Summary: Chakotay takes advantage of his weekly dinners with the Captain to conduct an experiment.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
Disclaimer: Paramount created the characters. Fanfiction makes them do things their parents probably wouldn’t approve of.
Notes: I’ve been serving up a steady diet of angst and smut lately. Think of this as the sorbet course.
Starts just after Elogium and goes through to just after Maneuvers, but what happens off-screen is definitely not canon-compliant.
“Good work, Commander. In the future, if I have any questions about mating behaviour, I'll know where to go.”
“Face it, Captain. You can’t deny it.”
She set her glass of wine on the coffee table with a firm clack and treated him to a category-three glare. “Excuse me, Commander?”
“You heard me.”
“Oh, I think you’ll find I can deny it.” Captain Janeway crossed her arms and notched up the glare. “And I do. Most voficerous … vocific … vo-cif-er-ously,” she finally enunciated, turning her glare onto the glass of wine that was to blame for her uncooperative tongue. And, clearly, for the turn this dialogue had taken, she decided.
Of course, her outrageous conduct on the bridge that afternoon when she’d teased him about his expertise in mating behaviour had nothing to do with it.
Chakotay snickered. “Prove it,” he challenged.
“Huh?” She’d already lost the thread of the conversation.
“You deny that you think I’m attractive. Prove it.”
She stared at him. “How am I supposed to do that?”
“Well, for starters, you could try getting through a five-minute conversation with me without looking at my lips.”
Her gaze instantly darted to the offending lips, watched them widen into a grin, and snapped back up to Chakotay’s eyes. “That was not a fair test,” she protested.
“Well, you’re the scientist,” he answered, leaning forward to set his wineglass next to hers. “Surely you have some suggestions on how to prove a theory.”
“Or in this case, disprove it,” she shot back.
“So you admit you think I’m attractive?”
“What? That’s not what I …” Kathryn sputtered as his grin broadened. “Stop doing that and let me think.”
“By all means.”
“All right.” She got up off the couch and began to pace. “A scientist starts with observable phenomena from which she constructs a hypothesis.”
“For example,” Chakotay put in, “you look at my lips a lot, which leads me to hypothesise that you find them – and by extension, me – attractive.”
Kathryn sent him a dark look. “And then the scientist devises a series of experiments to test the hypothesis.”
Chakotay’s grin grew even wider. “I assume these experiments are carried out repeatedly in order to collect sufficient data to prove – or disprove – the supposition?”
“Of course. Only repeatable and verifiable data allow the scientist to draw an accurate conclusion.”
“Of course,” he agreed mildly. “So, Dr Janeway, what experiments do you propose we conduct to gather this data?”
She stopped pacing and stared at him. “I don’t, um…”
“I have a suggestion,” he cut her off, standing up and lazily moving toward her. She backed up a little and he stopped moving a few paces from her. “We could start with the basics.”
He stepped a little closer and she moved back involuntarily. “You obviously enjoy looking at my lips,” he said in a reasonable voice. “Scientists approve of empirical data, so why not gather some using tactile methods?”
“Tactile?” Kathryn mentally slapped herself; parroting his words back at him was making her sound like a half-wit. She drew herself up straighter. “Explain, Commander.”
He moved in closer, and she was so busy warily watching his face that she didn’t realise until too late that he’d reached out and taken her hand. He lifted it to his lips and placed her fingers gently against his mouth.
“It’s a well-known scientific fact,” he answered, as she tried not to shiver at the sensation of his lips moving under her fingers, “that tactile contact with someone you find attractive causes a measurable physiological response. Elevated heart rate and respiration, increased blood flow to the epidermis, dilation of the pupils…”
He released her hand and she snatched it away, hiding both hands behind her back and lifting her chin.
“Commander,” she warned him.
“Hmm.” He cocked his head to the side. “It’s possible I’m observing some early results. Too soon to tell for sure though, wouldn’t you say, Captain? I suggest we modify the variables.”
