Fine (Written All Over You)
Summary: Kathryn Janeway has left a big city career and a longstanding, tumultuous relationship to manage the Paris family library in sleepy Maplebrook, NY. Chakotay is a part time history professor, part time novelist who's struggling to write his latest book. When he turns up at the library to research its renowned Mayan collection for his novel, the last thing he expects is to discover a fascinating new object of study: Kathryn Janeway.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Paris, Torres, Tighe, Neelix, Tuvok
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the library, but fanfiction writers stack the bookshelves.
Notes: Co-written with the wonderful traccigaryn.
Chakotay passed a restless night, his brain churning over and over that last exchange with Kathryn. He finally admitted defeat as the sun rose, pulling on some shorts for a run; even boxing was associated with her now, and he needed to clear his head.
The rhythmic pounding of his feet on the sidewalk allowed him to finally focus. Kathryn had obviously been embarrassed that Tom knew what they’d been doing in the stacks, and maybe even that it had happened at all. She was understandably proud of her work, her professional persona intimately entwined with her identity. And she had been through so much these past six months: ending a long-standing relationship, leaving behind a job and city she loved. It was no surprise that she might not have fully processed how much those changes had affected her.
He’d finished her sentence — suggested they take some time to cool off — so that she didn’t have to be the one to say it. But he didn’t want to cool off. He wanted to pull her back into his arms and talk this through, help her understand she could take all the time she needed to know that what they had was for real. Jumping into a relationship wasn’t exactly his modus operandi either, but with Kathryn … it just felt right.
He began his loop back to the B&B, determined to speak with Kathryn as soon as the library opened. If she wanted time, she could have all the time she needed, but he had to let her know he was ready to stand at her side.
Back in his room, he grabbed his cell phone off the bedside table so he could check the time before his shower. Seven missed calls. His heart leapt, his thumb scrolling through the notifications.
The missed calls were all from B’Elanna. She’d sent him a text too. “Where the fuck are you? Call me,” it read.
Chakotay sank heavily onto the bed. He punched the button to dial her back.
“Okay, what the fuck, Chakotay?” B’Elanna said.
“I’m sorry, Lanna. I was … out, and I didn’t take my phone.”
There was silence, then B’Elanna said, “This doesn’t sound like a good ‘out’ either. Are you okay?”
He let his breath out slowly. “Not really, but I’ll fix it soon. I hope.” He forced his thoughts back to the present. “How about you? Why were you calling so early?”
“I got your deal,” B’Elanna said. “But it’ll cost you. Federation won’t agree to anything that delays their profit unless you can offer them something in return.”
Chakotay did not like the sound of that. “Such as?”
“A full press international book tour with all the works. Six weeks, minimum.”
“No way, B’Elanna.”
“This is not negotiable, Chakotay. You wanted this deal, you better come to the table.”
“The Fall semester starts again in a little over two months,” he protested. “I can’t miss classes; I’ve got a full teaching load."
“You won’t miss any classes.” She paused then said, “We leave tonight.”
“What?” He had to have heard her wrong.
“We're on a five p.m. flight out of JFK.”
“What the hell? B’Elanna, I’m upstate. I have to drive back. I have to pack.”
“One of their other authors, somebody-or-other Cavit, just broke his leg in a freak running thing and had to pull out of his tour. Federation is sending you as his replacement so they don't have to cancel all the arrangements.”
“Welcome to the shit list, huh?” he muttered.
“The shit list?” B’Elanna scoffed. “Chakotay, we're about to spend the next six weeks in Europe on somebody else’s dime. It’s not the worst thing that could happen.”
“It’s not that. It just … the timing is really bad.”
“Because of that research you’re doing? Come on, the library will still be there when we get back.”
“That’s not …” He sighed. “I’ll tell you about it on the plane, okay, Lanna?”
“It’s an eight hour flight to Frankfurt, so we’ll have plenty of time,” she said. “I’ll meet you at the airport at two o’clock.” The line went dead.
