Written in the Stars
Summary: Sometimes, if you’re very, very good, you get exactly what you want for your birthday.
Characters: Chakotay, Janeway, Paris, Torres
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS owns the characters and the ship, but they wouldn't want this hot mess.
Notes: Written for Robert Beltran's birthday.
(The passage Janeway reads aloud from the naughty fanfic may be familiar to those of you who’ve read my entire back catalogue, which I’m sure is all of you. It also offers a clue to the identity of the erotica author. I’m so meta I’m metal.)
November 19, 2376 ~ 0745 hours
Your home is usually your refuge from the world, but recent events could be causing some problems in that area. If the problems are more in the realm of emotions or relationship troubles, today you need to start a conversation about them.
“What are you reading?”
Chakotay’s thumb had punched the padd’s OFF button before Kathryn had finished her sentence. “Nothing,” he said, too quickly. He thought about casually slipping the padd down between the couch cushions, or tossing it across the room, but calculating the proper trajectory to avoid hitting any of Kathryn’s ornaments while simultaneously distracting her from her curiosity long enough to admire his aim seemed… improbable.
Kathryn sipped her coffee and watched him from the other side of her ready room couch, eyebrows raised. “Nothing, Chakotay?” she drawled.
“Nope. Not a thing. Nothing to see here.” If he could have whistled a nonchalant tune, he would have.
“Well, that’s good,” Kathryn said, apparently losing interest. “From the rumours that have been going around lately I thought it might have been – oh,” she cut herself off, glancing up. “Never mind.”
Chakotay opened his mouth, decided she was goading him, and shut it again with a guileless smile. “Thanks for the coffee,” he commented, though he nearly retracted the sentiment as soon as he drank some.
Kathryn had been experimenting with artificial sweetener lately. It didn’t seem to matter how many times he explained to her that the replicator could make sugar-free sugar substitute that actually tasted like sugar, instead of the chemical tang of the Not-Sugar she insisted on serving him.
Then again, he was just happy when her culinary efforts didn’t land him in sickbay; a little puckering of the mouth lining seemed a small price to pay.
“Well,” Kathryn sighed, draining her coffee, “I guess we’d better get moving.”
She stood, stretching the kinks out of her back.
“Bad night’s sleep?” he asked, wincing in sympathy as her spine crackled and popped.
“Oh, what I wouldn’t give for one of your massages right now, Chakotay.” Kathryn dug her fingers into her scalp, mussing her hair until it fell in soft disarray around her jawline.
Chakotay was instantly blindsided by a memory of the last time he’d seen her with her hair tousled around her face like that. She’d been poised above him, her smile wicked and her body bare. He’d been stretched out under her, and with the one tiny corner of his brain that wasn’t focused on the feel of her skin under his hands as she rode him, he was wondering what on earth he’d done to deserve this birthday gift, and how he could make sure he did it every day for the rest of his life.
Maybe it was the combination of a delicious dinner (he’d cooked; his birthday present to himself), two bottles of Bajoran spring wine from the captain’s private stash, and the warmth of his hands on her sore, strained neck, soothing her aches in just the right way. Maybe she was feeling particularly lonely. Maybe it was just that he’d made her laugh, and she had turned towards him and put her hand on his chest, and the wine had emboldened him to kiss her lightly on the lips, and then …
That had been one whole year ago now. A year to the day, in fact.
He’d woken the next morning to a cold, lonely bed, and reported for bridge duty to find a buttoned-up captain with not a hair out of place. She’d acted as though that night had never happened, stonewalling him when he tried to talk to her about it, and eventually he’d come to accept that for her, their night together had been a mistake she was determined never to repeat.
But he had never stopped hoping she’d change her mind.
“Come on, Commander,” Kathryn chided, breaking into his reverie. “Up and at ’em.”
Chakotay rose, holding the padd casually in front of him, and stood back to let the captain pass.
“Kathryn?” he asked just before she reached the door.
