Categories: Ship, Het, Fluff, Romance, Alpha Quadrant
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay, the EMH
A/N: Written for Koffee Klub's Awesome Author Award. Post Endgame. Finally home in the Alpha Quadrant, Kathryn Janeway has time to do something she couldn't on Voyager: catch a cold. Those readers with allegies should take precautions due to high fluff content.
Credits: Thank you to Squirrelly and Diana Forester for beta services rendered.
Disclaimer: Paramount, if you own the flu, take it back and give it to Berman, Braga, and Biller.
"I realize that Starfleet has many excellent physicians, but I'd prefer to see my own doctor...No, I do not wish to 'use' a different EMH, he's not a tricorder...don't put me on hold." Kathryn Janeway sighed in frustration, but took advantage of the pause and blew her nose.
Admiral Nechayev appeared on her viewscreen. Interesting. "Is there something I can do for you, Captain?"
"I'd like to know why I can't contact my Doctor," she said. "I seem to have caught a cold, and would like to see him today."
"I can send someone right -- "
"No," Kathryn said. "Not just someone. I want my own doctor."
"But surely -- "
"He knows my history. We have a rapport. Health care is more than just hyposprays."
The transmission went silent as the two women studied each other, measuring each other up as if they were preparing to meet in combat.
Nechayev broke first. "Very well, Captain. I'll see that your message is forwarded."
Chakotay found his captain curled up under a blanket on the couch in her new Starfleet furnished apartment. "Kathryn." Worry leaked into his voice. "I came as soon as I heard."
She rolled her eyes but didn't bother to lift her head. "Please tell me this isn't on the news."
"No, they told me at Starfleet." He dropped to his knees in front of her and took her hand.
"And you rushed right over."
"Of course. Is there anything I can do?"
She smiled and squeezed his hand. "I have the sniffles, Chakotay. It'll take the Doctor five minutes to fix, and that's including his lecture about the evils of coffee."
"Then where is he?"
"But -- "
"It may only be the sniffles, but I still want to see my own doctor. They aren't interchangeable."
So she had gone and found a cold to catch just so she could make a point to Starfleet. "I see."
"The sooner I make it clear where I stand, the better. He's not a lab rat, and a few hours of sniffling is a small price to pay to make sure he's treated with respect."
"Anything for your crew." His thumb stroked the back of her hand. "That sounds like my Kathryn."
Sunshine spread across her face. "Say that again."
He met her gaze and savored the words as he spoke them. "My Kathryn."
"Always." She reached out and touched his face.
Everything was different now. They grinned at each other.
He had to struggle to find his voice, to finally say the words. "I love you, Kathryn."
She smiled, her fingers stroking his cheek, and when she spoke her voice was softer than he had ever heard it. "And I love you, Chakotay."
They both laughed, grinning foolishly, tears sparkling in their eyes.
"Feeling brave enough to kiss me?" she asked.
"Oh yes," he answered, leaning close.
"You might get the sniffles."
"A small price. Besides, it couldn't hurt your little plan for the Doctor to have an extra patient."
"Good point," she said, and pulled his head down to hers.
They kissed softly, tenderly, until she turned from him suddenly and sneezed.
"Well that was sexy." She accepted the tissue he offered from the box on the coffee table.
He chuckled. "You look beautiful when you sneeze."
"Sure I do." She kissed him again, her fingers sliding through his hair.
His hand brushed her forehead. "Kathryn, you're burning up."
"Hardly. My temperature's not even a full degree over normal, and if anything I'm feeling a little chilly."
"Maybe I should warm you up." He looked around for another blanket.
"I wouldn't complain if you did," she said.
Their eyes met. "Kathryn, you know how I want to take that."
"I do." She sat up and held up the blanket. "Join me."
He climbed onto the couch. After some awkwardness he managed to lay down behind her and she arranged herself in his arms. He pulled her back against his chest and sighed with contentment. "This is what I always wanted the most, to hold you in my arms and speak freely and truthfully with you."
"I love you. It feels so good to say it after all this time. I love you."
"I love you too. I'm sorry it took me so long to tell you."
"Kathryn, you were right about protocol -- "
"No, not out there. Since we got home."
"It's only been six days."
"That's almost a week," she said. "I always planned to tell you the very moment we reached the Alpha Quadrant, right there on the bridge."
"Not a very practical plan, love."
"Hey, it's my fantasy. Don't try to clutter it up with reality."
