by VoyWriter

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An unabashed follow-up to Coda. Without apologies.

Kathryn heard the shower cut off and ran the brush through her hair a final time,
reaching first for her coffee and then for her barrette.

“Leave it down today?”

She glanced up at the sound of the voice. Chakotay – standing in the doorway to
the bathroom, a towel around his waist, another in his hand, scrubbing at his own
damp hair, salt and pepper still, but more salt than pepper anymore.

It still amazed her to find him there – in her quarters. Their quarters. Her life. Four
years together and the delight had not diminished. With all the dire predictions
she had contrived to postpone a relationship with this man, she never expected to
find such unabashed joy, and was fully unprepared for the sweetness of his
company. Lover. Friend. Advocate. Companion. Delight. Sheer delight.

A soft smile tipped her lips and she watched as he tossed the towel into the
recycler and padded to her side, pressing a kiss onto the top of her head, his hands
sliding through her hair to rest upon her shoulders.

She tilted her head back to rest against his flat stomach, reviewing their image in
the mirror.

“Taking stock?” His voice again. Soft and teasing.

“I might be. We’re not a bad looking couple, you know.”

“One of us.”

She chuckled. “I won’t ask which. So it was your turn to plan our off-day – want to
give any hints?”

“I don’t think so.”

He reached over her shoulder for her coffee and slipped the mug from her fingers,
downing the rest of it and then sliding the cup back into her hands.

Janeway raised an eyebrow at the empty mug, shook her head, and held the cup
back up to him. “Not a chance, Commander.”

That brought a belly laugh. Collecting the cup, he headed into the other room to
the replicator, dialed up a fresh mug and served her with a bow, flourishing a
single long-stemmed rose from behind his back along with the coffee.

Large. Open. Fragrant. An old-fashioned rose of yellow dipped in pink. Her rose.
He grew them now in hydroponics. Tended them at least. And surprised her. Such
was the pleasure of his company. There was the delight.

Ignoring the coffee, she accepted the rose and drew it to her face, tasting it’s
fragrance, warming to the feel of it against her cheek.

“I’m not sure what I did to deserve you, Commander. But you still surprise the
hell out of me after all this time and that’s something. It’s lovely, Chakotay. Thank

She looked up at him, the rose cupped in strong and slender hands, her hair loose
about her face, the smile meant for him alone. He drew a breath. Charmed.
Captivated. Charming. Captivating.

“You know some of my people say that red-haired women are actually witch
spirits, come to earth to take a man’s power.”

“Do you believe that?” She rescued the coffee and sipped appreciatively.

“I think I might.”

Powerless and powerful. How she made him feel.

He loved the look of amazement on her face when met with these unexpected
gestures. That she had not bowed to cynicism. That she met each day with
unfailing grace and optimism, and viewed life as an opportunity, not an
obligation. All that and her strength, and her willingness to lean on him if needed.

And that they were together. Had come together. Persistence. That was all it took.
And he was nothing if not dogged. It was a quality which could infuriate as well
as calm her. Odd that it could bring on both reactions.

“So, any tips on attire for the day or just the usual tiara and gown?”
She cast a wry grin up at him, causing him to shake his head and snort.

“You’re not going to pry this out of me, Kathryn.”

There was that word. Her name. How was it that he could make her name sound
like a prayer, or promise, or invitation…Six years since he had first pronounced it,
a bit uneasy then, on New Earth. And four years before he had cried it,
beseeching for her life, bargaining with his gods and spirits on a hostile world,
storms crashing around them. And now today, safe and together, he repeated it,
possessively, caressingly.

“I’m not so sure I should have ever suggested you use my name, Chakotay. It
might have been my undoing. That or when you brought B’Elanna to heel that
first day on the bridge.”

Chakotay chuckled. “And here I thought I got your attention crashing my ship into
the Kazon cruiser.”

“Is that was it was all about…”

“You know you may prove the ancient legends true.”

“About the witching spirits?” She turned and slid her hand up his chest, across his
stomach and his ribs. “I wonder. Maybe I’m the one bewitched. Maybe your
people were wrong.”

