Hold the Lift

By janezy. Send Feedback to janezy@yahoo.com

Rated: PG-13

Written: April 2002

VOY -- J/C

It seems the more depressed I get at work, the sappier my fanfiction becomes. The dynamic duo are trapped in a turbolift and forced to hash out all that Endgame nastiness. Written as an entry in astrogirl's turbolift contest.

"Hold the lift," a woman cried, and, by reflex, Chakotay stuck out his arm to halt the turbolift's doors from closing.

"Thanks," said Kathryn Janeway breathlessly as she jogged onto the waiting lift. She looked up to smile at the friendly stranger.

Then she stopped smiling. For this wasn't a stranger. And he wasn't looking all that friendly.

Ever since Voyager's return to Earth, the relationship between Captain Janeway and her former first officer had been strained. She immediately tried to cover for the surprised look on her face by once again offering a smile, but it was too late for Chakotay to notice, since he'd already fixed his gaze to the floor.

"I thought you and Seven were off to Sweden," she said awkwardly.

"We were, but I was called in to a meeting with Admiral Nechayev, so we had to postpone."

"Oh? What was the meeting about?" She tried to sound conversational, but really she was desperately confused.

In the few months that they'd been back, Kathryn had been feeling more and more out of touch with the man she used to consider her best friend. She'd been roped into technical projects stemming from the many discoveries and innovations of her crew during their time in the Delta Quadrant. He'd joined a tactical team examining the ongoing threat of Cardassia to the Federation. Their paths rarely crossed, and she seemed to like it that way. At least, it made things easier.

Kathryn hadn't much wanted to see Chakotay these past months. But, she did still care for him and wanted to assure herself that he was alright. When Seven had joined Kathryn's team early on, Kathryn had rather hoped that Seven would be a source of information regarding her errant first officer. But the Borg's continued inability to see the relevance of small talk left Kathryn with only meager information about Chakotay.

At Kathryn's question, Chakotay finally looked up to meet her eyes, but said nothing. She decided should could read his look two ways: I'm not in the mood to discuss it, or I'm not in the mood to discuss it with *you*. She opted to take the high road and not take it personally. Maybe he was just upset that he'd had to cancel his vacation with Seven. She knew that Seven had been looking forward to meeting her extended family. Well, maybe 'looking forward' was a bit extreme. Seven had said it would be "educational," which Kathryn took to be a positive thing.

Kathryn was about to try a different tack to get Chakotay to be more talkative when there was suddenly the awful noise of metal scrapping against metal. The turbolift stopped abruptly, sending both its passengers falling to the floor. Kathryn was dazed for a couple of seconds, then managed to sit up. In the dim light of the flickering emergency lights, she made her way to the control console.

After punching a couple of buttons to no effect, she brought voice to what they both already knew. "It's dead."

Chakotay hit his combadge. "Commander Chakotay to Systems Control." When he received no response, Janeway tried the same drill and also got nothing.

"Well, it looks like we'll be stuck here for a while," she said.

He grunted.

She noticed a small bump on his head. "You're bleeding," she said. "Are you okay?"

He grunted.

"Damn it, Chakotay. We're friends, or at least I thought we were. Are you going to avoid talking to me forever?"

"I could ask the same of you," he said, finally turning to fix her with a cold stare.

"Excuse me, but *I'm* the one talking right now."

"Sure, now."

"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, distinctly annoyed at the way he was trying always trying to turn things around.

"The second Voyager got home, it seemed like you couldn't get away from me fast enough."

"That's not true!"

"I tried to get a hold of you for weeks."

"I was busy."

"Too busy for Naomi's Adktar? A Ktarian girl has only one coming of age ceremony."

"I spoke to Naomi. She understood why I couldn't be there."

"Of course she understood. She'd believe anything you say. But don't think for a moment that means she wasn't horribly disappointed."

Kathryn felt a twinge of shame at that and looked away. Chakotay saw her weakness and decided to pounce again. "And what about Tom and B'Elanna's party?"

"I was there."

"For about five minutes."

"And, besides," she said, thinking she finally had a winning point, "I see them all the time."

"Exactly," he agreed, and she became confused. He wasn't supposed to agree with her winning points.

"You see Tom and B'Elanna all the time," he continued. "In fact, you've spent time with dozens of people. Just yesterday, the Doctor told me you played eighteen holes of golf with him. You figure it out."

"Figure what out? Aren't you happy that I'm spending time with my friends?"

"First off, I've long since given up allowing your behavior define whether or not I'm happy." She blanched a bit at that. "And second, all that just makes it all the more obvious you're avoiding me."