Chakotay stared at the phone in his hand. There was no way he was going to be able to get everything he needed done in time if he didn't leave now. And if Kathryn wasn’t up yet, there’d be no chance to say goodbye before he left town.
After a hurried checkout with Neil, whose pajamas were a technicolor marvel nobody should be faced with so early in the morning, Chakotay tossed his hastily packed bag into the back seat and pulled onto the road. He slowed down as he approached the Paris property, but the house was completely dark. He’d have to call her later, let her know what had happened, and hope they could maybe work things out over the phone.
His busy mind turned to everything he’d need to do before his flight: which clothes he’d need for various events, asking his neighbor to keep bringing in his mail, the chapters he should choose for readings. He was almost to his apartment in Brooklyn when he remembered that Kathryn had never given him her cell number. All he had was the library’s main line, and given what she'd said yesterday about unprofessional behavior in the workplace, he couldn’t contact her there, even if it was their only connection.
Chakotay slammed his hand against the steering wheel. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck,” he ground out with each contact.
There was no time to turn around. He’d miss his flight, and he couldn’t do that to B’Elanna. He couldn’t screw up this miracle she’d pulled together to help him.
He had no idea when he’d be able to talk to Kathryn next. He only hoped she’d let him explain when he did have the chance.
Kathryn poked her hand out from under the duvet, fumbling to locate the off button of the alarm clock by feel. She groaned as she pulled herself into a sitting position against the headboard. She had not slept well.
All night, the only thing she’d been able to see was the look on Chakotay’s face when they’d parted yesterday. She’d started to say “Maybe we should meet for dinner to talk things through,” but then he’d jumped in, saying they should cool things off, and then he’d just driven away. It hurt to realize that he was regretting what they’d done.
And although she still couldn’t believe she’d actually had sex with him in the stacks — for all her teasing, that certainly wasn’t something she’d ever personally indulged in before — she thought she was coming to like this new, bolder Kathryn. He’d said he did too, but then he’d said …
She shook her head. He was still in Maplebrook to research his book. When he came by the library next, hopefully today, she could let him know what she’d meant to say, and maybe they could work things out.
That didn’t solve the Tom issue. She'd barely been able to look him in the eye since yesterday afternoon. She sent him on several pointless errands to various far corners of the library, but she was running out of ways to keep him away from her.
Kathryn couldn’t stop watching the door either. That last conversation with Chakotay had been so awful, and all she wanted was for him to walk back in so they could talk.
The door didn’t open.
Chakotay did not appear.
She finally locked up at six and went back to her suite to eat the only thing that was always stocked up in her freezer: coffee ice cream. At least Ben and Jerry made her feel a little better. Chakotay was probably taking some time, cooling off like he’d said. He’d be back tomorrow and they could talk, she told herself as she got into bed. She could explain what she’d meant to say, and they could get back to …
Her nipples tightened as she remembered the expert way his tongue had run along her folds, slipped inside her. The feel of him as he’d thrust into her with such purpose, such attention to a rhythm that brought her satisfaction over and over.
A moan escaped her, and she bit her lip, not wanting Tom to hear her. Again. Her legs moved restlessly across the sheets, and Kathryn slipped her palm beneath the covers, sliding the silky fabric of her pink nightie up and baring herself.
Her hands weren’t as big as his, weren’t as warm as his. But if she kept her eyes closed and imagined, it almost felt like he was there with her.
Fingers ran lightly through her curls, picking up wetness as they trailed down along her slit. Her pussy was hot, swollen, and she had to bite back another noise as a fingertip brushed sensitive nerves.
Her other hand reached up to massage her breast, rolling the taut nipple between her fingers and pinching hard enough to hurt. The pleasure of that pain went straight to her core. Her fingers spasmed, and she dipped them inside, just enough to stretch her entrance. She added another finger, remembering Chakotay’s size, her thumb making rhythmic circles at her clit.
