Trigger

Summary: The tension of encountering the Equinox triggers a seismic shift between the command team that can only lead to an explosion… what kind will it be?

 

Characters: Janeway, Chakotay

Codes: Janeway/Chakotay

 

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

Notes: Prompted by the tumblr memes a ship + a kiss #25: … as a yes, kinky prompt #43: control/loss of control, and six sexy words #8: I dare you to try me.

This fic is accompanied by a soundtrack, in case you want to listen to some AngrySexy™ music while you're reading.

Rated E

She can’t remember when she last saw the inside of her quarters. Time stretches like a rubber band, hours and endless minutes winding her so tight she wonders when she’ll snap.

Tom Paris trudges onto the bridge with the rest of Alpha shift, rubbing the weary burn from his eyes, and she recalls he’s just come off a full night’s work in Sickbay. She opens her mouth to order him to bed, but the words die on her lips when she realises she hasn’t slept since the last time she saw him at the helm.

How long ago was that? She has no idea.

Neelix has just made yet another trip to the bridge to refill her coffee cup, wearing a fresh outfit even ghastlier than the last one, or is it two? Sam Wildman appears to take over the science station and her disconcerted glance in the captain’s direction tells Janeway she looks a hell of a lot less fresh than the ensign.

Even Tuvok has excused himself to catch a few hours’ rest.

Her hands tremble and her eyes feel scoured in her head; her world has tunnelled to a single hectic purpose. Nothing else matters: not Voyager’s overtaxed engines, not the uneasy looks her crew are sending her way, and certainly not sleep.

The last thing she remembers clearly is standing in her ready room as Chakotay accused her of endangering her ship to pursue a vendetta. Everything that’s happened since then – and so, so much has happened – feels hazy and unreal, like a dream she longs to wake up from.

She huffs aloud, startling Tom, slumped at the helm, and drawing a raised eyebrow from B’Elanna at the auxiliary engineering station.

“Something you want to say, Lieutenant?” she rasps when B'Elanna continues to stare at her.

The engineer’s gaze slides pointedly to the empty chair at Janeway’s left, then back again. “No, ma’am,” she drawls, just this side of insolent.

Tom coughs meaningfully and the captain turns her flinty eyes on him. “Yes, Mr Paris?”

He leaves the conn, nodding briefly to Jenkins as she slides into his place, and sits on the edge of the vacant first officer’s chair, pitching his voice low. “Captain, I don’t know how long you’ve been on duty but I’m pretty sure it’s a lot longer than medically advisable.”

“Really,” she says, flat. “I don’t recall promoting you to chief medical officer.”

“No ma’am,” he answers. “But I am the ranking bridge officer and I stand ready to relieve you.”

“As you were.” Her tone could freeze venom, but Tom doesn’t back down.

Neither does B'Elanna, whose dark eyes never waver. Janeway would laugh – is every member of her senior staff determined to challenge her today? – if it weren’t so serious.

Still, in the end it takes Harry Kim’s soft appeal, “Captain,” to make her yield. Her legs feel leaden and unstable as she surrenders the command chair to Tom Paris.

“All right, Ensign,” she forces herself to grit out, “the bridge is yours.”

 

~*~


The corridor on deck three is empty but for one crewman repairing an ODN interface. He watches her furtively as Janeway nears his position, until she turns the full force of her stare on him and he picks up his toolkit and hurries away.

If she were a paranoid woman she might take his terror personally; as it is, it energises her. Satisfied, she keys in her access code. The doors open silently onto her empty quarters.

She doesn’t bother calling for lights as she tosses her jacket over the back of a chair; she knows the way to her liquor cabinet. As the smoky liquid slides down her throat it burns hotter than the hell she’s made for herself.

It was a bad call.

She pours another finger into her glass and sips it, savouring the bite as she stares out at the stars.

This isn’t about rules and regulations. It’s about right and wrong.

