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Hands Down
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Summary: Five times Janeway disarmed Chakotay with a single look, and one time he put up a fight.

Characters: Chakotay, Janeway

Codes: Janeway/Chakotay

 

Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.

Note: Inspired by the fanvid I made to Sultan+Shepard's Assassin.

 

Rated T

Late September sunlight spilled across the lawns of Starfleet Headquarters, and Chakotay paused to turn his face up to it. Even after nine months on solid earth – give or take –, he relished that pale warmth as he did the soil under his feet.
 
“Some things never change,” rasped a familiar voice, and Chakotay looked down at the stooped figure in his ever-present straw hat. “You always were a wool-gatherer.”
 
“Hello, Boothby.”
 
“Captain.” Boothby straightened up and brushed the soil off his hands. “Just back from a mission?”
 
“Took Voyager out for a three-week shakedown cruise along the DMZ.”
 
“Because that worked out so well for her last time,” Boothby said drily.
 
Chakotay laughed. “No displacement waves this time, fortunately. Just a lot of verbal parrying with Cardassian guls.”
 
“Your favourite pastime, I’m sure.”
 
“Almost as fun as giving post-mission reports to Starfleet Command. Which I’m late for now, as it happens.”
 
“So, which admiral are you off to see today?”
 
“The one I’m most afraid of,” Chakotay replied.
 
“Oh, that one.” Boothby nodded knowingly. “Godspeed, son.”
 
“Thanks. I’ll need it.”
 

*


“Captain Chakotay,” the aide greeted him. “Admiral Janeway is expecting you. Please go right in.”
 
Through Kathryn’s half-open office door he saw that her head was bent over a padd, her hair smoothed back at her nape, shiny silver rank bars winking at the collar of her perfectly tailored uniform. The furrow between her brows was the only wrinkle marring her appearance.
 
He had wanted to find exactly the right greeting: a flawless blend of professionalism and respectful familiarity to soften her defences. Words that would call to her mind their deep and longstanding association; that would remind her of how important their connection once was and could be again. The perfect turn of phrase to show how profoundly he still admired and cared for her, without scaring her off.
 
He opened his mouth and what came out was: “Nice pips.”
 
For a moment she stilled. Then Chakotay saw her spine go straight and her chin come up, and he braced himself for the onslaught of her most fearsome glare.
 
The captain’s glare – admiral’s now, he reminded himself – patented, poisonous and true.
 
He knew it was coming. He’d been on the receiving end of it, and ones just like it, more than once over the years.
 


I.
 
He didn’t even bother lying to himself that he was avoiding her.
 
He’d skulked out of the holodeck halfway through the first of Paris’s creature features. She was six rows ahead and to his left, Tuvok flanking her like a slim protective bulwark. She seemed to cleave to him, as though Tuvok hadn’t betrayed her every bit as profoundly as Chakotay himself had.
 
Teero, he reminded himself, not me. It was Teero’s fault that Kathryn almost lost her ship, half her crew, her freedom and her life. Teero who’d shoved her into that cell, who’d handed her oldest friend a phaser and ordered him to shoot her.
 
Easy to say it. Not so easy to believe it.
 
And she felt the same way, he knew. She hadn’t looked at him since he handed back command. Not once.
 
But after three rounds in a boxing sim and a restless night, Chakotay knew he couldn’t avoid her any longer.
 
He crossed the bridge, halting Tuvok with a shake of the head as the Vulcan rose from the captain’s chair, and headed directly for the ready room.
 
Kathryn didn’t spare him a glance as he entered. “Shouldn’t you be on the bridge, Commander?”
 
“I’m glad you still think so,” he answered, launching right into it.
 
She went still. The mug of coffee trembled in her hands and she slid it slowly onto her desk. She turned to face him.
 
He’d braced himself for that look, as he did each time she levelled it at him. And, as always, his defences were no match for it.
 
“Kathryn,” he crumbled. “I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am.”
 
“It wasn’t your fault.” She said it so tonelessly that he knew the words had been running through her mind for twenty-four hours or more. And he knew she didn’t completely believe them.
 
