Blind Man's Bluff
Summary: I’ve never given him permission to use my name. But I can’t deny that when he calls me ‘Captain’ in that rich, low tone, his dark eyes holding my gaze, it sounds like ‘Kathryn’.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Set just after Deadlock.
“What now?” I grouch as the artificial gravity on deck eight suddenly fails, forcing me to grab at the inner lever of the Jeffries tube hatch as my feet lose contact with the grating. One-handed, I press my commbadge. “Janeway to Engineering.”
~I know, Captain,~ comes B’Elanna’s harried voice. ~We’ve lost gravity on decks eight through ten. We’re on it.~
“Understood. Janeway out.”
Closing the channel, I propel myself through the hatch, seal it and grab onto the external handhold. There’s a storage locker ten metres down the corridor; I should find anti-grav boots inside, if I can get to it without bumping my head on the ceiling. I roll my eyes and carefully move off. It’s been a while since I trained in zero-g.
There have been intermittent systems failures all over the ship since we hit that plasma drift and Voyager was accidentally duplicated, but I can’t bring myself to complain about it too much, considering the alternative. At least my Voyager survived.
Gravity is restored suddenly just as I reach the locker and I land hard on my hip, letting out a few choice Klingon epithets I’m glad none of my crew is around to hear. Pulling myself to my feet, I hail Engineering again. “Report, Lieutenant.”
~It was a damaged power coupling, Captain. I have teams going over all our systems, but I have to say it doesn’t look great.~
I bite back on a sigh. “Keep me posted. I’ll be on the bridge.”
Chakotay shoots me a look of concern as I step off the turbolift, still limping and rubbing my hip. “Are you all right, Captain?”
“Fine. It’s just a bruise.”
He stands, looking like he wants to help me to my chair, but a warning look quells him. Instead he dips his head and reminds me that Alpha shift is over – his subtle way of telling me to get some rest. I try to work up a glare, but I’ve been on my feet for eighteen hours straight and I can’t deny I’m exhausted.
“You win, Commander. I’ll be in my quarters.”
“Sleep well, Captain.” He gives me that small, warm, dimpled smile that never fails to make me fight not to blush, and I step gratefully back onto the turbolift.
Just before the doors swish closed, Chakotay slips through them and takes his usual position slightly behind me and to my left. I turn to arch an eyebrow at him.
He shrugs. “Tuvok ordered me off the bridge, as well.”
He’s been awake and on duty as long as I have, so I simply nod and face front. The ‘lift starts to descend.
I feel him shift his feet. “Were you planning on going straight to sleep, or can I offer you something to eat first? I make a pretty mean mushroom risotto.”
We’ve become used to our weekly working dinners, and I look forward to them more than I should. I tell myself it’s only because I’m pleased that I’ve built such a positive command rapport with my Maquis first officer, but I can’t deny that I enjoy his company. He encourages me to relax the formality I rely on, just enough to stop me from suffocating. And I look forward to those nights, when I can kick off my boots and shake the captain from my shoulders.
Which is exactly why I should decline this invitation.
It takes me too long to weigh propriety against inclination, and Chakotay starts, “Never mind, Captain, I’m sure you’re tired –”
I cut him off. “Not too tired to eat your cooking, Commander. I’ll see you in half an hour.”
“Aye, Captain.” I can hear the smile in his voice as the turbolift deposits us on deck three.
I can’t bear to put my uniform back on after my shower, so I pull on a tank top, leggings and a thick cable-knit sweater that almost swallows me. Twisting my hair up into a ponytail, I replicate a bottle of the riesling Chakotay prefers, scoop up an armful of PADDs and head for his quarters.
It’s usually my quarters that we dine in – I’ve only been to his place for dinner a handful of times – so I try to squash my pleasure at finding that he’s lowered the lights and laid the table with flowers, just as I do. Then I try not to wonder why I do that, when I certainly don’t dim the lights and pretty up the table on the rare occasion that Tuvok dines with me.
“Thanks.” He takes the wine from me with a smile and pours us a glass each. “Dinner’s ready whenever you are.”
“I’m starving,” I admit, taking a seat at the table, and he laughs and moves to the replicator. He’s not in uniform either, I notice; just nicely-fitting pants and a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled.
Not that I’m looking.
Over dinner we keep to ship’s business. It’s not until we move to the couch with a fresh glass of wine that he brings up the topic I suddenly understand he’s been dying to broach.
“What was it like,” he asks, “meeting yourself?”
