This story was inspired by Kelly Clarkson's song Broken & Beautiful. Disclaimer: I do not own the song or Star Trek. This is my first Voyager story. I hope you enjoy!

Summary: Set after the episode Tuvix and before Resolutions. Chakotay comes to Captain Janeway late that night to make sure she is doing okay after her difficult decision. He will always be there for her in whatever capacity she needs.

He came to her late in the evening. He knew her so well, knew she would still be awake, agonizing over the choice she had to make. It was times like these he did not miss being a captain and he certainly did not envy her position today. He rang the bell to her quarters and waited. He was still dressed in his uniform, having just left the bridge for the night. He had made a few stops along the way to pick up supplies but stopping at his quarters to change was not a priority at the moment. She had not returned after Neelix and Tuvok were separated, choosing instead to return to her quarters. That had been hours ago and no one had heard from her. He knew she needed someone to talk to, knew she needed reassurance she had done the right thing. She would never ask, though, and that was why he was there. She needed him and he had sworn (although to himself) to stay by her side and to always be there for her. It was his duty to always look after her needs, especially her emotional ones.

That was the thing about Captain Kathryn Janeway, she came across as cold and uncaring at times, like many of the Starfleet captains often did. However, she was one of the most caring, empathetic people he knew. She wore many different faces on Voyager: Captain, diplomat, humanitarian, rescuer, friend. She could switch between roles seamlessly but she always fell back to Captain. She rarely let anyone get close to her. He considered it an honor she was as open with him as she was. At first, she had been wary of him; Tuvok was the only person on the crew she would confide in. Slowly, she had began to open up to him. They would spend more and more time together, often late at night after their duty shifts. Sometimes they drank, sometimes they played cards, and sometimes they talked about anything and everything and nothing all at the same time. She was quick to laugh and smile at those times; she would touch his arm, his chest, even brush his cheek occasionally. It was during those evenings spent in her quarters that Chakotay had fallen in love with her.

Perhaps love was too strong a word for what he felt. Perhaps it was simply great admiration he had for his Captain. She was still young and in her prime when she had been cast into the Delta Quadrant. 2 years ago she was to be married, perhaps start a family. She had been sent on a 3 week mission and ended up 75 years away from home. Would the 2 of them even have met back in the Alpha Quadrant? Perhaps if they had not been pulled away from the Bad Lands by the Caretaker she would have arrested him, thrown him in her brig, and turned him over to Starfleet for incarceration for his crimes as a Maquis. But look at the 2 of them now. He was her First Officer, her confident, her friend. Hell, she was his best friend. He wondered if he was hers.

After several long moments, the doors to her quarters slid open, revealing a tired looking Janeway dressed in a pink silk nightgown and robe, her hair falling around her shoulders. He studied her face closely, reassuring himself he had made the right decision to come to her tonight. She gave a small, almost inaudible sigh and a slight look of relief crossed her face. "Come in," she said softly, stepping aside to allow him to cross the threshold. "I'm glad it's you," she said, making her way to the replicator, "I wouldn't have opened the door for anyone else tonight. Do you want wine or scotch?" she asked, turning to face his direction as she stopped in front of the machine.

"Neither," he grinned, pulling a bottle from behind his back. "I thought it was a tequila shot kind of night."

Her serious expression broke as she gave a light chuckle. "Chakotay, when did you start knowing me so well?"

His grin broadened, "That's for me to know and you never to find out. Now, have a seat and I'll take care or everything. Have you eaten?"

She thought about it for a few moments, calculating when she may have eaten last.

He knew she often forgot to eat, especially when she was under a great deal of stress. He assumed she had not eaten since yesterday. "Nevermind, I'll replicate some hors d'oeuvres. I don't think we will want anything too heavy in our stomachs if we are planning to get through this bottle tonight."

