can she see us?"
"What's happened? She looks distraught."
"She's just made a tough decision. One of those nasty 'Captain Janeway' decision's that you do so well, darling. My heart went out to you that time you had to murder Mr. Tuvix. I really liked him and I know you did too. That's why I couldn't possibly be a human. So many decisions, so many choices. I adore being Q. All I have to worry about is whether my pumps match my dress. Poor you."
"Tell me what's happened?!"
"She's just given the order to leave this area of the Necrid Expanse. They are resuming their course for the Alpha quadrant. In this reality, the charming Chakotay and little Ensign Kaplan are still lost out there somewhere. They have been for weeks and weeks and weeks. She knows all those dull, dreary, annoying little details about shuttle life-support reserves and she knows that they have no hope of finding them alive. Still, every cloud has a silver lining. At least she doesn't have to face what happened between your Chakotay and that manipulative hussey, Doctor Riley Frazier. This 'Voyager' never encounters the planet of ex-Borg. They sail away in the other direction and miss it completely."
Kathryn turned away from her to stare at the other Kathryn. She looked so tiny behind the huge desk. She was making no sound, but tears were falling freely from her eyes and her arms were wrapped tightly around her body.
The door-chime rang. A moment later it rang again. She heard someone tap in an over-ride code, the door opened and B'Elanna Torres entered. There was something different about this B'Elanna, too... though Kathryn couldn't quite put her finger on it at first. Then she realised what it was. This B'Elanna had no forehead ridges. This B'Elanna must have decided to stay completely human after the Vidiians had removed her Klingon DNA.
"Very observant, Kathy dear. There's hope for you yet."
Kathryn ignored her and watched as B'Elanna walked quickly around the desk, knelt down and reached out to touch her friend's wet face and sighed, "Kathryn, I am so sorry.... Come here."
She saw the other Kathryn fight hard to stay in control, but lose the fight. Her face crumpled, her arms went around B'Elanna's neck and she clung to the younger woman, sobbing uncontrollably.
She felt her own eyes sting and her throat constrict as she watched. B'Elanna was crying too. She couldn't stand this.
"Why have you brought me here, Q?! You call this a gift? Get me out of here, now!"
"Not so fast, Kathy. Watch and listen just a little longer."
Kathryn's eyes were perversly drawn back to the other women. B'Elanna was making soothing noises and Kathryn was trying to speak through her sobs.
"I never told him, B'Elanna. I never told him. He didn't know... he'll never know, now. I should have told him how I felt, how he made me feel. I should have ignored my stupid, stupid rulebook, my dumb pride and told him!"
"He knew, Kathryn. I promise you, he knew. It doesn't matter that you never said the words. I promise you, he knew."
In an effort to protect herself, Kathryn took her own discomfort and anguish and turned both into hot anger ; an anger she directed at the Q. "I can see what you're trying to do Q, it won't work! This is exactly why Chakotay and I can't be together. Look at her... she's a Starship Captain! She should be out there on the Bridge at a time like this. The crew need her to be strong, they need to take their cue from her, don't you see? If she falls apart, she's no use to them. This is exactly why they should never have become involved!"
"They weren't 'involved', Kathy. Weren't you listening?"
Miss Q tutted and tsked then rolled her eyes in disbelief.
"Humans! Listen up, Kathy darling. When they said goodbye in the shuttle-bay, they both felt as you do now. The good of the crew came first. She gave him his orders and he left to do his duty. Yes, they were both aware of their own deep feelings for the other one, but neither one of them had ever put those feelings into words. There never was an 'Angry Warrior' legend for them so their feelings grew more gradually than your's did. What I'm trying to show you is that telling him or not telling him, it's irrelevant. Yes, she's concentrating on that right now, but it makes no real difference to how she feels. There's deep regret about not actually spelling it out, but he's gone from her life and that's what's really killing her."
Kathryn again turned back to look at the other Kathryn and B'Elanna as she absorbed what the Q had said. If she lost her Chakotay now - today - would her pain be any less? She admitted to herself that it wouldn't. She loved him. The fact that she'd never told him how she felt might haunt her, but losing him would be what really crucified her.
"Well, it's about bloody time! Kathy sweetheart, you are one of 'the' most intelligent Humans the continuum has ever encountered, but you are also one of the most stubborn. My debt to you is repaid."
"Debt? What debt?"
"You refused to pro-create with my Q and finally brought us together. He could have given you Worlds, Galaxies, treasures untold... a way home. But you turned him down. That's a favourite insult of mine when we argue, you know. It always brings him down a peg or two. He calls me a ball and chain... I smile sweetly and tell him that at least I was never given the big brush off by a minor, bi-pedal female. It's great fun! Indirectly you gave me little Q and made me the queen mother! Actually, there are times when I could turn you inside-out for that favour, but I do love the little pest, really. Right, are you ready to go?"
"Wait! I don't want to seem ungrateful, but couldn't you do something for her? For them? Bring him back, please - and Ensign Kaplan, if it's not too much to ask."
Miss Q sighed melodramatically. "If I do that... if I mess about with the Space time-continuum, I could be banished for centuries. I would be allowed no contact with the Q Continuum. Time is a blink of an eye to a Q, admittedly, but it's still a social stigma."
She paused as a naughty smile slowly spread across her face.
"Years... all by myself. I could cellophane my hair. I could get a decent manicure,
and drop by all my favourite haunts! Q would get a taste of what quality time with Junior is really like... and I know the most amazing man from Earth's Ancient Rome. He does 'the' most disturbing things with scented oils...."
The slow smile became a lascivious grin.
"Very well. We are even, Kathy."
"Tuvok to Captain Janeway."
Both Captains automatically replied, "Janeway here."
Realising that it was a message for the other Janeway, Kathryn held her breath as she watched and listened.
"Captain, we are receiving new telemetry from our last probe. We have found the Commander's shuttle."
The other Kathryn and B'Elanna leapt to their feet.
"Life-signs, Tuvok?!" They asked in unison.
"I do not understand how or why... this is highly illogical. Two lifesigns, Captain. They are faint, but stable. Setting course to intercept, Captain. Mr. Paris, engage."
"Already on it, Tuvok" came Tom's jubilant reply. "Hang onto your hats, everyone!"
Miss Q imperiously clicked her fingers and Kathryn was enveloped in a flash of light, just as the other Kathryn grabbed B'Elanna's hand and pulled her towards the Bridge.
"I'm sorry, Kathryn. I just wanted you to know how I feel. I tease you a lot... but, I want you to know that I love you. I've loved you for as long as I can remember."
It took Kathryn a few seconds to get her bearings. She closed her eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. In and out. When she felt ready, she opened her eyes and met his gaze. Reaching out she slowly caressed his face ; a face that she knew almost as well as her own.
"I know, Chakotay. I've always known."
She stepped into his arms and he held her for what seemed like hours but was really only minutes. Cupping her chin in his hand, he lifted her face off his chest and began to kiss her ; gently and slowly kissing her eyelids, her temples, her cheeks and finally, her mouth. Eventually, the need to breathe forced them to break the kiss. He immediately hugged her to him.
"Stay with me tonight, Kathryn... just to sleep. Let me hold you."
She pulled him closer and held him tighter. "I won't find any gruff, over-protective teddy-bears in your bed, will I?"
She felt his breath tickling her neck as he laughed.
"Only this one."