A growl rises in her throat. This exchange, the harsh words, the disenchantment in his eyes – this, she does remember clearly.

I’m warning you, I won’t let you cross that line again.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” she hisses aloud, the words dropping like stones into the accusing silence.

Poisonous rage rises up inside her and suddenly, she wants to know. She needs answers, and nothing else matters.

She tosses the last of the bourbon down before she leaves.

His door slides open on her second, impatient press of the chime and she squints into his quarters, as dim and hushed as hers were. There’s a moment when she stands on the threshold and foreboding grips her chest: something is about to happen. Something she might not be able to control, or back away from.

She could retreat now, let it ride, maybe salvage what’s left of the friendship that once bolstered and sustained her. Or she could push past the limits they’ve both tested repeatedly, pull the trigger. Burn it all down to ashes.

She hesitates. Then his voice curls out from the darkness, low and without inflection.

“Captain.”

She steps inside, letting the door close behind her.

In the starlight she can make out his silhouette, standing by the viewport. He raises a glass to his lips and faint light gleams on his bare arm. She smells oak and caramel; Aldebaran whiskey.

Without asking she crosses to the low table and splashes two hefty fingers into a glass, downing half of it before she speaks.

“You brought it on yourself, Chakotay.”

He doesn’t answer, but the lines of his body tense and the quality of the silence changes.

“Why did you defy me?” she presses forward. “I didn’t want to relieve you of duty, but you were out of line. You forced my hand.”

At that he stirs, swallowing a low, sullen chuckle with his whiskey. “Is that how you’re justifying it?”

She places her now-empty glass onto the table with a deliberate snap and steps toward him. “I’m the captain,” she pronounces clearly, malevolence in every syllable, “I don’t have to justify myself to you.”

Finally he turns, shoving his glass aside and leaning against the viewport to regard her. He’s still wearing his uniform pants, she sees now, though he’s stripped to his undershirt and his feet are bare. She refuses to notice the solid curves of his biceps, his wide shoulders, as he crosses his arms over his chest.

“And to yourself?”

“What are you t–”

“How are you going to live with yourself when this is all over?” he cuts her off, standing straight. “You were willing to let a man die just to prove a point, Kathryn! What the hell’s gotten into you?”

“Into me?” She moves closer, staring up at him, unconsciously noting his quick intake of breath at her nearness. “You countermanded my orders and told me you had every intention of doing it again! I can’t ignore flagrant insubordination, Chakotay. You pushed me too far.”

“You’ve already gone too far!” he shouts, then closes his eyes, clearly wrestling back his control. “Why can’t you see that?”

“You want to know what I see?” She stares at him, flat-eyed, spite thick in her voice. “You lost your nerve, Commander. I had Lessing right where I wanted him but you blinked first. Now my only option is to deliver Ransom to the aliens, and that’s on you.”

Chakotay’s lips part as he looks down at her. “Is that really what you believe?” he asks, his voice soft and stunned. “That your only option is sanctioning murder?”

“It’s not murder,” she rasps, tearing her gaze from his mouth as it shapes the damning words. She moves another step closer. “It’s justice.”

“Do you know who you sound like?” he demands. “Justice, self-preservation – whatever label you give it, it’s still murder.”

She sucks in a breath as though he’s punched her. “How dare you,” she exhales, shaky. “How dare you compare me to Ransom.”

“From where I’m standing there’s not a whole lot of difference.”

Fury prickles the length of her spine, accelerating her heart beat, a red haze rising in her chest. She crowds up close to him – he even backs up a step, eyes widening, before he remembers himself and stands firm – so close she can feel the heat coming off his skin and see the fine muscles knotting in his jaw. She’s wound so tight that the slightest touch, she thinks, and she might explode.

Leaning in, eyes burning like dry ice and voice like splintered glass, she grates, “Fuck. You.”

