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.
“I don't think you've missed me. Someone else is in your thoughts now.”
“I’m curious, Commander.” Tucking her legs beneath her on the couch and cradling her second glass of wine in both hands, Kathryn glanced over at her first officer. “You never did tell me what the Bothan made you see.”
Chakotay smiled at her over the rim of his glass. “No, I didn’t.”
When it became clear he wasn’t intending to continue, she looked away. “And you’d rather keep it that way. I understand.”
“For now. What about you, Captain? What was in your vision?”
“Oh.” She blushed, fidgeting with the stem of her wineglass. “Uh, well, I saw my fiancé.”
“I’m guessing it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience,” Chakotay said, watching her.
Kathryn thought about the accusations ‘Mark’ had thrown at her, and wished she’d never raised the subject. She just hadn’t been able to contain her curiosity over Chakotay’s vision. And now she’d probably never know what he’d seen.
She wondered why it seemed so important.
“Earth to Captain Janeway.”
She blinked. “I’m sorry, Commander. I guess I’m more tired than I thought.”
“Maybe we should call it a night, then. I’d hate to be responsible for you losing any more sleep.”
“No, stay,” she said impulsively, then wondered what on earth had possessed her.
She’d been finding solitude unpalatable ever since the Bothan posing as Mark had accused her of infidelity, and had been trying not to analyse her discomfort too deeply. She hadn’t lied when she’d insisted that she’d been faithful to Mark, had she? And when Mark had kissed her in the turbolift and she’d felt nothing, it was only because it wasn’t really Mark, wasn’t it?
And her lost sleep had nothing to do with Chakotay, anyway, did it?
Chakotay was smiling at her. “If you’re sure, I’ll stay.”
“Of course I’m sure,” she said brightly. “I promised you dessert, didn’t I? And I always deliver.”
Oh, God, she cringed internally as Chakotay’s dimples appeared. Why did everything that came out of her mouth when he was around sound like a proposition?
She jumped up from the couch so he wouldn’t see the red flush creeping up from under her collar. “Two bowls of coffee ice cream,” she ordered the replicator. By the time the food materialised, she figured she’d managed to get herself back under control. Turning with the dishes in hand, she found Chakotay had moved silently from the couch and was now standing so close that she almost dropped ice cream on his boots.
“I, uh, excuse me, Commander,” she stammered.
His hands covered hers, steadying the dishes. “Let me help with those.”
“Thank you,” she said, cursing the hitch in her breath.
After a moment, during which her pulse picked up and she started to tremble, he said, “You’ll have to let go of the bowls first.”
“Oh.” Kathryn blushed again, forcing herself to slide her hands out from beneath his and step sideways.
They returned to the couch. Chakotay handed Kathryn a bowl, and she made certain their fingers didn’t touch as she took it. They ate in silence. Licking the last drops from her spoon, she glanced over at him and found him watching her, his eyes darker than she’d ever seen them.
Her heart started thumping in double-time.
Then the devil inside her whispered, payback time.
Leaning toward him, she dipped her finger into the melted remains of his ice cream and, without moving away, raised her gaze to his as she sucked her finger slowly into her mouth.
She watched his lips part a little as he stared at her.
“Mmm,” she sighed throatily. “So good.”
Chakotay swayed toward her, and Kathryn slipped gracefully to her feet, carrying the dishes to the replicator.
“Well,” she said in her usual voice, “it’s getting late, Commander.”
It took him a minute to stand up, and when he did, she noticed with a self-satisfied smirk that he was hunching over slightly. She expected him to head for the door. Instead, he walked over to where she stood by the replicator.
He rested one hand against the wall by her head and leaned in close, so close she could feel his breath on her cheek. Her eyes widened.
“Thanks for dinner, Captain.” His voice was low and husky. “I especially enjoyed dessert, not to mention your unique way of eating it.”
His gaze dropped to her lips, and Kathryn started to tremble.
He dipped his head, just barely brushing his lips against the corner of her mouth. Then he straightened up and ambled toward her door.
That didn’t go as planned, Kathryn thought, sinking to the floor on shaky legs.
Lieutenant Tuvok had been on a supply mission for two weeks, enabling Kathryn to order her first officer to take command of Beta shift in Tuvok’s absence. Consequently, they’d missed their last two Sunday dinners, a happenstance that had done wonders for her equilibrium.
Now, however, Tuvok was back, and Chakotay had returned to Alpha shift, freeing up his Sunday night schedule.
She’d need a new excuse to avoid dinner with him tonight.
“Exercise,” she informed him when they entered the turbolift at shift change and he asked her what time he should report to her quarters.
“I’m going to the holodeck. Doctor’s orders. Apparently I’m working too hard and not getting sufficient rest, nutrition or cardiovascular activity.”
