A Perfect Ending
Summary: Sometimes the ending is the beginning of the story.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
You didn’t have to tag along, you know. I think I’ve established that I can take care of myself.
Well, if you’d prefer to spend the next couple of days in a shuttle with Chell, I’ll join Harry’s team.
Fine. Get in, Commander.
Want me to take the helm?
You’re kidding, right?
The Uxali ambassador sent over some information on the surrounding systems. There’s a moon that’s supposed to be great for rock-climbing, a planet with gorgeous beaches, another that’s renowned for its art … Have you given any thought to where you’ll spend your shore leave?
You mean my mandatory three-day sentence?
You don’t have to look at it that way, Captain. Consider it a chance to relax.
You never know. It could give you a whole new outlook on life.
Let’s just get this done. The sooner we get back to Voyager, the better.
Do you want me to leave, Kathryn?
Ah, there it is.
… I don’t know what you mean.
I hardly knew who you were talking to, Chakotay. It’s been so long since you called me by my name.
I don’t know what to say to that, Cap- Kathryn.
Then it’s probably best you don’t say anything at all.
You’d rather be alone.
Stay or go. It’s up to you.
Ship’s log, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, stardate 54984.6.
I have assumed temporary command of Voyager for the next five days while Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay and a number of the crew undertake negotiations with the Uxali. We are proceeding to Si’bora territory, where we have detected a mineral-rich asteroid field and hope to secure mining rights in order to replenish our dwindling dilithium supply.
At the Doctor’s recommendation, I submitted a formal request to the first officer that the captain schedule at least seventy-two hours’ shore leave while off the ship. Let the official record show that Commander Chakotay approved this request and has undertaken to ensure the captain complies with it. I am confident that the commander will execute this duty with his usual diligence.
She’s curled up on the window seat, knees hugged to her chest, gazing out into the blizzard as Chakotay yanks the door shut behind him and stamps the snow from his boots.
“You were right,” he remarks. “Doesn’t look like it’s going to ease off anytime soon. And there’s some kind of dampening radiation in the atmosphere. It’s bouncing the comm signal right back at us.”
“What are the chances?” she muses, a half-smile ghosting her lips.
“That on our first shore leave in years, we’d end up stuck here, completely incommunicado, thanks to a freak weather event.”
Coat shed, Chakotay eases onto the cushion beside her and picks up her hand. “Given our track record, I’d say the chances were pretty high, actually.” He pauses. “And it could’ve been worse.”
“Oh?” Kathryn’s fingers curl lightly into his.
“You could have ended up snowed in with Chell.”
No sooner do I let you take the wheel than we’re caught in an ion storm and forced to make an emergency landing. Are you cursed, Chakotay?
… You’re smiling, but I think you’re angry.
Oh. Very perceptive, Commander.
At least I crash-landed us right by the cabin.
Yes. It’s a credit to your skilled piloting.
Sarcasm is the lowest form of humour, Kathryn. … Are you hurt?
I’m fine. Open the damn hatch and let’s go.
Shit, it’s freezing out here.
It’s a blizzard, Chakotay.
Are you going to make yourself useful and carry this gear? Thank you so much.
I can’t hear you over the wind, Captain.
Lucky for you.
Ship’s log, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, stardate 54993.4.
The mission to the Si’bora asteroid field has been successful; we have mined enough raw dilithium to ensure our journey will continue for six point two months, in addition to several other much-needed minerals. Lieutenant Torres has insisted on an early return to duty from maternity leave, in order to supervise the dilithium crystal purification process.
With Lieutenant Paris on restricted working hours so that he can take over as primary caretaker for his daughter, and most of the other trained shift commanders on away missions, I am commanding double shifts daily. I admit to feeling somewhat fatigued. However, Voyager is now en route to the Uxali system, where we will collect most of our absent crewmembers. I anticipate a short break to undertake meditative relaxation when Ensign Kim and Lieutenant Rollins are back on board.
Where’s the keycode? – God, my fingers are frozen – No, I’ll do it.
Thank God, there’s a fireplace. I don’t suppose there’s a firelighter in that pack? – Oh. Nice work, Captain.
Phasers can be useful for something other than shooting people. Although I’m feeling the need for a little target practice right now.
Are you going to be like this for the next forty-eight hours? Because if so, I’ll probably be warmer if I sleep in the Flyer.
How dare you call me –
What? Call you what, Captain?
Cold. Frigid. Whatever you were thinking about me.