Kathryn’s breath hitched, and she felt her body tighten in anticipation. She turned her head into the pillow to muffle her cries, and she jerked as each wave hit her. She fell asleep with her nightgown still crumpled up around her waist, the syllables of his name on her lips.
In the morning, she dressed with special care, sure that today would be their reunion.
When Chakotay hadn’t arrived by ten-thirty, Tom escaped her increasingly agitated mood with a promise of coffee. Kathryn finished shelving the Wildman collection in its new spot. She dusted the display cases. She fielded a call from a very stuffy sounding woman from Yale.
The door opened. Tom entered carrying two large cups and wearing a sober expression.
“Want a coffee, Kathryn?”
“Tom, what’s wrong?”
“Come on, let’s have a seat and take a break.”
“Tom.” Her voice was harsh.
“I ran into Neil at the coffee shop. You know, the guy that runs the B&B down the road?”
The place Chakotay had been staying. She felt herself begin to freeze. She stared at Tom, waiting for him to continue.
Tom couldn’t look at her. “He happened to mention that he unexpectedly had no guests this weekend, so he was thinking of going fishing.”
Kathryn felt her fingernails digging into her palms. She could almost smell the metallic tang of blood. The last time she’d seen blood ...
“Maybe he just moved to a new hotel,” Tom said. “Neil does talk a lot. Or maybe he had to go home for something, but he’ll be back.”
“Tom,” she said.
“Tom.” She couldn’t say anything else because her throat was tight, the constriction snaking inside of her, cutting off her hope.
She refused to cry. They sat side by side in silence for a long time.
“I think I’m going to take the day off,” she said, and she was proud of how normal she sounded. “I’m sure you can handle things here without me. You’re very good at your job.”
“Please. Don’t,” she said and walked away.
Kathryn spent the rest of the day in her room, staring out the window. She had no sense of the passage of time. She thought she heard a soft knock on her door at some point, but she couldn’t bring herself to answer it.
She wasn’t really surprised Chakotay had left. She’d had time to think back on exactly what she’d said, and realized that in his place, she’d have made the same assumption he did. How could he know she’d meant that she liked not recognizing the old Kathryn in her impulsive actions? That her life was changing for the better, not worse, and a big part of that was because of him? Because honestly, they barely knew each other. It might have felt like they’d shared an instant connection, but did that actually happen anywhere but in books? It was foolish of her to have allowed herself to think so.
Another day passed, then a week, then two. Kathryn filled her days with work. Tom insisted on taking her to see the fireworks at the county fair. They bought cotton candy and funnel cake and very strong tequila-infused gelato. Lying back on the blanket, watching the bursts of white and green and gold, Kathryn replayed that afternoon in the stacks again, and decided she was going to call Chakotay tomorrow. They’d had a miscommunication, but they could still clear things up. She was ready to spark again.
Following through on her promise was a little harder once the tequila left her system. She picked up her cell phone and set it aside several times. It wasn’t until early in the afternoon, when Tom was on his lunch break, that she finally punched in Chakotay’s number — burned into her memory from looking at it in the register all morning — and waited to hear the ringing.
“Chakotay’s phone.” A woman’s voice sounded abruptly down the line.
Kathryn’s eyes widened in panic. "Oh. Hello,” she said.
“Hello,” the woman responded.
Kathryn couldn’t speak. That he had already … so quickly …
“Can I help you?” the voice said, a note of impatience now.
“Is Chakotay available?” Kathryn managed.
“He’s busy tonight. Can I take a message?”
Kathryn’s chest and face were flushed in embarrassment. “No, no. I’m sorry. No message.”
She ended the call.
“Anything fun happen while I was gone?” Chakotay asked when he finally got back to the hotel.
“Just another weird call from one of your fans, hoping to speak to the author himself,” B’Elanna said.