“Oh.” I settle into the corner of the couch. “Well, we didn’t really have a lot of time to focus on anything other than which of us was going to set the self-destruct. But it was… enlightening, I guess you could say. I remember overhearing an ensign on my last ship talking about the Janeway Death Glare, but I hadn’t realised just how effective it was.”
Chakotay snorts. “You didn’t pick that up from the way most people lose about ten centimetres in height after you give them one of your glares?”
I try a mild one on him and he just grins. “You seem to be remarkably unaffected, Commander.”
“Oh, I’m affected.” He gives me a slow look. “I just hide it well.”
“Really,” I drawl. “And what did you think of my alter ego? Having two captains around must have been a little odd.”
“Odd isn’t the word I’d have chosen,” he mutters.
I raise my eyebrows at him. To my surprise, he tugs on his ear – a sure sign, I’ve learned, that he’d very much like to extricate himself from the situation. The devil inside prompts me to ask, “What word would you choose, then, Chakotay?”
He stares into his glass for a long moment, then that pair of dimples appears as he looks up at me. “I’d have to go with … stimulating.”
Well, I did ask. And it’s not as if this is a surprise. I’d have to be blind not to have noticed he’s attracted to me; I just hope my attraction to him isn’t as obvious.
I drain my glass and take a breath, preparing to launch into the ‘protocol’ speech I’ve been putting off ever since he first stepped onto my bridge and locked eyes with me. But he beats me to it.
“That was inappropriate,” he says softly. “I’m sorry, Captain.”
I’ve never given him permission to use my name. But I can’t deny that when he calls me ‘Captain’ in that rich, low tone, his dark eyes holding my gaze, it sounds like ‘Kathryn’.
And I like the sound of it. I like it a little too much.
“Well.” Standing, I set my empty glass on the coffee table. “I’m sure you’re as tired as I am, so I’ll say goodnight, Commander.”
He rises politely to see me to the door, and at that moment we’re plunged into blackness and our feet start floating off the floor.
I served with a lieutenant commander on the Billings who was a former member of the Bajoran militia. She’d seen things – and probably, done things – that I can only hope I never experience, and she was tough as duranium. She also had a mouth like a sailor’s parrot. But Chakotay’s cursing as the lights and gravity go out puts her to shame.
“Commander,” I reprove, and reach for my commbadge as I drift up to the ceiling. “Janeway to Engineering.”
Silence – from both my companion and my engineering team.
“Janeway to the bridge.”
I hear Chakotay grumble under his breath.
“Janeway to anyone who can hear me. Please respond.”
“I guess comms are down too,” my first officer deadpans.
I send him a quelling look he, of course, can’t see. “We need to get out of here and find out what’s going on.”
My eyes are starting to adjust to the faint starlight coming through the viewport. Squinting, I can make out the shapes of furniture and the recess of the doors. I push lightly off the ceiling, aiming for them, and abruptly collide with Chakotay, who’s evidently had the same idea.
“Ow, damn it!” Tumbling end over end, I smack into the far bulkhead.
“Captain, are you all right?”
Apparently my weight had less effect on him than his did on me; he’s already pulled himself out of his tailspin and is making his way in my direction, pushing off armchairs and walls. He lands lightly against the bulkhead beside me and reaches for me. “Where are you hurt?”
I freeze. “Um. Not there, Commander.”
I can almost hear him blushing as he hastily removes his hand from my breast. “Sorry.”
“Forget it. And I’m fine – just a bump to the head. I’ve had worse.”
“We should, uh, get moving.”
“Right.” I manoeuvre carefully along the wall. “I don’t suppose you have a Sims beacon in here?”
“Afraid not,” he says ruefully. “I took my emergency kit to fix an ODN relay this morning and – son of a whore!”
Artificial gravity is abruptly restored and the pair of us plummet to the carpet – or, in Chakotay’s case, the dining table. Empty plates crash to the floor and I hear him hiss in pain.
Ignoring my twisted knee, I feel my way toward him in the unrelenting dark. “Commander! Are you hurt?”
“Just a couple of minor lacerations,” he grits out. “I guess I landed on the wine bottle.”
“Ouch,” I offer sympathetically. “Well, at least we can walk now. Let’s get you to Sickbay.”
“It’s nothing, Captain…” he breaks off as my fingers brush against him and I curve my hand around a – oh God. It’s his thigh. I yank my hand back as if burnt.
“What’s so funny?”
“Maybe we should set up a warning system.”
I can’t help snickering. “Did you ever play Marco Polo as a child, Commander?”
