She stopped by the window, looking out into space; the wide expanse of nothing but stars. It had been home for several years, and had been something she had dreamed of in her youth. But now, she found no excitement in the unknown; no comfort in the sounds of her ship. Her role as Captain no longer felt like the only thing she could be doing with her life. Something was missing.
She sat down, wearily, on the edge of her bed and took another look around the room. Part of her was pleased to be back here; back on her voyage home; but she knew it would take a while for her to settle in. She had experienced another life, and though it was only for a short time, and was so far from what she was used to, she had adapted – and she missed it.
She laughed a little to herself as she realised that she felt now how she had felt about Voyager when they were first left behind. She hadn’t wanted to let go of her ship then; and now she found herself unable to let go of the planet.
Or perhaps it wasn’t the planet she was holding onto, but rather the life she had lived there… And the life that probably would have developed if they had been there longer.
Shuffling around, she pulled her feet up onto the bed and lay down on her side. With a small sigh - to release some tension, and hopefully aid in her getting some sleep – she surmised that it was probably best that Voyager had returned for them before those developments took place. Readjusting after that line had been crossed would certainly have been even more difficult.
Failing to find comfort in that thought, she rolled, restlessly onto her back, staring up at the ceiling. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t crossed that line, she had too many vivid memories of how close they had come to it.
She remembered the feelings stirred within her as he had gently lifted and stroked her hair to move it aside; the touch of his hands on her shoulders; the connection, the pull, her desire to move closer to him. She remembered it all as if it had happened just minutes ago; the feelings having been at the forefront of her mind ever since that night.
Her heart had actually skipped a beat when he said he couldn’t define parameters; hopeful that he was going to force her to face feelings she was trying to hide. His fictional ‘legend’ had moved her to tears as she saw then how important their friendship was to both of them; and it had only deepened her resolve that she should push all romantic notions like her initial thoughts as far out of her mind as possible.
Sadly, now, it was clear that that wasn’t very far at all.
Reluctantly admitting that sleep was not going to come she was about to get up to find something to read when the door chimed. Momentarily frozen, she cursed herself for immediately hoping that it would be Chakotay.
Shaking herself free of those thoughts, she crossed the room to pick up her robe, and she put it on as she moved to the door.
Her dismissed hopes were confirmed to be founded after all when she opened the door to find Chakotay standing outside.
“I had a feeling that you would still be awake,” he said, with a small, nervous smile.
Unable to hide how happy she was to see him, she smiled widely in return, gesturing for him to enter the room as she spoke. “I seem to be finding it difficult to readjust to life in space,” she told him, accompanying it with a small laugh, to try to make light of the situation.
He turned to face her when the door closed, his expression entirely honest and serious. “Me too.”
Her smile fell as her heart began to beat rapidly and familiar feelings coursed through her veins under the intensity of his stare. The force was there again, drawing her to him, and it seemed to know that she was in no state to resist anymore.
She stepped closer to him, surprised to find him nearer than she had thought.
“I miss you,” he whispered, barely audibly, placing his hand tentatively on her shoulder and gently massaging the muscles.
That was all it took, the actual contact combined with her practically tangible memories, pushed her over the line. She moved forward, her lips pressing into his, a mixture of desire and relief flooding her body as he responded and their arms tightened an embrace.
His hands, flat against her back, held her flush against him as lips slid over lips and her hands scraped through his hair, holding his head close to hers.
It seemed like hours before they pulled apart for air, and even then they managed only a brief gasp before their lips met again, slowing this time to a more gentle pace, a more tender touch.
When they pulled apart this time, their eyes met, and they both smiled, timidly, as their chests heaved with desperate intake of air.
“If you want to fight this,” Chakotay said, quietly, resting his forehead against hers, “Then we’ll fight it.”
She closed her eyes, and swallowed hard. “I don’t think I can fight it anymore,” she whispered in reply.
She felt the smile on his lips as he kissed her again, and she melted once more into his embrace.
Maybe she should fight it; maybe the return to Voyager should have been a fresh start; maybe things were about to get incredibly complicated. But as his hands unfastened the belt of her robe and slid the soft material to the ground, she knew that all of that no longer mattered. Maybe she was in love with him already; maybe her judgement in situations that involved him was already impaired; maybe keeping a distance between them wouldn’t make a difference.
His hands were on her hips when she covered them with her own and stopped their exploration. He withdrew his lips from hers, and looked at her questioningly.
She opened her eyes and spoke to him softly, but seriously. “If this starts to affect our professional – ”
“Then it stops,” he interrupted her. “But we won’t let that be necessary, Kathryn.”
She nodded once and slowly held up her hand as she had done that night on the planet. He smiled and placed his palm against hers, their fingers entwining; and a wide smile spread across her lips.
Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe it wasn’t.
There was only one way to find out.