Just For Awhile
Kathryn slipped into his office carrying a tray of food. She smiled when she realized that she'd gotten in undetected. Some Maquis, she thought. His head was bent over his desk as he entered data onto a PADD. From the position of his shoulders she could see that he was tired. It had been a long day for everyone. Kathryn cleared her throat.
"Captain! I didn't hear you come in." He shook his head. "I must be slipping."
She moved into the room, closer to his desk. "Not slipping just tired."
He made no move to get up. He merely motioned for her to sit in the chair on the opposite side. "What have you got there?" He pointed to the tray and its covered dishes.
She sat down and laid the tray on his desk between them. "Dinner." She watched as his face changed when he smiled.
"This is a switch."
"I thought a little change of pace might be order. It's not often that I find my First Officer sequestered in his office at 2300 hours."
He swung his head toward his computer. "I didn't realize it was that late." His brows creased. "I wanted to stop in and check on B'Elanna."
Kathryn leaned closer to the desk and uncovered a cup of coffee. "Hopefully she's sleeping. The doctor released her to her quarters with a sedative in hand. If she was sensible she used it and went to bed."
Chakotay slid his chair into his desk and reached for the cup of tea she'd put out for him. "How'd she seem?"
"Upset, nervous, I'm not sure. I thought she might need a female to talk to but maybe she'd rather a friend. It might be good if you go see her tomorrow. I tried to give her the day off but she insisted that it wasn't necessary. I agreed, for now. I'll see what you think tomorrow."
They both sat back and cradled the cups in their hands. The silence was comfortable, warm, and friendly. It was interrupted when his stomach growled. "I guess I need to see what you have under those covers."
She lifted up the long metal casing that protected the food. "It's not much, just some soup and bread."
Kathryn picked up the tray and headed to the couch on the left side of the room. "Yes, it is."
He stood up and followed her. "It's my favorite."
Her back was still to him so he couldn't see the secret smile that graced her lips. "I know."
She settled herself into the corner. Silently she sipped her coffee while he ate.
After the initial bite he picked up a napkin and wiped his mouth. Kathryn couldn't help but watch the cloth brush across his lips. "You know, I haven't had mushroom soup in a very long time."
Kathryn chuckled. "Don't worry I didn't steal anything. I replicated it."
Chakotay took another spoonful. "I knew you did."
Kathryn arched her eyebrow in question.
"I'm still alive aren't I?"
Kathryn stood up in mock indignation. "Well if that's the thanks I get…" Chakotay swiftly reached out and grabbed her hand and pulled her back down onto the couch. They shared a smile. They both knew how perilously close they came to losing two very important people today and a little playful laughter felt very life affirming.
Chakotay took another spoonful. "That was very good." He took her hand and gave it a squeeze. "Thank you. That was just what I needed."
"A little comfort food?"
"Something like that." Chakotay turned out of the corner of the couch. He laid his head back and stretched his arms across the length of the cushions. He closed his eyes and sighed deeply. "Come here." Kathryn slipped across the couch to sit next to him and he whispered. "Just stay close for a little while. I need your strength."
Kathryn moved just a little closer so that her shoulder brushed against his side. If his arm slipped down it would be draped across her back, which she feared or maybe hoped would move this discussion beyond the normal bonding of friendship. "It was a very rough day."
Chakotay chuckled. "I don't think rough begins to describe it. First we lose the warp core, then we almost lose B'Elanna and Tom and then…" Chakotay stopped as the words seemed to choke him.
Kathryn playfully slapped his leg. "Come on you can say it. Then, Daddy, you find out your little girl is in love with someone you once tried to kill. Does that sum it up?"
Chakotay shook his head. "Pretty much."
"Is it really that bad?"
"Of course it isn't bad. Like you implied, I've felt like her protector for so long it's difficult to fathom that she'll turn to Tom instead of me."
"I think she's been turning to him for awhile."
Chakotay ran his hands through his hair. "I know, but I've been trying to ignore that. I fully admit that it's selfish of me but I like being the one she turns to."
Kathryn ran her hand down his leg. "It's not selfish. It's human nature. You've had a long relationship with her. One in which weather you like it or not, you filled the father role. The love she has for you will not go away. It's just different than the love she has for Tom."
Kathryn moved a tiny bit closer. "Besides if things go the way I think they will you'll have the privilege of walking her down the aisle."
"God, I hope they go with Tom's traditions and not hers. I don't think I'd be up for Klingon pain sticks."
"I think you have your ceremonies mixed up. But you may need to be careful when she finds out we heard their entire conversation."
Chakotay sat up straighter, turned to her and wagged his finger in the air. "No, no, no. You're not putting that all on me. We will tell them together. We will simply explain that we were monitoring them throughout the trip and that when they merged their communications systems they opened a channel to the ship which we quickly routed to your ready room."
Kathryn couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah, I'm sure that will make things easy. B'Elanna, Tom, we monitored your communications on your mission and when you merged your systems your most intimate feelings were transmitted to the ship where Chakotay and I heard ever word."
Chakotay leaned back against the couch in defeat. "When you put it that way it doesn't sound so good." They sat for awhile each imagining B'Elanna's reaction to the news that her heart wrenching admission of love was not as private as she thought. "What would you do?"
Kathryn snapped out of her reverie. "What?"
"I asked, would you do it?"
"If you were with the right person would you admit that you loved him?"
"You want to know if I was faced with death would I admit my feelings to the man I loved?"
Kathryn leaned into him and said, "You'd be the first to know."
Chakotay moved his left arm down until it wrapped around her back. He felt her stiffen and start to get up. He held her shoulder firmly keeping her nestled to his side. "Just for awhile. Okay?"
Kathryn settled back into the warmth of his body. "Okay. Just for awhile."