“Ah,” he said. He was exhausted. This was their tenth city since landing in Frankfurt a little over two weeks ago. His voice was hoarse from reading, and his face hurt from pretending to smile so much. He’d just gotten back from dinner. It had lasted for hours, and there had been hardly anything he could eat. Apparently, Cavit was a real meat and potatoes kind of guy, because all the reservations were for steakhouses and seafood restaurants that catered to the American palate.
“I’m going to order some room service,” he told B’Elanna. “Want anything?”
“I’d love some live, wiggling worms,” she told him.
He felt the phone being taken from his hand. “Chakotay. Take a shower. Go to bed.”
The warm water revived him. His conversation with B’Elanna pierced the fog of his fatigue, and he chuckled at her food order, then sobered again when he thought about the call that wasn’t from Kathryn.
He missed her, every day. He didn’t care if they’d only known each other a few days. The sense of peace he'd felt in her presence, the way her mind worked, the way she looked in those silk blouses and pencil skirts …
He felt his body responding to the course of his mental wanderings, and he straightened. He pictured the way she’d looked that last day, her silk blouse open, barely covering her naked breasts. The thrill he’d felt to discover she’d not been wearing a bra coursed through him again, and his hand drifted down his stomach.
Chakotay ducked his head into the pulse of water, leaning his left forearm against the wall of the shower. The water soothed his neck, running in rivulets down his back and chest, splashing off his hand and cock as he stroked himself. His fist was tight, his movements firm. He could feel his balls drawing up, and he slipped his hand down to squeeze and pull.
He remembered the rasp of his calloused hands across the softness of her stockings, how he’d run the tip of his finger inside the top hem before tracing along the suspender to her dripping folds. In his imagination, it was her he was thrusting into, not his hand; it was her accepting him deeper and deeper inside. His hips shuddered forward in the same urgent rhythm he’d used with her, and he thought his fist against the shower wall might crack a tile.
He came with a hoarse cry, wishing more desperately than ever that he wasn’t alone.
In the morning, B’Elanna had breakfast delivered to their en suite dining area. Like every European breakfast he’d had so far, it looked delicious: fresh bread, local cheese and preserves, fruit, muesli, and hot tea.
“We have a free day today,” she said.
“I know.” It was the only thing that had gotten him through that interminable dinner last night.
“Go to a damn library.”
“That’s all you’re thinking about anyway, so just … get out of the hotel. Go see a library. Get it out of your system.”
“I don’t really want to get her out of my system,” he responded, and he could feel his temper rising.
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it. You’re wallowing, and you’re miserable to be around. Find a way to channel what you’re feeling. Otherwise you won’t be worth anything by the time you can go back to her.”
He cocked his head and looked over at his old friend. “What did I do to deserve you, again?” he asked.
“Oh please. I’m way too good for you,” she said with a grin.
Chakotay took her advice. In every city they visited from then on, whenever he had a little free time, he found a local library. He’d take a tour if he could or wander through the stacks for a bit. He saw grand, regal libraries and humble village libraries, university collections and collections of music, and costumes, and law. And at each library, he found a souvenir, something quirky to remind him of his time there. They were tucked away in a safe corner of his suitcase, waiting for the day when, he hoped, he could share them with the woman he knew would appreciate them most.
It had been more than six weeks since she’d last seen Chakotay. After that disastrous phone call, Kathryn had decided to cut her losses for real this time.
She’d heard nothing from him.
On the one hand, she couldn’t really blame him for not calling. She’d never given him her cell number, and he would certainly have considered the office phone off limits after her outburst.
On the other hand, it hurt that he’d just disappeared without a word. She’d thought they might both take a little time, lick their wounds, process what had happened, and then be able to move forward together. But he seemed to have decided that their last conversation was final.
Her relationship with Justin, she reflected, had gradually degraded over time until there was nothing left of their original connection except memories. With Chakotay, they’d never had the chance to build up much of anything to start with.
