TURNING POINT

By Brianna Thomas

Rated NC-17

Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything. I own this. I make no money at all here (or anywhere else for that matter).

Code: NC17

Summary: Alternate Universe. What might have happened if Chakotay had not gone back into the shelter after the monkey scared Kathryn in her bath on New Earth?

The air was warm, the water was warm. Even her thoughts were warm. A little too warm whenever they drifted back to the shelter, specifically back to the man inside. The slow progression of days, one following after the other like the close-set beads of a necklace, was making it increasingly difficult for Kathryn to stay focussed on the task of getting them off this planet and back to their ship. Especially given the constant contact she had with him inside the relatively small living quarters they shared.

And with good reason. Chakotay was incredibly handsome, funny, kind, and with just that bit of an edge to him to make things interesting. He was a man of integrity, intensely compelling, creative, a superb cook, sexy, and… She sighed. He was starting to take up far too much time in her brain, both waking and sleeping.

What if he were to act on the flashes of, what? - passion, desire - that she saw flicker briefly across his eyes like summer heat lightning. What would she do then? Resist? What for? Even she had to acknowledge that her chances of success in finding a cure for them were dwindling. After all, the doctor had already failed, but in spite of that, she diligently kept trying day after day. Why hold back, then? Although Voyager had managed to cover a lot of space in less than two years, they were still over 65,000 light years away from Earth, her family and Mark.

Mark. The name of her fiancé no longer set off shafts of pain, just a slight pang. She regretted the hurt she knew he would be suffering, along with her mother and sister, not knowing that she was alive and well. So, what was restraining her? Closing her eyes, and leaning her head against the back of the tub he had built for her, she speculated what Chakotay might do if she were to initiate something,. For once, she let her mind roam freely.

She stood up out of the steaming water, watching it flow down her legs. Although the air was warm, her nipples still reacted to the change in temperature as she bent to retrieve the small white towel on the table beside the tub. Stepping out of the tub, she tucked in the edges of the towel just over her breasts. She reached behind her, arching her back, to release her hair from the clasp that confined it and shook it loose over her still damp shoulders. With a sauntering stride, she walked to the shelter, posing in the doorway. The big handsome man was at the table, working on his sand painting. Somehow knowing she was there, he looked up, and the lightning flashed through his dark eyes. Without taking her eyes from his, she slowly reached up and loosened the towel until it fell away.

A splash of water hit Kathryn in the face, making her sputter. Her bar of soap had slipped off the edge, and was now floating in front of her. She made a face at it, and hissed, "Thanks a lot." No matter. A femme fatale she wasn't. She ran her hands over her ribs and breasts. Too skinny and too small for most men's liking. But she could probably pull it off if she had the right motivation. And she had a feeling that Chakotay would be plenty motivation enough. "I could probably whistle Dixie backward with that kind of inspiration," she pondered aloud.

Disgusted with herself, she muttered, "Get your mind out of the gutter, Janeway. Try something constructive, like getting the two of you off this planet. You're the one with the scientific mind, so use it for that, not drippy romantic fantasies."

Drippy. Cute. Holding her arm up, Kathryn watched the leisurely meander of the water droplets down her skin. She paused. There was something about the movement… An idea about her research suddenly popped into her head. It was often said that revelation came when a person was relaxed and not thinking about the problem at all. She started to get a little excited. This could work; maybe, just maybe this might be it. She'd try bouncing it off Chakotay.

"Chakotay," she raised her voice to carry into the shelter. "Are you there?"

"No, I left an hour ago," the distant voice called back.

The last couple of weeks had revealed more and more of his quirky sense of humor, something she'd only ever seen glimpses of on Voyager. With a grin, she called back, "So, that means I'm talking to whom? A figment of my imagination?"

"Could be. You know what isolation can do to some people."