“And how, exactly, do you propose we do that?” Was that her voice – breathy and low?
“I suggest using an alternate form of tactile interface.” He lowered his gaze to her mouth. “After all, lips are designed to be pressed against another person’s lips. Wouldn’t you agree?”
She retreated a couple more steps. He followed. She stumbled slightly as she moved away and found herself backed up against the bulkhead.
“This is inappropriate –”
“I’ve never known you to back away from a challenge, Captain,” he said smoothly. He was barely inches from her, looking down at her, smiling. “Of course, if you can think of another scientific method of disproving my theory, feel free to offer it.”
She couldn’t help looking at his lips again.
He cocked an eyebrow at her.
“I’m thinking,” she snapped.
Chakotay lifted his hand and brushed his thumb across her lower lip.
She shivered, and his fingers moved to cradle her face, tilting it upward.
“Any alternative suggestions, Captain?” he murmured.
Her breath came faster as his mouth neared hers. She parted her lips. So close… just an inch or two closer, and they’d be -
Slipping out from under his arm, she moved quickly to the opposite side of the room, hands clasped behind her back.
“This experiment is over, Commander,” she said primly. “Good night.”
Chakotay straightened up, his smile small and knowing, and ambled toward the door. “Sweet dreams, Captain,” he tossed over his shoulder as the door slid shut behind him. Kathryn sank onto the couch before her trembling knees could betray her.
Mark smiled accusingly at her from the framed photograph on her desk.
“No, thank you, Commander.” Kathryn placed a hand over her wineglass in answer to Chakotay’s silent offer of a refill.
She had already determined to keep her wits about her tonight; she had no intention of repeating last week’s near slip-up. Her first officer’s presence was amply disruptive to her equilibrium without the added danger of intoxication, as she’d proven last time they had dinner in her quarters.
Chakotay settled back against the couch. “So, any lingering after-effects of your encounter with the spatial distortion, Captain?”
“You mean aside from the three-day headache? No, I’m fighting fit, thank you.”
“Glad to hear it. You had me worried for a while there.”
“Yes, well, hearing the Captain speaking in tongues must have been quite disconcerting.”
“Oh, I don’t know. It’s a shame the universal translator wasn’t functioning. Who knows what you might’ve let slip in your delirium?”
“You already have Voyager’s command codes,” she said archly. “What else could I reveal that could possibly be of interest?”
“I don’t think you really want me to answer that, Captain.”
He was smirking. Kathryn flushed, pulling her legs up beneath her on the couch. “I can assure you, it wouldn’t have been what you seem to want me to say.”
“What is it I want you to say?”
“You know what.”
“I’m not sure I do. Perhaps you’d feel better if you told me.”
“You want me to tell you that I’m attracted to you,” she snapped, annoyed.
His grin made her madder. “Why, thank you, Captain.”
“That’s not – I didn’t mean –” She stopped, furious. How did he manage to get to her like that?
“Are you really going to deny it again?”
“Of course I am!”
“Then I have no choice,” he sighed dramatically. “After all, you were the one who insisted on proving it by repeated experimentation.”
“Disproving it,” she corrected. “And – wait, what? What are you talking about?”
“Application of scientific method, of course, Dr Janeway,” he answered, sounding eminently reasonable. “Collection and verification of a set of data in order to draw a supportable conclusion.”
She stared at him.
“As I recall, the last time we ran this experiment,” he shifted closer to her on the couch, “we were just about here…”
He raised a hand to her face, his thumb stroking gently over her lower lip. He bent slowly toward her. Kathryn felt herself begin to tremble.
How had this situation got so out of control?
And why wasn’t she stopping him?
Just as she parted her lips, waiting breathlessly for his kiss, he murmured, “Enjoying the experiment, Captain?”
Her eyes widened and her hands came up to his chest, shoving him away and scrambling off the couch.
“Get out, Commander,” she said, low and deadly.
“Aye, Captain,” Chakotay answered, unfolding himself from the couch.
