Truth or Dare
Summary: She was the one who'd started it.
Characters: 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: Set just after Scientific Method.
She was the one who’d started it.
The alien experiments had left many of the crew on edge, and people were complaining of nightmares and jumping at shadows. Chakotay, as the unofficial ship’s counsellor, was bearing the brunt of it and she could see he was wearing thin.
He was slumped on her couch, exhaustion written in every line of his body, his post-dinner cup of tea listing dangerously to the left as he struggled to keep his eyes open. Watching him surreptitiously, Kathryn was caught off guard by a strong wave of affection for him, an emotion she usually tried to keep in check and allowed herself to express only rarely.
It made her shift in her seat, her action startling him, and his tea sloshed onto the carpet. “Shit,” he blurted, then sent her a sheepish glance. “Sorry, Kathryn.”
The distraction had given her a chance to recover her composure. “It’s not as though I’ve never heard a curse word before, Chakotay.”
“Well, I’m sorry about your carpet then.” He gave her a tired grin as he hauled himself to his feet. “I’ll just –”
“Sit down, I’ll sort it out.” She rose, placing a gentle hand on his arm. “In fact, maybe we should call it a night. You look beat.”
“I still have to approve the reports from Engineering and Stellar Cartography,” he protested. “We collected so much data from that trip through the binary pulsar –”
“Not to mention blew out so many systems,” she interjected ruefully, going to the replicator for a sponge.
“There’s a bright side to everything,” he smiled. “Jenny Delaney has a spring in her step I haven’t seen since she broke up with Ensign Baytart. She even gave up her holodeck time to run analyses on the pulsar radiation readings.”
Kathryn raised an eyebrow at him from her position on the floor, scrubbing at the tea stain. “You really are a silver lining kind of guy, aren’t you?”
“Well,” she stood, carefully carrying the sponge back to the replicator, “as your captain, I’m officially ordering you to take the night off. Go to bed, Chakotay.”
“I’m fine,” he demurred, returning to the couch and picking up the PADD he’d left on the coffee table.
“Really, Captain. It’s only 2100. If I went to bed now I’d only lie there staring at the ceiling. I’m okay.”
“You’re also stubborn.” Relenting, she sat beside him. “Tell you what. Why don’t we play hooky on the reports for tonight? Let’s just talk.” She started pulling the pins from her hair, sighing in relief as she finger-combed its length. “Maybe that will help you relax enough to turn in early.”
“Relax,” he muttered, his gaze wandering over her and quickly averting. “Sure.”
“So,” she kicked off her boots and curled her feet under her, one elbow on the back of the couch, “what shall we talk about?”
She watched a sly grin flirt with the corners of his mouth.
“I was just thinking about Tuvok calling you reckless.”
She snorted. “He doesn’t know the half of it.”
“Really?” He perked up, intrigued. “You’ve always been a daredevil?”
“Tell me,” he invited, “what rash deeds did the young Kathryn Janeway get up to? Climbing the highest trees? Breaking the speed limit in her hovercar? Sneaking out of windows to meet boys?”
“How about all of the above?” Her eyes were sparkling. “That was all before I got to the Academy, of course.”
“Oh, I’ll bet you didn’t stop there,” he grinned. “I was a cadet once too, remember? So tell me – what’s the wildest thing you did at the Academy?”
“Oh, that’s not fair,” she laughed. “If you want me to tell you all my embarrassing secrets you’re going to have to pony up, too.”
“You’re on.” He sat up straighter, all traces of tiredness gone. “So how do we play this? You first, then me, and we decide which of us was more … adventurous?”
“I have a better idea.” She sipped from her coffee cup to hide the smile which turned briefly into a grimace, realising the coffee had gone cold. Placing the cup on the table, she said, “Ask me a question. If I refuse to answer, you call a forfeit.”
“Truth or dare?” Chakotay’s dimples appeared. “Don’t start something you won’t win, Kathryn.”
“Oh, a challenge, Chakotay?” She ignored the small frisson of unease that whispered what a bad idea this could turn out to be. “You’re on. Wait –” She leapt to her feet and went to the cabinet, returning with a bottle of wine and two glasses. “Okay, you go first,” she said when she’d poured for them both.
“All right,” he said slowly, “but I have a stipulation. If you refuse to answer you can’t also weasel out of the dare I set for you.”
“No calling captain’s prerogative, huh?” Not-so-deep down she knew she shouldn’t be doing this, but maybe flying the ship between a pair of pulsars had put a fire in her belly. “Go right ahead.”
“Well, since you brought it up,” he said, “a few years back I asked you a question and you declined to answer on the grounds that a captain can keep certain things to herself. So I’m asking you again. If our situations had been reversed – if Voyager had been destroyed at the Caretaker’s array –”
She watched him moisten his lips.
“– would you have served under me?”