The silence builds as her stare pierces him, swelling into the space between them and sucking the breath from her lungs. Scarlet mist pulses behind her eyes and her hands are shaking. She wants to curl them into claws and scratch his eyes out; she wants to wrap them around his throat and squeeze.

She wants to wrench off his clothes and carve possession into his skin with her fingernails.

Her head sings from lack of air and the rage in the pit of her belly is coalescing into something headier and harder to contain. They are almost touching, so close she can taste the heat rolling off him in waves. His eyes are fixed on hers, black as space and hotter than hell. He looks like he would eat her alive, she thinks, and she parts her lips, dragging in much-needed oxygen. Her body sways infinitesimally, involuntarily toward him.

His gaze drops to her mouth, and she watches the bob of his Adam’s apple as he dry-swallows.

The need to make him hurt blurs into a different kind of desire.

She sees her own hunger amplified and mirrored in his eyes.

If this recognition is the starter’s gun, her shuddering exhale pulls the trigger. Chakotay utters a sound halfway between a curse and a groan and closes the minuscule distance between them to take her mouth with his.

He tastes of whiskey and taboo and she doesn’t even pretend she doesn’t want this. She sucks his tongue into her mouth, shoving her body into his as she winds her arms around him and clutches the back of his undershirt. She can feel him trembling, his better conscience warring with his instincts, warning him to gentle the kiss – their first kiss – but she doesn’t want gentle.

She digs her teeth just a little too deep into his lower lip and savours the taste of his blood.

Chakotay hisses, hands clamping on her upper arms as he twists her around, driving her back against the bulkhead. She releases his lips with a gasp. Her head falls back and he seizes the unspoken invitation, latching his mouth onto the skin just above the collar of her turtleneck and sucking hard. At her answering moan he pushes his thigh between hers, the movement pressing her up onto her tiptoes and sending hot sparks deep into her pelvis.

“Fuck,” she rasps.

“You have a dirty mouth,” he growls in her ear, “Kathryn.”

She pushes one hand between them to curl her fingers around the hard, pulsing shaft pressing into her hip. “Captain,” she corrects, meeting his hot stare with hers as she squeezes deliberately.

Warning flashes in his eyes. “You relieved me of duty,” he reminds her, an edge in his voice.

She lets her lips curl upward. “Seems like you’re still under my command though, doesn’t it?”

He breaks their eye-lock to dip his mouth to hers, breathing against her parted lips as he slips one hand under the back of her turtleneck and expertly unclasps her bra. His hand slides around to the front, fingers pushing up under the loosened bra cup to rub her aching, hard nipple, and she tries to stifle her gasp.

“It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve disobeyed your orders.” Chakotay’s lips move softly against hers.

“You’ve had your moments of defiance, but you always back down in the end,” she taunts him, trying to hide how breathless she is as his thumb drags over and around her swollen nipple. “I know you, Chakotay.”

This time she squeezes his erection with calculated force, enough to make him flinch. In retaliation he traps her nipple between finger and thumb and pinches to the point of pain. She curses under her breath and he grins, the fingers of his other hand moving to unfasten her pants.

“I’m not the only one who thinks your judgement is clouded,” he points out.

“Fuck you,” she spits, her body belying the sentiment as she pushes her breast into his hand, “and fuck them, too.”

He tugs the pants down, one-handed, over her hips; they slip to her knees, hobbling her and baring her thighs. She goes still, her heartbeat thundering in her ears.

“I could mutiny,” says Chakotay, his voice so soft and neutral she almost misses the significance.

When the words sink in, she pulls back far enough to capture his gaze again. “You won’t.”

Chakotay meets her eyes without flinching. “I dare you to try me.”

He pulls his hand out from under her turtleneck and uses it to circle her throat – loosely, but with enough subtle pressure to draw her full attention – and she moans and parts her legs, grasping his other wrist so she can drag his hand between her thighs.

“I’m still your captain,” she almost slurs, her eyes slipping shut.