"I've been thinking about my research. I wonder if trying to match the genetic codes of the insect to…" They conversed back and forth for several minutes, trading ideas. In spite of not having the same level of scientific background, Chakotay was able to come up with some excellent suggestions and ways to look at things from a different perspective.

The water was cooling off, so Kathryn stood and reached for her towel. It was a small white one. She hesitated as the similarity to her fantasy struck her. What would you do if he were to act on those flashes of passion in his eyes? A shiver passed over her and it had nothing to do with the temperature of the air.

Wrapping the towel around her, she stepped out of the tub. It was wonderful having the kind of freedom that they had as a result of their total isolation. She tucked the ends of the towel in just over her breasts, turning to return to the shelter.

A rustle behind made her pause, and another one brought her whipping around. They were alone on this planet - weren't they? The hairs on her arms began to stand up. "Who's there?" she demanded. No response. She wasn't taking any chances. "Chakotay," she called urgently, "there's something out here!"

*****

Chakotay sat at the table, carefully working on the sand painting. Only this afternoon had he found the last color that he needed. He could have replicated what he wanted, but since they had this planet all to themselves, he wanted the real thing, something that would truly represent the beauty of their new home.

He still felt twinges at the loss of everything, including the hope of returning to Earth. Although he knew Kathryn was still working hard at finding them a cure, somehow he had already begun the mental adjustment to staying here. They had everything they needed to make a good life together.

Together. In the last couple of weeks, he had sensed a slight shift in her. She diligently continued her research to release them from their beautiful prison, yet he was sure he'd seen things in her eyes at times when she didn't know he was looking. A calmness, an acceptance that hadn't been there until recently. And at times, he would suddenly look up to find her watching him with a completely different sort of look in her eyes that would steal his breath until she glanced away.

It hadn't been long after his arrival on Voyager that he'd felt the stirrings of desire for the beautiful woman who was relaxing in her bath outside. In the tub he had made for her. Oh no, it hadn't been long at all. Like about thirty seconds. In spite of his anger at discovering Tuvok's duplicity and seeing Paris on that bridge in the despised Starfleet uniform, he'd been immediately and overwhelmingly aware of the small woman addressing him sternly, standing close enough for him to smell her. Close enough that he could have grabbed her and…

He shook his head in an effort to dislodge the old fantasy. That was then; this is now. In working with her, he'd quickly gone beyond the instant attraction, to grudging respect, to all-out admiration. Kathryn Janeway was one of the gutsiest people he had ever met. She was strong, smart, and possessed a wicked sense of humor that had way too few opportunities to show itself in this damned quadrant. He liked her. She had a dynamic, passionate energy that was powerful and seductive. And she was beautiful. He had a feeling she wasn't even really aware of just how beautiful she was.

Chakotay had sworn to himself make her burden lighter, so he was glad to be the one trapped here with her. Besides that, being near her was becoming almost life itself to him. Yes, he liked her. And only recently, he'd come to realize that it was more than just that. Even more than sexual attraction, although there was plenty of it. Certainly, being alone with her these past few weeks had only compounded the fantasies and dreams he'd been having for some time.

He thought he'd seen an invitation, or if not that, at least a speculation in those deep blue eyes of hers. What would she do if he were to act on what he thought he saw?

Walking out into the moonlight, he noticed immediately how it glinted off her burnished hair. It drew him like a moth to a beacon of light. He watched her for a few moments, tranquil in her bath, eyes closed, her hands hanging over the sides. Her hair was clipped up, and it trailed over the back of the tub. She opened her eyes, those blue eyes that could laser through an enemy, sympathize with a hurting friend or tease a lover. Half shuttered, they issued an open invitation and he bent towards her mouth. Her lips parted, and in that incredibly sexy, throaty voice, she called his name.

"Chakotay, are you there?"

He snapped back to reality, realizing that the sand he had been holding in his hand was now in a pile on his picture, instead of evenly distributed like it was supposed to be. She had called him.

