Nemesis follow-up

Kathryn sat in her bed, reading one of the many padds she had to get through by tomorrow. But it was not easy to concentrate this evening. Her thoughts kept coming back to Chakotay and his experience with the Vori. She remembered the look in his eyes when he told her that he wished it was as easy to stop hating as it was to start. She hadn’t known what to say to him so she had let him go. She had been restless the rest of the day; all she really wanted to do was go to him, but she had no idea what to say to him, so she left him alone to ponder his experience.

She had expected him to have nightmares, but she was not prepared for the sounds of agony that traveled through the thin walls between their quarters. After another ten minutes of listening Kathryn said to hell with padds and protocol, threw the matching robe over her satin nightgown and went to his quarters. Outside his door she hesitated; maybe he wanted to resolve this on his own, and how would he feel if she just burst in, but then she heard another painful moan, and made up her mind. She keyed in an override code and stepped in to his dark quarters. She walked into the bedroom and sat on the edge of his bed. She touched his forehead and whispered his name to wake him. He moaned something incoherent, but the word beast was recognizable. She touched him more firmly, willing him to wake up from the horrible dream, and he sat up with a start. He looked very frightened and vulnerable to her.

-”Chakotay, you were dreaming. Do you want to talk about it?” she asked in a low voice.

-”I don’t think there’s much to say”, he said, not questioning why she was there. But she could see the conflicting emotions on his face, knowing that he was trying to be strong for her. She moved to sit better and touched his arm, willing him to look at her. She could see his face contorting and she opened her arms to him. He accepted the invitation willingly, folding his arms around her back, his head leaning against her shoulder, and then the tears came, the tears he had wanted to shed since he saw the first desecrated Vori body. Even though he now knew they weren’t real the pain still remained. He felt betrayed, violated, used and disgusted with himself that he could hate another race like that. It had been different with the Cardassians; they had destroyed his home, but the Vori/Kraden war had no cause and yet he had been forced to fight it. He clenched Kathryn’s small body as a lifeline and let all the misery flow from him.

Kathryn held him tight, caressing his back, while whispering words of comfort, as her own silent tears mingled in his hair. She hated the Vori for what they had done to this gentle man, her friend. She kept holding him even after the sobs ended and were replaced by steady breathing. He finally looked her in the eye for the first time this evening, and what she saw there was embarrassment for losing control like that, but also a lot of gratitude that she had let him get it out. His head fell back to her shoulder and his eyes closed. She stroked his hair and whispered.

-”You’re tired, go on and sleep”. As if he was following a direct order, he fell asleep within minutes. Kathryn kissed his forehead and tried to get out of the bed, but his arms were still holding her, and there was no way she could leave without waking him, which she was not willing to do. Seeing no other choice she shrugged her robe off with much difficulty and slipped under the covers, very grateful that he had chosen to wear pajama pants to bed this evening. She lay there listening to his breathing, and all though she was tired she lay awake for an hour or so studying him, stroking his hair, realizing that she had been wanting to do that for a long time. She dozed off, but was soon awakened when another nightmare made Chakotay twitch in her arms. She held him again, whispering to him, willing the nightmare to go away. She didn’t manage to get any sleep until very early the next morning.

Chakotay woke slowly, remembering his dreams. He was back in the middle of the Vori/ Kraden war, and three huge Kraden beasts were trying to capture him, but just as they were about to grab him Kathryn stepped between them and made them go away. As he fought his way to consciousness he became aware that he was holding on to something warm. His eyes snapped open and he saw Kathryn sleeping next to him, and now he understood the dream. Last night she hadn’t left him, she had stayed to chase his nightmares away. He hugged her, careful not to wake her, and pressed a gentle kiss on her forehead. She stirred and mumbled a bit.

Kathryn felt a light pressure on her forehead and tried to shake the sleep from her mind. When she finally awoke she found herself staring into Chakotay’s face; a huge dimpled smile and deep brown eyes with a twinkle in them. He was definitely feeling better

-”Good morning”, she whispered, “Feeling better?”