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “What matters is I betrayed you. And I’m sorry.”
 
The steel in her eyes melted a little, enough to let the hurt show through. “It’s going to take some time, Chakotay,” she said haltingly. “Give me some time.”
 
He nodded, meeting her eyes. “Whatever you need.”
 

 

*


This time, though, when she set that glare upon him, he didn’t wither. This time her eyes were missing some of that steel.
 
It gave him hope, and he let his shoulders loosen and his feet begin to move toward her.
 
She snapped out, “Report, Captain.”
 
Chakotay stopped and clasped his hands behind his back. “The mission to the Demilitarised Zone concluded within expected parameters. No notable spatial phenomena were observed. There were no significant encounters with any ships or planets, Federation or otherwise. My full written report has been filed with Command.”
 
Kathryn glanced down at the padd in front of her again. “How did Voyager perform? And her crew?”
 
“Also within expected parameters. Engineering gave Voyager the all-clear and my crew is shaping up nicely.”
 
“Good.” She picked up the padd and stood, moving out from behind her desk for the first time. He detected a slight reluctance in her next statement. “I hope you’re planning on a restful night, Captain, because I’m assigning you a new mission in the morning.”
 
“So soon?”
 
“I’m afraid so.” Again, she hesitated. “Time is of the essence, and there’s nobody more suited than you to complete this assignment.”
 
“I’m intrigued. And a little bit flattered.”
 
Her mouth twisted. “You haven’t been briefed yet. And, truthfully, this is something I’d rather not ask of you.”
 
Chakotay tilted his head to catch her gaze.  “You’re my commanding officer,” he reminded her. “It’s your job to give me orders; even the ones you don’t want to.”
 
“I know that.”
 
“And it wouldn’t be the first time.”
 
“I know that, too.” Her eyes were troubled. “But it doesn’t get any easier.”
 


II.
 
The bell echoed dully in his mind, warped like he was underwater. Chakotay shook his head as if to dislodge the sound and the pain it brought. The confusion. The fear.
 
“Leave me alone,” he groaned, hands up, defending himself. But against what? The aliens he couldn’t see? His own fractured mind?
 
“Chakotay, listen to me. Listen to my voice.”
 
He swung blindly in her direction, felt her hands on his chest, brought her face into sharp focus.
 
“Make them go away,” he pleaded with her.
 
“If I could, I would,” she said, and he saw the raw truth of it in the way she looked at him. “But you’re our only hope out of this place, and I need you to keep trying, Chakotay.”
 
Her eyes were the one thing he could focus on; the one thing he could hold onto. Her eyes, and what they were telling him.
 
“Will you keep trying?”
 
He nodded. For her, he’d risk anything, even his sanity. He knew she knew it, too.
 
She knew exactly what she was asking of him, and she asked it anyway.
 
“I’m sorry,” she said softly, and then her hands left his chest and her eyes swam away from his vision, and the chaotic voices rang in his ears again.
 

 

*


“Maybe you’d better brief me then, Admiral.”
 
She searched his eyes a moment longer, then went to the replicator and turned with a fresh mug of coffee. “Can I get you something? Tea?”
 
“No, thanks.” Chakotay relaxed his stance deliberately; if she was stalling, it must be bad. “Why don’t you just spit it out, Admiral?”
 
“All right.” She held out the padd she’d been studying when he walked in.
 
He looked down at it, then back at her. “You’re sending me into Cardassian space?”
 
She pursed her lips.
 
“To Juhraya? Where the Maquis began?”
 
“So I’m told. And as one of the last Maquis, and one of even fewer left in Starfleet,” she inclined her head in apology at the still-sore topic, "you are the best person for this mission."
 
He raised his eyebrows. “Kathryn, what is this mission?”
 
She took the padd back from him, placed it on the desk behind her, and straightened up. “As I’m sure you’re aware, Starfleet retains certain … operatives … in the vicinity of the Demilitarised Zone.”
 