"You have time to spend with all of your friends -- except me. You avoid any social gathering you know I'll be attending. You refuse to return my calls unless you know I'm not home, just to leave a brief message. Well, I get the message."

Kathryn was rarely at a loss for words. She could stare into the hostile face of a Kazon warrior or a Hirogen hunter or even the queen of the Borg and speak with conviction of her distaste for them. But, somehow, she couldn't respond to that.

"It's fine," he said. "You'll be rid of me soon enough."

"Wait. What? Where are you going?"

"I've been assigned to the Defiant. I'm going to be based out of Deep Space Nine."

"And you're going? Just like that?"

"It's hardly 'just like that.' This has been Admiral Nechayev's plan for a while."

"Does Seven know? Is she going with you?"

"She doesn't know yet, but she won't be joining me."

"Are you telling me you're breaking up? I thought things were going well. I mean, Seven seems to think so."

"Of course she does. This is her first serious relationship. She has no basis for comparison. She's completely clueless. And way too nice."

"Seven? Nice?"

"If I were her, I'd have dumped me weeks ago. But she seems to forgive me anything, even when I'm a complete jackass -- which seems to be all too often these days."

"I'll go along with that."

"I guess I deserved that," he said, a slight smile creeping onto his face. He was feeling much better now that he'd worked off some of his anger.

"And I guess I deserved a lot of what you said before. I truly am sorry if you felt I've been avoiding you. That was never my intention."

He couldn't completely agree with that, but he looked into her eyes and seemed satisfied that, at the least, she believed it. She held out her hand to him. "Friends?"

"Always," he said, shaking her hand a few times before forcing himself to let go.

They stood in silence for a few minutes more, thinking over their conversation, before Kathryn leaned against the turbolift wall and sank to her feet. "What do you think is going on up there?"

"Who knows?" he said, joining her on the floor. "They might not even know we're in here."

"That's true." She looked at the small emergency door on the roof of the lift. "We could go find out."

"Not just yet," he said. "This is the first moment of peace I've had away from Admiral Nechayev in a while, and I intend to enjoy it."

"Ah," said Kathryn knowingly. "The old battleaxe driving you too hard? I would have thought you'd be used to it after seven years with me."

"I never had a problem following your orders." She cocked her head at him and he instantly knew he had to rephrase. "Okay, almost never."

She laughed. "I've really missed you."

"I've missed you, too."

"Are you really moving to DS9?" she asked, a bit scared to hear the answer.

"I guess so. I'm not sure what else to do, frankly. I'm shocked that Starfleet still wants me. And I can't help wanting to stick it to the Cardassians. I thought I'd let go of all my anger at them, or at least got past it. I hate to think I'm being vindictive. But the thought of them rearming just makes me want to scream."

"They killed your family and your friends. I think you've the right to be a bit vindictive."

He nodded. "I'm just so sick of fighting."

She placed a comforting hand on his knee. At least, she meant for it to be comforting. But, it became uncomfortable quickly as both thought about the physical chemistry they still had and would never act on. She drew her hand away wistfully and tried to return her mind to the conversation.

"So stop fighting," she said.

"It's not that simple."

"Sure it is."

He shook his head. "The Federation needs me."

She wondered briefly when that had become so important to him, but she knew that he always seemed to be dedicated to some cause or another. It just so happened that his cause and the Federation's matched at this time. "The Federation needs a lot of things. We're trying to rebuild from a war. Why don't you help with that?"

"What good will it do to rebuild if the Cardassians just come back to destroy it?"

She smirked. "Isn't that a bit like asking why you should make your bed in the morning if you're just going to sleep in it later?"

"Maybe," he agreed, "but I think I'd be of more use on the front."

"What about teaching?"

"What about it?"

"You used to teach Tactics at the Academy. A lot of good teachers were lost during the war. Who's going to train the next generation how to defend itself?"

He tugged on his ear a bit. "I hadn't thought of that."

"Well, think about it. I know Admiral Nechayev is pushing you to accept this post, but you *do* have other options to consider. Don't let her bully you."

"This is the military," he pointed out. "She's an Admiral. She can order me to do whatever she wants. If I want to stay in Starfleet, which I do right now, I have to obey."

"I have friends, too. Admiral friends. I'm sure Owen could argue for your reassignment to the Academy." They both smiled at the thought of Nechayev, whom many considered to be a bulldog, not getting her way for once.

"Of course, dealing with Seven would be much easier if I moved across the quadrant."

Kathryn cocked her head at him. "I'm not sure I'm the best one to consult about your relationship issues."

"Do you honestly think I wanted to help you with your relationship problems? Do you think I wanted to be the one to convince you it was okay to love a hologram or to cheer you up after Jaffen? Of course not. But I did it because I was your friend."

