Nothing But Trouble
Summary: Three years after coming home, Voyager’s former command team want nothing to do with each other. She thinks he’s a cad and he thinks she’s nothing but trouble. But when Janeway disappears under mysterious circumstances, all the slave traders, fistfights and cagey admirals in the galaxy can’t stop Chakotay from going after her.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, Seven of Nine, Torres, Paris
Disclaimer: Somewhere, there’s a pretty snow-capped mountain that doesn’t care a whit about raining unholy legal hell on me.
Notes: Written for the VAMB Secret Summer 2016 exchange. My request was: “NC-17 J/C fic, preferably with a plot. I love thrillers and suspense. No wimpy J/C for me please. No-goes include wimpy J/C, baby fics, wedding fics”. Pretty sure that's right up my alley.
Warning: Some scenes contain non-consensual elements and could be disturbing.
I. The Vexatious Woman
“You’re a petaQ.”
Chakotay sighed. “What have I done this time?”
“You know what.” B’Elanna Torres gave him a scowl a full-blooded Klingon warrior would have worn with pride. “She’s no better, of course.”
Chakotay looked to Tom Paris for help, but the cowardly helmsman only raised his hands, scooting his chair back from the table and standing up to head for the bar. “Sorry, Captain, you’re on your own for this one.”
B’Elanna’s scowl had morphed into a glare. “Have you two even spoken to each other tonight?” She jerked her head in the direction of the buffet table. Chakotay followed the movement and immediately wished he hadn’t.
“Of course we have,” he replied evenly.
B’Elanna snorted. “I don’t mean that icy formal greeting, or the introductions to Starfleet brass that you couldn’t avoid. I mean have you talked to her?”
Chakotay’s gaze wandered traitorously over toward the subject of B’Elanna’s tirade, who had her back to him. Her pale, delicately-muscled back, completely bared by the daringly low drape of her dark-blue satin dress. His eyes narrowed. Nobody as cold as Kathryn Janeway had any right to look so … touchable.
Her date evidently disagreed. Chakotay watched as the man’s hand slid onto the base of the Admiral’s back, the tips of his fingers just slipping under the lowermost dip of the fabric, onto her –
“Chakotay! Are you even listening to me?” B’Elanna’s fierce eyes pinned him. “What’s wrong with the pair of you? All the rest of us get together as often as we can, but I’ll bet you two haven’t even seen each other since the last reunion.”
“That’s not true. I saw the Admiral at Headquarters just last week.”
“Oh, you mean when you spotted her across the gardens and hustled me in the opposite direction so fast I nearly sprained my ankle?”
“No,” answered Chakotay, giving her a quelling look. “I mean when she gave me Voyager’s next mission briefing. Speaking of which, you’d better make that your last drink, Commander. We ship out in three days and I want our engines in tip-top shape, so I expect you to report first thing in the morning.”
“My engines are always in tip-top shape, Captain,” B’Elanna retorted. “And don’t think I didn’t notice you changing the subject.”
Tom returned from the bar with two glasses of champagne, handing one to his wife. “A word of warning, Captain – my dad’s looking for you. He says it’s time for the dance.”
Chakotay tried not to cringe. Why must the admiralty insist he take a turn on the dance floor with his former CO at every damned official function? He’d managed to slip out before the dance at the last few – the Starfleet Christmas ball, the anniversary of the Dominion Amnesty and some diplomatic function hosted by the Cardassian ambassador – but he had a sinking feeling that ditching Admiral Janeway at the Voyager reunion would not be looked upon favourably by anyone, least of all his former and current crew. “I’ll be needing one of these, then,” he muttered, grabbing Tom’s champagne and downing it in one.
“Ah, there you are, Captain,” he heard, and looked up into Owen Paris’ beaming face. “Come on, son, don’t keep a beautiful woman waiting.”