-”Thank you, Kathryn. I’m grateful that you helped me, but you didn’t have to stay all night”, he said.

-”I didn’t have much of a choice, you were holding on to me so tight I couldn’t get out of the bed”, she grinned, then sobered a bit. ”Besides, I had a feeling you needed it”.

-”I did, thank you”. Then he looked down. “I see you were bold enough to crawl under the covers.”

-” Almost not, after what I saw you wore to bed on New Earth”. The instant she said it her hand flew up to her mouth.

-”How do you know what I wore to bed on New Earth, Kathryn”, he asked with merriment in his eyes. She just blushed fiercely. “Did you watch me? Is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager a voyeur?!” He was grinning widely at her.

-” No I am not a voyeur, it was an accident!” He looked like he didn’t believe her. “I swear. One evening I forgot something, and when I entered the living room I looked toward your alcove. You bent to pick something up and.....your naked butt stuck out from behind the partition.” By the time she finished she was laughing so hard he could barely hear the words.

-”What are you laughing at, I have a great butt!” he retaliated.

-”I know!” she laughed, writhing on the bed.

-”I’m afraid I’m going to have to take revenge for that, Kathryn!” And with that he pulled the covers away and started to tickle her. She writhed and laughed and nearly screamed.

-”Stop, Chakotay, please stop, I can’t take it, stop I’ll do anything you want!!!”

-”Oh, is that a promise?” he laughed back.

-”Yes, yes just stop”, she chuckled. He stopped tickling her, but he did not let go.

-”So you’ll do anything I want, eh? He smiled at her, his body almost covering hers.

-”I guess I did promise that, didn’t I? So what do you want?” she asked, well aware of the dangerous nature of the question. He merely lowered his head toward hers, hesitated for a moment in case she wanted to retreat, but when she didn’t, he touched her lips with his gently, then looked at her. She smiled at him and snaked her hands around his neck to pull him back. They kissed playfully for a while, until Chakotay pulled back with a sigh of contentment and put his head on her chest where he could hear her heartbeat. She smiled at him, playing with his hair.

-”You know what, Chakotay? I was lying here last night looking at you sleep. And I realized that I had wanted to do this for a long time, lie here in your arms, waking next to you.” She hesitated for a moment. Then she whispered: “I think I’m ready to take this relationship a little further.” He looked up at her, surprise clearly written all over his face.

-”How much further?” he carefully asked.

-”As far as we can take it, I guess, provided that we take it slow.” He couldn’t find his voice, so he reached up and smoothed her hair out of her face, and a single tear ran down his cheek.

-”Thank you”, he whispered and she scooted down to lie face to face with him. She wiped away the tear and pressed her lips to his tattoo, then his cheek, his nose and finally his lips. They gently explored each other’s mouths, enjoying the closeness, when Chakotay’s alarm went off.

-”You weren’t planning on going on duty today, were you Commander”, she said with her strictest Bridge voice.

-”No, but I was not about to lay around and snooze all day”, he said with a smile, then added: “I was planning to go to the Holodeck to do a healing ceremony. Healing will be a lot easier after last night, thank you.”

-”You don’t need to thank me, Chakotay”, she whispered, her lips gliding over his cheek, “but I do expect to see you at Tuvok’s reception today.”

-”I wouldn’t miss it. I hear Tom and Harry pulled a really good prank on him.” Kathryn grinned.

-”I’m sure they did.” She looked tentatively at him. “I have to go, the Bridge doesn’t run itself you know.” She got out of bed and put on her robe. He followed her to the door.

-”Kathryn can I take you to dinner tonight?” She looked at him with a smile.

-”Like a date?”

-”Yeah, if we are to take it slow we’d better do it right”, he answered. She smiled again and touched his cheek.

-”I’d love to”, she said before kissing him, a sweet slow lingering kiss, then she left.

-”I’ll see you at the reception”, she said before entering her own quarters. He turned away from the door and went to the bathroom; it was going to be a good day after all.