“If you came here tonight as my captain,” he murmurs low, “you wouldn’t let me do this,” and he pushes her panties aside and curls his fingers into her, expertly scattering pleasure into every nerve.

She cries out, her body falling forward against him as her head tips back. Chakotay anchors her with a solid arm around her waist.

“Fuck,” he groans, his fingers pressing and sliding, “Kathryn, you’re so wet.”

Her answer is an unintelligible string of moans as she rides his hand, squirming to increase the contact. The sounds she makes grow huskier, breathier, as she starts to shake.

“Come for me,” he urges. “God, you’re so beautiful…”

His thumb strokes over her clitoris, his fingers rub perfectly against her front wall, and Kathryn shatters in his arms almost silently, with only a long-drawn-out, shuddering breath to accompany the sudden slump of her body against him.

His fingers are still inside her, her inner muscles fluttering spasmodically around them when she opens her eyes and thinks, what the fuck have I done?

Chakotay is watching her face.

“Don’t,” he says roughly, “don’t do that,” and he swipes his thumb deliberately across her clit again. She clenches tight around his fingers, a whimper catching in her throat.

It takes all her willpower to force back the sensations, to brace her palm against his chest to hold him still.

“Chakotay, let me go,” she says. It’s neither an order nor a demand but he acquiesces all the same, easing his fingers out of her and stepping back as she finds her feet. She tugs her pants back up, fastens them without looking at him, stands staring at the carpet while she tries to find words.

“Don’t you dare regret this, Kathryn,” he says quietly.

It gives her the strength to meet his eyes. “How can I not?” she asks, but holds up a hand to forestall his answer. “We were – I was out of control, Chakotay… Don’t look at me like that,” she says sharply, turning away from his steady gaze.

He says nothing as she reaches behind her back to refasten her bra, straightens her turtleneck and turns back to face him.

“This never happened,” she enunciates clearly, her eyes ever so slightly evading his. “After I deal with Ransom we’ll discuss your actions and potential reinstatement. Until then you’ll remain confined to quarters. Understood?”

She waits a moment to give him the chance to speak, then turns for the door. His reply, when it finally comes, is low and inflectionless.

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

~*~


“Captain’s personal log, stardate – uh …” she checks the chronometer, “53009.5. Rudy Ransom is dead, and most of his crew with him. We retrieved five survivors from the Equinox before it self-destructed, and now I have to find a way to make them part of my crew. I don’t know how – I can’t stand to think …”

She raises a hand to her temple, wishing she could rub away the past few days as simply as she eases the ache in her head.

“He did the right thing at the end,” she continues. “In some ways that angers me – why should he die a hero after everything he did? But then I think about the things I’ve done, the things Chakotay accused me of, and I –”

She falls silent again. The red indicator light on her computer blinks at her impatiently, accusingly.

“Those Equinox survivors,” she says slowly, feeling her way through the words, “they’ll be a reminder every single day of what I did to Lessing. What I was willing to do. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it will keep me from becoming just like Ransom.”

Janeway gets up and moves to the replicator. One touch of a button and her standing order materialises. She wraps her hands around the metal mug and inhales the fragrance.

“Or maybe I won’t need them to remind me,” she goes on, staring into the hot liquid. “I have one great advantage over Ransom: my first officer. That is,” she breaks off, chewing her lower lip, “if I haven’t ruined that, too.”

She thinks about the venomous things she said to Chakotay last night, the shameful things she did. The way she goaded him, needled him, pushed at him until she triggered the reaction she was craving.

And then the way he touched her: skilfully, with easy command of her body and his own all-too-evident desire. Showing her how effortlessly he could control her, even hurt her, yet focused solely on giving her pleasure.

The way all the heat leached from his eyes as she walked out of his quarters.

She’d told him she regretted what she let him do to her – what she all but demanded he do to her. And yet, with the clarity of distance, it’s the one thing she’s done over the past few days that she can’t bring herself to regret.

