I Thought You Knew
Summary: A Bliss episode addition to the prompt "I thought you knew."
Characters: Chakotay, Janeway
Disclaimer: Characters are Paramount’s. No infringement intended.
He’d let her keep the conversation light throughout dinner, but now that they were settled on her couch and she was staring pensively into her glass of wine, he knew it was time. He touched her hand.
“Kathryn, talk to me. And don’t tell me you’re fine, because I know you better than that.”
She gave him a chagrined half-smile which faded into a sigh. “What is there to say, Chakotay? Wormholes, alien technology, hallucinations… just one more hope dashed. We’ve been through this before.”
“That doesn’t make it any easier.” He wound his fingers into hers.
“I was so sure it was real this time,” she murmured, her gaze fixed on their joined hands. “When I woke up and I was still on the bridge –” Abruptly she pulled her hand from his, jagging to her feet, arms wrapped around herself. “I felt so cheated. I was on the verge of everything I’ve dreamed of for the past four years and it was ripped away from me. My family, pardons for the crew, finally being with y-” She stopped on a sharp intake of breath.
Chakotay rose slowly to his feet.
“Anyway,” she rushed on with a nervous laugh, “what can we do other than hold our heads up and keep on going?”
“I mean, look how far we’ve come in a little over four years,” she went on, pacing, avoiding his eye. “There’s bound to be –”
“Kathryn.” He stepped into her path, his hands on her shoulders, tension in the fine quiver of her muscles. “Kathryn, what were you going to say? Before you cut yourself off.”
“What?” She shook her head, staring at his chest. “Nothing.”
“What did you see?” His heart was thudding in his chest. “You said you saw your family, the crew settled. Who else did you see, Kathryn?”
She was gnawing her lip, furiously not looking at him.
“Who were you with?” he asked softly.
When she finally tilted her chin up her eyes were shining with tears. “You, Chakotay. I saw you. I saw us, together, just like I’ve always hoped –”
She broke away from him again, clenching her fists at her sides. The silence in the room was thick.
Finally, he said, “I didn’t know you felt that way.”
She turned to face him, disbelieving. “You didn’t know? How could you not?”
He gave a helpless shrug. “I hoped. But you’ve never said –”
She stepped closer, eyes full, her hand coming to rest on his chest. “Not in words, Chakotay.”
“Kathryn…” He felt the irresistible pull of her, the quickening of his breath that he never could seem to control when she was near. “You know how I feel –”
Abruptly, she wound both arms around his neck and pulled him down to her, her lips finding his. He responded immediately, his hands on her waist at first but sliding over her hip, her back, her ribs as she moaned and pushed her thigh between his own. He could feel the rasp of her breath, the thudding of her pulse. Just as he moved a hand between them to tug at the fastening of her jacket, she drew back and pushed him gently away.
“We can’t,” she stated, her voice almost throbbing with need and regret. “Not until … not now, Chakotay. Nothing has changed.”
He stared at her, aching, trying to get his breathing under control.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she pleaded, closing her eyes.
It took him two tries to find his voice. “I understand, Kathryn.”
She nodded, turning away. “You’d better go.”
He headed for the door. One step before he reached the triggering mechanism, he heard a soft rustle of fabric and she was in his arms again, her hands cupping his face. “Just one more,” she whispered.
They kissed as though they were starving, or drowning, or as if they were the last two people at the end of the universe. As though they were lovers saying their last goodbye. This time he was the one who ended it, realising they were rapidly reaching the point where neither of them would be able to.
Her fingers rested lightly over his lips as she said with her eyes everything she couldn’t say aloud.
“Now you know.”
She stepped back and let him go, and although every fizzing atom in his body wanted to stay awake replaying the astonishing events of the evening, he went to sleep smiling.