He pressed his lips to her ear. "Any other fantasies I should know about?"
"Hundreds of them." Her tone sent his imagination spinning. "You?"
He kissed her cheek. "Thousands."
"We'll make them all come true."
"That might be impossible."
"Maybe, but it can't hurt to try."
"It might," he said. "I'm not as young as I used to be."
She chuckled softly. "I'll be gentle."
He laughed and pressed a kiss into her hair. "So when should we start working on this list?"
"Tonight," she said. "Tonight after dinner, we'll come back here, and you'll come in for coffee, and one thing will lead to another." There was a smile in her husky voice. "And it'll be fantastic."
"Phenomenal," he promised. "I've got a few old Maquis tricks I've been saving."
Her laughter rumbled through him. "I know a thing or two they don't teach at Starfleet Academy myself."
"We should go dancing first," he said. "I've dreamed of dancing with you."
"We've danced before."
"Not like we'll dance tonight," he said softly. "Tonight I can hold you close to my heart, mold your body to mine, run my fingers down your spine..."
"But first we'll have dinner," he continued. "I know just the place. We'll ask for a nice, quiet table where we can eat by candlelight."
"It will be," he said. "I'll tell you a secret."
"I'm going to ask you to marry me."
"Good," she said. "Because I've already told Phoebe that we're engaged."
He chuckled. "Good thing I've already got the ring."
"No wheedling, Kathryn, you have to wait until dinner."
"Fair enough," she agreed.
He kissed her face again. "I can hardly wait to finally get down on one knee and slide that ring onto your finger."
"I can hardly wait to see you naked," she said.
His arm tightened around her, making her shiver as they both laughed softly. Her laughter set off a coughing spell.
"You're getting worse," he said.
"Stop worrying." She reached for her tea, struggling a bit to sip it without sitting up. "I've been through much worse than this."
"You certainly have," he agreed, a hint of a tremor in his voice. He pulled her back against his chest again.
The silence stretched between them as a thousand memories rushed through Chakotay. He tried not to let them ruin this perfect moment. They had survived it all. They were here now, together, with a whole life stretching before them.
"I have a confession to make," he said.
"I kissed you once."
"How did I not know about this?"
"You were unconscious at the time."
"After the Borg. In sickbay. You were lying there, and I couldn't stop myself."
"Makes sense," she said dryly. "There I was, gray-skinned and bald, covered with Borg implants. How could you resist?"
He laughed, but the sound caught in his throat. "I was so scared, more scared than I had ever been in my life, and I was so relieved to have you back. I just wanted to kiss you and hold you and never let you go."
"You can do that now," she said softly.
"You were back, and at first that was all I saw. And then I started to see how they had hurt you. All of those implants, violating you, and I started to imagine what might have happened if we hadn't gotten you back."
"But you did -- "
"And your eye," he continued, no longer able to keep the tears from his voice. "What they had done to your eye..."
"Chakotay, the Doctor had prepared for that. It's fixed, it's all fixed, it's been fixed for a long time."
"I'm sorry, Kathryn, I didn't realize that this memory still feels so raw."
"No," she said. "Don't be sorry. I've got some memories like that, too. Too many of them."
She found his hand and threaded their fingers together. "Too many times I wanted to be there for you, and I couldn't. Like after the Vori, when you went off to your quarters and I couldn't follow, couldn't help you through that. The memory of that still hurts."
He pressed another kiss into her hair. "You did help me that day. We had dinner, remember?"
"Yes, we did. But first I had to deal with the ambassador. That shouldn't have been first. You should have been first."
"The ship had to come first."
"Voyager  wasn't in any danger. Tuvok could have -- "
"Kathryn, don't. Don't blame yourself for things that couldn't be helped, and that can't be changed."
"It's just -- you were always there for me. Always."
"You were too, especially when it really counted. Sveta's letter. I don't know what I would have done without you that night."
"I couldn't let you go through that alone. My God."
He held her tightly, pressing his face into her hair. "I love you."
"I love you too," she whispered. "Every single day we were out there, I prayed that you knew that."
"You showed me in so many ways," she said. "I wish I could have done the same."
"You did, Kathryn, Every time you let me glimpse emotion on your face before assuming your captain's mask, every time you touched me, every time you smiled at me."
"I wish I could have kissed you, just once..."
"Kiss me now," he whispered.