Perhaps most shameful of all, she knows that all she has to do is tell him she’s sorry, and he will forgive her everything. Because he loves her that much.

Janeway straightens. “Computer, pause log and erase everything after time index zero zero three.”

Log erased.

“Contact Commander Tuvok and ask him to bring the Equinox survivors to the briefing room.”

Acknowledged.

She hesitates, then adds, “Make a note in the ship’s log that I am reinstating Commander Chakotay to the position of executive officer, effective immediately. Inform him that he should report for duty as soon as practicable.”

The computer’s confirming chirp echoes in the empty ready room as she strides out onto her bridge.

 

~*~


A freshly-replicated uniform is folded neatly beside her, but Janeway sits on the edge of her bed in her bra and panties and cannot make herself put the uniform on.

The potluck has already started. Like most of Neelix’s morale-building occasions it will carry on for hours yet – time enough for all three shifts to attend – and her appearance isn’t expected at any specific hour. But it is expected, and right now she’s struggling to force herself to fulfil that obligation.

She wants to crawl under the covers and pretend the past week never happened. She is devastated by Ransom’s betrayal and still so, so angry, but it’s worse now that she’s no longer fired by righteous vengeance. Because now that it’s all over she’s holding a mirror up to her own actions, and she does not like what she sees.

And, although she has apologised – weak and insufficient as that apology may be – to the man she’s wronged more than almost any other this past week, she feels exposed, stripped bare, and ashamed.

This thing’s never fallen down before, she’d murmured as she bent to retrieve Voyager’s dedication plaque from the rubble on the bridge, and Chakotay had said softly, Let’s put it back up where it belongs.

She huffs, tears pricking unexpectedly at the back of her throat. His allegory is usually subtler, but then, perhaps he thought he’d need a sledgehammer to break through to her this time.

Besides, the analogy is wrong; she has fallen before. The difference is that this time she didn’t just stumble. She jumped. And now he wants to place her back on a pedestal she never sought and doesn’t deserve.

Janeway pushes wearily to her feet, steps into the uniform pants, tugs the turtleneck over her head. She pulls on the boots, fastens the jacket and moves over to the dresser to attach the pips to her collar. Straightening up to smooth her hair, she catches her own eyes in the mirror and her hands falter and still.

The woman reflected back to her is a marionette, a paper doll. Her eyes hold no warmth and inside the uniform her figure seems withered, insubstantial. There is nothing to her but a façade of starch and principles she has spectacularly failed to uphold.

She’s been losing pieces of herself for years now, and she can’t bear to give up any more.

Her hands quiver as she snatches the pips from her collar and drops them to the floor. The turtleneck is tugged unceremoniously over her head, leaving her hair in soft disarray. She kicks off the boots, yanks off her pants, and pulls open the closet door to rifle through its sparse contents. Her hand closes around a soft blue cotton shift dress and she murmurs approval.

This time, turning to the mirror, she notes the flush on her pale skin, and eyes that hold a soul she almost lost. Her body is curves and shadowed hollows: the delicate slash of collarbone, the swell and dip of her breasts. She is vulnerable and fallible and warm and real.

Maybe it’s not too late; maybe she can still be the woman she wants to be.

 

~*~


She presses the chime and waits, her throat tight with nervous anticipation.

When the door slides open Chakotay is standing on the other side. His hair is damp, and he’s wearing sweatpants and a bathrobe that he’s clearly pulled on in haste; it hangs open over his bare torso. Janeway swallows, trying to keep her gaze trained on his face.

“Captain,” he says, straightening and schooling his expression into neutrality.

“No,” she shakes her head. “I’m not here as your captain.”

His eyes snap to hers, narrowing as he tries to divine her meaning.

“Please,” she asks, “Chakotay, may I come in?”

He gives a short nod and steps back, allowing her entry as he ties the robe closed. “Coffee?” he offers, already moving toward the replicator.