He groaned and pulled her to her feet

Her hands cupped his face and drew it down. She watched obsidian eyes flicker
with emotion and then close as she pressed her lips to his mouth for one soft kiss.

He tasted clean and male. Spicy. Exotic. Like his golden brown skin and the
familiar, unfamiliar syllables of his name. Intoxicating. Something akin to sin.
His mouth, the apple – her tongue, the snake.

One of them groaned. Or both. His hands parted the satin of her robe just as hers
dropped his towel to the floor.

“Torres to Janeway.” B’Elanna’s voice invaded the room.

“Damn.” Both. Whispered. Breathless.

Kathryn recovered first. Or came close. “Janeway here.”

Chakotay grabbed his towel and swung it back around his hips, growling. “You
have lousy timing, Torres.”

“Sorry. Maybe I should call back when it’s more convenient. Of course the entire
power grid might be down by then.”

“What is it, B’Elanna?” Janeway shot Chakotay a shushing look. She could hear
the genuine concern behind the Chief Engineer’s sarcastic tone.

“Glad one of you is interested. We’re experiencing random outages all over the
ship. So far it’s small stuff – a replicator down, a door that won’t open, a vid
screen that flickers. Nothing significant by itself…”

“But you’re concerned.”

“I’d like to take the warp engines off line. I think there may be a small antimatter
leak corrupting the main grid.”

“How long?” This from Chakotay.

“A few hours. Maybe more. It depends on what we find.”

“And what goes down besides warp drive?” Janeway collected the rose and
tapped it against her cheek, considering.

“Nothing I hope. I’ve been rerouting for the small outages and should be able to
manage them just fine.”

“Do it, then. Keep me posted.”

“Aye, Captain. Thanks. And Chakotay…”

“I’m listening, Torres.” He stood with his hands on his hips.

“Next time I’ll ask the warp core to be more considerate of your love life.” She
snickered and then finished. “Torres out.”

Janeway gave Chakotay a slanted look. “Nice.”

“I doubt the crew thinks we’re celibate, Kathryn.” He crossed to the closet and
poked through it, pulling out a pair of loose slacks, a t-shirt and a thick cable knit
sweater. He tossed them on the bed.

Kathryn shook her head and tried unsuccessfully to bite back the grin threatening
at her lips. “You’re incorrigible, Commander. I hope you know that.”

“I practice in the mirror. You going to get ready?”

“It would be easier if I knew what to wear.”

“Nothing fancy. Something warm.”

“So, slacks, sweater. Usual for sailing?”

“Now who’s incorrigible?”

“I’ve been watching a master.”

He swatted the towel playfully against her rear and she caught the corner and
reeled him in. “Ever made love on a sailboat, Commander?”

She knew full well the answer, but delighted in the invitation, first made four
years earlier and now repeated whenever they could find the time.

Chakotay shrugged blandly. “I don’t know. I might have. A few times. I don’t
remember much.”

“Don’t you? Why is that?”

He allowed her to entrap him with the towel. “I guess I must have been

“Do you get distracted easily?”

“So it would seem.” His arms slipped around her, his hands sliding down her rear,
cupping her, strength against the satin of her gown.

Janeway pressed against him. Heard his breath draw in. Drew her own.
It was a game. Their game. Bantering. Easy. Play. They played together. He had
taught her that. How to play. How to get perspective. How to keep it.

Now she traced her fingers down his chest, counting ribs and scratching her own
light pathway in his skin. “Anything out there that can’t wait?”

“The ice might melt.”

She laughed. “I think that you took care of that four years ago, Commander.”

In four years they had made little in the way of changes to the Lake George
program. You don’t change what gives you comfort. Gives you peace. Holds a
special place in heart and memory.

Chakotay swung the picnic basket into the boat and tossed the blanket after it,
heading back down the dock to get the champagne that had been waiting and now
was chilled. The same brand. The same year. The same treat they had shared their
first time there together and each time ever since. Synthehol, but taste and
bubbles like the real thing. And a cork that popped. More play. Foreplay.

Kathryn was already working the knots on the sails, getting them ready, checking
the rigging. She had on white clam diggers and a deep blue sweater that matched
the style of Chakotay’s – thick knit, high rolled collar, bulky comfort. The cool air
colored her cheeks and brushed her hair from her face. She reveled in the activity
and the company.

