Faulty Premise

Summary: Chakotay takes advantage of his weekly dinners with the Captain to conduct an experiment.

 

Characters: Janeway, Chakotay

Codes: 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.

Rated T

3. Machinations

 

“When you're a Maquis, you don't always have the luxury of following protocols.”

 

=/\=

 

Stardate 49177.3

 

“How are you feeling?”

 

Kathryn turned her head, squinting in the bright Sickbay lights. “Like I was half-eviscerated and suspended mid-air by a powerful being.”

 

“So, pretty much as expected then.” Chakotay rested a hip against the edge of her biobed.

 

“Just another day in the Delta quadrant.” Kathryn sat up slowly, trying not wince, and swung her legs over the side of the bed. “The Doctor has already released B’Elanna and Tuvok. I believe he was just about to clear me for duty. Right, Doctor?”

 

The EMH glanced up at her raised voice and made his way to her biobed, unfolding his tricorder. “Hardly, Captain. You’ve been through a significant physical trauma. Lieutenants Tuvok and Torres are on two days’ rest, followed by five days on light duties. As you are neither Vulcan nor half-Klingon, your injuries will take a little longer to heal. I was about to prescribe three days’ bed rest and a week of light duties for you.”

 

“But you thought better of it, of course,” Kathryn quipped. “I have a lot of work to do, and I feel perfectly fine.”

 

She slipped from the bed, stood upright, and promptly crumpled. She would have hit the floor had Chakotay not stepped in quickly and caught her. She gasped for breath, doubled over, wondering if Suspiria had actually rearranged her internal organs on a permanent basis.

 

The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Commander, if you would be so kind?”

 

Chakotay lifted Kathryn in his arms and placed her carefully on the biobed, where she curled on her side and forced herself to breathe.

 

“As I was saying, Captain,” the EMH continued, “you are on medical leave for seventy-two hours. Minimum. Non-negotiable,” he added, seeing she’d drawn a still-hesitant breath to protest. “I will, however, allow you to return to your quarters, but only on several conditions.”

 

“And those are?” Kathryn asked tightly.

 

“One: you rest. And I mean rest, Captain. No catching up on reports, no late-night patrols of the ship, and definitely no sneaking off to the bridge.”

 

“Fine,” she muttered tersely. She’d never admit it, but the way she felt right now, all she wanted to do was curl up in bed and sleep for the full three days he’d prescribed.

 

“Two: you eat regular light and nutritious meals. And no coffee.”

 

“Doctor,” she growled.

 

“No coffee until the day after tomorrow,” he amended.

 

“All right,” she snapped. “Is that all?”

 

“No. My final condition is that you be monitored tonight. You can either wear a cortical device or have someone keep an eye on you. I’ve repaired the internal bleeding and organ damage Suspiria caused, but there’s a significant possibility of complication from the trauma.”

 

Kathryn fixed him with a glare. “I do not need to be babysat.”

 

“It’s either that or spend the night here in Sickbay, Captain.” The Doctor would not be moved.

 

Kathryn opened her mouth to argue again, and Chakotay cut in. “I’ll take care of her, Doctor.”

 

She turned her glare on him.

 

“Excellent,” the EMH said smoothly. “I’ll transport you both directly to the Captain’s quarters.”

 

Before she could object, Chakotay gathered her carefully into his arms and nodded to the Doctor. “Energise.”

 

They rematerialised in her living area, Kathryn still scowling. “You can put me down now, Commander,” she said stiffly.

 

Chakotay glanced around. “Couch or bed?”

 

There was no way she was letting him carry her into her bedroom. “Couch.”

 

He deposited her carefully on the couch and she attempted to arrange the medical gown to cover her knees.

 

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

 

“Not particularly.”

 

“I’ll make you some soup, then. Vegetable or chicken?”

 

“Vegetable,” she answered tersely.

 

He ordered it from the replicator and brought the bowl over to the coffee table.

 

“Thank you. You can go now.”

 

Chakotay raised his eyebrows at her.

 

“I don’t need a damn nursemaid, whatever that officious bundle of photons dictates,” she snapped.

 

“Maybe, maybe not,” he said calmly, sitting beside her. “How about a friend?”

 

She stiffened. “What do you mean?”