You think that’s what I was thinking? For God’s sake, Kathryn –
It’s not as though it’s a surprise, Chakotay –
I have no idea what you’re talking about –
I can’t remember the last time –
You don’t exactly make an effort –
– had dinner together –
– hardly even friends –
– Don’t you blame this on me. Don’t you dare.
I wouldn’t presume to hold you responsible for anything, Capt- mmph –
Ship’s log, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, stardate 54993.8, addendum.
On arrival at the Uxali homeworld, we have retrieved eight of the ten away team members from their various missions. However, the captain and Commander Chakotay are not among them. Ensign Kim reports that his last contact with the command team was two days ago when Chakotay contacted him from the Delta Flyer to advise that he and the captain had completed their diplomatic engagements and were commencing shore leave.
I have enlisted the aid of Mr Elemen, the Uxali ambassador, who claims to have recommended a number of enjoyable tourist destinations to Commander Chakotay. He believes the commander intended to visit Nopeqir, a planet three light years distant. I have ordered a course set for Nopeqir at warp 9.5. We should arrive at the planet in four hours.
“I guess we should talk about this, right?”
She glances at him from under lowered lashes. “If you really think talking is the best use of our time.”
A bashful, disbelieving smile twitches the corners of his lips – those lips she’s fantasised about for years, that she now knows with such devastating intimacy.
“We still have three days,” he points out. “And I hate to admit it, Kathryn, but I’m not as young as I used to be. Talking seems like a good way to pass the time in between, uh, other uses of it.”
She plays her fingertips lightly over his, seeking the kind of contact she wishes she could take for granted. Chakotay’s hands are broad and brown and capable; she has always known this, but oh, how sweet the knowledge from a lover’s perspective ... On impulse she dips her head, lets her teeth graze his thumb, breathes hot and wet on his index finger just to feel him shudder. She could suck his finger into her mouth the way she sucked him back to hardness earlier, the way she drew him into her body, tightening around him as she chased her pleasure and his –
But he wants to talk. And she owes him that.
Kathryn sits up, the sheet clutched to her breasts with one hand as she runs the other through tangled hair. He’s propped up on one elbow and looking at her, gazing really, a softness in his eyes that she hasn’t seen since – since the last time they were stranded, perhaps, or maybe not that long ago. Long enough ago that she can’t be sure.
Long enough ago that she leans down to brush a lingering, aching kiss over his parted lips, suddenly terrified that this is a dream, or a memory, or just an illusion.
Ship’s log, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, stardate 54996.6.
Our search for the missing command team continues. Long range sensors have been unable to detect the Delta Flyer, and neither Captain Janeway nor Commander Chakotay is responding to hails.
We have conducted a thorough scan of the surface of Nopeqir and beamed down search parties to the most likely regions, but to no avail. I have ordered Voyager to proceed to Esetuva, a nearby moon. The weather conditions are less hospitable there, but the moon offers excellent rock-climbing and spelunking, both of which are activities enjoyed by the captain and commander.
In the meantime, Lieutenant Torres, Seven of Nine and Ensign Kim are working to enhance sensors to scan a broader range of subspace bands in hope of detecting a transmission from either of the missing two, or at worst case, evidence of debris from the Delta Flyer.
She lies on her stomach, the full length of her back bared to him as he presses warm, soft kisses along each knob of her spine. It’s a sensation that makes her stifle a groan in her throat, makes her squeeze her thighs together, and he chuckles, knowing exactly what he’s doing to her.
“Turn over,” he whispers, and as soon as she does, he dips his head, tongue lazily circling one hardened nipple. Then he sucks it into his mouth and she arches into him, a moan rattling into the hushed, electric air.
Her hands are buried in his hair, guiding him in his exploration of her body; her hips curve and her legs part, unspoken evidence of her impatience. But he won’t be rushed.
“Please,” she begs as he breathes warm gusts of air over her abdomen, “please, Chakotay,” as he settles between her wide-open thighs and nuzzles into her, breathing her in.
He delights in teasing and taunting her, in making her sigh and sing and cry. Her toes curl, her fingers clench the bedsheets as she spirals toward her peak, and as he draws back, chuckling, she sobs with sudden terror that he’s going to leave her like this. That he’s going to leave her –
“I’ll never leave you,” he whispers, and bends his mouth to her again.
The single emotion in her mind as he diligently, expertly tips her into freefall is exultation.
Because she has always known it would be like this.
… I guess that answers that question.
