Here to Stay
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Summary: The middle of the story can be a perfect moment, or forever and a day.

 

Characters: Janeway, Chakotay

Codes: Janeway/Chakotay, Chakotay/Seven (mentioned)

 

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

Notes: I said I’d never write a sequel, so here’s a prequel to A Hundred Little Things, inspired by a tumblr prompt: admit it, we’ve all fantasised about slow-dancing in the kitchen barefoot in our pyjamas at 2am in the arms of someone we love while old romantic jazz songs play softly on the radio

The story doesn’t specify, but I imagined the music they dance to is Love Is Here To Stay. The lyrics are gorgeous, if slightly ironic given what happens next.

Rated T

I ran away from home once.

Only once? I thought you were supposed to be a contrary.

Well, more than once. But this time was particularly memorable.

Tell me.

I think I remember it best because I ran away from an argument with my mother. Usually I fought with my father, but this time … This time, I ran because I had disappointed her.

How?

I broke something that was important to her. And I did it on purpose, because I resented … I can’t even remember. Maybe she’d told me I couldn’t go play with my friends, or insisted I attend some ceremony my father thought was important.

Did you stay away for long?

A few hours. Long enough to start feeling pretty ashamed of myself. Of course, she forgave me in an instant – I barely managed to apologise before she hugged me and sent me to lay the dinner table. But I made her cry. I’ll never forget that.

Oh Chakotay.

And I want you to know that I realise I’ve disappointed you more than once, and that I’m sorrier than you’ll ever know for each and every time.



Kathryn?

… You’re not planning to run away from home, are you?

 

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The snow has been falling for hours now.

Shivering slightly as she slips from the warmth of the bed – the warmth of his arms –, she pulls on Chakotay’s t-shirt and tiptoes out of the bedroom, leaving the door ajar. They’ve kept a lamp on in the kitchen, just enough light to see by; enough to fumble with the unfamiliar replicator, coax it into producing something that resembles cocoa and marshmallows.

There’s a picture window over the sink. She leans against the bench to look outward, but all she can see is inky blackness, and the occasional meandering descent of a snowflake as it catches reflected light and tosses it back to her.

She’s infused with a strange sort of melancholy. It’s a feeling that she hugs to her, cherishes like something precious, perhaps because it throws the astonishing happiness of these past few days into sharper, sweeter relief.

Pain, after all, restores equilibrium to an often inharmonious universe. If there’s anything she has learnt – these past few years, in particular – it’s that.
 

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… Chakotay? I was only teasing.

I know … I know. It’s just that …

What? What is it?

Well, you might not want me to stay after I tell you … what I have to tell you.



… Wait, don’t – please, just let me explain –

Is this about Seven?

… How did you know?

I’m not blind, Chakotay.

So is this, us – is this just because you were …

… Jealous? Is that what you were going to say?

Yes.

It’s not just – I’m not – Okay, yes, I was jealous. I
am jealous. But I didn’t kiss you just because I didn’t want her to have you.

And I didn’t kiss you back just because you kissed me first.

Good. Fine.

Good.

 

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She hears the soft scuff of his feet on the worn timber floor, and turns, her lips curving into an involuntary smile. He is bare-chested, barefoot, his eyes heavy and his hair tufted at all angles.

“I woke up and you weren’t there,” he murmurs in greeting. “What are you doing?”

She holds up her mug. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Please tell me that isn’t coffee.”

“Not this time,” Kathryn smirks.

She turns back to gaze out of the window and feels him move up behind her, warm hands wrapping around her waist, his breath heating her neck.

“That shirt,” he mumbles indistinctly as he nuzzles her cheek, “covers entirely too much of you, Captain.”

She shivers and tilts her head to encourage the soft graze of his lips. “Aren’t you tired of me yet?” she tries to tease, but the breathless hitch of her voice betrays her.

“Never,” he vows, and she barely has time to shove the half-empty mug onto the counter before he’s turning her, capturing her chin in gentle fingers and her lips with his.
 

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Are you laughing at me?

I wouldn’t dare – ow!

Serves you right.

Baby, forgive me –

Call me baby again, I dare you – ah! Oh, no Chakotay, stop it!

I knew it. I knew you’d be ticklish.

I swear I’ll kill you if you don’t – oh. Oh …

Still ready to kill me?

Only if you stop …

 

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Her body fits into his like puzzle pieces, she muses as their lips part to drag in oxygen and seek each other again, languid and assured in the way she never quite dared to dream they’d be. They’ve been lovers for just three nights, but she supposes this synchronicity isn’t unexpected, given how well they know one another.

“I can’t believe it’s our last night here,” she sighs into his bare chest. “I wish we didn’t have to go.”

“Me, too.” Chakotay’s lips brush her ear as he cradles her closer.

