A/N: My first Voyager fan fiction. My Second Ever.
Thanks to Val for the encouragement through the shyness.
More to come.
Disclaimer: If only they were mine. (As all the mistake in this are.)
She was marinating. She knew that. Marinating in deliciously warm sweet scented, smooth as silk water when he'd interrupted with his chime. She resisted the nearly overwhelming urge to sink into the waters warm embrace, till all that was visible were the bubbles floating up towards the surface. Racing towards their unfortunate demise.
But she did not.
Instead she took a deep sigh and leaned her head back against the tub. It was not until the third chime that she rose from the water, reluctance resonating in waves throughout every inch of her body. She reached for the towel, wrapping it about herself haphazardly in passive aggressive frustration. Mentally pouting throughout. Dragging her feet so to speak.
By the time she reached the door. Her intruder was on their fifth chime.
She took a deep breath and mentally steeled herself for something more to go wrong today. As if the battle of endless replicator malfunctions, holodeck lock-downs and the outbreak of Bejoran measles that turned out to be a completely different thing all together where not enough. All she needed to be told was that the Borg and the Vidiians wanted to engage in a fire fight. That they had allied with the Kazon and that Talaxians had turned pure evil and needed their ship to grow leola roots in.
She shook her head dispelling the ridiculous thoughts and the grey edges of exhaustion that allowed such nonsense to dance around in her brain. Getting melodramatic in my old age she thought, wrapping the robe she'd grabbed after exiting the bathroom tightly. "Come." she accepted in resignation more weariness in her voice than she had heard in a long time.
"Captain." Harry declared formally. Standing at her doorway, steel in his spine. Not daring to cross the barrier without her word.
"Mr. Kim." She hoped the surprise in her voice hadn't come off as flippant at it had sounded to her ears. Of all people whom she'd expect to be outside her quarters ringing her chime at 1200 hours as if there were a hull breach in half the ship and the only adhesive to patch it back up was in her quarter, she had least suspected Harry Kim.
"I am sorry to interrupt Captain, but there is a very important matter that needs your attention." Well, at the very least he recognized the he was in fact, interrupting. She offered him a seat, non-verbally signaling towards her couch. Taking a seat before him, she smoothed out the lines of her robe in an effort to conceal more skin as it rode up nearly mid thigh in her seated position. Her knees clasped together in the lady like fashion that her own mother and grandmother before her had drilled into her time and again. She continued the motion until the futility of the effort struck her and her hands stilling in resignation on her lap. Maintaining her lady like propriety, but never forgetting her mother's tightly pursed lips as she instructed her to sit like a young lady.
He still stood near the doorway, a statue at her entryway. "Have a seat Mr. Kim." she gestured once more towards the couch. More resolve in her voice. He sat quickly and soundlessly as if afraid of defying her with further hesitation.
"Ma'am...Captain" he brushed the palms of his hands on his pants, she assumed in an attempt to dry the perspiration...or ease his nervous energy.
"Spit it out Mr. Kim." she didn't intend to be callous but she was quickly losing patience. It had been a long couple of days and her only reprieve had been interrupted by him for a reason that his tongue did not seem to intend on helping him get across.
"Permission to speak freely Ma'am." She eyed him carefully. Mentally balancing her options. She could say no and send him on his merry way, have the possibility of that bath still being warm enough to slip into like a comfy glove. Or she could say yes, and sit here and discuss whatever was bothering him. Give up all hope of the bath and possibly going to bed at a semi-decent time.
That first option was sounding mighty nice right now.
"Granted." she almost smiled at her own response. As if there was ever an option in her mind.
He hesitated a few seconds, and then, as if someone had pushed the words right out of his belly. "Captain, do you love Commander Chakotay?" his eyes slipped away at the question. Refusing to meet her eyes. "As more than a friend." he added quickly regaining some of his breath in the process. "Like...in love. Are you In Love with Chakotay?" he continued, gearing up every ounce of courage he possessed and using it to meet her eyes.
His tongue had certainly allowed him wrangle that up quickly enough, she mused humorlessly as she felt her heart do a double beat in her chest and then slow down to the point of concern.
Searching his eyes for a split second she let her own slide closed. Taking in a long deep breath, allowing the air to fill every millimeter of her lungs and holding it for what seemed like an indefinite amount of time. "Harry..." she freed it along with his name. Suddenly feeling exhausted. More exhausted than spending most of the past two days crawling around Jeffries tubes or on her knees beneath malfunctioning consoles. More exhausted that plotting what felt like an impossible journey home when it seemed that everyone and their neighbors were out to get them. An exhaustion that came from her very core. One that resonated from within. An exhaustion that came from years of fighting the same losing battle. A battle only being fought within. "Harry..." she said again trying to find the words. Finding it even more difficult to find the captain within to handle this.
"It's alright Captain." finished for her. "You don't have to say it. Not to me."
"Why are you here?" there was an edge to her voice that was not there before. Not quite sharp but noticeable enough to caution him.
"Because you are losing him Captain." his eyes were pleading. "Because you are losing yourself. It isn't right. He loves you. He has loved you for years. You love him." his voice dropped to a bare whisper. "You belong together. You love each other." she wished he hadn't sounded like a small boy, pleading for his security blanket to be spared from the recyclers wrath. It would certainly make it easier to have this conversation without the needling of unnecessary guilt poking at her through her shroud of numbness.
But he does.
She didn't know what to say. It was as if the words just wouldn't form on her lips. Worst of all, they wouldn't form in her mind. How could she comfort him, put him at ease, when most nights she could not even comfort herself?
The knowledge that she had lost him had hit her already. She had seen him with Seven. She had caught sight of him placing a gentle kiss on her hand as he led her into Sardines' during one of Tom's gatherings. The realization had hit her to the point of near physical pain. She had been dazed the rest of the night. Slow to respond as if she had been shoved into a pool of ice cold water and forced to stay beneath the surface. But the resulting numbness she experienced for days following was not dispelled by a simply soaking in a warm bath or laying in a sauna. No not Vulcan meditations nor heated combat with a Klingon with safeties off could dispel that kind of numbness.
"It's not that simple Harry. I have a responsibility to this crew." She upturned her chin, captain's mask slipping effortlessly into place. "There are factors..."
"Being lonely is worth those factors?" his voice pleading. "Losing the love you share is worth some unattainable level of respect that Starfleet will never give?" he rose to his feet. When Harry had begun to sour? At what point had is undying devoted faith to Starfleet been shaken? "How can you even consider that this crew would be worse for wear if her Captain was happy? If her captain finally had the full support she needs?"
She rose as well."He is happy, or at least on his way." The admittance stung in her chest spreading a fire that she doubted she could put out and left a hard to swallow lump in her throat. But she continued all the same. "Seven can offer him, what I cannot."
Harry watched her for what seemed like an unnecessary amount of time. "This crew does not need a martyr, we need a Captain. Please understand the differences in the sacrifice you are making." Her features hardened but her rebuttal did not come readily.
"I think it is best if you were on your way Mr. Kim." there, that was the hard edge she needed. There was the captain. She should have been the one to handle this all along.