Summary: The Angry Warrior isn’t the only one who relies on ancient legends to confess his feelings … but as it turns out, he’s much better at it.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Written for #fictober2018 Day 9 prompt: “You shouldn't have come here." Episode addition to Resolutions.
“You shouldn’t have come here.”
The door slides shut as she yanks him safely inside her quarters. She pulls the satin robe firmly around her body and crosses her arms over her chest.
“What if one of the crew had seen you? You know they’re already gossiping about us.”
The light in her quarters is dim and she makes no move to brighten it. Darkness serves her tonight, though she refuses to concede that she’s hiding.
“It’s okay, Kathryn,” Chakotay says. “I left my combadge in my quarters. If anyone asks the computer for my location, they won’t find me here.”
She rolls her eyes. “That’s even worse. What if somebody sees you leaving here? Then they’ll really think we’re sneaking around.”
“Is that what we’re doing?” he asks mildly.
“No –” she stops, rubs a hand across her eyes. “No, of course not. That would imply…” she heaves in a breath, “that would imply we have something to hide.”
Which they don’t, she reminds herself harshly. There’s nothing to hide, because there is nothing between them.
Suddenly, she wants to weep.
“Kathryn,” he says, his voice unutterably tender. “It’s all right.”
“It’s not all right,” she forces out. “We can’t be seen to have an inappropriate relationship. We need to –”
“Define some parameters?” he asks, smiling faintly.
She growls – part anger, part grief, part frustration – and whirls away from him to stand at the viewport. The streaking stars are blurred, her eyes filled with tears.
His hand on her shoulder is gentle, giving all and asking nothing; his thumb rubs circles on her nape that she’s sure he intends to be soothing but the ripples travelling down her spine, surging through her nerves and sparking along her skin are anything but that.
Her eyes close, a sigh escaping her that is embarrassingly close to a moan, and the movement stops.
Before her resolve disappears in an expanding cloud of desire, she turns to face him, dislodging his hand from her shoulder.
“Let me tell you a story,” she says, eyes holding his, “an ancient legend from my people.”
His expression is suddenly hungry, almost naked with longing, and she has to look away and draw in a steadying breath before she can continue.
“Once upon a time,” she begins to lighten the mood, “there was a prince and a princess – the first man and woman on earth, in fact – who lived in a beautiful garden full of flowers and fruit trees. They lived simply and wanted for nothing, and they were innocent, and they were happy.”
She pauses, shaping the words in her mind.
“One day the princess was walking in the woods alone, and she came upon a serpent. The creature drew her attention to a particular tree, one that bore a beautiful crop of apples, and asked her why she and the prince had never eaten from it. She replied that their creator had forbidden it, because eating the fruit would kill them.”
Chakotay is listening intently, she notices from the corner of her eye.
“But the serpent said that was a lie. The fruit wouldn’t kill them. It would turn them into gods, just like their creator. The princess thought that she would like that, so she took two apples from the tree. She ate one and gave the other to the prince. And because she had given in to temptation, their creator cast them out of the gardens of paradise and told them that they would never be happy again.”
She raises her eyes to see if her message has had the desired impact. Chakotay’s head is lowered, but he can’t completely hide his smile from her.
“What is it?”
“At the risk of contradicting you on a story from your own culture, Kathryn, that’s not what the parable means.”
“Oh?” she says defensively.
“The apple of knowledge simply made Adam and Eve aware of the truth,” he explains. “And I’ve never understood why that’s considered a bad thing. Sure, some truths are uncomfortable or difficult to live with, but that’s what makes accepting them all the more rewarding.”
He pauses, clearly waiting for her reaction; when she gives none he leans in close.
“You’re a scientist and an explorer,” he emphasises. “I’ve never known anyone as fearless as you when it comes to seeking the truth. Why are you so afraid of it now?”
His voice is soft, persuasive. Almost hypnotic. She can’t stop staring at him.
“Maybe we lost our garden of Eden,” he murmurs, “but that doesn’t mean we have to lose everything we found there, does it?”
Her lips part, her gaze shifting to his mouth.
“Trust me,” he says. “Your needs will always come first. I promise.”
She wants so badly to rise on tiptoe, to fit her mouth to his. To feel the thrilling heat of his touch as she has felt it only once before, and make good on the promise of countless nights spent in his arms.
But Kathryn Janeway has always prided herself on resisting temptation.
She steps back, closing off her expression as Chakotay straightens and does his best to conceal the need flaring in his eyes.
“You shouldn’t have come here.”
“I’ll go,” he says, and after a moment he turns for the door.
Alone, she turns back to the viewport. The streaking stars are crisp and her eyes are dry