“Well, skipping dinner isn’t going to help on the second point. But I can help you with the third requirement.”
“I beg your pardon, Commander?” She turned to face him, steely-eyed, not a hair out of place.
“Boxing,” he answered calmly, his eyes amused. “One of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise a body can get. 1800 hours in Holodeck Two, Captain. I’ll take you through a few basic moves. Nothing too taxing for a beginner like yourself.”
“Basic?” Kathryn drew herself upright, eyes flashing fury. “Beginner?”
“It’s all right, Captain. I’ll go easy on you.”
She folded her arms and gave him a category-five glare. “You most definitely will not, Commander.”
Chakotay grinned. The turbolift swished to a stop at her floor, and he swept out an arm as if giving her permission to disembark. “See you in half an hour, Captain.”
She fumed as she stripped off her uniform and pulled on leggings and a tank top. Lacing up her trainers, she stomped to the holodeck. She was a few minutes early, so she decided to call up Chakotay’s boxing program and get started. He’d walk in and find her already working with the bag. She’d show him beginner.
“Your form could use some work,” she heard, ten minutes later.
Furious, she aimed a few hard punches at the bag and then turned to face him, gloved hands on her hips. “Is that so?”
Chakotay ambled over to her, winding a wrap over his left hand. “Your stance is planted and you’re swinging from the shoulders. You’ll injure yourself in no time. Let me show you.”
He nudged her gently out of the way and took up his position in front of the bag. “Like this, see? Feet shoulder-width apart. You’re right-handed, so keep your left foot forward and your stance light, up on your toes. Try it,” he encouraged, moving aside.
Kathryn blew an errant strand of hair from her forehead and moved in, taking up the position he’d shown her.
“Good. Now, angle your chin down and keep your gloves tucked up under your cheekbones and your elbows in.”
“It’s the basic defensive position. Easy to guard your face.”
Kathryn raised an eyebrow at him. “Guard my face? Should I be expecting somebody to hit me, Commander?”
He smirked. “You’re not nearly advanced enough for sparring yet, Captain. I’m just teaching you the basics, remember?”
Outraged, she brought her hands up as he’d demonstrated. “I’ll have you know I took the required martial arts classes at the Academy, Commander. And I can hold my own in a fight.”
“I don’t doubt it.” She could hear the grin in his voice. “But with my help, you might even win a few.”
She turned a glare on him.
He stepped away, smiling. “Okay, give it a try.”
She slammed her right fist into the bag with unnecessary force and was about to follow up with her left when she felt his hand on her shoulder.
“What?” she demanded.
“Tell me how it felt when you threw that punch.”
She rolled her shoulder irritably, dislodging his hand. “Fine.”
“Uh-huh.” He sent her an even look. “I’m guessing it jarred your shoulder.”
“What of it?” she huffed.
“You need to turn your hips into the punch. It’ll ease the strain on your shoulder and arm, and you’ll get a lot more power that way. Watch.”
Again, he manoeuvred her out of the way with a bump of his hip. She watched as he threw a few jabs at the bag and then stepped back.
Bouncing lightly on her toes, she swivelled her right hip as she drew back her fist, then turned her hips and shoulders as she swung her arm forward. The bag flew backward twenty centimetres further than she’d managed to move it with any of her earlier efforts. “Oh,” she said, surprised, and pleased despite herself.
“Not bad,” he approved. “Show me again.”
An hour later Chakotay was finally satisfied with her technique, and Kathryn was shaking with muscle fatigue. “You were right,” she admitted grudgingly as she pulled off her gloves and sank onto a bench. “This was a good workout. I’m exhausted.”
He sat opposite and picked up one of her hands, unwinding the wraps she’d worn under her gloves. “We could make it a regular date, if you like,” he offered. He held her hand between his own, thumbs lightly stroking her palm.
That was starting to feel a little too good, so Kathryn carefully pulled her hand away. “Are you sure you and the Doctor aren’t in league to con me into getting regular exercise, Commander?”
Chakotay took her other hand, slowly unwrapping it. “Think of it as an efficient use of our time, Captain. You get a workout, and afterwards I cook you dinner and we catch up on ship’s reports.”
“Dinner?” She looked up at him warily.
“The Doctor’s second requirement, remember?”
“Right,” she muttered. He was massaging her now-naked hand, and she was starting to have trouble concentrating on the conversation. “Far be it from me to defy a medical directive.”
“Good.” Chakotay stood, still holding her hand, and she rose from bench as well. “My quarters, half an hour, then.”
She hadn’t realised he’d meant to start tonight. “I can’t,” she blurted. “Too much work to do.”
“You can just as easily work in my quarters,” he persuaded. “And this way I can be sure you’ll actually eat something.”
She cast about for an excuse. He was still holding her hand, and standing very close to her, and she couldn’t seem to think about anything other than how much she wanted to lean forward and lick his chest.