“Is there anything you’d like to say to me?” he asked hopefully.
“What? No, I don’t think so,” she frowned. “Why?”
“Well, I was hoping you’d join me for dinner tonight. 1900 hours in my cabin?”
“Special occasion?” she asked lightly.
Chakotay’s shoulders slumped fractionally, but he mustered up a smile. “Nothing important,” he managed. “Just dinner.”
“I’d love to,” she responded, already turning to breeze through the doors.
“Captain on the bridge,” Harry announced, and another ordinary day began on the starship Voyager.
Today, Mars forms a challenging aspect to Jupiter, which can excite and enthuse you. However, try to tame impulses to overshoot, promise too much, or defend something too vigorously.
The first year, she had overheard B’Elanna wishing him a happy birthday over breakfast in the mess hall. She’d invited him to dinner that night; a dinner which had culminated in a friendly hug. And two days clutching the toilet from food poisoning, yes, but he mostly remembered the hug.
The second year they’d been on New Earth. That was the first time he’d rubbed the kinks out of her neck, and the first time she’d bolted as soon as his touch had stopped being purely therapeutic and become something a little more.
Year three brought an impromptu party on the holodeck, at which she’d toasted his health and then stumbled with him back to her cabin, where they’d stretched out on the couch with another bottle of wine. She’d fallen asleep on his shoulder that night. He’d been loath to wake her, but it had been worth it: she’d kissed him rather drunkenly on the cheek as she saw him to the door.
By the fourth year she’d graduated to a kiss on the lips. He’d been full of hope that it heralded a new beginning for them, coming as it did just a few months after her letter from Mark, but the next day she had fumbled her way through a stilted apology. So he’d backed off, figuring she needed time. That was something they had in abundance, he pep-talked himself. She’d come to him when she was ready.
He thought she was ready the following year, when the celestial alignment of the dinner and the wine and the backrub and his birthday seemed to give her license to indulge her desires at last. But the following day, his hopes had been crushed again.
In rare, wistful moments he wondered if he’d been a disappointment to her that night. Had he failed to satisfy her? He didn’t think so – if her gasps and shivers at the time had been any indication – but perhaps, with the distance of morning, she’d decided that their night together hadn't been good enough to make up for breaching Starfleet protocol six ways to Sunday.
Chakotay shifted in his chair, growing uncomfortable at the memories of that night which insisted on playing through his mind.
He’d been dreaming ever since of arguing for a change in protocol. Dreaming of how he would catalogue her cues, verbal and physical, if she’d only let him touch her again. Of how he’d be content just to kiss her for hours, nothing more; but if she wanted more … well, he wouldn’t leave her wanting.
If only she’d give him another chance.
“… sir? Are you okay?”
“What?” Chakotay’s attention snapped back to the helm, where Tom Paris had half-turned on his chair and was watching him quizzically.
“Didn’t you hear the captain page you to the ready room?”
Chakotay coughed. “Of course I did. Tuvok, the bridge is yours.”
He moved his padd in front of his trousers again, self-consciously half-crab-walking toward the ready room. Judging by the faint snicker from Ops, his attempt to hide his, er, excitement, had failed.
Damn it, Kathryn, he thought sullenly. Even when you’re not here, you’re a distraction.
“Commander.” The object of his attention was shuffling through the padds littering her desk and glanced up as he entered the ready room, then frowned, stilling her movements. “Is that the padd I saw you with this morning?”
Chakotay clasped his hands over the padd protectively. “I don’t know… is it?”
Kathryn raised an eyebrow. “There’s no need to get defensive, Commander.”
She cocked her head and studied him, apparently coming to some conclusion; putting down the coffee in her hand, she smiled as she walked toward him.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, Chakotay,” she said sweetly. “Having a creative outlet is a positive thing.”
Chakotay eyed her in suspicion. “I’m not sure what you’re referring to, Captain.”
“Oh, of course not,” she said archly. “We wouldn’t want to let the secret out, would we?”