This was a place of hope and dreams come true. Escape and redemption from the
harsher realities of life in the delta quadrant and the stresses of managing a ship
of 150 souls and keeping kith and kin together every day.

“Ready?” Chakotay stood at the side of the boat, the line in hand, ready to cast

Kathryn nodded. “Let’s do it.”

He tugged the line free and coiled it neatly while stepping into the boat, pushing
with one foot against the dock. They moved out of the slip slowly, just one sail
unfurled against the wind. Light wind. They wouldn’t go far today. Just out into
the lake a bit.

As the dock grew more distant, Kathryn brought up the main sail, adjusting and
working the boom while Chakotay tied down lines, did the odd chore, followed
her instructions. He could have done her job as well, and did sometimes, but she
was really master of the craft.

“Lord it’s a glorious day.” Kathryn settled down onto one of the seats, her face to
the wind, her hand resting on the tacking rudder. She braced a foot against the
forward seat and dropped her head back to catch the sun.

Chakotay watched, mesmerized. Always. By her. And then he moved carefully
back behind her and shifted her on the seat so she was resting between his legs,
her head against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, slipping one beneath
her sweater to press against bare skin.


“Mmm. Cold hands, though.” She shifted slightly, capturing his knee beneath her
own hand, slipping her fingers back along his thigh a bit.

“Still think I’m a witch?”

“It’s spirit, and yes, I think I do.”

“Do you ever wonder why your people have mystical explanations for

“I’m not sure I know what you mean.”

“There’s no science. It’s all focused on believing the unbelievable.”

“The human spirit is the most indomitable force in nature.”

“It makes everything a leap of faith.”

“Ultimately, faith is all we have, Kathryn. It’s the only thing that matters.”

“I’m not sure I believe that. It sounds a bit fatalistic.”

“Not at all. But without the belief something will happen, there is certainty it

“I won’t argue that, but just believing it will happen, doesn’t make it so either.”

“It makes it far more probable.”

“It never would have helped against the Kazon.”

“I disagree. I think it did.”

“How so?”

“Your belief in the crew, the ship, yourself – that enabled us to defeat the Kazon.”

“Except once.”

“We stayed alive.”

“I’m not quite sure how that ties to mysticism. I had evidence that the crew was
capable, that the ship’s defenses were adequate, and I knew what I was about.
That’s fact, not faith.”

Chakotay chuckled. “You may not see it that way, but it was faith, Kathryn. In its
purest form.”

“How is that mystical?”

“It’s the leap of faith you mentioned. Knowing you will get from point A to point

“If I could do that, we’d be back in the alpha quadrant. Point D to point A.”

“Who knows, it might be possible given enough faith. When I travel through the
spirit world with my guide, I enter another dimension of being.”

“Ever wonder if maybe that’s the real one, and this the alternate?”

He slid his hand a bit higher, brushing his fingers against the bottom of her bare
breast. “You feel pretty real to me.”

“Having fun?”

“So far, yes.”

“I guess that’s the end of the philosophical discussions for today. Ooh.” A soft
involuntary moan slipped from her lips as he cupped her breast and tipped a
finger against the nipple, taut now to his touch. She shifted, her back arching a
bit, her hand tightening on his thigh as his fingers roamed to the other breast.

“I’ll discuss all you like.” His breath was slightly ragged and he shifted with his
own discomfort now.

“You’ve…distracted…me…quite…effectively.” Reflexively she tied the boom off.

Some days they simply sailed – allowed the wind and water to smooth their souls.
Some they never made it off the beach, off the blanket, clothes a tangle in the
sand, tumbling into one another as if they didn’t share a life and bed. Some days
they slipped into the water for a swim and play and exercise to banish work and
challenge from their minds. And some, as this, they found a way inside each other
with slow infusing passion.

There was not really room to make love on the boat. Nor was it practical. But that
didn’t mean that loving couldn’t happen. And it did. First one. For the other. Then
the other. For the other. Clothes half on, half off, panting, arching, crying out and
holding on.

Kathryn leaned back against Chakotay, sated, having sated. “You know I always
thought the sex would be good.”

