Morning Light by Djinn
Chakotay looked down at her as she slept, all tangled hair and sprawled
limbs. Not quite the picture most people had of Admiral Kathryn
Janeway...not the one that he'd had of her either, until early this morning
when she'd fallen asleep exhausted and thoroughly sated. He'd been
watching her since she had surrendered to sleep, smiling softly as he
memorized how she looked when she dreamed, when she rolled over. She
snored slightly, and drooled, at times she ground her teeth. She was only
human, and he was glad to see it. Somehow, over the years, he'd begun to
believe otherwise. Begun to believe she was some mythological creature,
out of reach, out of his reach.
He yawned, tired to the bone. He'd wanted to sleep, to curl next to her
and close his eyes, but some stronger--or was it weaker?--part of himself
insisted he stay awake, watch her. Because this moment had been long in
coming, and he wasn't sure what would happen when she woke up. He really
didn't want her to wake up. He thought he could be happy if she just lay
next to him forever, if he were given the rest of his life to study her, to
touch her gently without waking her. If the morning light would never
She moved restlessly, and he realized she was close to waking. Sighing, he
slid down in the bed, moved close to her and pulled her against his body.
She felt so good next to him, her skin touching his, her cooler body
against his warmth. She made a sleepy noise, and turned over, burrowing
into his chest. He felt his throat catch, as he wondered if she had any
idea who she was in bed with. For all he knew, this was a common
occurrence for her. Maybe she had a different man every day? He laughed
softly at the thought. It didn't sound like something she'd do. Even if
he didn't know this Kathryn Janeway. Hadn't known her for years now. The
woman he'd made love to all night was a mystery to him, an enigma. A
sparkling prize that he'd wanted to win for over a decade. And now he'd
won. Only he didn't know if the prize would last, or if he'd wake up to
find that it would disintegrate in the morning light.
He thought of Seven, gone her own way now and making a fine go of it from
what she said in her messages. Their coming together had been quiet, and
their parting had been even quieter. He loved Seven, expected he always
would. But what he felt for her had never been the desperate love he'd had
for his captain. And Seven had known it. But neither of them had cared,
and it had not been what had caused them to part. Life had done that.
Life and time and the way people had of changing in different rhythms.
Seven had been ready to fly at the very time he wanted to put down roots.
One of them had to change, and neither was willing to do it. So they had
pulled away, agreed it was time to move on. Their breakup was amicable,
almost passionless. She still commed him every week to let him know how
she was doing. He still laughed at the funny way she said things, teased
her when she got too serious. He was her best friend, and she was damned
close to being that for him. Would be that for him...but for this woman he
held in his arms right now. His best friend. That role had been taken
long before Seven arrived on the scene.
He looked down, realized that Janeway was staring up at him. Her eyes were
unreadable. "Good morning," he said carefully, trying to stop his arms
from tightening around her reflexively. He already expected her to pull
She didn't. Just continued to stare at him, her blue eyes were calm,
serene. Finally, she gave him the cocky half-grin that he loved. "Good
morning. You look like you're going to throw up. Any particular reason?"
He swallowed hard, realized he did indeed feel like he was going to throw
up. Panic, fear...he'd never had so much hinge on a morning before. He
didn't like it. Didn't like being a slave to his emotions again. Had
actually gone out of his way to avoid this kind of thing since Seven had
left. This kind of thing? Who was he trying to kid? This kind of thing
didn't happen for him unless Kathryn was near, and she was never near. He
had given up hope on her ever being near him again. Sure, they were both
Starfleet now. Their paths crossed all the time, but she'd been so careful
every time he'd run into her before. Hello and goodbye said with careful
precision. A hand extended for no longer than was strictly necessary. His
Kathryn was gone, this cold Admiral was a stranger and one that he didn't
think he liked very much. When he'd run into her this time, he'd hardly
expected things to be any different. Would never in a million years have
thought they'd end up at lunch, talking and laughing and stretching the
time until it was late in the evening and the sun had gone down and they
were rushing back to his hotel room.
"Chakotay?" Her voice brought him back to the present.
"Sorry." He tried to grin, saw her eyes soften at his expression. "I've
missed you," he said, choosing honesty, even though he knew she might run
She touched his face gently. "I've missed you too."
He noticed she had not pulled away, seemed in fact to be pressed closer
against him. "Last night was..." He wasn't sure if he could do it
She nodded. "Yes it was. And long overdue." She suddenly pulled away,
lay on her back and stretched languorously.
Chakotay found himself mesmerized by the way the sheet stretched tautly
over her curves. The place where her arm joined her shoulder was suddenly
the most beautiful thing in the world, replaced a moment later by the curve
of her chin as she turned back to him.
She took one look at him and burst out laughing. "God, Chakotay. Lighten
up. You look as though you're afraid I'm going to sneak off while you go
to the bathroom."
He looked away.
"You _are_ afraid I'm going to sneak off." She was silent for a long
moment, and he turned to look at her. "Why would I do that?"
