Summary: Janeway prepares to use every weapon at her disposal to ensure Voyager’s survival, but Chakotay thinks some prices are too high to pay.
Characters: Chakotay, Janeway, Kashyk, Tuvok
Codes: Janeway/Chakotay, Janeway/Kashyk
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 22 prompt: “I know how you love to play games.” Episode addition to Counterpoint.
“Tuvok?” Her question is deliberately casual in the loaded silence of the ready room. “I assume you agree?”
The Vulcan’s eyebrow rises a fraction. “Agreement is phrasing my opinion strongly, Captain. However, at this stage I cannot propose a plan with a greater chance of success.”
Chakotay can’t contain a growl, and the captain immediately switches her attention to him. “You’re dismissed,” she addresses Tuvok without taking her eyes from her first officer. “Ensure Lieutenant Ayala is fully briefed on security protocols. We have no idea how long you’ll have to remain in transporter suspension.”
The moment they are alone, the ready room’s atmosphere crackles like an EPS overload.
“Tell me you aren’t really going to do this.” He reminds himself to keep a tight rein on his temper; it won’t get him anywhere. “We’re only a few days into Devore space. There’s still time to turn around.”
“That would add years to our journey.” She flips a nonchalant hand. “Don’t worry so much, Chakotay.”
“Of course not,” he mutters. “Their ships outclass Voyager by orders of magnitude, and their mission in life is to hunt down all telepaths and those who associate with them. Why would I be worried?”
“If Inspector Kashyk wanted to impound Voyager he’d have done it already.”
Chakotay snorts rudely. “It’s pretty clear what he wants.”
“I can handle him,” she enunciates through gritted teeth.
“That much is obvious,” he fires back. “I know how you love to play games.”
Her tone is arctic. “Be very careful what you say next, Commander.”
“How can you even think it?” Chakotay’s voice rises. “How can you think I’d let you do this? That any of us would be okay with this?”
“Let me?” she repeats, dangerous.
He backtracks, holding up his hands, palm-out. “All I’m asking is that we try to find another angle,” he pleads. “You don’t have to offer yourself as a bargaining chip.”
She presses her lips together and he thinks, he hopes, she might be listening. That he might be getting through to her.
“We’ve had this conversation before,” she reminds him, voice low. “You arguing with me, telling me we should turn back, find another way home. Remember where it got us, Chakotay? I don’t want to end up there again.”
“So you want me to roll over and agree with your plan?” Chakotay returns, just as quietly.
She swallows as she meets his eyes. “I was hoping for your support.”
“I can’t support you fucking him just to get us through Devore territory,” he says, flat.
“What gives you the impression that you have any say in who I choose to fuck, or why?”
His shoulders jerk as though she’s hit him.
“You promised,” he says softly. “You told me we couldn’t change the step we took before the slipstream flight. But I guess I shouldn’t have believed you meant it.”
“Chakotay,” she says. Just his name, but the stricken look in her eyes makes him avert his gaze. How can he trust her now? How can possibly know what’s real?
“You said you were done with games,” he continues. “Now I see you were just using the same tactic on me then as you’re using on Kashyk now.”
He leaves her standing by her desk, knuckles white and face pale.
She stands by her desk. Her expression is composed, her fingers curled loosely at her sides, but her eyes are fixed on the man in black.
“I don’t understand why the Devore Imperium feels it necessary to inspect my ship so frequently, Inspector. You’ve been through every conduit with a fine tooth comb on several occasions. What are you expecting to find?”
“I did warn you my men are thorough,” Kashyk answers airily, gloved fingertips tracing the railing as he descends to the lower level of her ready room. “And I also suggested it would be in your interests to ensure that you and I are on friendly terms.”
“So you did,” she replies, tilting her head back to meet his eyes as he moves in close. “And how might you suggest I extend such an overture of friendship?”
He smiles down at her, white teeth like a wolf. “What would you offer?”
“What do you want?” she counters.
She’s trapped between the desk and his leather hide, and her heart is pounding so hard she thinks she might be vibrating with it, and at this moment there is nowhere, absolutely nowhere else, she would rather be.
“You know what I want,” says Kashyk.
He lifts a hand; smooth leather drags a line from her cheekbone to her jaw, drifts downward to finger her silver pips. She imagines those gloved hands on her bare skin and her tongue wets her lower lip.
“But I know how you love to play games,” he murmurs. “So why don’t I tell you the rules, and then I’ll show you just how much you’ll enjoy it when I win?”
And oh, how she’d love to go all in with him. But the smug gleam in his eye reminds her of what’s at stake.
She sidles smoothly away. “Thank you for the suggestion, Inspector,” she smiles at him. “But it wouldn’t be much of a contest if I showed you my hand now, would it?”
Kashyk’s laughter is rich and delighted. “Well played, Captain,” he leans in to whisper in her ear and she holds her breath, wondering if his lips will contact her skin.
They don’t. He pulls back and saunters past her onto the bridge.
“Until we meet again.”
She follows Kashyk out of her ready room. The Devore lopes easily to the turbolift, and Chakotay glowers at her as she takes her seat beside him.
What do you want from me? Kathryn wants to shout at him. Can’t you see I’m fighting for our survival with every weapon I can use? Can’t you see that you and I are impossible?
But she keeps her expression blank and her face turned forward as the Devore ships break formation and she orders Voyager onward.