 

Chakotay stretched his legs out, crossed at the ankle. “You went through a pretty harrowing and painful experience,” he explained. “We nearly lost Kes, not to mention Tuvok and B’Elanna. And on top of all that, we lost another chance to get home.”

 

Kathryn looked down at her hands, feeling her eyes blur. “Well, when you put it like that…”

 

“I’m sorry, Captain.” Chakotay’s voice was gentle as he laid a hand on hers. “I know you were counting on Suspiria helping us. But we’ll find another way.”

 

“How can you be so sure?” she asked. “The time-shifted wormhole, the Sikarian transporter … Now this. I’m starting to lose faith, Chakotay. What if it takes us the full seventy-five years to get home? What if we never make it?”

 

“We will,” he said with quiet certainty. “You’ll get us there. I haven’t lost faith.”

 

She gave him a slightly wavering smile and squeezed his hand. “What would I do without you?”

 

She saw the change in his eyes at the same time as feelings she’d been trying to suppress for a while now welled up inside her, and quickly drew her hand back, biting her lip. He shifted away from her on the couch, his gaze breaking away from hers.

 

At what point had things begun to change between them? she wondered. From almost the day they met, nearly a year ago now, they’d fallen into a light-hearted, teasingly flirtatious friendship. She’d never tried to deny to herself that she found him attractive, but there was the need for command distance, and their mission, and Mark … She had never taken the attraction seriously. She’d just been glad that she and her new XO, who could so easily have been enemies, had become friends.

 

But something had changed. Was it when he’d started his experiment? She’d recognised the quickly-veiled desire for her in his eyes long before that slightly drunken dinner. They’d always found it difficult to keep their hands off each other; a pat on the chest here, a touch to the small of the back there. And she couldn’t deny that he invaded her dreams far more frequently than was comfortable. But that was simple desire; a recognition that they found each other physically appealing. Something that was relatively easy to push aside. And now…

 

Now, she found herself daydreaming not only of his broad chest and his muscled arms, but of the mellow sound of his voice and the way his eyes sparked when he laughed. She liked to look at him not just because he was easy on the eye, but because the way he looked at her - the way he smiled just for her - made her feel warm inside. She wanted to spend time with him not just because it built their command relationship, but because she came alive in his presence.

 

And their dinners, the boxing lessons, the teasing flirtation, his ‘experiment’ – she could have put a stop to all of it before it even started, if she’d really wanted to.

 

The only conclusion she could draw was that she didn’t want to.

 

And she had to.

 

Swallowing hard, she pulled her legs up beneath her on the couch and straightened her back. “Well,” she said brightly, reaching for the soup, “this looks delicious. Thank you, Commander.”

 

Chakotay sent her a small, sideways smile.

 

“I was thinking,” she went on, sipping at the soup so she could avoid his eye, “maybe I’ll ask the Doctor to give me a cortical monitor after all. I’m sure you have plenty to do, and the couch won’t be terribly comfortable to sleep on. You don’t need to waste your time watching over me.”

 

“It’s not a waste of my time,” he answered quietly.

 

“Commander, you don’t have to –”

 

“I want to,” he said firmly. “You don’t need to worry about anything, Captain. I can work here just as easily as in my quarters or my office. And the couch will be perfectly adequate for a night.”

 

She tried to think of another excuse, but she was so tired, and everything hurt.

 

And the truth was that she wanted to be looked after, just for a while.

 

“In fact,” Chakotay stood, “I have a few reports I need to run through, so if you’ll excuse me for a few minutes I’ll go get them while you eat.”

 

Kathryn yielded. “All right.”

 

“Don’t go anywhere,” he grinned, and left.

 

She placed the half-eaten bowl of soup on the table and laid her head on the back of the sofa, closing her eyes. In a minute she’d get up, go into her bedroom and change into pyjamas. In a minute …

 

When Chakotay returned to her quarters he found her fast asleep, her face soft, body relaxed.

 

“Captain,” he whispered, kneeling beside her.

 

She didn’t respond, her breathing slow and even.

 

“Captain, I think you need to get to bed.”

 

She murmured but didn’t wake.

 

“Hell,” he muttered. She couldn’t stay on the couch. Aside from the fact that she’d wake up cramped and cold, where was he supposed to sleep?