"No, I left an hour ago." He grimaced. Now there was an intelligent response.

They teasingly sparred with each other, then chatted about the research for the cure of the virus that pinned them to this planet. It was something he deeply treasured, the fact that they could converse this way. Even though his scientific background was more limited than hers, she seemed to value his opinion.

The splash of water told him she was finished with her bath. Eyes closed, he could envision the water sluicing down her slender body, the slight sway of her small breasts as she bent for her towel. Spirits, how he'd love to be the one to hand it to her. Better yet, to wrap her in it and…

The actual words didn't quite carry to him, but he heard something in the timbre of her voice that had him sitting up straight. He was already reaching for the phaser when she called out, "Chakotay, there's something out here!"

*****

Chakotay came charging out of the shelter, phaser in hand, while Kathryn peered into the darkness. Suddenly it didn't seem quite so warm or pleasant an evening.

There was a shriek and a small black and white furry face appeared before them, followed by a long-limbed body with an equally long tail. The relief was so intense, both Kathryn and Chakotay began laughing. It almost seemed like the little animal took offence because it chattered at them, shaking its head agitatedly before springing away.

"Do you suppose it was a monkey?" Kathryn was still staring after the animal, trying to follow its pathway.

"Certainly seemed like a primate of some sort." He chuckled. "And here I thought I was going to do my caveman thing, beat my chest and defend my woman's honor."

The chuckle died in his throat as the words seemed to visibly hang in the air: my woman. He looked down, suddenly totally aware of the tiny barefooted woman beside him, covered only by a small white towel. Water still gleamed on her creamy shoulders. He watched in fascination as a drop drizzled down between her breasts, disappearing under the edge of the towel. The urge to follow it with his tongue was almost overpowering.

His woman. Kathryn's breath froze in her throat and she looked up at the tall man standing so near that she could feel the heat emanating from him. The moonlight clearly illuminated the intensity of desire on his face and the direction of his gaze. What would you do if he were to act on the flashes of passion in those eyes?

Chakotay realized she was looking up at him, had seen where he was looking. He wrenched his eyes upwards to the wide blue eyes, cast almost silver in the moonlight. His head said to leave; his instinct said stay.

There were three other times in his life when he had felt on the cusp of a life-changing decision, something that would totally alter the direction of his life. The first had been when he left his homeworld to join Starfleet. The second had been when he left Starfleet to join the Maquis. And the last one had been when he drove his ship, the Liberty, into the Kazon vessel and joined forces with Captain Kathryn Janeway and the Federation starship Voyager.

He felt it again now. It was as though he was being offered passage on a ship that would sail off into new, uncharted territory, and if he missed this now, if he walked away, his life would drift into something meaningless and empty. Devoid of real peace and joy. Filled with unending frustration, where he would be standing on the outside, forever longing for what have could been - should have been.

It was the tiniest of movements, but Kathryn had leaned toward him, just ever so slightly. And his decision was made.

Kathryn swallowed hard. Something in her wanted to run; something in her wanted him to leave. But something even bigger desperately wanted him to stay. It was time. Time to begin the next leg of the journey of her life. And this was the pivotal moment.

She recognized the struggle in his eyes, and she wanted to beg him not to go. Like metal drawn to a magnet, the longing she sensed in him caused her to lean a tiny bit in his direction. At that moment, she knew their course was set.

As Chakotay regarded her, he was struck that she was small, yet so strong. The Starfleet uniform had always made her seem larger than life. He could clearly see the lean muscles in her arms, her shoulders. Reaching up with one hand, he released the clasp holding her hair back, watching it spill around her in a shimmer. He could hear her rapid breathing, see the rise and fall of her breasts, the dusting of freckles across creamy white skin. Prominent collarbones. So delicate and fragile-looking. He well knew from experience, the excruciating pain of breaking one, and had used that knowledge more than once in hand-to-hand combat. Clavicles, the medical types called them. From the Latin, clavicula or clavis. Such cold, clinical terms for something so infinitely beautiful.