“And besides, I need your scientific opinion.” The timbre of his voice dropped lower as he stepped a little closer into her space, forcing her to tilt her head and meet his gaze. “I have some ideas about introducing a new variable to our experiment parameters.”
She wanted so much to say yes.
That thought gave her the strength to pull her hand from his and step away from him. “Not tonight, Commander,” she said, lifting her chin and giving him her best command smile. “Thanks for the lesson, and I’ll see you on the bridge tomorrow.”
Hours later, having replicated some soup after her boxing lesson, Kathryn had dutifully managed to fulfil the Doctor’s second and third requirements for good health. Unfortunately his first order - to get a good night’s sleep - was one she found herself quite unable to follow.
“You’ve been practicing,” Chakotay said approvingly, watching her work at the bag. “But you’re still not swivelling enough. Let me show you.”
Kathryn lowered her hands, and he stepped in close, one big hand on each of her hips. She jumped.
“Relax,” he admonished. “You need to keep your body loose and light. Let your shoulders drop – you’re carrying too much tension in them.”
She did her best to obey. It wasn’t easy; her whole body had tensed up when he touched her.
“Better.” Chakotay stepped back. “Try again.”
After half an hour of bag work, he stopped her.
“Ready to try hitting a moving target?”
Kathryn wiped the sweat from her brow. “If by moving target you mean yourself, Commander, then yes. I’m ready.”
Chakotay grinned. “Go get in the ring.”
She ducked under the ropes and bounced lightly on her toes. Chakotay followed her in.
“These are Thai pads,” he said, holding up a pair of small padded blocks he’d strapped to his hands. “When I hold them here” – he demonstrated – “it means you throw jabs or straights. Here, you throw an uppercut, and here I want you to throw hooks. Ready?”
Kathryn nodded and brought her gloves up, tucking her chin as he’d taught her. She followed the changing positions of his hands, firing quick punches as he’d directed.
“Good,” he approved after a few minutes. “Want to try something a little more challenging?”
“Is this the part where I get to punch you in the face?”
“You can try,” he grinned.
He pulled off the Thai pads and called for gloves, strapping them on efficiently.
“Okay,” he said, stepping up to her. “Keep your guard up and remember to stay on your toes. We’ll go easy.”
And with that, he let fly a light jab, tapping her gloves, and bounced back.
Kathryn pushed forward off her toes and loosed a jab-hook combination. Chakotay blocked it easily.
“Nice,” he said, then stepped lightly to the side and tapped her in the ribs.
“Hey,” she complained.
“Just keeping you interested,” he teased. “You can guard against body blows by bringing your elbow in tight to your side. Why don’t you try to hit me now? I’ll just block.”
“I thought you’d never ask,” she muttered.
After fifteen minutes of trying to hit him, she’d landed a couple of light blows to his chin and ribs – although she suspected he’d let her – and she was heaving for breath, her limbs shaky with fatigue. Chakotay looked like he’d barely broken a sweat.
“Great. Go stretch out, then hit the shower.”
“Yes, Coach,” she mocked.
In answer he tapped her chin lightly with his glove. “I’ll expect you in my quarters in forty-five minutes. You need a nutritious meal and a good night’s sleep, and I’m going to make sure you get them.”
Kathryn raised her eyebrows at him as she ducked under the ropes, pulling off her gloves. “And how exactly do you think you’re going to manage your second directive, Commander?”
He gave her a full-dimpled grin. “Oh, I have a few ideas, Captain. But, as I said, we’re sticking with the basics.”
She tried for a glare, but she was too tired to ratchet one up with any intensity. And in any case, she admitted to herself as she propped her leg against the wall and leaned into a stretch, she wasn’t hating their banter. She wasn’t hating it at all.
She also wasn’t hating the way his gaze roamed appreciatively over her body as she arched, stretching her arms above her head.
Forty minutes later she stood naked and refreshed in front of her closet, wondering what on earth to wear. She really didn’t want to get back into her uniform, although she knew she probably should. All her dresses were either too formal or too … accessible, she decided, and she wanted to avoid any suggestion that this was a date rather than a working dinner. In the end she shrugged on a pair of loose, low-slung pants and a tank top, figuring she might as well be comfortable. And it wasn’t as though she wanted to impress him.
And she was putting far, far too much thought into this. Annoyed with herself, Kathryn grabbed a bottle of wine and headed for Chakotay’s quarters.
“You’re right on time,” he said approvingly as he ushered her to the table and uncorked the wine. “I admire punctuality in my students.”
“What would’ve happened if I’d been late?” She sipped her wine, smirking at him. “Would you have made me run laps? Do press-ups, maybe?”
“Oh, I’m sure I’d have come up with a suitable punishment.” His eyes were warm.