“Never heard of it, but we did play a game called Blind Man’s Bluff. It was like hide-and-seek, but blindfolded, and instead of hiding, you’d give the seeker vocal clues.”
I tilt my head. “Similar theory. Okay, what do you suggest, then? Whistling? Bird calls?”
He grins at my sarcasm; I can almost hear it. “I have a better idea. Let’s just … keep track of where our hands are,” and his strong fingers close around mine.
“Oh.” I feel stupid – not just for not thinking of this, but for my reaction to holding his hand. “Yes. Excellent idea, Commander.”
Chakotay pushes to his feet, brushing off the broken glass. “Shall we, Captain?”
“Of course.” Feeling the air ahead of me with one hand, the other clasped firmly in Chakotay’s warm grip, I find the panel beside the door.
It turns out my vocabulary of Klingon obscenities rivals Chakotay’s grasp of Bajoran curse words. After struggling futilely to convince the console to open the door to his quarters, I have to concede defeat. I slump against the wall in frustration. If I could see a damned thing, I could take my useless commbadge apart, extract a microfilament and probably – possibly – trick the panel into letting us out of here, but as things stand…
“We might as well take a seat,” Chakotay suggests.
I slam my hand on the panel one more time and slide down beside him with a huff. “I feel so useless. What if there’s trouble in Engineering, or on the bridge?”
He reaches blindly for my hand, laying his own on top of it. “It’s probably just the systems on this deck, Captain. Our crew will figure it out in no time, I’m sure.”
Without thinking, I turn my hand under his so our palms are pressed together and my fingers curl around his. I feel him shift slightly in surprise, but then his fingers close over mine and I decide that this is necessary contact. After all, it’s dark, and we’d hate to lose each other.
In a five-by-five metre living area.
When we’re sitting still.
I pull my hand away and get up to pace. “If they’ve restored gravity, why aren’t the lights – Oof!”
“I’m fine,” I growl from the side of my mouth not pressed to the carpet. “I tripped.”
Chakotay crawls over to me and I hear him patting the carpet. Then his hand alights on the back of my upper thigh and slides upward. My eyes widen.
Is it my imagination, or did he just squeeze?
“Uh, let me give you a hand.”
Biting back the myriad retorts that spring to my tongue, I grit out, “Thank you,” and wave my free hand in the air to help him haul me off the overturned stool. Catching it, he pulls too hard and topples backward, groaning as my elbow digs into his stomach. My chin clashes with his cheekbone and he yelps, his arms coming around me to hold me still.
I wriggle at first, infuriated at being held prisoner, but when my knee lands dangerously close to his balls, he winces and holds me tighter. “Please, Captain, I’d like to father children someday…”
I realise I’ve gone still in his arms. And then he flips us, rolling me beneath him, our legs intertwined and our bodies pressed together, and all I can do is stare up at the dark silhouette of his face and try to catch my breath.
I can’t move. I don’t want to.
Just as I raise my hand to trace the outlines of his face, he plants his hands either side of me and leaps to his feet. “Sorry, Captain,” he says gruffly.
I realise he’s holding out his hand to help me up. Tentatively, I grasp it and let him tug me upright. It takes a huge force of will, but I manage to let go of his hand and step back.
“So now what?” he asks, his voice still a little strained.
Think, Kathryn. “There’s a Jeffries tube access point in your bathroom, isn’t there?”
“Then lead the way, Commander. Maybe we’ll have better luck than we did with the door.”
It’s useless, of course. The hatch is stubbornly locked, and all I manage to do is break a nail. Giving up, I prop my back against the wall and slide down to the tiled floor, resting my folded arms on my knees.
“How long has it been now?”
Chakotay drops down next to me. “A couple of hours.”
I lay my head on my arms, biting back a yawn. Two days without sleep is catching up with me, and I really shouldn’t have had that third glass of wine tonight.
And it’s getting hot in here. I’m starting to regret my choice of sweater. Tugging the cowl away from my neck, I flap it back and forth, trying to get some cool air on my face.
“I think the environmental controls must have failed as well,” Chakotay says quietly, and I realise he’s rolling his shirtsleeves up a little more.
“I wonder how much oxygen we have,” I mutter darkly.
“We’ll be okay. Breathable air is the last thing to go.”
“Ever the optimist, Chakotay.”
“Well,” he turns his head; I can barely see the movement in the dark, but I can feel the warmth of his arm all along mine as he leans into me a little, “at least if we die, I can’t think of a better person to spend my last moments with.”