“No, I mean…” he frowned. “Kathryn, I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.”
She stopped, searching his eyes. “You don’t?”
Kathryn moved even closer and Chakotay felt his breathing begin to quicken. Her hand rose, hovered above his chest … and then darted downward to snatch the padd from his lax fingers.
But he was too quick for her: his hand tightened around the padd and he danced backward, avoiding her as she stalked toward him.
“Why are you hiding it from me?” she demanded, stopping and putting her hands on her hips. Hurt coloured her tone. “Do you really think I’d judge you?”
“I can explain,” he stammered helplessly.
“Don’t bother.” She ran a hand through her hair, dishevelling it, and Chakotay swallowed hard. “Let’s just forget about it.”
But she turned her back on him, striding to the replicator to punch in her standing coffee order without offering him one.
Chakotay sighed. “Did you call me in here for something, Captain?”
She tightened her lips. “Yes. In fact, I was going to ask you to look into something for me, but on second thought I’ll assign this task to Tuvok. He’s better suited for it.”
“If there’s anything I can do for you –”
“No, thank you.” She sat back down at her desk, not looking at him. “Send Tuvok in, please. Dismissed.”
Chakotay trudged back out onto the bridge, wondering how he’d managed to screw up so badly and still not have a clue what he’d done wrong.
Deep inside, don't you have an urge to breathe new spirit into your love life? The moon in Aries is stirring up intimate emotions and the need for connection with someone who’s caught your eye. Of course, some things are more easily said than done.
“Come,” Kathryn called at his chime, sounding distracted.
“I have the system status updates you requested, Captain,” Chakotay said, striding in and handing her a padd.
“Thanks,” she mumbled, accepting it and immediately placing it to one side.
She was frowning at her computer screen and had clearly been raking a hand through her hair; his fingers twitched, longing to bury themselves in her tousled tresses.
He fixed his gaze resolutely on her face and not her softly dishevelled hair, and noticed she was scowling, concentrating intently on whatever was on her screen.
“Something I can help you with?” Chakotay asked, moving around her desk.
“No,” she yelped, slamming a hand on the console to shut off her screen. “It’s nothing.”
His eyebrows rose. “If it’s classified, Kathryn, you only have to say so.”
“It’s not classified,” she muttered. “It’s just … private.”
He couldn’t help smiling. She was planning something for his birthday, no doubt. And he’d thought she had forgotten! He should have known Kathryn never forgot anything.
“So,” Chakotay said casually, leaning on the edge of her desk, “I thought I’d open a bottle of that semillon you like tonight.”
“What?” She turned to wrinkle her nose at him.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Chakotay! I forgot.”
So much for her steel-trap memory, he thought, deflated. “You can still make it, can’t you?”
“Yes, of course, but could we make it a little later? Say, 1930? There’s something I need to take care of first.”
“Sure.” Chakotay hesitated, then forged ahead; if he couldn’t push his luck on his birthday, when could he? “No uniforms, okay?”
She gave him the side-eye, but nodded. “I’ll see you then.”
He gave her his best dimpled smile and turned to leave.
He turned back.
Kathryn was biting her lip. “If there was something you didn’t want to tell anyone,” she got up and made her way slowly toward him, “something you wanted to keep private…”
She was close to him now, looking up into his eyes. “Well, I just want you to know that there’s no need to hide it from me. You can tell me anything… I hope you know that.”
Chakotay opened his mouth to remind her that it was, in fact, his birthday … and then thought better of it.
What if she wasn’t teasing him, and she really had forgotten?
What if she wanted to forget, because reminding her of last year’s birthday would remind her of something she regretted?
He shut his mouth.
“Chakotay?” Her eyes had turned suspicious.
“There’s nothing to tell, Captain,” he smiled at her blandly. “You already know all my secrets.”
Including the fact that I’m tragically, eternally in love with you, he thought morosely as he exited onto the bridge.
She could hardly be unaware of that. After all, he’d told her so, right after the first time they’d come together the night of his last birthday. And the second time, and he was pretty sure he’d said it the third time too.