"Because this was a mistake."
"No," he hurried to say. "But you think so."
"I do?" She looked confused.
"Well, I didn't until you started talking."
"I'll shut up now," he said quickly.
She sighed. "We were doing so well yesterday."
"That's because I wasn't afraid of losing you yesterday." He reached out,
moved a piece of hair out of her eyes. "I'd already lost you, it was easy
to be light."
She just nodded. "But we're not light now, are we?"
He shook his head.
"Why? Why can't we be light?" She rolled onto her side. "Why is it
always life or death with you?"
"Why is it never life and death with you?" he countered sharply.
"Because this isn't life and death."
"Maybe not for you." He hated how needy he sounded and pushed himself out
of the bed. As he walked to the bathroom he called back to her, "I don't
even like this part of me, Kathryn. I imagine you don't either. Go if you
He turned the water on so he wouldn't be able to hear the sound of her
leaving. When he opened the door a few minutes later, she pushed past him.
"I thought you'd never get done."
Her tone was untroubled, and he was suddenly immensely grateful. He went
to the replicator, ordered coffee for them both. Turned and handed her a
mug as she came out of the bathroom.
It took him a moment to realize she hadn't gotten dressed. Then he
realized he was still naked as well. It should have felt strange; standing
here in the cool morning air drinking hotel coffee with the woman he had
wanted for too long. It should have, but it didn't. Maybe there was
something to be said for lightness?
"This coffee is terrible," she finally said.
He nodded. "You'd think they'd work harder at that."
"You would." She put the mug down, then reached for his and took it from
him. "Come back to bed," she purred, the sound unfamiliar but enticing, as
she pulled him gently with her.
He followed unresisting. As she pushed him down onto the bed, he stared up
"Stop it," she said.
"Stop what?" he asked.
"Looking at me like I'm a damn hallucination." She moved on top of him,
her body brushing his even as she chided him.
"Well quit that too." She leaned down, kissed him passionately.
He lost himself in the sensation of holding her, of loving her. As his
body took over, he found he could let go, be light. Not worry.
But as soon as they lay together, their bodies cooling down together, he
felt the tightness inside his chest begin again. "Why?" he asked, his
words interrupting the silence.
"Why now? Why here?"
"Us you mean? Why are we together now?"
He nodded. She shot him a look, as if asking why he couldn't just accept.
But he had to give her credit. She didn't give him a flip answer, seemed
to consider the question.
"Because I love you," she finally said.
It was not the answer he expected. "You do?"
She nodded, her face puzzled. "You knew that, surely." As she studied his
expression, her own clouded. "You had to know that?"
"I didn't know that."
"I've loved you since New Earth, Chakotay. Possibly before then. How
could you not know?"
"You never said."
"I shouldn't have to." She seemed angry.
He stroked her face, waited until she settled some before answering.
"Maybe not. But it would have helped." He grinned ruefully at her.
"We're different, Kathryn. This morning is a perfect example. You're
light and I'm anything but. Maybe our love is the same way, or at least
the way we express it. If yours was there all the time, as you say, it was
in the air, where I'd never look for it. Heavy things don't hover, they
land, they root. I was too busy looking down to see anything so light."
She smiled grudgingly. "You always did have a way with words."
"You mean I talk too much?" he teased.
"Sometimes." She moved slowly, rolled so that her chest was against his.
Sighed softly as his arms drew her nearer. "I'm sorry then."
He just looked at her.
"For not telling you. I guess it explains a lot...about what went wrong
with us. I understood one thing. You understood another. Neither of us
understood a damn thing."
"I thought you didn't want me." His tone was matter-of-fact.
"I didn't. I couldn't." She looked at his raised eyebrow and smiled. "I
wouldn't let myself."
"Ah, the truth."
She shifted slightly. "Truth is so heavy."
"Yes. It is."
"Why is it?"
He shrugged. "Maybe because you're with me. If you want light, I may not
be the best person."
She smiled again. "You're the right person."
"I annoy you."
"Yes, at times you do." She moved her hand down, began to do things to him
that made his reasoning ability recede. "And I annoy you."
"Not at this moment, you don't."
She laughed. "That was pretty light, Chakotay. Think you could keep that
"Keep what up?" He knew his grin was wicked.
"The lightness," she said, in mock disapproval, even as her eyes glinted
with enjoyment of his humor.
"For how long?" He closed his eyes, surrendered to the sensation of her
"For a lifetime?"
He opened his eyes. Reaching down, he stopped her hand. "Don't joke."
His tone was anything but light. Heavy and harsh, the Chakotay of
earlier...the one that didn't joke. He regretted his words instantly, but
found that he couldn't take them back, didn't want to.
"I'm not joking," she said softly.
He stared at her, and their eyes locked. Hers were placid, but as she
stared at him, as he refused to be teased into a better mood, they turned
stormy. "Damn you!" she finally said, pulling away. "Can't anything be
easy with you?"
