Summary: Take one wallowing starship captain, marinate well, add one troubled first officer, and season with a pinch of smut.
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Paramount. The words belong to me.
Notes: I wrote this back in 2001, I think. Maybe 2002. I’d forgotten all about it until I did a wayback machine search on my old website and it popped up. I read it and decided I hated it, because it could be read to imply that clinical depression can be cured by a really good fuck. Not that that's what I was trying to do here. That said, I’ve decided I like it after all. So, here it is.
What was it the crew calls this place?
But accurate. If they only knew how accurate. Kathryn rubbed at the ache in her temples, slumping further into her armchair. Outside, space never changed; no stars streaked by to show the ship was travelling at warp, though she knew it was. She could feel the higher-pitched hum of the engines; she could even pinpoint their velocity. Warp 7.6. After five years, she knew her ship almost too well.
She reached for the bottle beside her.
This ship was so vulnerable, a bubble of precious life in this alien space. She stared out at the blackness, strained to see even the faintest speck of light, failed. She shivered. They were so very alone.
Kathryn sipped contemplatively. She'd been afraid the wine might have gone bad. Mark had given it to her a few hours before Voyager left Utopia Planetia with instructions to drink it in celebration of a mission completed. She smiled faintly. He'd always had such confidence in her. Never even crossed his mind that she might fail. Well, fail she had, and in spectacular fashion. But at least the wine hadn't gone bad. At least something was going her way. She drank again, drained her glass. Reached for the bottle again, a little clumsily. It was empty. Damn it.
She hauled herself out of the chair and weaved her way to the replicator, noting dully that her quarters were in even worse shape than usual. Never had been one to make her bed every morning. She stumbled over a discarded boot, caught herself on the edge of the table. "Computer ..." She squinted at the replicator. The coloured lights of the LCARS display seemed brighter than usual. "One bottle of ..." What? She couldn't think. The colours swam briefly, nauseatingly, and she tightened her grip on the table. "Aldebaran whisky - No, belay that." Synthehol wouldn't do, and nor would anything replicated. Real guilt deserved real alcohol.
Where the hell was she going to get real alcohol? She hit her commbadge before she could second-guess herself. "Janeway to Neelix."
After a slight pause: ~Neelix here, Captain. What can I do for you?~
So giving. So hopeful that the Captain had come back to her crew. She almost hated to dash his hopes, but sooner or later she'd kill him anyway, so what did it matter? "Neelix, I need you to go to Cargo Bay Two. In storage cabinet 67-beta you'll find several bottles of Antarian cider. Please bring one to my quarters."
Again, a pause, and she wasn't imagining the disappointment that coloured his response.
~Right away, Captain.~
She navigated back to the window, eschewing the armchair in favour of pressing her hot forehead to the viewport, chilled by the blackness of space. Null space. Just like her. She imagined her own death, her cold body lifeless on a mortuary slab. The Doctor would cut her open and find nothing but emptiness. A bubble of laughter choked her. She felt sick.
Where the hell was Neelix with that cider? She was about to comm him again when she heard the chime of the door. "Come in."
She knew it was him the moment light streaked into her darkened quarters. She could smell his scent. Something earthy and foreign, yet as familiar to her as her own reflection. She stared at the viewport and realised that even her own image was strange to her now.
He was still standing silently in the doorway. "Where's Neelix?" she demanded.
"I came in his place."
"Leave the cider on the table and go."
The doors slid shut.
"You're still here," she said coldly.
"I'm not leaving you, Kathryn."
She'd grabbed the empty wine glass from the coffee table and flung it at him before he had time to react. He felt the rush of air against his cheek and was momentarily glad her motor functions were impaired. "Get out," she yelled.
In three short strides he'd crossed the room and was holding her still, pinning her arms behind her back. So strong. She struggled furiously and he tightened his grip. "Kathryn, stop it," he snapped, and, shocked, she did. "I don't want to hurt you," he explained in a gentler voice.
He let her pull away from him. "It would be only fair," she pointed out. "I did throw a glass at your head."
A joke? Chakotay grinned involuntarily, but she'd already looked away.
She turned back to the window. "Did you bring the cider, at least?"
"Haven't you had enough for one night?" When he'd left her quarters an hour ago that wine bottle had just been opened.
"I've had enough for a lifetime, Chakotay."
His throat seized at the hollowness in her voice. "I take it you're not talking about the wine."
She didn't answer.
Chakotay tried again. "Why are you trying to drink yourself into oblivion?"
Kathryn laughed. "Oblivion? I'm already there." She gestured at the window. "Look."
"Thanks, I've seen it already," he said dryly. "So you're drinking to forget?"
I made an error in judgment, Chakotay. It was shortsighted and it was selfish. And now all of us are paying for my mistake.
She fell silent, gazing out at the unchanging absence on the other side of the viewport.
"What do you see when you look at me, Chakotay?" she asked finally, so low he barely heard her.
He stepped close behind her, almost touching, not quite. "I see a brave and principled woman who's spent the last five years sacrificing herself for her crew." Carefully, knowing she sensed the movement, he rested one hand on her shoulder. "I see my best friend hurting, afraid to let anyone help her." He turned her gently. "I see the person I care about more than anyone in the universe, and I wish she could see what I see."