"Have you been taking lessons on dealing out guilt from my mother?"

"No, just stating the facts."

"Okay, you're right. I'm sorry. Tell me about Seven."

"I never cared for her as much as I should have. But, she needed so much from me. I found myself giving her reassurances and promising things I never meant to. I just didn't want to hurt her. I started to hate myself for being such a coward.

"I really started to hate all the little quirks she had. I couldn't hate her as a person, but I could hate the way she would bluntly state the obvious. I could cringe when she used the words 'assimilate' or 'irrelevant.' And try as she might, she couldn't really appreciate a lot of the things that are important to me. She never said it outright, but I know she scoffed at the vision quest, at my entire culture.

"But the worst thing is the forgiveness. That sounds weird, but it's true. No matter what I did, she wrote it off as normal because she had no real basis for comparison. Some things are unforgivable. At least, I think so. But she always forgave me."

"Like what?" Kathryn asked, wondering what Chakotay could have possibly done he'd consider to be unforgivable.

Despite his insistence that she help him with Seven, he wasn't quite sure full disclosure on this particular issue would be wise. But he figured he'd asked for it.

"Let's put it this way," he said. "Seven never had a hope of being anything more to me than a distant second. A point I illustrated all too clearly, albeit accidentally, one night."

Kathryn looked confused, so he continued. "She may be beautiful, physically at least, but she's not the one I want. Not the one I think of." She still looked confused. He was going to have to spell it out for her. "Not the one whose name comes to my lips in the throws of passion."

That did it. Awareness passed over her face, but she paled as the full meaning struck her. "Oh."

"Is that all you have to say? 'Oh.'"

"No, but I'm thinking." She sat for a moment putting all the possible scenarios together and came to one conclusion. But she had to hear it from him. "Okay, who is the one you think of, at times like that?"

He looked into her eyes for a long moment. They'd been at this point before. He had been on the brink of baring his soul, only to see her eyes plead with him to remain silent. So he had. Now, though, her eyes were different. She wanted to know. Needed to know. Almost as much as he needed to tell her. "There was only ever you," he said.

She exhaled the breath she didn't notice she'd been holding. He did love her, after all. "There's always been a laundry list of reasons to keep us apart."

"I bet I can think of a longer list of reasons why we should be together."

She smiled a little. "Maybe. What do you think would be at the top of that list?"

He thought for a second, then quickly closed the gap between them. He lifted her chin up and kissed her, before she had time to object. And once they started kissing, she had no desire to object. She twined her arms around his neck to pull him closer. Eventually, they had to break apart to breathe.

"Chemistry?" he asked, answering her question of minutes before.

"I'd say that's a good guess. It's in the top five, at least. But it's not number one."

"No? What is then?" He was enjoying her game so far.

"We're finally both ready. At the same time."

"That is quite an accomplishment," he agreed. "Something to celebrate."

Years of practice allowed her to pick up his train of thought. They'd cheated the death of their relationship. There was only one way to celebrate. "Maybe with a bottle of champagne?"

"And a moonlight sail?"

"That sounds fabulous," she said. "There's just one problem."

"What's that?"

"We're trapped in a turbolift."

"There's yet to be a trap that could hold me," he said, rising to his feet and offering her his hand. "Except for the one you put around my heart."

"Ugh," she groaned as he helped her up. "That's awful."

"I know. It's sad because it's true."

"Or because you read it in a book of bad pick-up lines."

"Speaking of picking you up . . ." he said, making his hands into a stirrup to hoist her up to the emergency exit.

"You're unstoppable today. Is there a reason for all the bad puns?" she asked as she balanced on his shoulders and tried to manually open the door.

"Reason number 38 why we should be together: you actually get my humor."

The emergency door was not being very cooperative, but it saw the wisdom of opening when she threatened to sic B'Elanna on it. She hefted herself through the small opening and turned around to lay on her stomach.

She popped her head back into the lift. "I get your humor. That doesn't mean I like it," she said with a smile.

After she'd stood and cleared the way, he jumped up to grab onto the sides of the opening and climbed into the turbolift shaft. "You like it," he said. "You just don't know you like it."

She laughed him off, but knew he spoke the truth. She couldn't exactly recall the last time she'd been so happy, but she was certain that he and his odd sense of humor had been involved. She had missed it. Suddenly, she sobered a bit. "What going to happen when we get back up there?"

"I'm not sure," he said. "I only know that I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make this work."

"Me, too," she agreed, cupping his face with her hand. "Now, start climbing."

"Why do I have to go first?"

"Reason number 62 why we should be together: I love your ass." With that, she gave him a playful slap on the behind and they both began their ascent to rejoin the real world.