Owen gestured toward the bar, where Kathryn Janeway stood holding a glass of champagne and watching Chakotay with an unreadable expression. He noted absently that her fingers were tight on the champagne glass and there was tension in the slender lines of her body; apparently she was looking forward to this dance about as much as he was. “Let’s get it over with, then,” he muttered, and strode over to her just as the orchestra began playing something gentle and lilting.
He stood in front of her and couldn’t stop himself from sweeping a low, mocking bow. “I believe we’re expected to dance, Admiral.” He held out his hand.
Something flashed in her eyes and was gone. She placed her glass carefully on the bar and laid her hand in his. “Far be it from me to thwart expectations, Captain,” she replied coolly as he led her onto the dance floor.
She turned into the traditional waltz hold and Chakotay was instantly uncomfortable. Her right hand rested in his left, but the fingers of his other hand hovered over the bare skin of her back. He really didn’t want to touch her skin, and he really didn’t want to think about why the idea of touching her was so disturbing.
“Something wrong, Captain?” she asked him, and his back stiffened at the low amusement in her tone. She wore this damn dress on purpose, he realised suddenly.
“Not at all, Admiral.” His fingers spread over that expanse of naked skin, caressing her lightly. He felt her shiver and hid a smirk of his own.
In retaliation, Kathryn closed the polite distance between them, satiny thigh slipping between his own as they moved. Chakotay edged back. She followed. “What are you doing?” he asked through gritted teeth.
She widened her taunting blue eyes. “Pardon me, Captain. I thought you were taking the lead.” Ever so slightly, she leaned into him and her satiny bodice brushed his chest. He looked down automatically and got an eyeful of creamy cleavage framed in dark-blue satin. He clenched his jaw.
“Nice of you to let me lead for once, Admiral,” he ground out, flattening his hand on her back so that her hips aligned with his. The move backfired: she shimmied almost imperceptibly, her pelvis sliding against his, and he felt his cock twitch. He spun her outward to get her away from him. But when she spun back, he found her pressed even closer. “Damn it,” he muttered. “Stop playing games with me.”
She tilted her head up at him, blue eyes malevolent as she subtly pressed her hips against him. “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”
“Oh, you know exactly what I mean, Kathryn.” Chakotay let his fingers drift down her spine, dipping under the low back of the dress. She caught her breath. He pulled her closer, his mouth at her ear, and she shivered as he spoke. “It won’t work. Not anymore.”
“Are you so sure of that, Chakotay?” She turned her face to his, waited until he met her gaze, and slowly, lasciviously, licked her lips. Chakotay felt his penis jump to embarrassingly rigid attention. His breath hissed out through his teeth. Kathryn smiled triumphantly, rolled her hips against him one last time, and stepped out of his arms just as the music swelled to a finish. “Thank you for the dance, Captain. I believe this round goes to me.”
And she sashayed away, leaving him alone on the dance floor and thanking the spirits for the tailored dinner jacket that covered his raging hard-on.
His chief engineer folded her arms on the ready room desk and stared at him until Chakotay sighed and put down the PADD. “There’s nothing to talk about, B’Elanna, so you can just stop giving me your Klingon counsellor routine.”
“Nothing to talk about?” she grinned. “Really? Last week, you and the Admiral practically lit the dance floor on fire in front of half of Starfleet, but I guess that was nothing. The Admiral’s date walked out on her after a very obvious disagreement in the cloakroom, but I guess that was nothing. You spent the rest of the night with your face in a bottle of whiskey and Tom and I practically had to carry you home, where you wouldn’t stop ranting about – how did you put it? – ‘that she-devil’, but no. There’s nothing to talk about.”
Chakotay rubbed at his temples. Voyager was a few days into a precarious diplomatic mission to Romulus, he was behind on his mission reports, and he really wasn’t in the mood for this. “What do you want me to say, B’Elanna?” he asked tiredly.
“I want the truth! You spent seven years on the other side of the galaxy as comrades, friends and Kahless knows what else. Yet for the past three years, you two have avoided each other like the Terellian plague, and when you do cross paths you act like a pair of spitting targs. What happened after we got home from the Delta quadrant that turned the two of you into mortal enemies? Give me the juice, Chakotay!”