 

Sighing, he went into her bedroom to turn down the covers, then returned to the couch and carefully slipped his arms underneath her.

 

“Sorry about this,” he whispered as he lifted her. Her arms wound themselves around his shoulders and she turned her face into his neck with a sigh. Chakotay gritted his teeth and made his way to the bedroom.

 

He laid her carefully on the bed and made to pull back, but her arms tightened around his neck. She held him closer and mumbled something that sounded like, “Stay.”

 

She turned her face toward him, her lips brushing his.

 

For a moment he stilled. Then, gently, he reached up and took her hands away from where they’d threaded into his hair, laying them carefully at her sides. He straightened up and tucked the covers over her, then walked away from the bed.

 

“Computer, lights off,” he said softly, and keyed her bedroom door closed.

 

Inside the room, Kathryn’s eyes opened.

 

=/\=

 

Stardate 49196.2

 

Her hands were shaking.

 

It was ridiculous, really. They’d been unfailingly polite and professional with each other all week, from the moment she woke the morning after he’d stayed in her quarters. He’d been showered, shaved and dressed in uniform, bringing toast and orange juice to the breakfast table as she emerged from her room. He’d reminded her of her appointment with the Doctor later that morning and excused himself to take his bridge shift.

 

He’d mentioned nothing in regard to her inexcusable behaviour the night before.

 

In truth, she couldn’t exactly remember what had happened. She had a vague memory of strong arms holding her, a stubbled cheek against her own, a feeling of warmth and safety. But when she’d woken, dragging herself from the clouds of fatigue, she was alone.

 

Alone, with a vague and disquieting sense that she’d done something indefensible.

 

She couldn’t shake the feeling all that day. Chakotay had stopped by after his shift to check on her and make certain she’d eaten properly – she excused herself for the white lie she’d given him on that score – and left with a polite goodnight.

 

It wasn’t until she was lying sleepless in her bed that night that she remembered she’d kissed him.

 

“Oh, no,” she’d muttered into her pillow, scrunching her eyes shut in horror.

 

But he’d left; she remembered that. Not only had she kissed him, but she’d asked him to stay. And he had tucked her into her bed and left her alone.

 

Thank God.

 

Two days later she’d returned to half-shifts on the bridge. Mortified by her actions, she’d sequestered herself in her ready room, claiming the excuse of three days’ worth of reports to catch up on. Chakotay had made no comment. When she’d taken the bridge for her full shift yesterday, having badgered the Doctor into giving her a clean bill of health, he’d smiled at her and made friendly conversation, but their usual banter was conspicuously absent.

 

But then, as she’d been leaving the bridge today, he’d reminded her of their standing arrangement. “Holodeck Two at 1830 hours, Captain,” he’d called as she headed for the turbolift. “Unless you’re not feeling up to it, of course.”

 

Goaded, she’d retorted that she was fighting fit – literally – and that he’d better be on his toes.

 

And now, here she was, waiting in the holodeck and fumbling to bind the wraps onto her trembling hands.

 

She heard the holodeck doors open and refused to look up.

 

“You’re early,” Chakotay said as he approached. “Keen?”

 

“I have cabin fever,” she snapped back. “And I have energy to burn, Commander, so watch out.”

 

“Noted. But we’ll stick to working on your form today – no sparring.”

 

She opened her mouth to object.

 

“No sparring,” he repeated firmly. “I’m not running the risk of you ending up in Sickbay for overdoing it.”

 

“Fine,” she snapped. “Let’s get on with it.”

 

Chakotay tugged her gloves on and waved her over to the hanging bag. “Go ahead.”

 

She threw a few hooks, and he stopped her, moving in close behind her with his hands on her hips. Kathryn stiffened.

 

“You’re using your upper body too much. Turn from the hips, remember?”

 

“I remember,” she said tightly.

 

Chakotay stepped back and watched her form. “Better,” he announced after a few minutes.

 

“Can’t we do something a little more challenging?”

 

Was that a whine in her voice? Chakotay raised his eyebrows. “We could,” he answered. “If you really think you’re up to it.”

 

“Oh, I think you know by now that I’m up for anything.”

 

Oh, God, what had made her say that? Kathryn busied herself adjusting her glove to hide her burning face.

 

Chakotay couldn’t hide the amusement in his voice as he replied, “Okay then, let’s try some grappling.”