“No. Thank you.” She can hear the quaver in her voice, and it brings him up short. He turns and walks back to where she stands, just inside the doorway, her fingers twined tightly together.

“Kathryn,” he says gently touching her twisted hands, “what is this about?”

Instead of answering she turns her hand palm out, linking his fingers with hers. His eyes widen.

“You were right,” she husks. “I lost my way, Chakotay, and I’ve become someone I barely recognise. I need – I want –”

“What do you want, Kathryn?” he asks when words fail her.

One breath, one step closer.

“Help me,” she says simply, and brings their joined hands to her lips.

She looks up at him as she presses a kiss to his knuckles, watches his dark eyes glaze. Her grip loosens, the pad of his thumb resting on her lower lip. His other hand cups her cheek, his fingers sliding under her hair to cradle the curve of her skull, and she lets her eyes close as she draws his thumb into her mouth, curling her tongue around it.

Chakotay inhales sharply and tightens his grip on her head as she sucks, her teeth scraping lightly on his knuckle. Heat and hunger swell deep in her belly and her body drifts toward his. Her free hand slides inside his loosely-tied robe and flattens on the warm skin beneath.

“Kathryn,” he breathes.

“Mm,” she sighs in response. Her fingers spread over his abdomen and angle downward, but before they can slip under the waistband of his sweatpants he pulls his hand away from her mouth and grips her wrist, holding her still. Holding her away from him.

“What is this?” he growls, his voice thick and harsh. “You want something from me?”

“No,” she swallows, feeling the fingers of his other hand tightening on her skull, his thumb tipping her jaw up, “I mean, yes, but –”

“If you want me to make you come,” he cuts in, “then ask me. And be specific, because it seems like we don’t understand each other anymore. What do you want – my hand?”

He releases her wrist and pushes his hand between her legs, curling his fingers into her through the thin dress and panties, and Kathryn sucks in a sharp breath. She sways on her feet, one hand grasping the sleeve of his robe for balance.

“My mouth?” he tilts her head to the side, baring her neck to him, brushing his lips along the line of her jaw until he can rumble into her ear, “or maybe you want me to fuck you. Is that it, Captain?”

He sucks hard on her throat just as his fingers burrow beneath layers of fabric and stroke confidently between her folds, and as she hisses through her teeth he makes a sound between a chuckle and a grunt.

“What’s it to be?” he demands, his voice less steady now as his fingertips slide over slippery flesh and she whimpers. “Fuck, you feel so good,” he finishes on a groan.

“Stop,” she says aloud despite the involuntary tilt of her hips into his hand, “Chakotay, stop.”

And although her neck is still bent to accept his lips and her fingers still clutch tightly on his sleeve to hold him against her, he stops.

She pushes back from him and they stare at each other, she dismayed at the bitter anger in his eyes.

“That isn’t why I came here tonight,” she says with shaky emphasis. “I came because – because of what you said on the bridge, or implied. About putting me back on a pedestal.”

Chakotay gives a short, disbelieving laugh. “So you thought you’d make sure I had no illusions left about you at all?”

“No!” She clenches her fists in frustration. “Yes. God damn it!” she spins away, breathing harshly.

When she turns back to him, his eyes are less flinty and his stance has relaxed. “Okay,” he says, and his voice is softer too, “why did you come here?”

“To tell you I’m sorry for everything I’ve put you through this week,” she rubs at her temple where the tension is knotting, “hell, for the past five years. I hate this – I hate who I’ve become.”

She glances away, and to her surprise feels him move close and rest a hand on her shoulder.

“Just talk to me, Kathryn,” he urges gently when she looks up at him. “It’s only me.”

Only you, she thinks. Yes.

“I don’t want to push you away anymore,” she says in a rush. “I need you, Chakotay, and I don’t want to do this alone.”

She gazes at him apprehensively and watches his expression change as he realises what she means. What she’s really asking him.