I can’t stand this any longer. My hair is sticking to my temples and the back of my neck and I’m prickling under the arms. This sweater has to go.
For the first time I’m glad it’s dark, because stripping off to a tank that’s barely deserving of the name, and not even a bra to protect my modesty, is not conduct becoming an officer. Taking a deep breath, I yank the offending sweater over my head and fling it halfway across the bathroom.
“Captain?” Chakotay sounds startled.
“It’s hot,” I snap.
There’s silence for a moment, and then I feel him tugging the shirt off his arms and tossing it away.
“What are you doing, Commander?”
He shrugs; I feel the movement all along the length of my now-bare arms, and it sends a trickle of want down my spine. “What’s good for the goose…”
I edge slightly away from him. “Maybe it’s cooler in the other room.”
“Let’s find out.”
Reluctantly I feel for the hand he holds out. I really need to avoid contact with him. Maybe it’s the wine, or not being able to escape these quarters, but I’m feeling less controlled than I normally manage in his presence.
Of course, the fact that he’s half-naked could have something to do with it.
He leads me into his bedroom and stops so quickly I run into his back. “What?”
“I just remembered there’s an access hatch in my bedroom ceiling. Want to give it a try?”
“How are we supposed to reach it – in the dark, no less?”
“I have an idea.” He feels for my hand again and leads me to stand by his bed, then goes to rummage in his nightstand. “Aha,” he says triumphantly, and the next thing I know, there’s a soft glow in the room from the candle he’s just lit and placed on the bedside table.
Now I can see him, too. All that smooth, golden flesh and those strong, defined muscles… I avert my eyes quickly.
“You didn’t remember those candles before?” My voice comes out tart.
“I don’t use them often,” he says apologetically.
“All right.” My hands go to my hips as I peer up at the ceiling. “I don’t suppose you have a stepladder stashed away somewhere.”
He doesn’t answer, and I lower my eyes to his face and realise his gaze is fixed on my chest. Glancing down, I once again regret my choice of undershirt. There’s far too much cleavage on display here. I peek at him. He’s still staring at me.
My nipples harden under the heat of his gaze. Shit. Crossing my arms self-consciously, I clear my throat, and Chakotay’s attention snaps back to my face.
“Stepladder?” I ask.
“Oh. No. Um, I’ll have to boost you up.”
“Boost … me up?”
His eyes slide away. “The bed’s too soft, the nightstand’s too low, and the table’s too heavy to drag in from the other room.”
“Right.” I nod. This is fine. Easy. Moving over to him, I slip off my shoes. “Ready, Commander.”
He holds out his palms, fingers linked, and I place my foot into the makeshift step, grab his shoulders and push off the floor.
“Higher,” I call down to him, reaching for the hatch and missing. He tries gamely, but as soon as my hand loses contact with his shoulder I start to wobble.
“Put your knee on my shoulder.” I can barely hear any strain in his voice.
“I’ve got you. Do it, Captain.”
“Giving the orders now, Chakotay?” But I know he’s right. Gingerly, I bring up the leg that’s dangling mid-air and rest my knee on his shoulder. Immediately he lifts me a little higher and I stabilise.
The position brings my pelvis into perfect alignment with his face.
“Captain, grab the handle!”
Ignoring the flush of heat that prickles through me at the thought of his mouth right there, I grasp the handle of the Jeffries tube hatch and sigh in relief. “Okay. I’m good.”
“Can you open it?”
I squint at the panel; it’s as dead as the others we’ve tried. “I need some kind of tool to work with. Let me down and I’ll take my commbadge apart.”
“Okay.” He adjusts his hands, one moving up to grip my calf, the other at my waist. My knee slips off his shoulder and he holds me close and steady as I slide slowly down the length of his body.
By the time my feet hit the floor I’m breathing fast. And, looking up at him, I can see his eyes are darker than usual, his beautiful lips slightly parted. I can’t help staring at them.
He swallows and steps backward. “There you go.”
I’m not sure I can find my voice, so I nod briskly and take off my commbadge, willing my fingers not to shake as I pry off the housing. The filament comes loose.
“Okay,” I tell him, and he stoops, hands linked, to boost me up again.
It’s so hard to concentrate. My fingers are sweaty and the damn filament is just that bit too short to cross-link the nodules I need to access. I direct him to boost me higher, and he keeps one hand cupped under my foot, the other moving to my ass. I know it’s the most supportive position he can find, but God, I’m burning up, heat flooding to my core, and I’m terrified he can smell it.