She twisted, and their lips met. He kissed her softly and savored the moment. Her hand tangled in his hair, holding him to her when he would have moved back, and he placed small kisses across her cheek, finally softly nibbling her earlobe.
They broke apart, gasping a little.
"Is that better?" he asked.
"Oh yes," she said. "Much better. It's all better now, every bit of it, and now we can talk about the last seven years, put the more difficult and painful memories to rest."
"Despite all of the hardships, I'm very glad we were out there together. That I could be by your side."
"I can't imagine being out there without you," she said. "You were my strength."
"You didn't need my strength, Kathryn, you are the strongest person I have ever known."
"You made me stronger. I could have done my job, maybe, but I needed you. You kept me from shutting down emotionally. I needed someone to call me by name, touch my hand, remind me I was more than a captain."
"Much more," he said.
"I needed the hope that someday you'd be in my bed."
"Soon," he whispered.
"There were so many times I wanted to slip into your quarters, to hell with protocol."
"Me too. I thought about going to you so many times."
"I have a confession." Their eyes locked and she reached to touch his face. "I promised myself that if you ever came to me, that would be it. We'd be together."
"I don't know whether to be sorry not to have known that, or glad that I didn't."
"It would have been wonderful, but so hard...let's just be glad for what we have now."
"I agree." He kissed her softly. "What we have now is the greatest gift I can imagine. A life together."
"I'm glad. We've waited so long."
"I want to live with you, and eat meals with you, and share cozy evenings in front of the fire with you..."
"I want to do dirty things with you," she said.
"Is that so?" He smiled again. "Do I get a preview?"
He lowered his mouth to hers.
The door chimed.
The both spoke at once. "That must be Tuvok."
Chakotay opened the door for the Doctor, almost surprised that Tuvok hadn't made the trip from Vulcan just to interrupt a kiss. "She's on the couch."
The Doctor went straight for his patient, and Chakotay headed into the kitchen to make the pot of coffee he knew Kathryn would want the moment she felt better.
"It's good to see you, Captain." The Doctor opened his medkit and took out his favorite medical tricorder.
She smiled warmly. "I'm glad you could make it."
"As I understand it, you left them little choice about that."
"If I want to contact a member of my crew, they'd better not stand in my way. How have they been treating you?"
"Like a hologram, but Reg is there, and so is Seven. We'll have them straightened out in no time."
"I'm glad to hear that."
"Let's talk about you, Captain." The Doctor scanned his patient and administered a hypospray. "Should I ask Chakotay about his intentions?"
Kathryn laughed. "Is it that obvious?"
He shrugged. "You look happy."
She laid her hand on the Doctor's arm and lowered her voice. "He's going to propose at dinner."
"Congratulations!" The Doctor's enthusiasm clearly showed as he swept his patient up into a bear hug. "I'm glad you aren't wasting any more time."
"Easy." She laughed. "You'll be knitting a broken rib."
"It's just so wonderful. You and Chakotay. Seven of Nine and myself."
Chakotay returned from the kitchen and handed Kathryn a cup of coffee. "So, Seven's finally seen the light?"
"We're not talking marriage, but she agreed to a date." He smiled at Chakotay. "I have you to thank for that."
"She said that a few dates with you taught her that romance was a worthwhile pursuit, but that a relationship with an average human male would ultimately prove inadequate."
Kathryn snorted. "I hope you can live up to her standards."
"I'm just glad she figured it out," Chakotay said. "A few dates were one thing, but we simply weren't compatible." He reached out and took Kathryn's hand. "Besides, I had already given my heart away."
As soon as the Doctor left, Kathryn disappeared to freshen up. Chakotay found a mirror and studied his own rumpled appearance. They'd have to stop by his place on the way to dinner, he decided. He could not propose to the woman he loved dressed like this, even if she had already answered him.
"We're alone again."
He turned and studied the beauty before him. "Kathryn."
She grinned. "Is that all you can say?"
"That is the most beautiful word that I know." He stepped forward and took her in his arms. "Shakespeare himself could not find a more fitting word to describe how you look in that dress."
"And that's your unbiased opinion?"
"I just might have to let you kiss me properly now."
He caressed her lips tenderly with his own until she grasped his head and deepened the kiss. He responded, stroking her tongue with his, tasting her, drowning in her.
When they broke apart gasping, foreheads still touching, Chakotay sneezed.
Kathryn laughed. "I hope the Doctor has time for one more house call."
Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, February 2004.