Kathryn knew he was easing her into this, but she still feigned reluctance, glancing down and biting her lip. “Back then, I would have agreed to it out of necessity,” she said eventually, “but I’d probably have made your life hell. Knowing you as I do now…” she glanced up at him under her lashes.
“Yes?” he leaned forward.
She grinned. “I’d still be making your life hell.”
He laughed out loud. “I don’t doubt it. Okay, your turn. Ask me.”
She thought for a moment. Should she or shouldn’t she?
“Just ask whatever it is you’re dying to ask, Kathryn.”
“Okay.” She met his eye. “When you were in the Maquis, did you and B’Elanna ever ..?”
He choked on a sip of wine. “Kathryn! No. Never.” His eyes narrowed. “What makes you ask that?”
“I don’t know,” she evaded, “I guess when you were first on board, I picked up some kind of … undercurrent between the two of you.”
He tugged at his ear. “She may have had a slight crush at one point, but I’ve always thought of her as my little sister.”
“Ah.” She sipped her wine, ignoring the pleased feeling his words had invoked.
“While we’re on the subject,” Chakotay asked too casually, “what about you and Paris?”
Her eyes went wide. “What?”
“Well, speaking of undercurrents –”
“Unless you count mating while temporarily hyper-evolved, no.”
“I did always wonder why he chose you to abduct.”
“You’ll have to ask him,” she shot back tartly. “I believe it’s my turn.”
He was a little too smug for her liking. She wanted to wipe that smirk off his face.
“How many times have you had your heart broken?”
That did it. Chakotay sat back and sipped at his wine. “A few,” he grudgingly replied.
“That’s a deflective answer, Commander,” she said, brazening it out to hide that squirming feeling of guilt at causing him pain.
“You want details?” He gave her a guarded look. At her nod, he went on, “Well, there was a girl on my homeworld who dumped me for my cousin, and one at the Academy –”
“No.” He gave her a faint smile. “We were friends with benefits. No, she was an astrophysics major named Nella Daren.” The smile broadened. “Guess I’m just attracted to scientists.”
Kathryn squashed the feeling of pleasure at the indirect compliment … at least, she assumed it was a compliment. “Go on, then.”
He shrugged awkwardly. “One other, I guess.”
She had to know. “Seska?”
“No,” he snorted. “I never loved her.”
He put down his wine. “Are you sure you want to know, Kathryn?”
Oh God, she thought suddenly, it’s Riley Frazier. And suddenly she really wasn’t sure she wanted to know, but she nodded jerkily, curiosity winning out.
“The other one,” Chakotay said slowly, dark eyes on hers, “breaks my heart every day.”
A crease formed between her eyebrows as he gazed at her. It took her longer than it should have to understand what he was telling her, but when she did, her breath stuttered in her throat.
“Chakotay, I –”
“My turn,” he interrupted, then paused to drink the last of the wine in his glass. When he looked up again his eyes held a hint of challenge.
“How many times have you been in love?”
Her mouth dropped open. “I – I don’t know. How do you define love?”
Chakotay looked thoughtful, placing his empty glass on the coffee table. “I’m not sure I can define it for you, Kathryn. For me, it’s when the other person is always in your thoughts to some degree. They’re the first person you want to talk to when something happens, or when nothing happens. You want to protect them, support them, find out everything there is to know about them, and just thinking about them makes you smile.” He paused, adding softly, “And you’d give anything just to hold them in your arms.”
Kathryn’s throat tightened.
“How many times have you felt that, Kathryn?”
“Not many,” she whispered.
He waited for her to elaborate.
“I suppose … well, obviously Mark. And there was Justin.”
“My first fiancé.” His eyes went wide in surprise, and she glanced down at her hands. “I’ll tell you about him someday. But not tonight.”
“Okay,” he said softly, then after a pause, “Has there been anyone else?”
“Maybe,” she said, her voice equally quiet. ”But it … it’s difficult to think about.”
She could see he wanted to press, but he smiled instead. “Your turn.”
Kathryn racked her brain. There were so many things she was dying to ask him, and every last one of them was dangerous. In desperation, she blurted, “When were you the happiest you’ve ever been?”
She expected him to tell her a story from his childhood, before adolescence had brought him discontent, but instead he gave her a gentle smile. “You already know the answer to that question, Kathryn.”
And he reached over and took her hand, raising it so that their palms were pressed together and their fingers intertwined.
She told herself that captains didn’t cry, and that Kathryn couldn’t afford to. It took an enormous effort but she managed to force the tears back before they could more than dampen her lashes.
“It’s your turn.” Her voice was slightly hoarse. She couldn’t bring herself to disentangle their hands.
It was a mistake, she realised as his thumb stroked gently over hers. She knew he felt her shiver.
“If we were on the Val Jean now,” he said slowly, “if I was your captain and you were serving under me … would our relationship be different?” He raised his eyes to hers. “Would we be closer?”
Her heart kicked up and she swallowed against her dry throat. She couldn’t do this.
“I… can’t possibly answer that, Chakotay.”