Katherine Janeway smiled as her First Officer ordered up a light meal from the replicator. It was almost as if the blasted piece of technology knew better than to test her tonight of all night. As it, just like Chakotay, knew what she needed tonight. When had Chakotay come to understand her so well? It was almost as if he could read her mind, her body language, and understand her in a way she didn't even understand herself most of the time. It was uncanny but also comforting, in a way. She had never been so comfortable with someone in her command, except for perhaps Tuvok. She had known Tuvok for quite a long time, though, whereas she had only known Chakotay for not even 2 years. He had instantly infiltrated her life, making the tolls her position took on her more manageable. He even overstepped at times and she allowed it, relished it because it made her life and job aboard Voyager easier. Sure, she had to put him in his place occasionally, but those times were rare. At first, she assumed he overstepped because he was used to running his own ship and perhaps he wanted to captain Voyager. However, she soon realized he meant no harm or disrespect by his actions, but that he meant only to help, to make things easier on her. Once she realized this, she was touched. She had never experienced this from a man under her command or any man she was not romantically involved with, if she was being honest with herself. They were more like co-captains at times and it worked well aboard Voyager.

The couch sagged as he sat down next to her, handing her a shot of the clear alcohol and setting a large plate of food on the table in front of them to share. There were no words exchanged between then as they lightly tapped their shot glasses and drank. They chatted as they ate and drank, chakotay ordering soft music to play around them. After several shots he returned to the replicator and mixed her a margarita, one of her favorite drinks, with extra salt around the rim.

Damn, he's good she thought to herself as she thanked him for the drink. He did not bring up the elephant in the room, didn't probe to ask how she was doing. He sat quietly watching her, studying her, calming her with his presence. He was so patient with her, he always had been. He rarely pushed her to make a decision or reveal information and when he did, there was typically a good reason behind it.

"One of us should probably stop drinking before we are both drunk," she said, relaxing into the couch, allowing the warm sensation from the alcohol to envelop her. "Voyager needs one of us somewhat sober if we were to be attacked."

"I've already taken care of that, too." He leaned back into the couch beside her, their shoulders brushing. He had slipped off his black and maroon shirt, leaving him in his blue, long sleeve turtle neck. He pulled 2 hyposprays from his pocket, holding them out for her to see.

"The doctor actually gave them to you?" She asked, amazed.

He grinned like a naughty school boy, "Not exactly. But with any luck, I'll return them in the morning without him knowing they were missing."

She giggled. She actually giggled like a school girl. Tequila had a habit of relaxing her and letting her inhibitions wash away.

What Chakotay held was an alcohol reversal agent. It was very potent and allowed the individual to become perfectly sober within seconds. It allowed them to function normally for several hours before the severe tachycardia and high blood pressure hit. It was only to be used in severe emergencies and The Doctor would not have just given it to Chakotay so he and the Captain could get drunk together.

He slipped the hyposprays back into his pocket and took another shot of the alcohol.

It was at times such as this, when they were completely relaxed together, that she found him most attractive. He was handsome, to be sure, but more than anything it was his presence, his aura, she found most attractive. She knew there were several woman aboard who felt the same about him. Seska had been so infatuated with him she had stolen his DNA and impregnated herself with it. B'Elanna was another one; she saw how her chief engineer followed him around like a puppy at times.

He had asked her once if she would ever consider pairing off with someone aboard Voyager. She had told him as Captain she was not afforded that luxury. The truth was, after that conversation, she had thought about it. What would life aboard Voyager look like for her if she and Chakotay were lovers? She still loved Mark, but as time passed, the flame she held for him dimmed. He was a great man and respected her career. He had never asked her to turn down an assignment or retire, but she did not think he fully understood the commitment she had for her career or what it entailed. Chakotay, on the other hand, was on this journey with her. He was the one present. He was the one who fully understood what being a Starfleet officer was all about and the commitment it entailed. He was the one sitting here next to her, having come to her when she needed someone most. She let her mind drift further, exploring a future she knew could never come to fruition. He was her First Officer, he was under her command, he was her right hand, had become a close friend. How clichè would it be for her to become romantically involved with him? How many Starfleet regulations would they both be breaking? She could not tank her career like that. She could not live with herself knowing it would destroy not only her career, but his as well. She was convinced Starfleet would pardon him, as well of the rest of the Maquis who had become essential members of her crew. If they returned to Earth within their lifetimes, she knew he could have a promising career. Perhaps he would even be given his own ship to captain.

Also, what would the crew think? They may loose faith in her, especially the original Voyager crew members who were Starfleet trained. She had always run a tight ship and what would it say about her leadership if she herself ignored regulations? Yes, she was making the right decision. She was making this decision for the both of them.