He had the good sense not to let her see him smiling as he walked out the door.
Kathryn stormed into her bedroom, kicked off her boots, then picked them and flung them with violence at the bulkhead. What was wrong with him? Chakotay was fully cognisant of Starfleet fraternisation policies. What made him think that it was all right to contravene them, as if this were some kind of adolescent game?
More to the point, what was wrong with her, that she’d almost let him do it?
That night, she slept with the portrait of Mark on the table beside her bed, so that it would be the first thing she saw when she woke.
For two weeks, Kathryn managed to evade the weekly dinners with her first officer. She avoided private conferences with him in her ready room and, in any case, on duty he was unfailingly professional and circumspect. She saw him occasionally in the mess hall or the corridors, but sailed past him with a polite and distant nod. He commed her once or twice to ask her to the holodeck but she begged off each time, pleading too much paperwork. As they were in a quiet sector of space and Chakotay generally did most of her paperwork for her, she reasoned that his letting her off the hook was his way of apologising for his behaviour.
Then Neelix threw a Christmas party for the crew.
“Merry Christmas, Captain,” Tom Paris called, as she entered the holodeck, then shoved a glass of something fragrant into her hand that most definitely wasn’t syntheholic.
Neelix came bustling up, his orange whiskers trembling with excitement. “Captain! So wonderful to see you here. And might I add, you look stunning tonight. That dress suits you perfectly! And I’m told red is a traditional Christmas colour, so I’m pleased to see you’ve gone with -”
“Thank you, Neelix,” Kathryn hastily interrupted him, trying not to blush at his exuberance. “You two have done a wonderful job,” she added, glancing around at the holographic ski lodge, complete with comfortable lounges and open fireplace. There was a dance floor and a fully-stocked bar, and a trestle table laden with a variety of traditional dishes was pushed against the far wall.
“Thanks, Captain,” Tom answered. “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need another drink.”
“Take it easy, Lieutenant,” she called after him. “You’re on duty in the morning.”
Neelix rushed off, mumbling about getting more food brought down from the mess hall, and Kathryn sipped her drink as she wandered about the room. The taste of rum was thick in the back of her throat, and she reflected that she really would need to listen to her own advice tonight and watch her drinks. Knowing Tom, he’d spiked the punch as well. In fact, judging by the loose-hipped dancing and loud laughter a number of her crew were already indulging in, he’d probably spiked the canapés.
She leaned against the mantel and watched the frivolity around her. Harry Kim was on a sofa, nervously edging away from Jenny Delaney. B’Elanna Torres, in a svelte black dress, was gesturing excitedly over a PADD with Joe Carey and Susan Nicoletti; Kathryn figured it was probably the warp core efficiency report, and wondered how long B’Elanna would be able to leave Vorik in charge of her beloved Engineering tonight. Tom, Neelix and Kes were busy at the food table. Tuvok was conspicuously absent, having volunteered for extra bridge duty tonight. That meant all of her senior staff were accounted for, except for one.
“Feliz Navidad, Captain,” murmured a warm voice in her ear.
“Well, I guess that accounts for you too, then,” she muttered, turning to face Chakotay.
“I was just wondering where you were.”
He smiled, deepening the dimples that made her fingers twitch with the urge to touch them. It really was incredibly irritating.
“Missing me?” he asked.
“Just making sure you weren’t shirking your duty,” she retorted.
“Never.” He offered her his arm. “May I escort you to the banquet table, Captain?”
“And what part of your duty would that be, Commander?”
“It’s a part of every first officer’s duty to take care of his captain. That includes making sure she eats.” He dipped his head a little closer to her ear. “And making sure she enjoys herself.”
His silky tone of voice hinted at methods of enjoyment she was most definitely not free to indulge in with her first officer. Kathryn stiffened a little. “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of my own enjoyment, Commander.”
She wanted to kick herself the moment it came out of her mouth.