Chakotay coughed. “I beg your pardon?”

“I always found you sexually attractive. I always thought the sex would be good.
It’s the rest that surprises me.”

“Glad to know I made a good first impression.”

“It’s the mouth.”

“You knew I would be a good kisser?”

“I knew that mouth would be good for a variety of functions.”

“I would have never guessed you were such a tease.”

“Iron-willed Captain Kathryn Janeway – nose to the grindstone?”

“Something like that.”

“I think I forgot how to play – before you.”

“The ability to play is important. It allows perspective.”

“Well from my perspective, life is pretty good out here right now. And you’re a
big part of that.”

She shifted to adjust the boom, sliding her hand down the wooden – nothing –
there was nothing – for a second. Not in her hand. Not beneath her. Not above her.
Then it was back. Except for the pressure of Chakotay’s arms around her and his
chest firm against her back, she would have thought she was free-floating in the
room. It was disorienting at best. Alarming no matter what.

“What the hell?” Chakotay slapped his hand against his comm badge. “Chakotay
to Torres.”

“Torres here.”

“We’re on holodeck two – the program just went out from under us. Just for a
second. Then it came back.”

“I’m still trying to isolate the problem with the grid, but we’re making progress.
You should be all right. Just don’t try diving into the lake.”

“Have the problems gotten any worse, B’Elanna?” Janeway crooked a questioning
eyebrow – a habit, even though Torres couldn’t see her.

“They’re a bit more frequent – but nothing of any duration and nothing more
serious than Paris missing a winning pool shot when Sandrine’s popped out a
second. Main systems, comm, weapons, helm – it’s all fine so far. And I think
we’re close to a solution. I’ll update you in two hours if it takes that long.”

“Consider it an order, Lieutenant. Sooner if any of the primary systems degrade.”

“Aye, Captain. Torres out.”

Janeway sighed. “Think we should go back in?”

“Your call. But it was just a flicker. And B’Elanna seems to have things well in

“Why do I have this feeling you’re just telling me what I want to hear?”

“Ready for lunch? I’ll get the basket.”

“I could eat. But, I think I’ll bring this sail down a bit. The wind seems to be
picking up.”

“I programmed in a weak noreaster for today. It seems like fall should be coming

Kathryn took the basket from Chakotay and started to poke through it. “You’re
awfully tied to seasons for someone who’s made their life in space.”

“I do miss those rhythms, the seasons, real weather.” He accepted a sandwich and
Neralian pear, purple with faint pink blushes on the skin. Sweet and pulpy. It was
a real find from their last foraging mission. Now Kes was starting to grow them in
hydroponics. Chakotay held it up, sniffed it. “Like this pear. Seeing fruit on a tree
under the sunshine.”

“Maybe we should be making more stops – getting the crew onto real soil more

“It’s something to consider. I think it’s…”

The program flickered again. Off. On. They both looked around. It was definitely

“I don’t like this.” Janeway paused, sandwich halfway to her mouth.

“How about we finish lunch and head back.”

“My judgment tells me we should pack up now, but I’ll try to…” She was
interrupted by the computer.

“Warning – personal safety protection system malfunctioning. Recommend
discontinue program. Recommend…”

The voice cut out. And in the same instance, the wind picked up with a rushing
fierceness. The sail filled instantly and the boom was jerked from Kathryn’s hand.
She ducked instinctively. Chakotay did not. He was hit hard. His head snapped
back. A muffled cry escaped his lips – like air depressurizing – a balloon that
popped. It happened in a millisecond. Less. More. He was propelled out of the
boat by the force of the blow. In the water. The intensity of the storm screamed
around the small boat, waves rushing the edges. Kathryn felt herself dragged into
the churning darkness. There was no time to even beg for mercy.

And then just as suddenly – there was silence. And the hard black and yellow grid
of the holodeck floor and walls made up reality. The program had ended. Or was

Kathryn groaned and forced her eyes open. She took a fast inventory and found
herself bruised but fairly much intact. Chakotay lay 20 meters away, one leg
twisted at an unnatural angle, his face turned away from her. The contents of the
picnic basket were scattered. The champagne bottle was somehow intact. The
blanket was in the corner on the other wall.