One dimple appeared. “Are you forfeiting, Captain?”
The slow movement of his thumb was distracting her. “I suppose… yes, I am.” Kathryn raised her wine glass to her lips and found to her dismay that it was empty. It scraped discordantly as she shoved it onto the glass coffee table and raised her chin. “Name your dare.”
He studied her intently and she forced herself to hold his gaze. Then, leaning toward her ever so slightly, he said, “I dare you to act on impulse. Right now. Just do what your instincts are telling you to do without second-guessing yourself.”
She knew he read in her eyes exactly what impulse raced through her mind as he was speaking. Her stomach tightened, her lips parted. Her gaze dropped to his mouth.
God, I want him.
He dipped his head a little closer.
“Do it,” he whispered, and she felt the puff of his breath against her lips.
Kathryn closed her eyes, craned her neck and fitted her mouth to his.
She’d intended, if she’d had any rational thoughts about this at all, to kiss him briefly, softly, then draw back and make a joke about it. But the instant her lips touched his, all thought – rational or otherwise – flew out the viewport. Her lips parted on a sigh that drew perilously close to a moan, and in response the tip of his tongue slid across her lower lip. She opened up to him like a flower, her free hand winding around his neck and threading into his hair as she felt herself pressing closer, shifting on the seat until the angle became too awkward and she had to let go of his hand.
As their fingers untangled he raised both hands to her face, holding her carefully as his mouth sipped insistently at hers. She whimpered, her body starting up a fine tremor, and at the sound he murmured something that could have been her name. But she didn’t want him to speak, she just wanted to feel, and so she kissed him harder, her tongue slipping into his mouth, and closed the space between them.
In the instant before she pushed her upper body against his chest and ground her hips down onto his, his dare flickered briefly through her mind, and she wondered if her recklessness was a residual effect of the Srivani experiments, or if his half-teasing challenge had been the only excuse she needed. But then she heard him moan, low in his throat, and his hands moved from her face and spread across her back to hold her close, and all she could do was drown in him.
It was clear that he’d been holding back until the moment she pushed herself onto his lap. She felt him tremble, felt the firming grip of his hands on her where before his touch had been almost reverent. The feel of him between her thighs was exquisite and she had to break their kiss to gasp for breath. His hand slid lower on her back, urging her closer, and as her head tipped back he fastened his lips on her throat. The moan that escaped her then left him in no doubt of her need.
From there it happened quickly. She tugged at his jacket until it fell to the floor and pushed her hands up under his turtleneck, delighting in the warmth of his skin, as he grappled with the zip on her pants. Separating from him – even if only to wrestle the rest of her clothing away – was torment. By the time he had his shirt off she couldn’t wait any longer. She climbed back onto him and took him in her hands, desperate to feel him inside her, but he stopped her with firm hands on her hips.
“Kathryn,” he gasped, “look at me.”
She did, and saw his eyes were almost radiant and fixed on hers. The depth of feeling she saw in them should have frightened her, but instead it only made her more impatient. He felt it in the cant of her hips and shook his head.
“Slowly,” he pleaded.
He’s right, she thought, we’ve waited too long to rush it now.
So she held herself above him until he loosened his grip, and then she leaned forward, her hair falling around them as she kissed him and sank down onto him, inch by gradual, glorious inch.
When he was buried inside her as deep as he could go she heard him exhale raggedly, and had to choke back the sob that welled in her throat.
“Finally,” he whispered, his hands framing her face.
She wanted to stay in the moment forever. But her body had other demands, and soon they were moving together and her moans and his sighs were echoing in her silent quarters. She felt the coil tightening, the slick friction of their bodies, the rasp of breath in her lungs. It seemed as though forever passed in a moment before he was gasping her name and clutching her close, and she pressed her face into his neck as her body shook and spasmed around him.
When the room had reformed around her she lifted her head and saw him watching her, eyes dark with trepidation. She knew he was waiting for her to push him away. She wondered what he would do if she did. Would their friendship die? Would they be unable to command together? Would he leave the ship?
It didn’t matter. She’d made her choice. She touched his lightly-stubbled jaw and let her lips drift over his own.
“Stay with me.”
“You know,” he said later, as she lay draped over him in her quiet bed, his hand smoothing over the bare curve of her back, “I would have let you off the dare.”
“I know.” She turned her head to look up at him, revelling in the feel of his broad chest under her cheek.
He gazed down at her questioningly and she smiled, tracing the line of his jaw with her fingertip.
“I didn’t want you to let me out of it, Chakotay,” she murmured. “The dare was just an excuse. It was time for the truth between us.”
“So this wasn’t just an impulse?”
“No.” Raising herself up, she looked at him seriously. “But this may be one of the most reckless decisions I’ve ever made. Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“Kathryn.” He grinned at her. “If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s how I feel about you.”
“Good,” she whispered, leaning in to brush her lips against his, “then I dare you to show me.”