He wondered if Kathryn would be surprised that he knew full well exactly what Tuvok was doing out there in the DMZ. “I’m aware.”
 
“We recently received intelligence that one of these operatives made contact with a small group of Federation civilians on Juhraya. These civilians were thought to have been killed when the planet was ceded to Cardassia in 2370. As it turns out, they were not. They’ve been on Juhraya for the past eight years.”
 
Chakotay stilled. “Eight years without the Cardassians or the Dominion slaughtering them? How did they survive?”
 
“Apparently, by hiding, for the most part.”
 
“What’s the other part?”
 
“Let’s just say they’re Maquis through and through.”
 
“They’re guerrillas,” Chakotay realised. “And the Cardassians are tired of them.”
 
“Our operative has conveyed that the Juhrayan settlers would very much like these … subversives … gone. For their safety, we need to extract them now.”
 
“You want me to go get them,” Chakotay stated. “And it has to be quiet so Starfleet and the Central Command can pretend it isn’t happening.”
 
“It’s a precision mission,” she concurred. “And you’ll need to go in under cover as a Cardassian officer taking the group into custody for delivery to Cardassia Prime.”
 
He thought about wearing Cardassian uniform, Cardassian skin. About lying and faking his way through the Juhrayan checkpoints and into wherever these Maquis were hiding, all while surrounded by grey-skinned aliens he couldn’t help but despise.
 
Wishing, not for the first time, that it was as easy to stop hating as it was to start.
 


III.
 
He’d walked away from her – run away would be more accurate – in the corridor outside sickbay after his outburst. His mind was too full of hate and revulsion to register her expression, but as he gained distance from the Kradin ambassador, he thought about the look in her eyes and felt ashamed.
 
She had been shocked at his prejudice. And so she should be: he was shocked at himself. Three years serving under her, living once again by Starfleet principles, and all it took was a little violence, a little brainwashing, to turn him back into a terrorist.
 
Maybe that was who he was, who he’d always be at the core.
 
His steps slowed as he approached his quarters.
 
It wasn’t who he wanted to be; it never had been. He was as disgusted in himself as she must be.
 
Except… she hadn’t looked disgusted. Shaken at the violence of his reaction to the ambassador, yes – she’d chased after him without so much as a word of apology, after all. Sympathetic at the ordeal he’d just been through.
 
But more than that, he realised, the look she’d given him was full of understanding.
 
Chakotay knew a little about what she’d been through as an ensign; some of it she’d told him, other parts he’d surmised. Enough to know she wasn’t a stranger to experiences so traumatic, so soul-shaking, that the only thing that got you through some days was hate.
 
He didn’t want her to understand that the way he did. He didn’t want her to think that of him, either.
 
So he retraced his steps until he met the captain and the ambassador in the corridor, and he shook the Kradin’s hand and apologised for his part in the Vori’s ugly little war.
 

 

*


She was looking up at him, waiting for his answer. Her eyes were guarded. He wondered what she’d been reading on his face while he stood there – what had Boothby called it? – wool-gathering.
 
He realised she was standing very close to him, the way she used to. He moved even closer and she didn’t back away.
 
“Why me?” he asked her, even though he knew why.
 
“Because I know you can do it,” she said quietly, hand on his chest. “Because I trust you.”
 
“Because Tom Paris isn’t available?”
 
She dropped her hand. “What are you talking about?”
 
He was regretting his remark already. “Just that there was a time when you trusted him with the dangerous spy missions and kept me out of the loop.”
 
Her brow crinkled, then smoothed out as she realised what he meant.
 
“That was a long time ago.”
 
 

IV.
 
“We need to discuss this.”
 
The captain set down her coffee and leaned back on the ready room couch. “All right.”
 
“You shut me out.” Chakotay paced across the floor, ignoring her silent offer to sit beside her. “I’m the first officer of this ship and you kept me in the dark. Why? And don’t give me that story about not trusting my acting ability. You know me better than that.”
 
