Shattered - Lost in the Badlands after all, but they started off on a different level.
Slightly based on Shattered - very A/U
for our friend Jadie :)
it might have taken us a while, but here it is!
*hugz* Katie and Nieke
* ~ * ~ *
No way she would continue into the Badlands. Not after what she had found out only two days ago. Did Starfleet really expect her to continue her mission, even though the chance of coming back on time was almost non-existing? She would just try her best and get out before the situation got any worse. The Admiralty could just forget about apprehending the Maquis Captain: she was not going to spend the next 70 years away from home - away from Mark. Would they really expect her to follow their orders? Not if she could help it.
First things first. She had to get in touch with the Liberty and warn them, and then she'd get out of this area as quickly as possible. For once in her life, she would not let Starfleet decide how to ruin her life.
Of course, she wasn't really sure her Voyager would be prey to the same predicament as the other ship had been. If only Tuvok was here to guide and advice her. He would consider her arguments and sentiments and then proceed to explain her his logical solution. But he wasn't on board, and if she went through with her anti-Starfleet plan, she would probably never see her friend again.
"Cavit to Janeway."
"Go ahead, Commander."
"Can I speak to you in private, ma'am?"
Kathryn winced. "Meet me in my ready room in five minutes?"
Kathryn cursed. She didn't need any distractions right now. Certainly none from a certain annoying XO. But he was her first officer after all so she had to do her best to hear him out.
Her interaction with Cavit reminded her of something. When Chakotay was her first officer on the future Voyager, what had happened to Cavit? He didn't strike her as the type who would ever give up his rank for anything.
That was another reason she just couldn't enter the Badlands again. If something happened to Cavit what would she tell his wife? Not that she would have any opportunity to actually talk to her in the future. The Delta Quadrant wasn't exactly around the corner.
"Cavit to Janeway."
"Ma'am? Are you all right?"
"Yes. Why are you asking?"
"You told me to meet you in your ready room in five minutes."
"That was half an hour ago."
"I'm on my way. Janeway out."
It was never good when a subordinate had to remind you about your appointment, but Cavit was overdoing it. He had no right to call on her in this fashion. Of course she was also peeved about the fact he'd called her ma'am. This was something she'd had to work on, soon.
Entering her Ready Room, she noticed Commander Cavit was waiting next to her desk. He stood ramrod straight at attention, almost as if he knew she'd want to discuss his attitude.
She knew she wasn't getting off on the right foot with Cavit, but frankly she didn't feel like being polite to him. Especially, since she could not explain to him why she was disobeying Starfleet's orders. He would just have to get used to the fact she was his commanding officer, and therefore her word counted most. If only Nechayev had approved her choice of First Officer. Instead the Admiral had seen fit to personally appoint Cavit as Voyager's XO.
"Commander, what can I do for you?"
He scraped his throat, "Captain, it has come to my attention that certain crew members have heard rumors about our orders."
"Could you possibly be less vague, Commander Cavit. I am very busy at the moment, and I'm not in the mood for games."
She sat down behind her desk, and called up the specifics for the Badlands. "Mr. Cavit, I'm waiting."
"Captain, I have reason to believe you are not going to follow the orders Adm. Nechayev gave you. Are you going to apprehend the Maquis Captain, or will you let him go, therefore showing your sympathy for the bastards!"
"Commander Cavit! You are out of line!"
"Captain Janeway, I simply want a clarification of the rumors I have heard."
"I have decided to warn the Maquis ship about an unknown entity in the Badlands, which could very well be our end."
"Do you have proof for this? And how do you know? Did your Maquis lover tell you?"
"Excuse me, Commander? You will take back what you just said! Now!"
"Cavit to Doctor Brannon. Commander, initialize sequence Cavit-Alpha-Alpha."
Before Kathryn realized what happened she was beamed into the Brig.
* ~ * ~ *
"I demand to know what's going on here, now!" Kathryn stood behind the force field, hands on her hips, glaring at her first officer. Former first officer, she corrected herself. Once they had switched places, that is.