But she was doing a damn good job of moving on, if she did say so herself. She and Tom continued to make excellent progress at the library; he was officially staying on as her assistant after the summer, and he’d even started applying to online library programs. He’d introduced her to Sandrine’s, a smoky dive bar that made good pizza and had a pool table buried in the basement. They were thinking of going to a beach luau for Labor Day.
At the counter beside her, Tom suddenly stopped humming.
“Tom, what’s up?” she asked. He was so rarely at a loss for words — or noise.
He was staring down at a book he'd pulled out of its wrapping. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I was opening the mail, and I think the packages for the house got mixed in with stuff today.” He hesitated another moment, then held a slim paperback out to her. “I think this one was for you.”
She took the volume from him, turning the cover to face her. It was a copy of Chakotay’s out-of-print third book, Unforgetting. She’d come across a used copy online after that first day he’d visited, and it had finally made its way here.
“Ah,” she said and set the book down on the counter. “If you’d like to read it, go ahead. I’ve got several other books going right now.”
She turned back to her work. A hand lightly gripped her elbow.
“Are you sure you don’t want to read it first?” Tom asked.
“It’s fine, Tom,” she snapped, pulling her arm out of his grasp.
“I don’t really think it is,” he said.
And suddenly, everything she thought she had tucked away so carefully came rushing back to the surface. She gasped, her hands curling around her waist, her spine bowing her down.
“Hey, hey, sit down,” Tom said, urging her into the desk chair beside him.
She finally managed to whisper, “Thanks.”
Tom took a deep breath. “Kathryn, I’m going to say something, and you’re probably not going to like it, but I’m going to say it anyway, okay?”
Kathryn nodded. Tom had been quite endearingly considerate of her unwillingness to talk about Chakotay, but this had been a long time coming, so she might as well let it happen.
He ran his fingers through his hair, messing up the dirty blond locks. “Okay. Here’s the thing. I’ve had a crush on you since I was fifteen. There were years when I didn’t look at anything else if you were in the room. So when I say I’ve never seen you like this, I know what I’m talking about.”
Kathryn looked up at him, surprised that he’d acknowledged it, even more surprised that his feelings had apparently been more serious than she’d ever realized.
Tom waved a hand at her. “It’s cool. It’s just kind of nice now, you know? Not something I’d ever act on or anything.” His grin turned sly. “And it’s not like I was saving myself for you or anything.”
She laughed, maybe the first time she’d really laughed in weeks.
“And I’m a guy, obviously,” Tom continued. “So when I say Chakotay was into you, I know what I’m talking about there too.”
The smile slipped from her lips.
“I don’t really know what happened, and if he walked in here today I’d probably throw a punch at him, even though I know he could take me with one hand behind his back …”
Kathryn rolled her eyes at him, but she leaned into his shoulder. “Thanks, Tom.”
“No prob, Kitchy Koo. But the point is this: I think you should call him.”
Kathryn bowed her head. “I did call him. A couple weeks ago. A woman answered.”
“Did you leave a message?”
“Well, for all you know, that was his housekeeper. Or his sister. Or, I don’t know. Anybody.” Tom picked up Unforgetting from the desk and laid it in her hands. “Read the book. And then give him another call.”
Chakotay looked up from the table, trying to count how many people still stood in line. This was the last event of his tour — he and B’Elanna were flying home tomorrow, at last — and he needed to keep it together long enough to sign thirteen ... no, fourteen more books.
A nervous young woman with dark hair and a shy smile stepped up to him, holding out a copy of his book.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hello,” he told her with the same smile he’d plastered on his face countless times over the past six weeks. “And what’s your name?”
“Tal Celes,” she responded. “T - A - L. C - E - L - E - S.” She twisted her hands together, and he thought for a second she might faint.
He leaned toward her a bit. “Names that start with C are my favorite,” he whispered, trying to put her at her ease.