“Commander …” she stood and waited for him to stand still and look at her. “I do know you. And I know how you were affected by Seska’s betrayal. I didn’t want you to be faced with another betrayal from your former crew.”
 
“You don’t need to protect me from my own mistakes, Captain.” Chakotay calmed his voice with an effort. “Unless you think I’d make the same ones all over again.”
 
“No, of course not. And Seska wasn’t your mistake. She fooled all of us.”
 
“Not the way she fooled me.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “The truth is, I don’t blame you for not trusting me with this.”
 
He felt her hand on his chest and looked down in surprise, into her clear blue eyes.
 
“I trust you, Chakotay,” she said, gaze and voice soft, and he gave up the last shreds of his anger without a fight.
 

 

*


“It wasn’t that long ago,” Chakotay muttered, a little surprised at how that memory still stung. “You have to remember that the two of you and Tuvok conspired for weeks to keep me in the dark.”
 
“And you have to remember,” Kathryn pointed out, “that only a few months before Tom’s mission, you disobeyed my orders, stole a shuttle to go after Seska, and ended up imprisoned and beaten half to death, not to mention –”
 
She bit off the last part of her sentence, but he knew what she’d been going to say.
 
“I doubt I’m in any danger of forgetting what happened next,” he ground out. “Because I went rogue, Seska stole my genetic material, impregnated herself, and used her son to lure us into yet another Kazon trap. You don’t have to remind me of just how badly I screwed up.”
 
Her hand hovered inches from his chest again, but she pulled it back and moved behind her desk, picking up the padd containing his mission parameters. A tactical retreat, he surmised.
 
Her voice was calm when she spoke. “The past isn’t at issue here. Nevertheless, this mission is going to require something of that rogue approach.”
 
There was something furtive in the way she glanced at him, something secretive. Instinct told him it had nothing to do with the mission.
 
“You like that,” Chakotay said. “Me going rogue.”
 
She evaded his eyes. “I beg your pardon.”
 
“I figured it out from the first moment we met,” he stated baldly. “It was in the way you looked at me.”
 

 

V.
 
Chakotay moved with purpose toward his target, his own angry words still spitting from his throat. If there was one thing he couldn’t abide, it was a traitor, and there stood betrayal in the form of Tom Paris, smug and secure in his Starfleet uniform.
 
The slight but firm pressure of a shoulder against his chest stopped him in his tracks.
 
“You are speaking to a member of my crew,” the Starfleet captain bit out. “I expect you to treat him with the same respect as you would have me treat a member of yours.”
 
Surprised, he looked down into her eyes. She had that steely glare they taught in command school, but on her delicate features and with her big blue-grey eyes, it was arresting.
 
Then she dropped her gaze to his lips, and all the fight went out of him.
 
It was all he could do to tear his eyes away from her, to keep his expression fixed so she wouldn’t know he’d gone weak from the way she looked at him. He couldn’t afford weakness. Not now.
 
And from the heat he’d seen in her eyes as they locked with his, he had a pretty good idea that she liked him as dangerous as he appeared to be.
 

 

*


A sound from outside the office caught both Chakotay’s and the admiral’s attention, and she moved quickly to shut the door. Leaning against it, she sent Chakotay a glare.
 
It bounced off his shields. “Worried your aide is eavesdropping?”
 
“Someone always is,” she retorted, crossing briskly back to her desk. “After seven years on a small ship, that can’t be a surprise to you.”
 
“Seven years,” he repeated, walking toward her. “Seems like a long time.”
 
“I suppose so.” She was staring at the padd again.
 
“We went through a lot together,” Chakotay kept his tone deliberate.
 
“We had a good crew.”
 
“I wasn’t talking about the crew.”
 
Kathryn said nothing. Chakotay was directly in front of her now, the desk a barrier between them.
 
“All those years I stood beside you,” he said softly, “all the things we were or could have been to each other. All the things we never said.”
 
She swallowed visibly, head bent. “You know we couldn’t… out there. I couldn’t.”
 
He could hear the catch in her breathing and it made him brave, made him step toward her.
 