You … you kissed me. Why – what –?
Well. If I’d known kissing you would leave you speechless, I’d have done it years ago.
You’re not exactly unaffected. And what question?
About your lips. I’ve wondered –
– I knew it.
Kathryn, what are you – We don’t have to rush into anyth-
– You’re kidding, right?
Okay, I guess it’s –
Oh, shut up, Chakotay. You talk too much, and I have other plans for that mouth of yours.
Ship’s log, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, stardate 54998.9.
The Delta Flyer has been found on the surface of Esetuva, in the immediate vicinity of a small cabin. The shuttle was apparently damaged in an ion storm; however, the damage was not severe enough to prevent it from lifting off the surface once the storm had passed; nor was the communications array damaged. Ambassador Elemen has explained that Esetuva is prone to sudden and severe atmospheric disturbances that can interfere with communications and flight equipment.
The most disturbing discovery is that the cabin has recently been inhabited by Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay – their uniforms, combadges and other belongings have been found inside – but neither of them is present. There is a residual transporter trace, apparently localised to the one bedroom that shows signs of use. I have transmitted the transporter frequency to the Uxali for analysis.
You said you were afraid of what could be between us – what is between us.
Yes, I did. I was – I am.
Oh, Chakotay, don’t you understand? After all these years –
We’ve never talked about it… Maybe I just need to hear you say it.
We talked about it once. On the holodeck, remember?
Yes, I remember. You told me you couldn’t risk losing me.
So what changed?
… I don’t know. I guess I just realised it didn’t matter whether I told you how I feel or not. I felt it, anyway. And if I lose you –
– You won’t.
– if I lose you, it won’t matter whether we’re together or not. It will still devastate me.
In fact, it might even be worse if I’d lost you without telling you –
Either way, I would survive losing you. A part of me wouldn’t – it’d be gone forever. But it would be a far larger part if I lost you and regretted never telling you –
I love you, too.
… I know, Chakotay. I know.
Ship’s log, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, stardate 54999.2, addendum.
It has become apparent that Esetuva is located within a star system that is under dispute between the Uxali, the Ahac and the Ghre’im. On occasion, Ghre’im dissidents are known to commit violent acts against those they claim are trespassing on their ancestral lands. Usually these terrorist acts are restricted to Uxali or Ahac merchants and miners, but on rare occasions off-worlders have been targeted. Ambassador Elemen has warned that the survival of those abducted by the Ghre’im is not a likely scenario.
The Uxali have provided us with the location of the Ghre’im homeworld and the scanning frequency necessary to penetrate its orbital defence grid. We have detected two human lifesigns on the planet and are proceeding to investigate.
It is my hope that we will achieve a peaceful outcome to this situation. However, I am prepared to use all necessary force to retrieve the captain and Commander Chakotay.
“This feels like a miracle,” he says so quietly she isn’t sure, at first, that he meant to speak aloud.
And it’s a sentiment too painfully close to her own thoughts, so instead of acknowledging it she turns to nuzzle into his neck, aligning their bodies in ways that she always imagined and never quite dared believe they would.
Which, she supposes, is an acknowledgement in itself.
“I don’t want this to be over when we get back to the ship,” he says in that same quiet, measured tone – and she knows that he meant, means, every word – “I don’t want this to be a shore leave interlude that we never speak of again.”
“What if we can’t do this?” she whispers. “What if I can’t?”
Because if she’s honest, and right now she needs to be, she isn’t sure that she’s strong enough.
Him, she has no doubts about.
“Whatever you need, Kathryn,” he answers her, “it doesn’t matter how tired you are or how much faith you feel you’re losing. You’ll never lose me again.”
“You can’t promise me that, Chakotay. Nobody knows what might happen tomorrow.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he answers. “Wherever you are, whatever we become.”
“I believe you,” she says, and smiles at him.
… Uh-huh …
I never imagined – Okay, that’s a lie. I imagined plenty. But that was –
You’re not so bad yourself, Commander.
Give me a few minutes to recover. Maybe I can do better than just ‘not bad’.
Are you looking at my lips again?
You know what? Yes, I am. And I don’t even care what knowing that does for your ego.
I hope they live up to expectations.
Mm, maybe … I think I need more data to make an accurate assessment …
God. Okay… yes. Definitely better than ‘not bad’.
I’m glad to hear it, Kathryn.
How’s that recovery coming along?
Quite nicely, thanks. Come closer.
Did you ever imagine we’d end up here?