“Janeway to sickbay.” She crawled toward Chakotay. Dear god let him be all right
and I will do whatever it is that you want in exchange for miracles. “Janeway to
sickbay. Janeway to Tuvok. Computer. Open arch.” Nothing. No answers. No
replies. No compliance.

She reached him. Blood covered the side of his face from a gash on his cheek and
a bruising lump was already forming at his temple where the boom had hit him. A
smear of blood stained the shoulder of his sweater. From his head. She touched
him, tentatively. Maybe more afraid for herself than him. Her hand rested on his
chest as she pressed her ear to his mouth. Breath. There was breath. Slow.
Shallow. But not death. Not yet. And not if she could help it. Still there was
unconsciousness. And trauma. Injury to the head.

She tried his comm badge next. Found the effort was in vain. Just like her own.
Still, it wasn’t as if no one knew that they were there. Just not hurt. No one knew
that he was hurt. It could be hours before there was a thought to check on them.
Two at least before B’Elanna would check in. Hours there alone. Hours to wait
and hope he did not die. Hours without help. Helpless hours.

There were two cloth napkins and a table cloth in the picnic basket. And then the
blanket. And a single bottle of champagne. No water. Sandwiches. Or what had
been. And two pears. Badly bruised. And a bag of spice drops. His. For him. A
weakness. “Pink is peppermint, white is spearmint, green is wintergreen…” He
had told her about the flavors one by one. Those almost made her cry. Seeing

She used one napkin to bind his wound – at least staunch the bleeding. Saved the
other – just in case. Rolled the tablecloth beneath his head like a pillow – of sort.
Something to cushion against the hardness of the floor. And she pulled the
blanket over him – in case of shock. Not that it was cold. The shivering was from
a very different cause. Hers. Fear. From the gut. To the heart. Or the other way.

His leg was broken. She was sure of that. There was nothing to do about that
problem either. Nothing to do about much of anything, except wait. Pray. He
would. And beg him to hold on.

So this was it. What it was like. Those four years before. When the shuttle
crashed and she lay bleeding in the cave. Her life seeping out of her. Helpless. At
the mercy of the uncontrollable. If there wasn’t panic, it was a feeling from that

She knelt at his side, slipped his hand into hers, stroking it. “I don’t think that I
can watch you die, Chakotay. I guess that makes you one hell of a lot braver than
I am. I guess that also means you’re going to have to live you stubborn Maquis
bastard. You’re the one who believes in the spirits. Well believe this. I’ll haunt
you until you all the stars fade if you dare die on me.”

Now the tears began their coursing down her face. She lifted his hand to her
cheek, to her mouth, to her lips, kissing each finger, the palm, the wrist. Then she
opened up his hand and pressed it around her cheek, as if he were offering
comfort, and he was. In a way.

His body shuddered. Convulsion? Stroke? Some kind of typical reaction from the
pain or the blow? There still was breath. That was something. That was
everything at this point.

Something vague reminded her that patients who were comatose could benefit
from sensation. Voices mostly. If he was not in a coma, he was close. And she
needed to hear sounds – even if it was her own voice in the room.

Good thoughts. Good emanations. Make him want to come back to you. Give him
hope and reason.

She rocked back onto her heels and then sat, his hand still firmly gripped in hers.

“Remember when we first came here, Chakotay? Moonlight sail.” She laughed, a
little forced and harsh, but still a laugh. “Moonlight sail, my butt. I just wanted to
get a little drunk with you and see what happened. I didn’t expect you to become
the love of my life. Although I guess I should have.”

“And you. In a sailboat. A natural. Hell you might have sailed more times than
me. And here I thought I would teach the a desert boy something about the
wonders of being under sail. I wonder who was teaching who? And what

“That first rose might have been the sweetest thing anyone has ever given me. I’ve
told you that. And that grin. It was as if you read some manual on how to break
down my defenses. Well it worked. Like a charm. God you can be charming. You
know that sometimes I have to force myself not to give in to you. And sometimes
on the bridge, I get up and walk the circuit just so I can come back around and
touch you on the shoulder – make that contact.”