Stunned, she looked up at him, and the tiny hairs on his skin stood on end at her nearness.
"Why?" she asked softly. "After all I've done."
Chakotay cradled her face in his hands. "Why are you so hard on yourself, Kathryn?"
"You know why." She couldn't move. "I stranded us here. I've taken risks, got people killed.” She looked away briefly, but made herself meet his eyes again. “I've hurt you."
He couldn't deny it, any of it, but - "You can't just look at the cold hard facts, Kathryn," he urged. He moved his fingers unconsciously against her cheekbone. "No decision is ever made in a vacuum. You stranded us here to save the Ocampa. You've taken calculated risks in the line of duty, and sometimes, through no fault of your own, people have died." He hesitated, then ploughed on. "And yes, you've hurt me. But nothing hurts me more than seeing you like this."
She leant into him as though unable to hold herself upright any longer, resting her face against his collar. "I feel so empty," she mumbled.
He moved his hands on her back, in her hair. The rhythm was hypnotic; she felt the aching tension draining from her body, felt herself relaxing into him, her skin warming. "You wouldn't feel that way if you just let somebody in sometimes," he told her. "I know you, Kathryn. You've been trying to do this alone for far too long. And I keep telling you that you're not alone."
He raised her face again, saw the glimmer of tears starting. "Let me in," he asked simply.
And she said, simply, "Yes."
She meant it. He knew instantly, searching her eyes, that this was it. After all this time. And Chakotay didn't want to waste another second. He tilted his head down to hers and kissed her.
It was intoxicating, exactly as she'd always known it would be; she'd held herself back time after time from the temptation to taste his lips just once - just for a moment. She clutched at his jacket, dragging him closer, feeling her knees weaken and her head spin and knowing it wasn't just the wine. She bit his lip, heard him gasp, felt him crush her closer. There was too much fabric between them. She tugged at his uniform jacket, wrenching it from his shoulders, and realised he must have been waiting for her signal, because his hot hands drifted under her standard-issue tank. Her skin burned.
Reluctantly she broke the kiss, desperate for skin-to-skin contact. Her fingers wouldn't work the fastenings on his uniform top. He caught her unsteady hands in his. "Let me," he whispered and she heard the unfamiliar roughness in his voice, felt the sharp answering tug in her abdomen. They stripped with as much haste as clumsy fingers would allow and finally, naked in her dark and silent room, she moved willingly into his arms.
For long moments he simply savoured the feeling of her body pressed to his, cataloguing every tiny contact of her skin with his. Then his hands came alive and she shivered as his fingers whispered over her nape, her arms, her waist, and she began an exploration of her own.
She licked at his neck, tasted salt and heat. She flattened her palms against the hard muscles of his chest, walked her fingers over his hip. She felt him pulse against her belly and slid her hand between them, wrapping her fingers over satin and steel. He jumped slightly, then tightened his hold on her waist as she moved her hand around him.
In dreams she'd touched him a thousand times, just so. But dreams couldn't compare.
She circled her thumb over the swollen head. He murmured something fervent and unintelligible, dipped his head, took her nipple in his mouth. Her knees buckled and she crashed to the floor, bringing him with her.
He'd landed half on top of her and she gasped as the wind was knocked from her lungs. "Sorry," he managed and rolled them so that she lay over him, their legs in a tangle. His erection dug insistently into her belly and she tilted her hips unconsciously, squirming up his body until she felt him burning hot and hard between her thighs. She pressed closer, wringing a groan from him. "Not yet," he gasped and rolled them again, supporting himself on one hand as the other slid firmly over her, holding her down. She waited breathlessly.
He held still. Desperate, she stared at him. He was grinning, eyes blacker than the Void, mouth swollen, breathing fast. "What are you waiting for?" she managed, and in one swift move he leaned down to lick her lips and slid two fingers deep inside her.
She arched helplessly toward him, stifling a moan against his mouth. God. He curled his fingers inward and rubbed the pad of his thumb against her clitoris and she was coming, screaming, laughing all at once, and he didn't give her time to recollect herself because he'd moved his body over hers and entered her in one slow, smooth stroke.
She jerked against him, pleasure warring with momentary pain, and he stopped, supporting his weight on trembling forearms, waiting for her to adjust. Then she leaned forward to lick his chest and tightened her inner muscles around him and he couldn't help but move, slowly at first, then harder, faster, harder, and she realised there was no room inside her for emptiness any more.
He came silently, his face against her neck, her legs wrapped around his hips. They lay quietly, waiting for heart rates to return to normal. Kathryn became aware of the rough carpet against her back and the low, satisfying soreness of long-unused muscles. She opened her eyes. The viewport showed unchanging black. Somehow, she wasn't quite so afraid of it anymore.
He stirred against her, raising himself to look into her face. "All right?" he asked softly. She knew what he was asking.
"I think so," she smiled.
"Good." He traced the planes of her face with one finger. She watched as the corner of his mouth quirked up.
"Oh, and Kathryn?"
She looked a question at him.
"Next time you want to drown yourself in my not-so-secret stash of Antarian cider, all you have to do is ask."