After dinner they took their wine over to the couch. Kathryn curled up with a PADD and started reading through the department heads’ reports on ship’s stores. Chakotay stretched out beside her, bare feet propped on the coffee table, working through the upcoming month’s shift schedule.
She stretched her neck, head tilted to one side, fingers digging into sore shoulder muscles, and Chakotay looked up. “Are you all right?”
“Just a little tight. I guess I didn’t stretch out enough.”
He placed his PADD on the coffee table. “Turn around.”
“So I can get that knot out of your neck before you make it worse.”
She sent him a sidelong glance, lashes lowered. “Sports therapy, Commander?”
“I’m a man of many talents.”
He took her hand from where it rested on her shoulder, placing it in her lap, and turned her gently, smoothing her ponytail to one side. At the first touch of his warm hand stroking from her ear to the point of her shoulder, she shivered. His fingers probed gently at the tense muscle, and she sighed.
“Your hands are certainly talented,” she murmured.
She told herself she wasn’t flirting with him. She was just relaxing with her friend.
He leaned forward until his lips almost touched her ear. “Oh, I’m just getting started, Captain.”
Kathryn swallowed. She should stop this; she knew it. Instead she tilted her head to one side, and he took the hint, walking his fingers up into her hairline and whispering them back down over the line of her neck. She suppressed a moan.
He smoothed his hands down over her shoulderblades and she let her head drop forward, eyes closing. His thumbs rubbed circles, working the tension away. She felt almost boneless. As his hands moved back up to her shoulders, she sighed, “That feels so good, Chakotay.”
His hands stilled for an instant and she heard him draw in a breath. Then he hooked a thumb under the narrow strap of her tank top and dragged it slowly off her shoulder. His fingers played lightly against her collarbone, and she felt the barest touch of his lips against the nape of her neck.
Her eyes snapped open.
Swallowing hard, she forced herself to sound controlled. “Is this part of your experiment, Commander?”
He drew his hands back to her shoulders, fingers moving lightly along the line of her neck. It could, possibly, be interpreted as a therapeutic touch, she mused. She knew it was anything but.
“Physical contact would be an interesting factor to introduce,” Chakotay said softly, as though it was only just occurring to him. “I suspect it would prove my theory once and for all.”
Kathryn felt his fingers dip lower, stroking over her clavicles.
“What do you think, Dr Janeway?” he murmured in her ear. “Ready to admit you’re attracted to me yet?”
Kathryn stiffened, pulling away from him and slipping off the couch to stand glaring at him. “This conversation – and this experiment – are over. Good night, Commander.”
She refused to glance back as she stalked over to his door, but she knew he was grinning at her anyway.
“Was it really necessary to hit the Commander so hard, Captain?”
The Doctor’s mouth was pursed as he inspected Chakotay’s bruised and dislocated jaw.
“Of course, Commander, you only have yourself to blame,” he harangued. “Why you must persist in engaging in such a barbaric and archaic sport against all medical advice, not to mention common sense, I will never know. And to have roped the Captain into playing fisticuffs with you …”
Kathryn felt awful, and the EMH’s lecture wasn’t helping. “Thank you, Doctor,” she cut him off sharply. “Perhaps you could concentrate on healing the Commander’s injuries?”
Chakotay made to speak, and the Doctor huffed at him angrily.
“Please do not move your jaw, Commander. The healing process is quite delicate, you know.”
“So, Captain, might I ask how you managed to get past the Commander’s guard? Despite my disapproval of the sport, I understand he is quite the boxing aficionado.”
“Lucky shot,” Kathryn muttered. “He was distracted.”
And, of course, her deliberate licking of her lips as she arched her back in a stretch just as they’d begun their sparring round had had nothing to do with his distraction… She glanced away from the silent knowledge in Chakotay’s eyes.
She still wasn’t sure what had possessed her. But after three rounds of sparring, during which he’d tapped her lightly on the chin, abdomen and side of the head any number of times and she’d failed to land a single shot, her competitive ire had been raised. She’d caught him, several times, staring admiringly at her legs in the form-fitting shorts and the way her tank top dipped into her cleavage, and some devil inside had prompted her to press her advantage.
More like punch her advantage. She cringed at the memory. He’d been pulling his punches, of course, and she’d let fly with all the power she could muster. And she’d seriously hurt him.
She had to get out of there.
“Well, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I have work to do. Good night, Commander, and … I apologise.”
She took advantage of Chakotay’s forced muteness to hurry out of Sickbay before he could protest her skipping out of their working dinner, and returned to her quarters, where she showered, dressed in her uniform, and went to work in her ready room.
She fished the picture of Mark out of the desk drawer where she’d hidden it in a fit of melancholy a week or so earlier, and returned it to its rightful place, front and centre on her desk.