“I never thought that command and romance could work together. I probably had
more good reasons not to fall in love with you than most people have to be in
love. Valid ones. Scientific. At least rational.”

Chakotay’s body shuddered once more, interrupting. Or reacting? Wishful
thinking. Then again. More violent. A bit. Still he lived. Kathryn readjusted the
blanket, shook her head, readjusted her mind, let it take her back.


“You’ve been sailing before, Commander.”

He grinned. Mostly at the use of his rank. She hadn’t gotten around to his name
yet, although he called her Kathryn without hesitation and she had no objection.
He answered her. “A few times.”

“My butt. You’re a an old hand at this.”

A shrug. “How about a swim?”

“Sorry. No suit.”

“Me either.” With a wicked smile, he peeled off his sweater and dark t-shirt and
began on his pants. Then, “computer, put a cloud over that moon.” He chuckled
softly. “Better?”

“Wicked man.” Janeway lifted off her own sweater. The starlight allowed for
little more than silhouettes. She heard a splash and followed.

Hands grabbed her legs, pulled her under and let go. She retaliated, hands on
shoulders, dunking him.

He popped up, shook like some great beast and snagged her, pulled her this time
into his arms. Fingers against flesh. Hands exploring back and buttocks. Hers did
the same.

It was a heady feeling. This celebration of life. This knowledge that it was so
fragile. Could be gone so quickly. Would be mourned so deeply. Odd that death
should offer such a gift.

Kathryn found his mouth with her fingers, playing across his lips and pulsing
through inside. And then her tongue. All this time. Waiting all this time.
Indecision. Now decision.

Who groaned? Who moaned? Who touched who? And where? Racing to the
beach. Sand, soft and yet warm from the sun.

“Computer, delete cloud.” This from her. Ready. Now. “There’s only going to be
one first time, Chakotay. I want to see you.”

There had been years of foreplay – and none at all. She started. Touching.
Asking what he liked. Learning from the sounds he made. Not everything. There
was time for everything. Just enough.

And him too. Cradling her while she unfolded like the rose, shimmered like the
water, rocked like the waves against the boat still on the lake.

More than love. More than lust. Eulogy. Divinity. The sanctity of life. That was
what love was all about. And making love.

And afterwards. Teasing. Laughing. All the joy.

“I have sand in my mouth.” Janeway picked the bits from her tongue.

“I guess you’d better be more careful where you put it.”

“Now you tell me.”

“Here, let me.”

“You’re going to get sand in your mouth.”

“I know.”

They slept on the beach. Her in his sweater. And his arms. Him waking and
watching her. Remembering. Trying to accommodate and assimilate all this new
knowledge. All these feelings. Wonder. Wonderment.


Janeway shifted on the hard holodeck floor. Checked on Chakotay, and then
stretched out next to him, bending her arm beneath her head. She could see the
motion of his chest from this angle, rise and fall.

“I remember waking in your arms that next morning, Chakotay. You had an
obnoxious erection pressing against my thigh. And I was sore as hell from the
night before. It had been a long time. And we were both a little over-zealous. Call
it part of my obsessive-compulsive personality. Never do anything halfway. I
watched you breathe. It was comforting. You snored. Just a little. It always
amazed me that you could sleep with an erection the size of a nacelle. Just one
thing in a list I’ve learned about you. Oatmeal. Raisins and brown sugar. Spice
drops…” She fingered the bag and dug out a handful, arranging them in a row on
his chest. Eating them one at a time. One flavor at a time.

He choked and convulsed again. It was convulsions. She was sure. The spice
drops went rolling. She pressed against his shoulders. Offered hushing words.

“You’re ok. You’re fine. It’s Kathryn here with you. Just keep breathing. We’re
going to be fine.”

The motion ceased. The breath did not. He was warm now. Fever. Feverish.
Inevitable. How long before brain damage? How hot? How long had it been?

“Janeway to Torres. Janeway to sickbay. Janeway to bridge. Computer. Show

Nothing. Still nothing.

She folded the blanket in half and covered him again.

“No wonder you were so passionate that night, Commander. You went through
this. I saw. I didn’t realize. Not really. I saw the grief. Your tears. I thought that
was the only agony. Not this waiting. Watching. Death watch. I know what that is

The makeshift bandage was soaked, but the bleeding appeared to have stopped.
She tossed it aside and applied the new one, wondering if she should open the
champagne and use it for antiseptic. She decided not.