"You always want the easy way, the quick way, even if it isn't right. Even
if it hurts someone."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You know what it means."
"If this is about the Borg, or the Equinox..." She pushed him away.
"I don't give a damn about the Borg or anything else that happened in the
Delta Quadrant. Anything but us. Would it have killed you?" He took a
deep breath, tried to control the anger swirling around inside him. "Would
it have been so hard to just tell me, to let me in? I loved you, Kathryn.
For ten goddamn years. For seven of them, I was by your side. Loving you,
supporting you. Would it have been so hard to open up?"
She looked stricken. She rolled onto her side so that her back was facing
him. "Yes. It would have."
"Why?" He stared at the ceiling, tried not to think of all the times he'd
lain sleepless in a similar pose on Voyager. Usually after some encounter
with her. A dinner that never quite went far enough. A moment on the
holodeck that should have been romantic but wasn't. "Why?" he asked again,
his voice coming out in a whisper.
"Because you would have made me weak." She seemed to shrink in on herself.
"You would have tied me down. I had to stay free. Had to get us home."
"You got us home."
"But would I have, if I'd been with you?"
"I can't answer that, Kathryn. No one can."
She slowly rolled to her back, then to her other side so that she was
facing him. "Then why are we trying to now?"
He sighed, rolled over so that he was facing her too. "Because we never
even talked about it. You wouldn't even let us talk about it."
"Don't you know why?"
He shook his head.
She reached out, traced his tattoo. "Because if we had, then I'd have told
you I loved you. And once you knew that...once you believed that...you'd
have never let me go."
He looked down. She was right.
"You scare me Chakotay. Your love is so complete. So heavy. I needed to
fly. To get us home."
"We could have done it together."
She shook her head. "Maybe. Or I might have given up. Might have
surrendered to being yours and loving you. And I couldn't take that
"Getting us home meant that much?" Even as he asked, he knew the answer
She looked down. "It did...until we got here." She inched closer to him.
"At first, there were the moments of triumph, the pride in the crew, the
inquiries, the parades, the ceremonies, the lectures. It was heady, and
easy to forget what we'd just lost by getting home. Then the crew
scattered, and we weren't a family anymore."
He nodded slowly.
She smiled sadly. "I honestly never knew how much I would miss it. Miss
all of the crew. My family."
He moved closer to her. "Our family."
She nodded. "Ours. Yes, ours. And I suddenly wanted there to be an us,
Chakotay. But you had moved on. You were with Seven. The door was
closed." She shrugged. "I resigned myself to that. I moved on. Did well
too. Turned down the promotion to Admiral when they first offered it to
me. Told them I wanted to earn it like anyone else, not have it handed to
me because I brought their ship home. And I did. I earned it for what I
did here. What I did once I got back."
He nodded. "You did. I watched the ceremony."
She smiled. "Really?"
She seemed pleased, then her expression became more serious. "I moved on
with my life, Chakotay. I let you go."
"Yes, I noticed. Every time we met." He shook his head. "You were cold."
"I had to be. There's no middle ground with me, Chakotay. You think I'm
light, but I'm not. I like to pretend I am. I laugh, and joke. But
inside, it's all or nothing. And since I couldn't have all, I expected
nothing. And gave it right back."
"I'd have given you all."
She shook her head. "Not then, you wouldn't have. You were still with
He looked down. Nodded in defeat.
"But you're not now. And I know that. I have my spies." She smiled
playfully. "Do you really think it was an accident that I ran into you in
the corridor yesterday? That your afternoon meeting was cancelled and that
my calendar was remarkably clear? You think this"--she touched his naked
chest, then her own--"just happened?"
He stared at her, then slowly felt a smile spread across his face. "You
"You set this whole thing up?"
She nodded again.
She smiled then, a gentle, loving smile. "Because I love you. Because
I've always loved you. Because I don't want to lose you again." She
leaned in to kiss him. "Even if you do annoy the hell out of me a lot of
He laughed, kissed her hard, pushing her down onto her back, his hands
roaming over her skin. As she moaned, he smiled. "I'll try not to annoy
you." He pulled away. "All or nothing, huh?"
"I want it all, Kathryn. I'll expect it all. And I'm not sure I believe
you can give it."
He expected her to at least glare at him. Instead, she grinned. The grin
was the one that the Kathryn Janeway he'd first met, first fallen in love
with used to wear. "So it's a dare?"
He nodded. "I'll try to not be annoying, and you'll have to love me with
everything you've got. Deal?"
"Deal." She took the hand he held out to her, solemnly shook it, then
pushed him hard onto his back. Her hand again moved lower. "Now where was
I before you so rudely interrupted me?"
"Right about there," he agreed, as he surrendered to her touch. Watching
her, he saw the morning light hit her hair, turning it copper. She had
never looked more beautiful to him. Or more fey, even as her body against
his provided more substantial evidence of her presence.
She kissed him then. He heard her mumble, "I love you, Chakotay."
"I love you too." He had never felt more light. It was a good feeling.