 

“And that would be..?”

 

“Close quarters work.” Chakotay stepped up until they were toe-to-toe. “The idea is to use your strength to control your opponent and move them where you want them, so you can take the advantage. In our case – no offence, Captain – the strength advantage is always going to be on my side, not to mention the height advantage. So your goal is to get out of the grappling hold. We’ll go slowly at first. Are you ready?”

 

She gave him a short nod. And then Chakotay moved in close, put his arms around her neck and pulled her against his body.

 

Acting on instinct, she ducked her shoulder as she twisted in his hold and swept one leg behind his knees. A moment later, Chakotay was flat on his back, grinning up at her.

 

“Not bad.”

 

He sprang to his feet and immediately closed in, wrapping her in his arms again. She tried the same move, but he shifted his centre of gravity and she ended up tight against his body. She struggled, but he held firm. His arms tightened around her, holding her still. He felt warm and solid against her and without consciously realising it, her struggles slowed and her body softened. She tipped her face up. He was looking down at her and all the playfulness had melted out of his eyes. Kathryn gulped.

 

Chakotay released her and stepped back. “Nice try,” he said, and she thought he sounded a little breathless.

 

“Maybe we should do some pad work,” she stuttered.

 

“Good idea.” Chakotay moved away to collect the pads, and Kathryn closed her eyes and concentrated on steadying her breathing.

 

Half an hour later she was exhausted and sweaty and her arms felt like limp noodles. “Enough,” she gasped, and Chakotay dropped the pads. She pulled off her gloves with a groan. “I guess I’m a little less recovered than I thought.”

 

“Even captains have to know when to quit,” he smiled at her. “I’ll see you for dinner in my quarters in half an hour.”

 

She should decline; she knew she should.

 

She didn’t.

 

“Yes, Coach.” She gave him a mocking salute and headed for the holodeck doors. And if there was a slight extra sway to her hips as she moved, it didn’t mean a thing.

 

The dinner he’d made was delicious, but Kathryn found she wasn’t able to eat much. She picked and shuffled the food on her plate until Chakotay suggested they abandon the table and move to the couch.

 

“More wine?”

 

She hesitated, then held out her glass. Chakotay settled next to her on the sofa, dumping a couple of PADDs on the coffee table.

 

“Do you want A to L or M to Z?”

 

“Sorry?”

 

“Crew evaluations.” He waved a hand at the PADDs.

 

Kathryn groaned. “Is it that time already?”

 

“I’m afraid so.”

 

“Okay, give me A to L,” she sighed, then flashed him a grin. “Heaven forbid I miss the chance to evaluate your performance, Commander.”

 

“Ah,” he answered, smirking. “But how can you properly evaluate me when you haven’t observed all the aspects of my, ah, performance?”

 

“Oh, I have a very vivid imagination.”

 

“Really.” His dimples appeared. “And how exactly do you imagine me performing?”

 

“With exemplary attention to your duty, of course.”

 

She held out her hand for the PADD. He passed it to her, but held on when she moved her hand back.

 

She raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to give it to me, Commander?”

 

“Maybe,” he answered, his voice dipping, “if you ask me nicely.”

 

She shifted closer to him, and then closer still. Lowering her eyelashes and leaning in, she breathed, “Oh, please, Chakotay. Give it to me.”

 

He couldn’t believe she was taking the flirting this far, but he wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. He angled his head so that their lips were inches apart. “On one condition,” he said, the fingers of his free hand toying with the strap of her tank top.

 

She tipped her face up, so close he could feel her breathing. “And what’s that?”

 

“Admit it.”

 

“Admit what?” Her eyes met his.

 

His fingers played lightly along the line of her collarbone, and she shivered. When had he started touching her? And why was her hand resting on his thigh?

 

“Admit that you want me,” he murmured, his gaze on her parted lips as he bent infinitesimally closer.

 

Her breath caught. God, she wanted to kiss him so badly. And really, what would it matter? They were out here for probably the rest of her lives, and Mark was so far away, and Chakotay so close, and she wanted him desperately, she lo-

 

Wrenching herself backward, Kathryn stumbled off the couch. She’d backed halfway to the door before she managed to speak. “I, um, I’m very tired, and I think I should leave. Thank you for dinner, Commander,” and she rushed through the doorway with such haste she almost tripped over her own feet.