"You are conspiring with a member of the Maquis. Did you really think I wouldn't find out about your Maquis boyfriend on the Liberty? Did you really think I was so blunt to ignore him on Voyager's bridge talking to you? Did you really think I wouldn't start to question your loyalties?"
"He's not my boyfriend. I had never seen him in person before that day."
"Yes, sure. Of course you didn't know him. And why did he know all the personal things even I don't know about you. He knew the name of your dog, after all."
"You know nothing about me, mister, and you will never know."
"He probably did. So, what are you? Lovers? Former Lovers? Husband and wife?"
"You're out of line, mister. I already told you that I do not know this man and I had never spoken to him until that very moment on the bridge."
"And I already told you I do not believe a word you're saying."
"Well, thank you, and what makes you believe this?"
"You tried to contact him."
"I have taken the liberty of reading your logs, and I discovered your comments about contacting the rebel captain. Starfleet will want to have a copy of your transmission, but we can take care of that after we capture the Maquis."
* ~ * ~ *
After spending close to six days in the Brig, Kathryn was beyond feeling desperate. She only had heard an occasional rumor about what was going on, but she really didn't have a clue. For all she knew, the other cell in the Brig would soon be occupied by the mysterious Maquis Captain.
The doors to the Brig opened, but she couldn't see who had entered the room. All of a sudden the force field shimmered away. "Captain Janeway? You can come out again."
She didn't automatically recognize the voice, but it sounded familiar.
"I promise I won't bite."
She grinned when she heard what the other was saying. He wouldn't bite. Too bad.
She stopped dead in her tracks, still not having made it out of her holding cell, where did that thought come from? Was she loosing her mind after spending all this time in her own Brig?
Carefully she peeked around the corner of the cell. O my, he is even more handsome in his Maquis outfit than the Starfleet uniform. She realized she had to be mindful of those random thoughts spinning in her mind. She was engaged to Mark. She was not interested in this extremely gorgeous renegade. Honestly, she was not!
"Captain Janeway? Feeling at home yet?" He gave her a full-fledged dimpled smile.
She was dying. This was the worst thing that had ever happened to her. Forget falling down the stairs at the Academy Ball. Forget dropping the salad dressing into her future mother-in-law's lap. This was worse, right?
"You looked as if you were miles away."
"Not really. Just dwelling on memories from my Academy days."
"Not really," she grinned.
"Something makes me believe otherwise," he grinned back.
Suddenly Kathryn remembered who she was and why she was here.
"What happened to my ship, to my crew?"
"Would you prefer the long version or the short one?"
"The short one will do for now. You can brief me fully later over dinner."
Where had that come from? She gulped. She would have to cope now - not that she actually minded a lot.
"Dinner it is," he chuckled.
He was definitely trying to slowly torture her to death.
On her way to the ready room he told her about the Caretaker Array, Cavit's and the Doctor's death, and that they were stranded in the Delta Quadrant without much of chance of getting home any time soon. Mark was far away. As far away as one could possibly be. Why wasn't she upset?
Stuck in the Delta Quadrant - it just didn't make any sense. Who put them here? Or how? And what was Captain Chakotay doing on her ship?
* ~ * ~ *
Two weeks ago they had entered the Delta Quadrant, seventy light years away from home. She had read through Cavit's logs and discovered he had ignored her worries about traveling through the Badlands. After being sent across the galaxy, the crews of the Liberty and Voyager had both suffered enormous losses. Chakotay and Kathryn had decided to combine crews - not entirely Starfleet but also not quite Maquis. Chakotay became her First Officer and he suggested B'Elanna Torres as the ship's new Chief Engineer.
Kathryn was surprised how well her XO and she worked together. He made sure she kept things in perspective and under control, and she in turn looked after him. Not that he needed looking after, but she felt she had to do something, because he was doing so much for her.
Her daily coffee intake was one of his main concerns, and she thoroughly enjoyed his meddling.
"That's cup number five, you know."
"I need it. Whoever taught you to salten the mushroom soup like this? I want to stay alive, thank you very much. Hence the coffee," Kathryn replied teasingly.