Perhaps she was being vain, but she saw the way he looked at her when he thought she wouldn't notice. She saw the hunger in his eyes, the way he watched her. He was attracted to her as well. Him asking her about pairing off with another member of the crew was as close as he had ever come to broaching the subject of the 2 of them. She promptly dismissed the idea of her becoming romantically involved with a member of her crew and it appeared he had accepted her answer. She tried to ignore her feelings for him, tried to get through her duty shift or senior staff meeting without looking at him and feeling butterflies in her stomach. The more she got to know him, the harder it became. She was falling for him and she didn't know what to do about it.

She stood, taking a second to make sure she was balanced before she took a step. She made her way to the replicator for another glass of margarita mix. She returned to the couch and sat down next to him, closer than before. Now their hips were touching as well as their shoulders. She leaned back as he leaned forward to grab the bottle of tequila and poured a stiff amount into her glass.

"Thank you. For everything," she said, her speech slightly slurred by this time. She placed her hand on his knee. "You're a good friend."

"Anytime," he replied, meeting her eyes. He placed his warm hand atop hers.

"Can I ask you a personal question?"

"Of course."

"Please, don't take this the wrong way because I know it's going to come out wrong. Do you miss Seska? I mean, not necessarily her, but having a companion on board?"

He was silent for a long moment. His hand tightened over her hand, still on his knee. "I don't miss Seska. I hate to say it like this but she never really meant a whole lot to me; she was someone who was simply there and available. I do miss having companionship. I miss having someone to hold and to confide in. What about you?"

She sighed and took a long drink. "I miss Mark, I do, but I feel like I've changed. Even if we made it back home tomorrow, I don't know if he and I would still work. We've experienced so much over the last 2 years, it's hard to know. I miss the companionship, too. I have to be strong 24/7 and without fault. The crew needs me to basically be super human. I know I can get this crew home. It's just..." she trailed off setting her drink on the table.

"It's just what?" He asked, turning his upper body to face her, their hands still together on his knee. "Tell me."

She took a deep, steadying breath and turned to face him. "It's going to sound silly, but...I miss being desired. I miss having a man want me, to come home after a long day and have someone there ready to rub my shoulders and just hold me as I fall asleep. I think the hardest part of being trapped in the Delta Quadrant has been the lack physical contact. I don't just mean sex, but the little things."

"You're in a precarious position. Like you've said, you're the highest ranking officer on this ship, who would you be able to have a relationship with without it being considered fraternization? What are you supposed to do?"

"Keep going like I have been. I can make due. I'm just lonely."

He gave her a small smile. "Do you trust me?"

"Of course," she answered immediately, no doubt or hesitation in her answer.

"Turn around," he instructed.

She did what he asked without hesitation. She felt him shift on the couch behind her, repositioning his body. After a few long seconds, she felt his large, strong hands on her shoulders, gently massaging them. She moaned, she actually moaned as he kneaded her tense shoulders. Her head rolled to the side, coming to rest on one of his hands. He worked his way down, running the knots between her shoulder blades and then back up, wrapping his fingers in her hair as he massaged her scalp.

Her breathing had become slow and deep and he could feel how relaxed she was between the alcohol and his touch. He wanted to pull her against his chest, to tilt her head back and kiss her. He could blame it on the alcohol but he was just buzzed, far from intoxicated. Tonight was about her, not him, anyway.

"Are you going to fall asleep?" He asked her softly, his lips close to her ear.

"Mmmm," she moaned. "If you keep this up I will."

"Be honest, when was the last time you had a good night's sleep?"

"If I'm being completely honest, probably 2 days before I took Voyager into the Bad Lands."

He was silent for several minutes as he continued to massage her shoulders and back. His mind was racing. Was it too much? Would he be pushing his luck? She was drunk but she wasn't drunk enough to act like she wouldn't remember this night tomorrow.

"Do you still trust me?" He asked her again, needing her permission before he took this any further. She was still his captain, after all.

"Completely," she said so softly he barely heard her.

He took a deep breath before removing his hands from her body and standing up. "Come with me," he smiled, taking one of her hands in his. He grabbed his combadge from his uniform shirt and led her towards her bedroom.