She hadn't said it back. But he never stopped hoping that someday, she would.
You may not be the most expressive member of the zodiac but you have your moments, and today you will let someone know just how much they mean to you.
The message light on his console was flashing when Chakotay rushed into his quarters, long after his shift had officially finished. But that was life on Voyager: the work day rarely ended just because the clock said it was over.
He yanked off his uniform, tossing the pieces of it into the refresher unit on his way to the shower. Kathryn would be here in forty minutes, provided she hadn't been delayed doing whatever it was she’d said she had to do, and he had to clear away the clutter from his dining table, cook something she’d probably eat two bites of, and find something to wear that said relaxed (but not careless), attractive (but not obvious), and accessible (but not desperate), yet professional (should she have second thoughts and appear in her uniform after all). Fortunately, his wardrobe was so limited he was left with a simple choice: comfortable jeans and soft cotton shirt, leather pants he wasn’t sure would still fit, or uniform.
Chakotay showered in record time, pulled on the jeans and shirt, and was about to rush out to start preparing the meal when he caught sight of his bed. The covers were half-knocked to the floor; he’d had a restless night’s sleep, he remembered, and had woken late, leaving himself no time to tidy up before he started his shift.
Trying not to give into fantasies of signs and portents or fears of tempting fate any more than he already had today, Chakotay hastily smoothed the bedcovers and plumped the pillows, then firmly shut his bedroom door.
He was in the swing of stirring, seasoning and tasting his bouillabaisse when the chime sounded at his door and he swore under his breath: if that was Kathryn, she was fifteen minutes early and had completely thrown him off his stride. Wiping his hands quickly on a towel, he ducked to check his appearance in the reflective bottom of a skillet, rubbed tomato sauce off his cheek and called, “Enter.”
In strode B’Elanna with a face like thunder.
“Chakotay, you won’t believe what –”
“Stop,” he said sharply. “B’Elanna, whatever Tom’s done now, I’m sorry but you’ll have to find another sparring partner to work out your frustrations with. I’ve got a da- uh, a guest coming for dinner.”
“I’m not here about Tom,” B’Elanna snapped. “I’m here because the captain’s on the warpath and I have no idea why.”
He frowned. “Did you misalign the warp coils?”
“As if,” she snorted. “No, it’s nothing to do with the ship. But when she was down in engineering this afternoon she was like a targ on hot coals. And she was carrying this padd everywhere and wouldn’t let it go. I thought it was a system report so I went to take it from her, and she almost ripped my face off. Told me to get my hands off it, then followed me around for the next ten minutes asking weird questions.”
“Well, first she asked if I’d kept a diary as a girl, or if I’d ever had any literary aspirations.” B’Elanna shook her head. “Then she wanted to know if I’d moved up from reading Klingon romance novels to writing them. Me! Writing a book! Can you imagine?”
“Sounds like an unusual question,” Chakotay answered diplomatically. He started steering B’Elanna toward the door. “I appreciate you giving me a head’s up, but I’m really short on time, so if there’s nothing else –”
B’Elanna dug her heels into the carpet and turned to squint at him. “The captain isn’t the only one who’s been acting weird today,” she pointed out. “Tom said you were completely vague on the bridge. And you’ve been carrying a padd around all day, too. What’s going on, Chakotay?”
“Nothing,” he squeaked, snagging the aforementioned padd from the small table beside the door and tucking it hastily under his arm. “Absolutely nothing at all.”
“Right,” B’Elanna drawled. “Tell me, Chakotay, did you keep a diary as a girl?”
“Ha ha ha,” he forced out. “No. Now, will you please go? Ka- uh, my guest is due any minute now.”
“Fine,” she muttered as he pushed her out into the corridor. “But I’ll get to the bottom of this. And if I don’t, Tom will.”
Chakotay shut the door in her face.
Be cautious while eating fish.
She was late.