“We had an argument,” he admitted after a long pause. “A bad one. Our worst one yet…”
The new dress uniforms were even less comfortable than the old ones, but that wasn’t why Chakotay tugged at his collar as though it was choking him. He hovered at Captain Janeway’s left shoulder, waiting for his chance to cut into her seemingly endless conversation with Admiral Hayes. Across the ballroom, Seven looked up from talking to her aunt and sent him a warm, encouraging smile. She really did look beautiful tonight, Chakotay thought. Even more so when she smiled, which she’d done with increasing regularity since the Doctor removed her failsafe device.
Finally, Hayes clasped Kathryn’s hands and said, “Well, I’m sure you have plenty of people to talk to tonight, Captain, so I won’t monopolise you any longer. Welcome home,” and Chakotay placed a hand on her shoulder before the next blowhard could interrupt them.
She turned, eyes bright and smile brighter, and he felt his heart seize. It’s just the nerves, he told himself, although really, there was no reason to be nervous about this, was there?
“Chakotay,” she said. It might have been his imagination, but it looked like her smile had slipped when she looked at him. “Are you having fun?”
“Could we talk for a minute? In private?”
Her eyes shuttered, but she nodded and followed him onto the balcony. Chakotay guided her to the far corner where they wouldn’t be seen – and interrupted – by the other guests. “There’s something I need to tell you,” he blurted.
Kathryn’s hands clenched on the railing, but her voice was expressionless. “What is it, Chakotay?”
He rubbed a hand through his hair. Now that he’d started, he didn’t know how to continue. “Ah,” he stammered, “well, it’s about, uh, Seven of Nine. And me. Uh, Seven and me.”
She had turned away from him slightly, and her profile was giving him no clues as to her reaction.
“We’ve been seeing each other,” he said in a rush. “Um, for a few weeks now. Since just after Ledos.”
The frost in her voice wasn’t what he’d expected. “Well, I can’t say I’m surprised, Commander.”
Chakotay jerked back a little. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I knew you were seeing her. The Admiral told me. The other me.” Her shoulders straightened. “I’m only surprised it took you so long to gather the courage to tell me yourself. I guess you really did leave the angry warrior behind long, long ago.”
He felt like she’d slapped him. He couldn’t speak.
“Well.” She turned toward him, moving up close, her face a mask. “Best of luck with your new girlfriend, Commander. If you hurt her, I’ll disembowel you.” She patted his chest perfunctorily and moved to push past him.
He grabbed her arm.
She looked pointedly at his hand. “I’d remove that if I were you.”
“You cold, hard bitch.”
The ice was forming crystals in her voice now. “I beg your pardon?”
“How dare you speak to me that way.” In contrast, he was burning up, shaking with fiery rage. “And people accuse Seven of being callous and unfeeling. She has nothing on her former mentor. I can only hope she got out from under your wing soon enough that she won’t turn into you.”
Kathryn’s eyes bored into his. “You are way out of line, Commander.”
“Really? I don’t think so. I think it’s well past time someone told you the truth.”
“And what truth is that?” She was so still, carved in ice while he was trembling with fury.
“That you’re a hypocrite. You hold others up to impossible standards and then you don’t even explain why or how they’ve failed. You never have to explain anything, do you Kathryn? You never have to listen to anybody. You do exactly what you want to do and damn anybody else who gets hurt in the process.”
He watched her throat work and felt a grim sort of pride that he’d obviously scored a direct hit. But when she spoke, there was no trace of a quaver in her voice. “I see. And is that your professional opinion as my first officer? Or is this a personal attack?”
“Does it matter?”
“I’d just like to know if I can expect my exec to betray me during the upcoming briefings, or if this is simply the end of a friendship you always wanted to be more.”