"Chakotay," she whispered softly as she stopped walking. She looked more sober than she had moments ago.

He gave her a gentle, tired smile. "It's not what you're thinking, I promise. Besides, drunk women aren't my thing."

"I'm not that drunk," she clarified.

"You're drunk enough that you need to sleep it off. Come on," he gently pulled her towards her bedroom.

Once inside, he pulled the covers back on her bed. "Lay down," he instructed her. She gave him another wary look as she slipped off her robe and sat on the bed. "It's not what you're thinking," he chuckled. "You're exhausted and you need to sleep. I just want to help facilitate that." He tapped his combadge, "Computer, turn off my location." The computer did as he instructed and he set the combadge on her bedside table. "No one needs to know that the Commander was in the Captain's quarters after midnight."

She giggled again. "Can you imagine the rumors?"

"Oh, I can and I have. I thought that was a wise precaution to take." He had slipped his shoes off and pulled his turtleneck over his head, draping it on her dresser. He wore his black uniform pants and a white, sleeveless shirt.

"Chakotay," she breathed again, warily.

"Do you honestly think I'd try to take advantage of you? And do you honestly think I could overpower you without you throughly kicking my ass?"

She just stared at him, her gaze cutting. "What are your intentions?"

"To help you sleep. Now roll over and get comfortable."

She gave him one last questioning look before she did as he instructed. She felt the mattress sag as he climbed into her bed. Her heart started to race. What was he doing? She felt him lay down beside her. He laid his body against hers, his chest to her back. He wrapped his arms around her and laid his head on the pillow next to hers, pulling the covers around them. "Relax," he instructed her, whispering into her ear. "Pretend I'm Mark and you're back in your bed on Earth."

She snuggled up against him, reveling in his warm embrace. The last of her inhibitions drifted away, thanks to the alcohol and her exhaustion. His scent enveloped her and calmed her mind. She was nearly asleep when she whispered, "I would never pretend you were Mark. You're exactly who I want you to be, Chakotay." She drifted off then, completely relaxed for the first time in over 2 years.

She wouldn't remember come morning, but at that moment his lips brushed her neck in a feather light kiss, "Goodnight, Kathryn."

She awoke the next morning with a headache and an empty bed. Her mind raced to fill in what had occurred the night before. Her pillow smelled of him and her body was relaxed as it had not been since she had been catapulted into the Delta Quadrant. On her bedside table was a large glass of water and a note.

Captain, I am covering your morning duty shift. Stay in bed and enjoy your morning off, that's an order. I'll see you at the Senior Staff Meeting at 1 o'clock.


She smiled as she downed the water and rolled back over to sleep until noon.

Meanwhile, a few decks up, Chakotay sat in the First Officer's chair with a splitting headache. He had awoken at 4am, slipped his uniform back on, and made his way from her quarters after checking with the computer that no crew member's were roaming the halls on her deck. The last thing he needed was to be seen leaving the Captain's quarters at 4 am. He had shaved, showered, and changed his clothes before slipping into sick bay and returning the alcohol reversal agents to their storage place. He had then made his way to the bridge to start his shift. He informed the crew that the Captain was not feeling well but would hopefully join then for the Senior Staff Meeting that afternoon. He suffered through his hangover in silence as he perused reports and completed the morning's checklists. The ship was running well and there would be no work for her to complete this afternoon.

His mind kept drifting back to the night before and how soft her body had felt pressed up against his.

At 1 o'clock he and the other Senior Officers made their way to the meeting room. They took their seats and promptly, at 1 o'clock, she glided in looking refreshed and radiant in a way she hadn't in a long time. She caught his eye and gave him a small, knowing smile as she took in his pale, tired face. "Commander, are you feeling ill? Perhaps you should take the rest of the afternoon off. You don't look well."

He wanted to laugh and had to fight to keep a straight face. "Perhaps a touch of flu is going around. I'll be sure to return to my quarters after the meeting."

"Yes, be sure you do. Some rest this morning certainly helped my symptoms."

B'Elanna started her report on Engineering and everyone gave her their undivided attention. While everyone was watching and listening to her, she caught his eye and winked at him. He grinned, trying hard again not to burst out laughing. She was truly something else and at that moment, he fell just a little more in love with her.