Chakotay bowed his head, pretending to sulk. "I never forced you to eat it in the first place. And a second serving was all your idea."
She threw him a mini glare. "Watch it, mister, I might make you eat the stuff I cook the next time."
Looking surplussed, Chakotay seemed to shrink deeper and deeper into the cushions of her sofa.
"At least I can get your replicator to work without having to talk to it. Did you really think calling it a 'glorified toaster' was going to make it cooperative the next time you made a pot roast? Kathryn, hon, what were you thinking?"
Her head snapped up, "I think it's time you left."
Tilting his head slightly, Chakotay studied her intently. He had overstepped his boundaries. She had retreated to her little safe shell again. He really should have known better than to call her 'hon'. It had just left his mouth before he could stop it.
"Okay, see you tomorrow? I am willing to give your cooking a second try."
"I don't think I will be available, Commander. Good evening. I will see you tomorrow at the start of beta shift."
"Captain? I thought you would take alpha shift?"
"I have changed my mind, Commander. Good night."
Chakotay knew when he had lost a round. He had most definitely managed to screw this one. He sighed, bidding her a good night as well. Tomorrow would bring a new day and with some minor adjustments of the duty roster he would join her on beta shift. He could be just as sneaky as her.
* ~ * ~ *
As she stepped onto the Bridge, Kathryn noticed Chakotay was nowhere to be seen. Just then the turbolift opened up behind her.
"Nice to meet you here, Captain. Ready for our shift?"
Without even looking at him, she marched towards her Ready Room. "Commander, in here. NOW!"
Chakotay gulped as he followed her into her private sanctuary.
As the doors closed behind them, Kathryn spun around to face him. "Commander, would you please explain yourself? And don't you tell me it was on the duty roster all the time."
"Uhm, Captain, I am sorry. I just thought it would be nice to spend the shift together with you. The alternative is, after all, dying of boredom while tending the other shift."
"This doesn't have anything to do with yesterday evening? Oh come on, Commander, you don't honestly think I'd believe that, do you?"
"Kathryn ..." One look from her made him change his mind, "Captain, permission to speak frankly?"
"Permission denied. Commander, we will keep different shifts for the time being. It is time the junior officers had some experience under both of our commands."
"Kathryn, and no, before you say another thing, I will not shut up this time. You are being childish, my dear. We will continue with our shifts, why upset the junior officers who relish the chance to sit in the big chair when we're not there. Meanwhile, you will join me in my quarters at 1900 hours for a nice intimate dinner between friends. Is that understood?"
He stalked out before she could answer.
* ~ * ~ *
Five minutes before their supposed dinner, Chakotay still wasn't sure if Kathryn would show up. He had never intended to speak to her like that, but somehow this woman just crawled under his skin, making him forget all rational thought. Five more minutes and he would find out if he still had a position aboard Voyager. Five more minutes to find out if he still had a best friend.
Sitting down on his couch he surveyed the dining area. No elaborate dinner ware, but just a simple setting. He hoped she would understand he was not going to force her into anything. If she showed up, of course. So far so good, at least she hadn't canceled. Then again, she hadn't contacted him at all today. All communications were routed through one of the junior officers. She'd even used Harry and Tom twice to relay a message.
Four minutes and counting. When he was younger he never felt comfortable enough to invite anyone over for dinner. Now he remembered why. Somehow his dates made him forget they had actually agreed to have dinner, and while he waited for them he turned into a nervous wreck. What made him think his luck had changed when he met Kathryn Janeway She was more stubborn than all of his dates combined. Surely she'd simply claim to forget he'd asked her for dinner.
Three minutes to go. all right, so he didn't exactly ask her. He commanded her to come. Wrong move.
He sighed. Two minutes.
* ~ * ~ *
Kathryn never considered herself a coward. Until now. Five minutes past her dinner date with Chakotay and she was still hiding in her bedroom. She knew she could simply claim to have forgotten the whole thing. She knew Chakotay wouldn't confront her on her lie. She also knew she could not live with herself if she took the coward's way out. Yet she was afraid to walk over to his quarters. Her crew would not believe she was ever afraid, only her First Officer knew of her fears. Of course he'd never realize that her deepest fears were connected to him, they actually connected her to him.