Chakotay checked his reflection, straightened the linen tablecloth, blew out the candles and immediately lit them again, placed a vase of exotic Delta quadrant blooms in the table’s centre then moved it back to the coffee table, glanced in the mirror again… And finally, the door chimed.
“Come in,” he called hastily.
Kathryn stepped inside. She wasn’t in uniform, but she was wearing a tunic buttoned up to the neck and covering every inch of skin except her face and hands, one of which was clutching a padd.
“Hi,” Chakotay said.
“Hi.” Her smile was tentative as she brought her other hand from behind her back. In it was a small, brightly-wrapped box, which she thrust toward him. “Happy birthday, Chakotay.”
“I thought you’d forgotten,” he admitted, grin widening. He accepted the gift. “What’s this?”
“Well, this is the part where you’re supposed to open it, rather than me telling you and spoiling the surprise.”
He beamed at her and unwrapped the box. Inside was a padd and stylus.
Looking up, he saw that Kathryn was watching him expectantly.
“Uh, thanks,” he said, bewildered. “You shouldn’t have.”
“Turn it on,” she urged.
He switched on the padd and read the filename that appeared on the screen.
So You Want to be a Writer?
Chakotay frowned and scrolled down a little further.
The ultimate guide to writing fiction, including erotica!
“Kathryn,” he said, “what is this?”
Uncertainty crossed her face. “I just … you’re a hard man to buy for, Chakotay, and considering … well, uh, recent discovery … I, um…” she trailed off.
“It’s okay if you want to keep it private,” she assured him quickly. “I won’t say a word… I just thought…”
He blinked at her.
“Never mind,” she said. “Um, didn’t you mention something about wine? Please?”
“Sure,” he allowed her to divert him. “Take a seat and I’ll serve up.”
“Great!” she almost shouted. “I’m famished. Ooh, thanks,” and she grabbed the proffered glass of wine from his hand and gulped half of it.
Chakotay placed the gift padd with its baffling contents beside his plate and passed Kathryn a bowl of bouillabaisse. “There might be a bone or two in the fish,” he warned.
“Smells fantastic,” she complimented him, spooning rich tomato sauce into her mouth.
As they ate, he noticed that her gaze kept straying to the padd beside him then scanning the room. When her eyes focused on the padd he’d been carrying around all day long, lying on the little table beside the door, they widened in gratification.
“So that’s where it is,” she crowed in triumph. Then she leapt from her chair and snatched up the padd.
“Kathryn!” he inhaled, and promptly choked on a fishbone.
“I knew you were hiding it somewhere,” she began, then broke off as he continued to cough, his cheeks flushing red with exertion. “Chakotay, are you all right?”
He shook his head, gasping and gesturing wildly at his throat.
“Oh my God,” she exclaimed, and slapped her combadge. “Janeway to the transporter room. Beam the commander and me directly to sickbay…”
As communicative Mercury moves into your fifth house, which governs romance, you may find yourself suddenly on the same page as someone who means everything to you. You don’t believe in fairy tales, but sometimes you just have to put aside your natural cynicism and accept that magic happens.
“Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Kathryn, I’m fine. The Doctor beamed the fishbone out and I’m perfectly okay now. Shall we go back and finish our dinner?”
Chakotay held out his arm, and after a moment’s hesitation, she tucked her hand into his elbow and let him escort her through the sickbay doors and into the corridor. She kept stealing glances up at him, he noticed. He wasn’t sure if she was worried for him or had something else to say.
Her free hand still clutched a padd – the one she’d snatched from his quarters, he suddenly realised. His heart started thumping quickly. How could he get it back from her without making a scene?
Preoccupied with this dilemma, he didn’t notice her steps dragging as they approached his quarters, until she suddenly spoke.
“I forgive you.”
It was such a non sequitur that he stopped to stare at her.
“Okay,” he said slowly. “I’m not sure what I’ve done that requires forgiveness, but thanks.”