“Oh, I have no doubt of that.” The low amusement in his tone made her back stiffen further. “But sometimes, it’s more fun to let someone else take care of that for you, too.”
Kathryn stepped out of his reach and glared.
Unrepentant, Chakotay grinned at her, offering his arm again. “But maybe for now, we should stick with dinner.”
Hesitantly, she looped her arm through his.
“Besides,” he said quietly, as he led her to the trestle table, “we wouldn’t want to skip too many steps in the experiment, would we? Changing too many variables at once might skew the results.”
Kathryn’s steps faltered. She’d been hoping her chilly attitude over the past two weeks would make him give up on his stupid experiment. Apparently she’d underestimated his dedication to proving his theory.
Nervously, she drained her glass, barely noticing when Neelix sidled up and refilled it.
Chakotay stuck close to her side as the evening slid into night. Occasionally she would feel the brush of his shoulder against hers, a warm hand touching the small of her back as he guided her to a seat, the soft tickle of his breath against her ear as he whispered to her. It was unsettling, and she found herself unable to do more than pick at the food on her plate. Her glass, however, seemed to empty and refill itself with alarming regularity.
At 2200, deciding it was time to leave so the crew could get on with letting their hair down, she stood to bid her farewells and almost overbalanced.
“Easy,” murmured Chakotay, a steadying hand under her elbow. “I think I’d better see you home, Captain.”
Kathryn let out an uncaptainly snicker. “A first officer’s work is never done.”
Chakotay manoeuvred her toward the holodeck exit. “Fortunately, Captain, I get a great deal of satisfaction out of my job.”
“Lucky you. I find myself quite frustratingly unsatisfied,” she blurted, then clapped a hand over her mouth in horror.
Chakotay tried hard not to laugh as they exited the holodeck and made their weaving way toward the turbolift. “Deck three,” he ordered.
Kathryn leaned against the turbolift wall, closing her eyes, then abruptly straightened up as her head spun and her centre of gravity shifted alarmingly. “That wasn’t a good idea,” she muttered.
“Lean on me,” Chakotay advised. The ‘lift swished to a stop and she let him loop his arm under her shoulders and guide her to the door of her quarters.
Her entry code seemed to have changed; after her third attempt to open her door, the computer beeped rudely and informed her that she’d exceeded her passcode attempts and deactivated the door panel. A command override would now be required to unlock it. Slouching against the door jamb, she stared up at her first officer in frustration. “What’s wrong with this thing?”
Chuckling, he leaned over her – involuntarily she inhaled, catching a delightful waft of some kind of spicy, wintery scent she assumed was the soap he’d used, which sparked off a disconcerting series of mental images of him using that soap – and keyed a series of numbers into the panel. The door slid open.
“Well,” she said brightly. “Thank you for escorting me home, Commander.”
“It was my pleasure, Captain.”
He was blocking the doorway, his hand braced against the jamb.
She squinted up at him. His gaze was locked on her face, and his eyes looked darker than usual. There was no sign of the dimples.
Her pulse picked up.
He bent his head and she knew he was going to kiss her. Worse, she was going to let him. Her lips parted, her gaze darting to his mouth. She tilted her face up and closed her eyes …
… and felt the warm, fleeting impression of lips against her cheek.
He drew back. She opened her eyes and stared at him. “What kind of a goodnight kiss was that?” she demanded, too incensed to be embarrassed.
The dimples were back. “The kind a gentleman gives when a lady is too drunk to stand on her own two feet.”
He straightened, moving away to allow her access to her quarters.
“Besides,” he added, “it wouldn’t have been a fair test. When you finally admit you’re attracted to me, I want to be sure you’re in complete control of your faculties.”
Her mouth dropped open in outrage as he sauntered away.
“Gentleman, my ass,” she muttered, stomping into her quarters and directly into a very cold shower.
As she fell into bed she accidentally knocked the photograph of Mark off her bedside table, but she figured it wasn’t moving anywhere and she could put it back in its rightful place in the morning.