Should she be brave and ignore the thumping in her chest? It was only a matter of a couple of steps to reach his quarters.
Thinking back on their conversation last night, she knew she had to confront him. Why did she act so childish when he called her 'hon'? Wasn't it the proof she was waiting for? Didn't she already see him as her lover in her dreams? Was it that unsettling to discover he obviously saw her in the same light?
She knew he was waiting for her. She knew he was probably wondering if she had forgotten, or wanted to forget about it. Why was she feeling just as bad about not coming as she did about coming?
She knew she had to make a decision. Did she want to face him tomorrow morning, glance into his big questioning eyes or did she prefer to face him now?
One thing was sure, she wouldn't be able to postpone the dinner forever, eventually he would get her. In more ways than one.
She closed her eyes trying to focus. She was strong. She had to be strong. She wasn't a coward. A Starfleet captain couldn't behave like one. She had to go. One last glance into the mirror assured her that she really did look presentable.
Choosing something to dress had been difficult. She couldn't possibly wear her uniform and the amount of off-duty clothes she owned suddenly seemed very limited. She had settled for something casual, nothing that accentuated her slim figure or hugged her body in all the right places. The shirt she wore was long and wide, leaving everything to his imagination and she didn't really want to go there.
Taking one last deep breath she set her jaw. She strode out of her quarters hurrying to his; not because she was eager to get there, she was just afraid she would chicken out of it if she took any more time than necessary.
Gulping, she rang his chime, waiting to be acknowledged. His astonished "Come" came almost immediately. As she set foot into his private sanctuary he grinned at her, "Thought you had forgotten about our dinner."
* ~ * ~ *
Kathryn let the door slide shut behind her, then turned around. Hoping that the computer understood the meaning of "Seal doors" she banged her head against the door repeatedly. Why had she even feared this evening? It had been one of the most awkward moments in her life. Nothing, nothing at all had happened between them.
Why had she been that scared? Now she knew he had been just as frightened of what might happen. In the end they had tried to cover lingering glances and avoid uncomfortable silence by meaningless chatter. At least both of them were up to date with the ship's gossip, not that there was much going on.
When would they finally settle whatever was between them? When would they be able to be around the other without feeling awkward or wanting to run far away? As far as possible on the only Starfleet vessel in the Delta Quadrant, of course.
It was ridiculous and pathetic. Maybe she should finally set an end to it. She should once and for all settle it with him. She should confront him face to face. Challenge him, scream at him, kiss him. Wait. Not that. She didn't want to do that.
Shaking her head, she once again set her jaw and strode out of her quarters, not paying attention to the door that didn't give way. She bumped against it, howling in frustration and pain. She barked at the computer to open them and bumped into the next obstacle.
She cursed, as her already hurting body made contact. She would recognize the scent everywhere. "Chakotay," she stated.
"What happened to you?" he asked as his hand lifted her face to a closer inspection.
"The door and you," Kathryn stated dryly.
"Maybe we should put something on your eye. Can I come in? I don't want to explain to the Doctor why the Captain has one impressive black eye."
"I wanted to talk to you. But I sealed the damned doors before, so I bumped into them and when they finally gave way, I bumped into you."
"Later, hon. We can talk later. First we'll see to this, then talk, okay?" He gently touched the part of her face that had taken most of the blow, letting his fingers travel farther, touching every spot, finally tracing the curves of her mouth from one corner to the other. Kathryn closed her good eye and kissed the tips of his fingers.
She felt him pulling back from her. She had anticipated the kiss that had almost come. "Later," he whispered hoarsely. "We have to concentrate on this first," he gestured towards her eye and walked towards the replicator. "One slice of raw meat big enough to cover an eye," he ordered.
"Meat?" Kathryn asked as it appeared.
"Yes," he said, walking up towards her. "Sit down, hon, and put this on your eye. Believe an old boxer, this really helps."
Kathryn did as she was told, letting her form slump into a chair, groaning as it made contact.