Chakotay reared back. Seven years of never addressing what once might have been between them, and she was bringing it up now, to make him bleed? “You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you? It did your ego good to play with my feelings all those years. Poor, pathetic Chakotay, pining after the Captain. You loved every minute of it. All those times you touched my shoulder or my chest, all those candlelit dinners; they were just to keep me on your hook, weren’t they? Well, I’m sorry, Kathryn. I’ve moved on. You’ll need to find yourself a new victim.”
For a moment the mask slipped and he thought he saw tears shimmering in her eyes. “I see,” she said quietly. “Then I guess we have nothing further to say. Goodbye, Commander.”
This time, when she brushed past him, he let her go.
A moment later, Seven appeared on the balcony. Her eyes looked huge and she was twisting her hands together. “I overheard your conversation with Captain Janeway,” she informed him without preamble. “I – I wish to dissolve our romantic relationship.”
“What?” Chakotay was still reeling.
“I believe I have erred,” Seven answered, her voice shaking. “I understood that your relationship with the Captain was platonic. Clearly I was mistaken about your feelings for her.”
“Seven, that’s not-”
She cut him off. “Further, I was mistaken in my assessment of your character. I – I do not believe I can learn anything more of value from my association with you.” She looked at the floor and mumbled, “I do not wish you to hurt me the way you hurt her.”
Seven looked up at him again, and the expression on her face made Chakotay feel like the lowest form of dirt under her shoe. “Goodbye, Chakotay,” she said simply, and she left him standing alone on the balcony feeling like he’d just been the loser in a twelve-round prizefight.
B’Elanna’s eyes were huge with horror by the time he’d finished recounting the fatal splintering of his – relationship? whatever it was – with Kathryn Janeway.
“Kahless,” she breathed. “How could you, Chakotay?”
He said nothing. Telling that story to someone else for the first time, three years down the track, he was starting to realise that although Kathryn may have drawn the first blood, he’d been the one to level the death blow. Chakotay dropped his face into his hands. “I was so angry with her,” he mumbled.
“That night, or for the previous seven years?”
“I guess both,” he admitted. “I didn’t even realise it until that night. I guess it’s no secret that I had … feelings for her. I always thought – I hoped – that she felt the same, and that one day she’d come to me. I thought it was the command structure that kept us apart, and if ever our circumstances changed, we’d be together.”
“And whose fault is it that it didn’t happen that way?” B’Elanna asked pointedly. “Who waltzed into the Alpha quadrant with a blonde half his age on his arm?”
“I couldn’t have known,” he said, frustrated. “We’d grown so far apart that I thought there was no chance for us anymore. Not in the Delta quadrant, anyway. If I’d known we were going to get home so soon, do you really think I’d have taken up with Seven of Nine? I mean, she’s a wonderful person, but she’s not…”
“She’s not Kathryn Janeway,” B’Elanna finished for him.
Chakotay shrugged. “It’s not like it matters now, anyway. Kathryn clearly never felt the way I did.”
B’Elanna gave him a disbelieving look. “How would you know?”
“Isn’t it obvious? She thought I was pathetic.”
“That was your interpretation,” she pointed out. “You didn’t actually give her a chance to tell you her side of the story, did you?”
Chakotay thought back on that conversation. “Shit,” he groaned. “I didn’t, did I? I just … went straight for the jugular.” He dropped his head into his hands again.
“So what are you going to do about it?”
“What can I do?” He looked at his friend blearily. “It’s too late for an apology. She’s never going to forgive me.”
“How do you know unless you try?” B’Elanna reached over the desk and placed her hand on his. “Do you love her?”
“I –” He stopped. Did he love her? The woman who’d been his best friend, who’d made him laugh harder than anybody he’d ever met, who’d ruled his heart for close to seven years … Who’d ignored his counsel, thrown herself repeatedly in the face of danger despite all his efforts to keep her safe, who’d torn out his heart over and over again … The woman who, three years after he’d ended their friendship, was still his first thought upon waking and his last before he slept?
“Yes,” he said miserably. “I love her.”
“You really are a petaQ,” B’Elanna told him, fondly patting his hand.