Slowly, so slowly, he bent to her and touched his lips to her collarbone. Her small gasp and shaky exhalation were loud in the stillness of the night. He lightly nipped, then laved the spot with his tongue, drawing another sound from her. His mouth moved along that lovely ridge until he reached the hollow of her throat, where he swirled his tongue. Her small shudders were like fuel to the fire burning inside him.

Kathryn reached behind her with one hand to grasp the edge of the tub for support. Only his mouth touched her and she could not believe the intensity of the shafts of desire arrowing through her at that light contact. Angling her head to allow him more access, she trembled as he trailed his tongue along her other collarbone, then up the side of her neck to suck her earlobe.

The small sounds that escaped her were galvanizing his desire so that his erection was already almost painfully hard. Her breasts rose and fell with her rapid, shallow breathing and he had to kiss her there, had to taste her skin. He dragged his tongue just above the line of her towel, across the soft curve to the delicate dip, where he lapped at the drops of water winding their journey downward on her flesh. A cry broke from her as he continued to lick over the top of her other breast and with her free hand, she pulled his head up and sealed her mouth to his.

Their first kiss, wild and overwhelming, wrought groans from them both. Open mouthed, they nipped and sucked at each other. Her hand moved to the back of his head, holding him in place as they mutually plundered each other's mouth. He pulled away just enough to lock eyes with her, reveling in her small sigh of disappointment. Brown eyes linked to blue with passion.

He moved a hand to her hip, feeling the rough texture of the towel. Shifting his body slightly to the side, he slowly slid his hand across her stomach under the over-flap, watching her face for any hesitation. There was none, just the flickering expressions of increasing desire highlighted by the moons above.

His fingertips touched warm, slightly moist skin, and he paused at her gasp, wondering if she would stop him now. Her lips parted, but it was only to dart her tongue out to wet them; he felt that tiny stab all the way to his groin. Continuing until his hand rested fully against her taut stomach muscles, he angled it, threading through the tight curls still damp from her bath. Questing fingers drifted downward, encountering delicate folds already slick and swollen. "Oh Kathryn," he groaned, nearly undone by the overwhelming evidence of her arousal. He had to touch her, had to explore her. Had to.

When her hand moved from behind his head to his chest, so reminiscent of her touch while they were on Voyager, his heart dropped, believing she was pushing him away. "Kathryn, let me. You need this." If all he did tonight was give her release, it was enough.

It wasn't to push him away that caused her to move her hand, she was just seeking to brace herself. Her voice was a husky whisper. "Yes. I need it. I need you." She shifted her legs wider, inviting him.

It was all he needed to hear. His fingers continued to touch and explore, answering the need in himself. Emboldened by her increasing sounds, he used two fingers to stroke the edges of her opening. One finger slowly pushed into her heat, feeling her tightness. He bent a little more toward her so that his thumb could glide back and forth across her clitoris.

Her legs nearly gave way and she dropped her hand from his chest to reach behind her for the edge of the tub. The spiral upward was already beginning and she arched her back, causing the towel to loosen and fall backwards into the tub with a small splash.

The sight was powerfully erotic. His former captain, slender and strong, naked while he was fully clothed, her legs spread, touched only by his hand buried between her legs, moving. Her arms stretched straight behind to brace herself, her back arching tight as a bowstring, nipples jutting, pelvis thrusting forward into his hand. When he added a second finger turning inside her, he felt the pulsing grip of her strong inner muscles. A long cry rent the night's stillness as she climaxed.

Chakotay caught her just as she collapsed, her breasts heaving as she continued to shudder. Kissing her hair, her face, her lips, he murmured, "Oh Kathryn. My sweet, beautiful Kathryn. So much passion trapped inside you." Her body was beginning to cool in the night air, and he lifted her easily, striding toward the shelter.