“Are you almost there?” He sounds strangled.
“Am I too heavy?”
“No.” He shudders out a breath, and I feel it right there, between my thighs. My clitoris throbs. The filament slips through my fingers and I try to grab for it. My balance shifts precariously, Chakotay grabs for my waist, and suddenly I’m tipping, both of us falling.
We land on the bed.
Dazed, I’m unable to move for a moment, but it’s a moment too long. Because by the time I regain my senses and realise we’re tangled together – his thigh between mine, one arm looped under my back and my face pressed into his – oh God – gloriously naked chest, it’s too late. I inhale sharply and all I can smell is him. And I want to taste.
My tongue flicks out and traces the path of his collarbone, and Chakotay gasps.
Shit, what have I done? So much for protocol. My eyes go wide and I start to shrink back from him. “Cha- Commander, I’m so sorry, that was inexcus-”
A hand slides upward over my ribcage, fingers curving around the underside of my breast, and the words die on my tongue. My gaze finds Chakotay’s and I almost moan at the naked desire in his eyes.
I wrap my arms around his neck and drag his mouth to mine.
He makes a sound in his throat – surprise? pleasure? – and then he’s kissing me back, his tongue delving lightly into my mouth. His thumb brushes over my nipple and I can no longer hold back a moan.
It’s as though I’ve fired a starter pistol. Suddenly his hands are everywhere – clutching the back of my neck, stroking downward over my hip, sliding onto my inner thigh – and mine are equally busy. I flatten a palm on his chest, feeling his heart beating under my hand. My other hand squirms between us until I can curl my fingers around the sizable erection I can feel pressing into my thigh. Chakotay breaks our kiss to groan as I stroke him through his pants, burying his face against the side of my neck.
“Kathryn,” he growls in my ear. The hand on my thigh moves a few centimetres higher, fingers pressing and gliding, and I wriggle closer to them, my head falling back and my lips parted. A surge is building low in my belly. My fingernails dig into his shoulders and I slip my other hand inside his pants and finally feel him hard and hot against the palm of my hand…
And then the lights come on.
“Captain, are you in here?”
Shit. It’s Tuvok. I stare at Chakotay, whose eyes are equally wide with horror and fading arousal.
“Check the bedroom,” I hear Tuvok say, and there’s the soft pad of footsteps approaching.
I’ve never moved so fast in my life.
By the time Ensign Blain enters Chakotay’s bedroom, the two of us are standing several metres apart. My tank top covers all the parts it’s supposed to cover and Chakotay has his hands clasped in front of his crotch, but there’s nothing we can do about the fact that he’s shirtless. Or the atmosphere that clearly permeates the room.
Blain stops short, his gaze moving between Chakotay and me. “Uh, Captain, are you all right?”
I cough. “Fine, thank you, Ensign. Report.”
Tuvok appears behind him in the doorway, his gaze never flickering as he sums us up, and I squeeze my eyes closed momentarily, knowing he won’t have missed a thing. “Dismissed, Ensign,” he orders, and Blain scuttles away.
Without missing a beat, Tuvok smoothly delivers a report on an overloaded power conduit, a chain reaction and a miraculous – my extrapolation – repair job led by one B’Elanna Torres.
“The situation is in hand,” he finishes, dark eyes impassive, “and there is no cause for further concern. With your permission, I will return to the bridge and leave you to finish your” – there’s the slightest pause – “dinner.”
The doors swish closed behind him and silence returns.
Eventually, Chakotay gives a small cough. “Did that just happen?”
“You mean, my Vulcan security chief giving his tacit approval for…” I trail off, blushing.
“Yeah, that’s what I meant.”
“Then, yes. I concur with your reading of the situation.”
Chakotay turns to face me, eyes solemn. “And what about your reading of it?” He looks hesitant. “If I was out of line, Captain…”
“Call me Kathryn.”
His surprise melts into that smile that makes my knees quiver. “I believe I already did.”
“Oh yes.” I step closer. “When was that, exactly?”
He moves closer, too. “I think we were just about here,” and he reaches for me, curling an arm around my waist to bring me up against him.
“Sounds about right,” I offer breathlessly, my arms sliding around his neck.
“So, Kathryn,” he murmurs, nuzzling my cheekbone, “know any other games we can play in the dark?”
I stand on tiptoe to curl my tongue around that earlobe he’s always tugging. “Why don’t we find out?”
“Computer,” he grins, “lights out.”