She had continued walking, and now threw him an incredulous glance over her shoulder as he caught up to where she waited at his door.
“The innocent act is cute, Commander,” she said as he tapped in his entry code, “but you can drop it now. I know.”
“You … know,” he repeated dumbly, and gestured for her to precede him inside. “Kathryn, I’m sorry if I’m particularly slow on the uptake tonight, but I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, come on, Chakotay.” She placed her hands on her hips. “This has you written all over it. No pun intended.”
He frowned deeply.
Exasperated, she slapped the padd flat against his chest. “Just admit it,” she exclaimed.
Blushing, Chakotay glanced down at the padd, which had switched itself on under her percussive treatment. Life might throw you a curve ball today, he read. Take a deep breath before you strike out.
He exhaled sharply. Okay… so she’d busted him reading the astrological predictions someone had anonymously sent him through the ship’s com-chat. But could she really be this upset over a silly horoscope? It was all a load of garbage anyway.
“Kathryn, this is just a bit of silly fun. You can’t blame the crew for inventing this sort of thing. You once said yourself that we’re a community, and communities need entertainment.”
She gaped, and two red spots of colour burned high on her cheekbones. “This,” she said icily, “is not exactly what I had in mind.”
“I don’t see what’s so wrong with it.”
“Then let me enlighten you,” she snapped.
And she marched over to the table, snatched up the padd she’d been jealously guarding all day long, and began to read aloud.
“Your imagination is prodigious, and you can’t deny that the captain has featured heavily in your fantasy life. Sometimes you imagine peeling her uniform away and revealing black lace, or shocking-pink silk, fine lean limbs and a creamy expanse of skin …”
The padd almost slipped from Chakotay’s suddenly nerveless fingers.
“Kathryn,” he croaked, “what in the hell are you reading to me?”
Her cheeks were flaming now, but she met his shock-widened eyes defiantly.
“I believe it’s called fanfiction,” she enunciated. “And I believe that you are the author.”
His jaw dropped.
“Aren’t you?” she pleaded, voice wavering.
Chakotay shook his head slowly.
“Oh God,” she whispered. “But then … why have you been carrying that padd around all day and not letting me read it?”
Wordlessly he handed her the padd in his hands and watched as she scanned it then gasped, covering her mouth.
“Oh, no,” she moaned. “But if it wasn’t you …”
“Who on this crew,” he began, “is writing love poetry to your creamy skin and black lace underwear?”
Kathryn dropped both padds to the floor and covered her face, groaning.
“Although,” Chakotay was beginning to recover his equilibrium now, “it’s not bad love poetry. It certainly whets the imagination.”
He wondered if Kathryn was wearing black lace beneath that schoolmarm tunic of hers. She’d certainly surprised him with her choice in lingerie on his last birthday. The one and only time he’d seen it.
“Is that why you gave me a guide to writing erotica for my birthday present?” he realised suddenly. “Because you thought I’d written this and my skills could use some work?”
She mumbled something incomprehensible. Suddenly emboldened, he edged closer to her and lowered his voice.
“Or was it meant as encouragement?” he murmured. “Were you hoping I’d write more?”
Kathryn peeked at him from behind her fingers.
Magic can happen, Chakotay reminded himself, and gathered his courage.
“Or maybe,” he continued, “maybe you were hoping reality would live up to my imagination.”
Her hands lowered from her face. “I think I have a pretty good idea about the reality of being with you.”
He almost lost his breath. For the first time since it happened, she was alluding to their single, unforgettable night together.
“And it’s not just pretty good,” she went on, her voice softening. “It’s very, very good.”
Chakotay wasn’t about to waste this opportunity. Taking her hand, he said, “Kathryn, I’ve spent the past year imagining just how good I’d be to you if you ever decided to be with me again. And I may not be a writer, but my imagination knows very few bounds.”
She swallowed visibly, then took one deliberate step toward him, bringing their bodies flush together.
“Put your money where your mouth is, Commander,” she husked.
He put his mouth where hers was instead.