Warning: None for this version.
Categories: Ship, Het, Romance
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
A/N: This is the T™© rated version of my entry in the Bath-Time contest. Original ST-17™© version here.
Special thanks to Shayenne for two very helpful words.
Disclaimer: All hail Paramount, corporate master of the universe.
"Run!" Kathryn gasped.
"We'll never make it," Chakotay answered.
"Just try. That's an order."
It didn't help.
The sky opened up and they were soaked anyhow. Together, they huddled at the opening of a conveniently located cave. She tried again to contact the ship while he scanned the interior with a tricorder.
"No luck. How about you?"
"Appears safe enough. No life signs."
They ventured into the cave.
She tried to wring out her skirt. "We should have worn uniforms."
"I wanted to be with my friend on shore leave; not my captain."
"Starfleet uniforms deal with the elements somewhat better than civilian clothes. I feel like a drowned rat."
"Well, you look beautiful." He spoke before he thought, but the words were true. Protocol or not, the way the soggy dress clung to her form was hard to ignore. Even the way her limp hair was plastered to her face was appealing.
She wanted to object to his comment, but that would require acknowledging it. Safer just to ignore it, at least in this quadrant. Secretly, she didn't mind his admiration.
Her eyes wandered to his damp clothes. They clung in all the right places, and his shirt was nearly transparent. She reminded herself firmly of Starfleet protocol, and managed to contain her desire to taste that muscular chest.
"A little," she lied. On second thought, it was a little chilly. "It's going to be very cold tonight, if we don't manage to contact the ship."
"Tuvok will look for us when we fail to check in."
"He would, except I foolishly left Tom Paris in command."
"He won't look for us. At least, not immediately." She didn't want to explain; that would require admitting her knowledge of Tom's wagering pool, among other things.
He nodded, respecting what she didn't want to acknowledge. "Then we'd better find a way to dry these clothes before the temperature drops."
"Let's explore this cave a bit more. We might find a spot to sit down and phaser some rocks; maybe even finish our lunch."
"Good idea." Chakotay reached into the picnic basket and fished out a hand lamp.
They quickly reached the back of the rocky shelter, and were surprised to find a natural spring brimming with steamy water.
"It must be your lucky day." He pulled out his tricorder. "A bath."
A quick scan showed the water to be quite safe, and further exploration revealed a rather comfortable rocky ledge within the pool.
"Shall we?" he asked.
"We shouldn't," she answered without conviction.
"Why not? It's perfect." He turned off the hand lamp. "We can phaser some rocks, lay our clothes out to dry..."
The darkness did provide an adequate measure of privacy. She gave in.
It felt odd, peeling off the soaked dress with Chakotay only a few yards away. She scolded herself for wishing that circumstances were different, and that she had the freedom to enjoy his company more thoroughly.
She tried not to imagine his hands slowly removing her remaining garments. She tried not to imagine his lips on her throat. She certainly tried not to imagine his body, pressed tightly against hers. The chill she had felt was gone before she even slid into the water.
Once Kathryn was immersed in the spring, Chakotay pulled out a phaser and heated the rocks he had gathered. A soft light filled the cavern. He glanced at the empty dress, aware of how little its owner now wore. He didn't look her direction.
She made every effort not to watch as he removed his sodden clothing. Each stolen glance only served to remind her of what she couldn't have. Yet she was powerless to keep her eyes to herself. He was a beautiful man.
Wearing only boxers, he joined her in the water. They watched each other discreetly in the dim light.
"Too bad we don't have bubble bath," she said.
"We have insecticide."
"I think I'd prefer bubble bath."
"We also have salad dressing."
"That's not better."
"Oh, but it is." His voice dropped. "Not ideal, but better."
"And how...never mind. I don't think I want the answer to that."
They sat in silence for a while. She tried to keep her thoughts from the alternate uses of salad dressing. As she failed, she realized she'd never look at blue cheese the same way again.
He watched her, wanting to say more, but not willing to push. If only they were home...
"What are you thinking?"
He considered not telling her. "I was thinking about Homer."
"The Odyssey. Odysseus spends all those years, struggling to get home to Penelope. Hoping, every day, for someday. Each day, wondering, is this the day we find our way home? Is this the day I can finally hold her in my arms? It took many years to reach Ithaca."
She caught his meaning. Their eyes met. Her words were barely audible. "What I wouldn't give for an excuse; any excuse."
His voice was just as low. "I could give you one."
She closed her eyes. If she spoke now...
Chakotay slid across the rocky ledge. He reached to stroke her cheek. "Kathryn."
She heard the quake in his soft voice. She felt the trembling in his fingers. With all her heart, she willed him to continue. She couldn't encourage him; she wouldn't stop him.
"I love you, Kathryn. I can't live a lie of omission any longer. I love you and I want to be with you. I don't want to wait for Ithaca." His lips descended.
The soft kiss burned through her. What was protocol in the face of this? It was nothing. She returned the kiss.
Her arms came up to circle his neck, and she gasped softly as he pulled her body to his. Finally, she knew the taste of his lips.
Nothing existed outside of this moment as they each savored that which had been so long in coming. His fingers ran through her wet hair and trailed up and down her spine. Her seeking hands stroked his shoulders.
For a moment he feared what she might say, but her hands never stopped their slow explorations. She wasn't pushing him away.
"I love you, Chakotay."
"Oh Kathryn." Tears spilled down his cheeks at her words. Her gentle fingers reached to wipe them away.
She only realized that she was crying, as well, when his thumbs brushed the moisture from her cheeks. She laughed softly. "Our first kiss was in the bath. I never dreamed that."
"I'd imagine even Paris' betting pool didn't cover that possibility."
"No, I doubt it did." She kissed him again. "I did have some very specific dreams about baths, though."
"I'd much rather show than tell." Her lips slid down his throat as she pushed him back against the side of the pool. She straddled him, pressed wet kisses to his shoulder. "It'll be so much more fun that way."
Her mouth circled a flat male nipple. She teased it with her tongue. He gently pushed her away.
"Kathryn, love, slow down. We have plenty of time."
"Do we, Chakotay? Do we really?"
"We do." He kissed her softly. "We've reached Ithaca. There's no going back now." He kissed her again, harder. "When Odysseus arrived in Ithaca, he found his home overrun with suitors. Each demanded Penelope's hand in marriage. Odysseus had to fight for her. He didn't give up. Not with his Penelope within his grasp. He had reached Ithaca; nothing was going to keep him from his love."
His hands moved with purpose. "You are mine, now, Kathryn, just as I am yours. And nothing is going to change that. Nothing."
"No," she agreed. "Nothing will."
Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties are Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, July 2002.