 

=/\=

 

Stardate 49215.7

 

The holodeck doors closed behind her with a swish, and Kathryn stopped short just inside.

 

She was dressed in her usual tank top and leggings and she carried her wrist-wraps in her hands, but she wasn’t sure she could do this tonight. She wasn’t sure she could act like everything was back to normal, when it so clearly wasn’t.

 

She was so angry with him.

 

I’m putting you on report, in case that means anything anymore, she’d said, and she’d seen in his eyes that it did.

 

And then Seska had dropped her subspace bombshell, and Kathryn had taken one look at Chakotay’s face and wanted simultaneously to scream and punch him and pull him into her arms.

 

You’re going to be a father.

 

Kathryn felt sick. In the space of an instant he’d gone from vigilante to victim, and she just didn’t know how to cope with it. Dropping her still-coiled wraps to the floor, she squared up to the bag and punched it bare-handed with all her force, then hissed at the pain.

 

“Captain?”

 

She turned. Chakotay stood just inside the doors, where she’d been standing moments ago. He looked subdued, wary.

 

“Commander.” She straightened, rubbing her sore hand.

 

He took a hesitant step toward her. “Are you all right?” He nodded at her hand.

 

“Fine,” she said shortly, then felt a wave of guilt and sympathy. “How are you?” she asked, softer.

 

He ducked his head. “Honestly? I’m not sure.”

 

“You’ve been through quite a bit these past few days.” Her tone was neutral, but she stepped a pace or two closer. “If you want to take tonight off, spend some time meditating, I won’t hold you to our lesson.”

 

“No,” he said immediately. “I don’t think being alone right now would help. That is,” he hesitated, “unless you’d rather I make myself scarce for a while.”

 

Kathryn tightened her lips. “I’m not sure my company will be of much help to you tonight.”

 

Chakotay met her eyes. “Captain, I’m sorry. I know what I did was wrong, and you have every right to be angry.”

 

“Damn straight I do,” she snapped, then turned away to compose herself. “We’ve already been through this, Commander. You know how I feel. What matters right now is how you feel.”

 

“You mean, about being deceived, beaten to a pulp and having my ex-girlfriend effectively rape me to impregnate herself?”

 

The sarcasm in his tone made her head whip round. She could see his shoulders were rigid, his fists clenched.

 

“Maybe I’m not the one who needs to use a punching bag tonight, Commander.” Kathryn tipped her head toward the bag. “It might make you feel a little better.”

 

“I don’t know what would make me feel better about this.” He was glaring at the floor now. “How would you feel, being betrayed by someone you’d trusted, and maybe even loved?”

 

“How do you think I feel about it, Chakotay?”

 

His head jerked toward her just as she clapped her hands over her mouth. Oh God, she prayed, tell me I didn’t say that

 

But from the shock in his eyes, she knew there would be no divine intervention. Chakotay took a step toward her.

 

“Captain?” he asked, quietly.

 

Kathryn squeezed her eyes shut. Her hands dropped to her sides.

 

Then she felt him pick one up – the one she’d injured earlier in her fit of pique. His thumb brushed gently over her bruised and swollen knuckles.

 

“You should get this seen to,” he said softly.

 

“It’s nothing,” she whispered, her eyes still closed. The touch of his hand was making her tremble. She couldn’t seem to gather the courage to look at him.

 

When he spoke again, his voice came from far too close. “Or,” he murmured, raising her hand to his lips, “I could kiss it better.”

 

She felt his lips touch her hand and her breath escaped in a shudder. He turned her hand over, placing feather-light kisses on her fingertips, her palm, the inside of her wrist. Kathryn caught her breath.

 

“Look at me,” he said.

 

Swallowing hard, she opened her eyes.

 

He was smiling at her, a full-dimpled smile that made her knees quiver. He dropped a last kiss on her palm, released her wrist, and took her face in both hands.

 

“So, Dr Janeway,” he murmured as he tipped her face upward, “I guess I’ll take this as indisputable proof of my theory…”

 

Then he captured her mouth with his, and the retort she’d half-formed fled her mind altogether as she twined her arms around his neck and, at long last, kissed him back.

© 2021 by Mia Cooper