“You know,” she murmurs, “there’s something I’ve always wanted to do with you.”

“You mean apart from all the other things we’ve spent the past few nights doing?”

The grin in his voice has her smirking in response. “Well, we can do this with our clothes on.”

“Damn.”

“But,” she thumps his chest lightly in admonishment, “I was afraid to, because I’ve always suspected that it would lead to … well, clothes-off activities.”

“Sounds intriguing.”

She reaches to wind her fingers into his. “Dance with me.”

His eyes soften. “We don’t have any music.”

“That’s what you think.”

Slipping out of his arms, she presses a couple of buttons on the console set into the kitchen wall, and soft jazz trumpet billows into the room, chased by smoky female vocals. Chakotay’s smile widens as she moves back into his hold.

“We’re not exactly dressed for this,” he grins, nodding his chin at her shapeless t-shirt, his sweat pants, their bare feet.

“Why, Commander,” she teases, “I’m beginning to suspect you have two left feet. Either that, or you just don’t want to dance with me.”

“Never that,” he murmurs, pulling her in close as they begin to sway, and she tucks her head under his chin, eyes closing, trying not to wish that they could stay here, just like this, forever.


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It’s snowing again.

Mm-hm. You’re shivering. Come here and let me warm you up.

Smooth line, Commander.

I try. – Kathryn, your feet are freezing.

My hands are colder.

Cold hands, warm heart …

That’s not all that’s warm.

… And you accuse me of cheesy lines.

Captain’s prerogative – oh …

You’re right. You are warm …





Do you think we’ll get sick of this before shore leave is up?

Sick of this – of you? Never.



Hey, don’t go quiet on me now.

It’s just … never, always – everything is so absolute with you, Chakotay.

Is that a problem?

Yes … no. Maybe …

It doesn’t have to be.

You’re so certain. And I can’t promise –

I told you I don’t need promises, and I meant it.

… I do love you.

I know.

 

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He clasps one hand lightly in his against his chest; with the other, he walks fingertips along her spine with a touch so feathery she can’t help but shiver. Her bare feet scuff on the polished floor as he guides her in smooth quarter-turns. She’s not surprised they’ve slipped into the dance so easily; they’ve already proven how seamlessly they fit together.

She lifts her face, mouth seeking his. Chakotay’s fingers drift to the hem of her borrowed t-shirt and gather the fabric upward. His mouth curves on hers when he discovers smooth bare skin beneath it.

The music continues, and he shuffles her smoothly back toward the counter and lifts her onto it. The cold shock of marble makes her gasp. Chakotay takes advantage, licking into her mouth, hands roaming under her shirt.

“Kathryn,” the low rasp in his voice incites her to press even closer.

“Yes, Chakotay?” she murmurs.

“Come back to bed.”
 

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Chakotay?

Mm.

It doesn’t matter, you know.

Hm? What doesn’t matter?

Seven. It’s all right.

I would never hurt her, Kathryn. And I’m sorry I hurt you. But it’s over with Seven – not that it really began.

I know that now.

What about everything else? You said you were done with hiding… is that still true?

I still don’t have all the answers. But the crew, the ship, the future – everything we can’t predict or control – it’s going to be all right. Because we have each other.

Kathryn Janeway, was that a declaration of faith?

Don’t sound so surprised. After seven years, you’ve rubbed off on me.

Well, it’s about time.

 

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He sinks onto the cushioned window seat and pulls her into his lap. Outside, a low moon casts filtered light onto the thickly-falling snow, and Kathryn thinks of Indiana winters and pine trees and a fire in an old-fashioned hearth.

It feels like a waking dream, or a fond memory. This, though – this is here and now.

“I can’t believe I spent so long not letting this happen,” she whispers as he bites lightly at her collarbone. “All these years I’ve tried not to wonder what you’d be like …”

“I hope you’re not disappointed,” he teases.

“Stop fishing for compliments,” she gasps, “you know exactly how good you are.”

His chuckle, against the arch of her throat, makes her moan aloud.

“I love your laugh,” falls from her lips, surprising her as much as it does him. “I want to hear it every day.”

“That can be arranged.” He smiles up at her; and the undisguised love in his eyes spills a rush of heat through her body.

She squeezes her thighs around him and grins at the catch of his breath, the clench of his hands on her hips.

“Kathryn,” he murmurs, pushing at her t-shirt, “take it off.”

She pulls the shirt over her head and tosses it away, and as she bends to take his mouth, the tingling grip of an alien transporter pulls the breath from her body as surely as Chakotay’s kiss.
 

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Have I told you how much I love your smile?

You may have mentioned it once or twice, yes.

And your eyes?

Mm-hmm.

And your – God, Kathryn …

Chakotay.

Mm.

I don’t want to talk anymore.