“So I’ve been wondering,” he kept his voice low to stop it from shaking, “Are we ever going to talk about it?”
 
She kept her eyes on the padd in front of her and remained silent.
 
Undaunted, he bent toward her, over her desk, hands splayed and planted. “I said –”
 
“Not here,” she hissed. She moved so fast he blinked, white fingers wrapping his elbow, and he let himself be steered past her aide and into a turbolift and, blinking, into the pale sunlight.
 
She clasped her hands behind her back as they walked, her face a mask, eyes ahead. They passed Boothby, crouched over a bed of late-blooming roses; he sent Chakotay a silent salute that made Chakotay smother a grin.
 
“Where are we going, Admiral?” he asked, keeping up with her easily as she strode past the science building, past medical, and onto the wide green slope of the Presidio.
 
“This will do,” she replied, turning to face him beneath the scarlet arch of the bridge.
 
“Away from prying eyes and listening ears?” he smiled, glancing around to confirm that they were out of sight of the HQ complex.
 
She put her hands on her hips and skewered him with a look.
 
“What?” he asked.
 
“Seven years,” she said emphatically. “As you pointed out, a very long time.”
 
“And then you brought us home.”
 
“And then we came home,” she acknowledged. Her hands were still on her hips, and he could feel her narrowed blue eyes searching his.
 
“Right.” He wasn’t sure what she wanted from him. “Nine months ago.”
 
“Yes, nine months,” she ground out. “Nine months of debriefings and distance and wondering if we’ll ever move past calling each other by our ranks, and the first thing you say to me is ’nice pips’?”
 
Chakotay stared at her, saw the corners of her lips twitch, and began to laugh.
 
She rolled her eyes, but she was smiling too.
 
“I thought you were going to phaser me,” he managed, grinning at her.
 
“Oh, I thought about it.”
 
He took a chance and moved perceptibly close to her. “What else have you thought about?”
 
A myriad of expressions flitted through her vivid blue eyes. “Well, for starters,” her voice had turned husky, “I’ve thought a lot about doing this.”
 
She hooked a hand behind his neck, stood on her toes, and brought her lips to meet his.
 
It was soft and sweet, lingering and delicious, and Chakotay wanted it to last forever, but she lowered her heels to the ground and kept her eyes on his, waiting.
 
He swallowed hard. “That was nice.”
 
Her eyes went wide. “Nice?”
 
“Very nice,” he amended.
 
“I might actually phaser you,” she growled, but before she could say anything else, Chakotay’s arms were around her and his mouth on hers.
 
There was nothing nice about this kiss. He put everything he had into it: love, desire, desperation, seven years of silent longing, his very heart and soul. When he finally raised his head to look at her again, her eyes were half-closed and dark and her lips were red.
 
She smiled, lips parted, still breathless. “So. It finally happened.”
 
“A long time coming,” Chakotay agreed. “Sometimes I wondered if we’d ever get here.”
 
“I’m glad I didn’t scare you off.”
 
“Not this time, Kathryn,” he said, and bent to kiss her again.
 
This time it was harder to pull back. He rested his forehead against hers to catch his breath.
 
“That damn mission,” he whispered, lips close to hers. “If I wasn’t leaving first thing in the morning –”
 
She curled her fingers into fists around the fabric of his jacket. “If only.”
 
He forced himself to pull back. “When I get back, you’d better be ready for the things I plan to do to you, Kathryn.”
 
The look she gave him seared him from spine to fingertips.
 
“On second thought,” she said, voice gravelly, “I don’t think I can wait that long.”
 
“Oh?” Chakotay’s hands skimmed upward from her hips, curving round her back to bring her close again.
 
“Let’s go to my place.” She tilted her eyes up to his, sparkling. “I hope I don’t have to make it an order.”
 
“If you think I’m going to fight you on that one, Kathryn –”
 
“You’d lose,” she whispered, “hands down.”
 
He thought about replying but decided it would be smarter to let her have the last word, and opted instead for kissing her again.

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