“I keep telling you, you’re not alone,” he answers her slowly, a smile blooming on his face.

Relief and joy trigger her own breathless laugh in response. “Yes, you do.”

“I’m glad you’re finally listening.”

The hand on her shoulder is warm, his thumb stroking the line of her collarbone. Her skin starts to tingle.

“A good captain should always listen to her first officer.” Her breath catches slightly as one hand slides up to frame her face, the other alighting on her hip. “And to her best friend.”

“Is that what we are?” he asks, his gaze locked on hers. “Friends?”

“Among other things.”

She lifts a hand to his cheek. He presses his mouth to her palm and the movement of his lips against her fingers makes her shiver.

“Does one of those other things mean I get to kiss you again?”

“Oh, I hope so,” she hums, her body aligning with his. “In fact I hope there’ll be a whole lot more than ki-”

He swallows the rest of her sentence as his lips lock onto hers.

This kiss is nothing like last night’s wrestle for dominance. Chakotay’s fingers are spread across her cheekbone and jaw, his touch feather-light but masterful as he sips at her mouth, nudges her lips to part for him, licks into her. His other hand curves over her hip, holding her against him. She can feel the thundering of his heart as her palm settles on his chest, feel his hard length against her belly, and a moan bubbles up in her throat.

This is the first kiss they were always meant to have.

She tugs at the ties to his robe.

Chakotay tears his mouth from hers, breathing hard. “We should slow down.”

“I don’t want to slow down.” She weaves her fingers into his hair, forcing his burning gaze to hers. “I want you now.”

“The potluck –”

“Will wait. I can’t.”

He glances away from her, clearly striving for the last of his control. “I want to do this right, Kathryn … You deserve more than a quick fuck.”

“But that sounds exactly right, Chakotay,” she purrs. “You can romance me later.”

She eases her hand inside his pants, circling him firmly, and he groans, his cock leaping against her palm. “Kathryn…”

“Please Chakotay.” Tiptoeing up to take his earlobe lightly between her teeth, she pitches her voice low and throaty. “I need it hard and I need it now.”

He makes a feral noise and grabs her ass in both hands, yanking her high up his body, her feet leaving the ground as he propels them both toward the nearest vertical surface. Her back slams against a bulkhead and she gasps, arms and legs winding around him of their own accord. Chakotay shoves a hand under her bottom to clasp her to him, the weight of his upper body leaning into hers holding her steady as he pulls her underwear to one side and tests her readiness with one finger.

“You’re soaking,” he growls in approval as she whimpers and squirms on his stroking fingers. Chakotay fumbles himself out of his pants, the fat head of his penis pressing into her. “Are you sure you want it like this?”

Kathryn twists her hips, trying to force him inside her. “Would you stop talking and fuck me?”

He punctuates her demand by surging into her with a groan, and she cries out in mingled shock and lust, and no small measure of pain. Chakotay pulls back immediately. “Kathryn, I’m sorry, I –”

“Don’t stop,” she grates at him, fingers digging harshly into the bunched muscles of his shoulders, “don’t you dare stop,” so he pushes back inside her again, slow this time, and out again and in, building an easy rhythm until her thighs are trembling and her passage slick and her every gasping breath ends in a shuddering moan.

Her vision is blurring, her awareness tunnelling down to the increasing movement of his cock stroking into her, the solid strength of his arm around her. She clutches him close as the pleasure swells steadily, driving out everything but the gathering storm-clouds of her climax.

His breath is harsh on her neck, the friction of his chest rubbing against her nipples through dress and bra, the feelings escalating in intensity as he thrusts harder, faster. She is so close her moans have become whimpers. And then he changes his angle and drives into her, hips twisting, pelvis rubbing perfectly against hers, and she convulses, her voice cracking on an unintelligible shout that could have been a curse or a plea to a deity or his name.

