The hallway was quiet and dim. Chakotay knew that he should have already been on his way, but he stood still instead. What the hell had happened to him tonight?
He had come to this building to meet a friend over a dinner, to hear how she had been during the last weeks, to celebrate their accomplishments, and to reminisce about their time in the Delta Quadrant. He had expected to leave before midnight, but now it was almost five in the morning instead.
It had been so different tonight. She had been so happy, carefree and content. It was a side of her he had once known, but hadn't seen for awhile. It had reminded him of the way they used to be. He hadn't thought about those times in a long time. He had had other things in his mind lately.
And there was Seven; he had feelings for her now. He had started to build a relationship with her, yet he stood in this hallway now and thought about Kathryn in a way, which was not appropriate for a man who was dating someone else.
But dating and serious commitment were two different things, weren't they?
That was not the issue and he knew that. There was no point denying that both he and Seven were pursuing their relationship assuming that there would be no others.
So why was this happening to him now? Why was he wishing he wasn't leaving? Why had he started to wonder, if Kathryn still thought about them sometimes?
He hated guessing. With Seven he didn't have to. They were together and it wasn't more complicated than that. It was simple and straightforward and he liked it. But with Kathryn he had never been too sure. She had always kept him guessing until one day he had finally realized that they would be only friends. And they were friends, they still were.
But hadn't his heart leaped when he had received her invitation yesterday? Hadn't those few words been like a spark that lid a flame in him, which he had already banished long ago? Hadn't he smelled her scent tonight and whished he could have placed his hands on her tights and lift them gently upward until reached the place she had kept hidden from him?
"Don't do this to yourself", Chakotay whispered. "Just leave."
But he wasn't able to escape thoughts of touching her like a man wanted to touch a woman. Did she want to be touched by him now? Maybe. Because she must have realized how his hand had lingered on her hip tonight? Hadn't she allowed it? She hadn't resented it, he knew that much.
On the other hand there was a possibility that he was seeing what he wanted to see. And there was Seven. He shouldn't forget her now. He wasn't that kind of man who would do something like this. He wasn't a man who was willing to betray a trust of a woman he cared about. Seven might not be ready to be intimate just yet, but it didn't give him the right fantasizing about Kathryn. He had needs, but they didn't give him justification to spoil something what had already been built between him and Seven.
But he wanted Kathryn. Her breasts, her waistline… The image of her in the greed dress she had worn tonight wasn't vanishing from his eyes. There was still so much in Kathryn, which drove him out of control. He had known passion before, but he had never wanted any woman quite like he had desired Kathryn. Like he still did. The touch of her hand did more to him than a kiss he shared with any woman - Seven included.
And what if Kathryn was finally ready to open her heart? What if she would give her heart to some other man while he was hesitating? He didn't like that thought at all.
But he wasn't sure what Kathryn wanted. It hadn't been him; that much he had learnt over past few years. He was just a friend for her, nothing more.
So he should leave. He was with Seven now. The time he had spent with her during the last two weeks had been good. He liked to be with her, he liked the way she made him feel.
But Kathryn had seduced him tonight; it was as simple as that. Perhaps it hadn't been intentional from her, but he had responded with his mind and body. And with his heart as well. He had had no doubts about his relationship with Seven until now. Now his mind was filled with one thought and one thought only. Kathryn.
Why did it have to feel so right with Kathryn? Why did she still have this kind of hold on him? He had always been the one who had chased her; the one who had been so gently rejected. But it had been so different tonight. The way she had looked at him had melted him. If Kathryn was still able to make him feel like this, how was he ever going to build a real relationship with Seven?
This was ridiculous. Kathryn hadn't meant anything. So he needed to let go of his fantasies and go. It was the right thing to do.
"Do you want to stay?" he suddenly heard a whisper behind him.
He turned around and saw Kathryn standing in the doorway. Yes; he wanted to stay. He wanted to take her hand and show the place they hadn't seen together yet.
But he shouldn't. He wasn't that kind of man. He didn't want to be like that. It was not right.
Yet he couldn't leave. Her pull was too strong. If this was wrong, perhaps he didn't want to be right.
She was still waiting. "Close the door", he pegged in his mind. "Close it, Kathryn, and make me leave."
But she didn't.
And he finally had no choice.
He finally gave in.