She smiled, and Chakotay bent down to sign her book. His mind went completely blank, and he could not remember the name she had just given him. Oh, he was tired. He tried again, but her name was gone.
“I’m sorry,” he said, looking back into her eyes. “Could you spell that for me again?”
“Oh. Of course.” There was embarrassment in her voice. “I’m sorry. I probably didn’t say it loud enough. It’s a hard name too. But it’s —”
Chakotay reached out and very quickly touched her arm. “No, I’m sorry. I’ve been going non-stop for six weeks now, and you were here at the unfortunate moment when my brain decided to shut down. It’s my fault, not yours.”
She gaped at him, as if she genuinely believed every mistake was only ever hers. He gave her another smile, a real one, and she beamed back, quickly spelling her name again.
“Thank you, Tal. I hope you enjoy the book.”
“I will,” she said confidently.
The rest of the signing passed in a blur, and before he knew it, he and B’Elanna were boarding their flight back to New York.
“You did it,” B’Elanna said quietly.
“We did it. Thank you. For everything. You’re the best agent and friend a guy can have.”
“And don’t you forget it,” B’Elanna laughed. After a minute, she said, “So, how soon are you going back up to Maplebrook?”
“As soon as we land,” he told her.
“What? Chakotay, no,” she protested. “You’re exhausted. You’ve been going non-stop for weeks, and you know you can’t sleep on flights. This is a bad idea. Go home, unpack, wait a couple days, then go.”
“I’ve waited long enough,” he said quietly.
She turned in her seat and looked at him for a long moment. “Fine. But I’m driving you. And we’re stopping by your place so you can shower.”
Chakotay had known B’Elanna for enough years to know when her mind was made up. He nodded. “Thanks, Lanna.”
“You’re welcome. Now get out your book so I can sleep.”
After the ritual of customs, he and B’Elanna descended on his apartment long enough to shower, grab some coffee for the road, and toss their bags into the back of his Jeep.
Chakotay could feel his anxiety grow the closer they got to Maplebrook. Would Kathryn be happy to see him after weeks of radio silence? No matter how much time she’d wanted to catch her breath after those intense few days, he couldn’t imagine she’d meant this long.
They pulled off the highway. He directed B’Elanna straight to the library, and was out of the car before she’d finished turning off the engine.
“Dude, dude. Slow down,” she called.
“Hurry up,” he called back with a nervous grin.
Chakotay swung the door to the library open, and ushered B’Elanna inside.
He watched Tom straighten up very quickly at a counter, and heard him quietly murmur “Oh shit” as he did so.
“Hi Tom,” he said softly. “Is Kathryn around?”
The younger man’s eyes flickered from him to B’Elanna and back.
“This is my agent — and friend — B’Elanna Torres. She kept me company on the drive up.”
The man brightened immediately. “Oh! Okay. Hey B’Elanna, I’m Tom.”
“Focus for two seconds, Tom,” B’Elanna said. “Is your boss around?”
Tom’s eyes were riveted on her, and Chakotay could have sworn he saw actual hearts rising from the man’s head as he gazed at B'Elanna.
B’Elanna put a hand on her hip and stared at Tom impatiently.
"It’s her day off,” Tom said quickly. “She’s gone down to the coffee shop — Nebula Coffee, you remember, Chakotay? — she’s doing some reading today.” He glanced back at Chakotay and added, “I think it’d be okay if you interrupted, though.”
B’Elanna turned to him. “Let’s get going.”
“Actually,” Tom interjected, “why don’t you stay here, B’Elanna? I can give you a tour.”
She gave him a doubtful look but also took the very obvious hint. “Sounds great,” she said with an exaggerated smile.
“Thanks, Tom, Lanna,” Chakotay said. “I’ll just … swing downtown and meet you back here later.”
All the anxiety, all the longing he’d felt over the past six weeks returned on the short drive, leaving him feeling like he had a rock in the pit of his stomach. Chakotay took a breath and opened the door of the coffee shop.