Waves of sensation wash over her, leaving her shaking uncontrollably and trying to drag air into her tortured lungs. Before the sparks have even begun to dissipate, Chakotay groans in her ear as he empties inside her. She can feel him shuddering, straining to keep them both upright as his orgasm rolls over him, feels the moment he gives in.

They land on the carpet in a tangle of limbs; she slumps against the wall, arms slung limply around his shoulders. She is wrung-out and still shaking from the force of her climax when he shifts to pull her closer and she yelps in pain.

“What?” he asks her frantically, holding her by the shoulders as he visually scans her. “Did I hurt you?”

“No … well, only in a good way,” she admits, wincing at the twinge of her inner thighs.

He looks alarmed. She brings her hands hastily to his face, making him look at her.

“Stop that,” she says firmly, “whatever you’re berating yourself for. I am fine, Chakotay. I asked for this – I begged for it. I wanted it.” She bites her lower lip on a smile. “And in about an hour I’ll want it again, if that’s all right with you.”

Relief washes into his eyes.

He breathes in deep and nods, gathering her carefully against him. “We should probably talk,” he presses his cheek to her hair.

“We should,” she agrees, eyes closing as she turns her face against his chest. His pulse beats in his throat – warm, steady, dependable – and she wishes they could stay like this indefinitely, aches and pains be damned. “Later.”

“Later,” Chakotay agrees, tilting her chin up with one finger. She feels the warm wash of his breath against her lips as he dips his head to kiss her – softly, leisurely – and she sighs happily, leaning into the solid strength of his arms around her.

“I love you,” she murmurs.

He pulls back, a smile breaking over his face like a sunrise.

She shrugs, the corner of her mouth quirking. “I may have forgotten to mention that.”

“So this, what just happened,” he hesitates, thumb stroking her cheekbone, “this isn’t just because you’re tired of being alone?”

“No,” she says, dismayed – is she really so out of practice with honesty, so out of touch with him? – “Chakotay, I didn’t come here so you could – God. No. This isn’t just physical. You mean everything to me. I don’t ever want you to think –”

He stops her with a kiss that curls her toes and sends prickles along her spine, and when he finally eases back she feels dazed. She opens her eyes slowly to find him watching her, hiding nothing.

“I love you, too,” he says, the words as natural on his lips as though he’s been telling her so every day.

Which, she supposes, he has.

They grin at each other until a cramp in her thigh, and a twinge in his knee, remind them simultaneously that neither of them is a teenager anymore. Chakotay uses the bulkhead to push to his feet then helps Kathryn upright, keeping hold of her hands as she straightens.

“We should go to the potluck,” she sighs regretfully.

“We should.”

She glances down at the creases in her dress. “I’ll have to change.”

“Me too.” He hesitates. “Uniforms?”

Kathryn thinks about it and shakes her head no. “I don’t think the crew needs to see a command team tonight. We should go as friends.”

“Friends?” He raises one eyebrow, a dimple appearing.

“As far as the crew is concerned, yes – friends,” she smirks back at him. “Like we used to be.”

“Then I’ll escort you,” he decides.

“I was hoping you’d say that.” She squeezes his hand. “We don’t have to stay long – just enough to put in an appearance.”

“And after, I’ll invite you back for a nightcap.”

“And I’ll accept.”

“Will you stay?” Chakotay’s fingers fold into hers.

“Tonight, or forever?” she asks lightly, but when his eyes meet hers they’re dark and serious.

“Either,” he says. “Both.”

She doesn’t hesitate. “Yes.”

He bends to kiss her again, but they’re both smiling so hard it’s difficult and in the end she laughs and shoves playfully at his chest.

“Get dressed, Commander,” she moves for the door, an extra swing to her hips. “I’ll expect you to pick me up in ten minutes.”

“Kathryn,” he calls as the door opens, spilling light into his quarters.

“Yes?”

“This time, don’t forget the croutons.”

© 2021 by Mia Cooper