They had drunk that first bottle while making love. Literally.


She took a sip and rolled it across her tongue into his mouth, nude, sitting,
straddling him. And then another. And then a bit on his chest. Sticky. She
remembered the flavor of his skin and the wine on her tongue. The evening had
emboldened her. The day had emboldened her. The man had emboldened her. His
hips raised and lowered into her while she offered him sips from her mouth until
it was breathe or drink, pant or breathe. And he had rolled her under him and
found out how her skin mixed with the wine. Tasting it. Tasting her. And she
tasted both from his tongue.

“It surprised the hell out of me too, Chakotay. I’m usually a bit more reserved.”
She had told him that. And it had brought a belly laugh of disbelief.

“Kathryn you’ve taught me a few things tonight.”

And that had made her blush. Charming. He had told her she was charming.


The holodeck floor was growing hard. Uncomfortable. She’d been tossed around a
bit, too. Would likely show some bruises. She shifted, found a better position.
Relatively speaking anyway. And she started in on the spice drops once again.
Nerves. Something to do. Occupation if only of the hands.

“Did you ever think about what causes two people to be attracted?” She popped a
green drop into her mouth and toyed with a pink one in her hand.

“The physical attraction is fairly basic. But then again…you’re not my usual type.
Not that you’re not damned good looking…” She glanced down at him, touched
her fingers to his tattoo. His hair. As familiar now as her own features. “You
might just be a bit too good looking. Good ass though. And I’ve told you about
your mouth. So you fit the basic requirements. But I wonder why your spirit
touched me so thoroughly. You know when you made that angry warrior speech,
it scared the hell out of me. I wasn’t sure if I could cope with that much devotion.
It was way too much responsibility. But I also knew I had never been loved that
completely. That’s what shook me. Your expectations. You wanted more
commitment than I could give. At least then.”

His hand pulsed. Janeway was over him in an instant. Then his arm. Then his
body shook. She heard a choking sound and ran her finger into his mouth,
pushing his head back. Frantic. Panic. Trying to react, not remember. Reaction
was much faster. He was thrashing against her. Violent motion. Death throes.
Were these death throes? Dear god if I didn’t offer a good enough bargain before I
am telling you now that whatever you want is yours.

“Fight Chakotay. Don’t you dare leave me. Don’t…you…dare….”

His body stopped moving. His chest rose. A harsh rasping sound exhaled from his
mouth. His chest fell. It did not rise again.

“You will not do this to me, Commander. God damn you.” Anger now. Rage. She
pounded on his chest. Breathed her breath into his mouth. Repeated it. Screamed
at him. Begged him. Slumped over him.

And then they were on the beach. At the Lake. And everything was on again – sun
and wind and waves. The sailboat bobbed out in the water.

She hit her chest. “Janeway to sickbay. Emergency beam out from holodeck two.
Commander Chakotay has been injured and will require resusci…”

Janeway sat at the desk in her ready room, stacks of padds surrounding her – as
behind on work as she could ever remember. It had been two weeks. He was well
now. Whole. She wondered when she would be. It took a while for everything to
heal – especially the heart and soul.

She had broken two of his ribs in her CPR attempt. Those and the broken leg
were the only injuries besides the trauma to the head. He had not been dead. Just
deeply comatose. So whatever the devil wanted – or the spirits – she figured they
had claim to.

It had been a cascade failure of the main power grid. Starting slowly, then
tumbling into system after system until everything was gone but life support and
sickbay. Critical systems with separate power back-ups. A fluke. One in a million
chance, B’Elanna said.

The door slid open and Janeway looked up to find Chakotay, grinning, hands
behind his back.

“I thought you were supposed to be taking it easy, Commander.”

“I do better when I keep busy.”

“I’ve heard that before and I don’t buy it.”

He flourished a rose. “We’ve cheated death, Kathryn. That calls for a celebration.
How about champagne and a moonlight sail on Lake George?”

She pressed the flower to her face and smiled. “That sounds like something worth
living for, Chakotay.”



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