"At this rate I might have to inspect the rest of your body for any lasting injuries."
She would have thrown him a death glare, but found it hard to accomplish with one eye covered. Come to think of it she was glad there was no mirror nearby. She had to look incredibly stupid. "Dream on," she growled instead.
"Oh, believe me, I will," he snickered.
* ~ * ~ *
Surprisingly enough, the bridge crew didn't comment on their Captain's appearance. Even though her eye looked worse for wear, Kathryn's face was beaming radiantly. Sitting down in her chair, she winced when her back came into contact with the padding. Whoever claimed the Captain's chair was the most comfortable place on the ship had to be kidding. He or she had obviously never run into a door, or the solid form of Chakotay. He was a force of nature to be reckoned with. If she wasn't careful he would continue sweeping her off her feet. And Starship Captains were not supposed to be swept off their feet. According to Starfleet Protocol Chapter 3, subsection 27B-6 they were also not supposed to form an 'attachment' to junior officers. Scrolling through the Captain's Manual, Kathryn read a small section she'd never noticed before. 'In the event of unforeseen circumstances, a Starship Captain is allowed to form a legal bond with a junior officer, when said bond is paramount to the Captain's benefit.'
She grinned to herself. Poor Chakotay, he would never know what hit him.
He would be begging for her to stop before long. "Commander, my ready room, now," she ordered, grinning.
"Aye Ma'am," he answered holding out a hand to her. She grasped it and let him pull her up refusing to let go of it immediately.
Chakotay looked at her an eyebrow raised.
Letting her finger trail along his stomach as she went towards the door, she grinned at him wickedly.
Chakotay followed her in a hurry as she was pulling him along. Tuvok's eyebrow hit the ceiling.
* ~ * ~ *
As soon as they had entered her ready room, she sealed the doors, grinning at him again. "Now, Chakotay, didn't you want to talk to me?"
He shook his head, "Kathryn Janeway, how am I going to put up with you?" Continuing to hold her hand, he directed them to the couch. "Spirits, have you any idea what Tuvok and the rest of the crew is going to think of us now?"
"Since when are you interested in what other people think of us, Chakotay? I thought you supported this kind of behavior.?"
"Hon, I do. You just surprised the heck out of me." He let his head fall back. "All right, tell me what you discovered. That gleam in your eyes is too ominous for me to think straight. You start talking and I'll fill in the gaps."
"Chakotay, will you marry me?"
His head snapped up again, almost colliding with Kathryn who was peering into his face intently. "What?"
Almost whispering, she repeated, "Will you marry me?"
Still dazed, Chakotay stared at her. "Kathryn? Are you asking me to marry you? Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. Of course I am, or I wouldn't be asking you."
"But what about Starfleet Protocol? I know I read somewhere Captain's weren't allowed to form an attachment to a junior officer."
"First of all, you're hardly a junior officer, Chakotay. You're still the Captain of the Liberty, even though you are now serving as this ship's First Officer. Secondly, I came upon a small section in the Captain's Manual that might interest you. Computer, list section 45 point 7, paragraph B."
'In the event of unforeseen circumstances, a Starship Captain is allowed to form a legal bond with a junior officer, when said bond is paramount to the Captain's benefit.'
"When did you find that?"
"Just now, before my little scene on the bridge."
"Do you? Do you really? Chakotay, this means Starfleet can put their precious Protocol in a place where the sun never shines. It's been there all along, I just never had any need to notice it."
"Yes, I'll marry you, Kathryn Janeway."
She leaned over and kissed him.
"Aren't you forgetting anything?"
"I don't think so. I can distinctly remember this is how people kiss."
"Kathryn, don't toy with me. Not now. Aren't you forgetting a little something that usually comes before a marriage proposal."
"I love you?"
"But you're not certain? Great Spirits. Kathryn, I don't want you to ask me, just because you've found a way to approve our marriage."
"Chakotay, I love you. You can be certain about that. And I want to marry you, because I love you. And because I think you love me too."
"And? aren't you forgetting something?"
"And, I love you too."