Conversations Without Words
Summary: “It’s often just enough to be with someone. I don’t need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You’re not alone.” — Marilyn Monroe
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Ayala, Paris
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 talsi74656’s “J/C Cutthroat Fiction” comp, to the Marilyn Monroe quote above.
VI. Then - Stardate 50136.1
“Lieutenant Michael Ayala, you are guilty of insubordination, reckless endangerment and failure to follow rescue mission protocol. Do you have anything to offer in your defence?”
Ayala let his gaze drop from where it was fixed above the captain’s head, meeting her steely eyes. “I owed it to Chakotay.”
She lifted her chin. “Explain.”
“He saved my family five years ago when the Cardassians attacked our settlement.” Ayala’s jaw clenched. “If it weren’t for him, my wife and sons would be dead. I swore I’d repay him for that someday if I ever had the opportunity.” His eyes softened. “And I couldn’t let you die, Captain. He would never forgive me for it, and I’d never forgive myself.”
Janeway’s shoulders slumped a fraction. “I appreciate your bravery, Mr Ayala, and I’m well aware I probably wouldn’t be alive today without you. But you disobeyed my direct order.”
“You allowed your personal concerns to override your duty to follow Starfleet procedures, and in doing so you put Commander Chakotay’s life at risk.”
“I have no choice but to demote you to the rank of ensign.” She reached to unpin the rank insignia from his collar, replacing it with a bar with one silver stripe. “You’re confined to quarters for two days, during which time you will reacquaint yourself with the rules and regulations all Starfleet officers are duty bound to follow.”
She paused, one hand fluttering back to brace against her desk, and Ayala saw the bone-deep pain and fatigue in her eyes before the mask descended again.
“Come in,” Ayala called at the chime.
He wasn’t surprised to see Chakotay enter his quarters, favouring his left leg. Ayala waved him to a chair, getting up to pour a second glass of patxaran.
“Thanks.” Chakotay threw back the liquor and grimaced. “Damn. Still makes my eyes water.”
Ayala’s mouth twisted. “It’s my second-last bottle from home. I figured being sent to time-out was a good enough occasion to open it.”
The first officer propped his injured leg up on the coffee table as Ayala poured them both a refill. They clinked glasses, tossed them back.
“How’s the leg?”
Chakotay shrugged. “Doc says it’ll be fine after a few physiotherapy sessions. Could’ve been worse.”
“Yeah. You could’ve died.”
Chakotay met Ayala’s stare. “But I didn’t.”
Ayala nodded. “The captain was pretty pissed with me.”
“So I see.” Chakotay flicked a finger at Ayala’s new rank insignia.
“She’s pretty pissed with you, too.”
“I’ll live with it,” Chakotay said, then smiled. “And so will she.”
“Amen to that.”
Ayala leaned forward to uncap the bottle again.
“So,” he said with practiced nonchalance after they’d downed their third shot, “you going to tell me what I walked in on, down in that cave?”
“You kissed her,” Ayala pointed out. “And from what I could see, she was kissing you right back.”
Chakotay stared at him evenly.
“Come on, boss. It’s me.”
Chakotay stayed silent.
“Okay, I get it,” Ayala shrugged. “You don’t want to talk about it.”
“No, I don’t,” the commander retorted through gritted teeth. “And if I ever hear the faintest whisper of this from anyone on this ship, I’ll know exactly who’s been talking, Ensign.”
Ayala held up his hands to placate him. “My lips are sealed.”
“Good. Make sure they stay that way.” Chakotay heaved himself to his feet, pausing before he reached the doorway. “And Mike…”
“Thanks. For saving her.”