Once inside, he headed straight to her side of the shelter, directing the lights to dim. Carefully lowering her feet to the floor, his hands skimmed up her curves. There was an elegance to her body that was captivating and her skin felt like satin under his work-roughened palms. Although he felt almost ready to explode inside his pants, he didn't want to presume anything, so he just touched her gently, absorbing the memory of the sight of her.

So tiny in her bare feet, the top of her head barely reached his shoulder. When Kathryn began to unbutton his shirt, he placed his hands over hers. "You don't have to do this."

She looked up at him, and echoed his earlier words back to him, whispering, "Let me. You need this, Chakotay." A look of uncertainty flitted across her face, and she took a step back from him. "Unless you don't want me to."

Cupping her face, he ran his thumb across her cheekbone. At the flare of her nostrils, he realized it was the same hand he had just used to pleasure her. Reaching for one of her hands, he pressed it against his erection. "Does that feel like I don't want you to?"

Blue eyes wide, her mouth opened in surprise at the extent of his arousal. With his hand still on the back of hers, she carefully shaped and explored him with her fingers and palm. Even through his trousers, the light tentative touch seemed to almost send him over the edge, as he closed his eyes on a shudder.

She could feel the heat of him and let her hand rest against him, using her other hand to continue with the buttons of his shirt. "That's good, Chakotay," her voice sounded even deeper than normal, "because I think things have been a little unfair so far."

His eyes popped open at her words. Her hands were making it difficult to think, especially when she began working his pants open. "How do you see that?" he managed.

Easing his shirt out of his pants, Kathryn spread her hands on the warm muscles of his chest. She delighted in his indrawn hiss of breath. Her expression was downright coquettish. "Well, you've touched me and seen me naked. I think turnabout is fair play. Equal rights, and all that."

It was becoming increasingly difficult for him to get enough breath. When her hand slid inside his briefs to cup him at the same time as she leaned her head forward to suck on one of his nipples, he groaned out loud and turned her quickly. Wrapping one arm around her waist, he nudged her forward until she was kneeling upright on her bed, thighs spread wide. It brought her body to the perfect height and he could not wait a moment more. Adjusting his clothing, he slid inside of her.

The liquid heat, tight grip of her inner muscles and the sound she made as he entered her were almost more than he could endure. He hadn't been with anyone since Seska, and he knew he wasn't going to last. Naked back touched naked chest. When she drew his hands to her breasts, her nipples pointing into his palms, and he felt her pelvis tilt back toward him, deepening the contact, he lost it and began thrusting hard. Chakotay felt the explosion begin right from his back, tightening like a fist between his legs as he poured himself into her with a hoarse roar.

As his flaccid penis slipped from her, he saw their combined juices drip down her thighs. He eased her onto her side on the bed, took off his shirt and used it to wipe her before tossing it aside. Rolling her onto her back, he sat facing her on the edge of the bed, resting one hand on her trim thigh. Her hair was spread over her pillow, one lock trailing over her shoulder to curl near her breast. His fingers itched to follow that curve.

They sat quietly regarding one another for some time. He was bare to the waist and his pants were open, his soft penis still glistening from their joining. Her hand reached to his wrist, stroking her thumb lightly along the inner tendons. That tiny touch shot through him, telling him that his quick release had only taken the edge off. Fingers flexing along her inner thigh, he felt a leftover slick trail of moisture from their joining that his shirt had missed. The urge to clean it off with his tongue was great.

Chakotay knew she also had been alone since they'd found themselves pulled into the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker. "Are you okay?" he asked quietly.

Kathryn smiled slightly. "Oh, yes. Very. Are you always that energetic?"

He couldn't help smiling back, in spite of the fact he knew he'd been too quick for her. "I usually have better control, but it's been a long time for me. I'm sorry."

She shook her head. Typical of the man. It had been a long time for him, yet he was thinking about her satisfaction. "Don't be. I just didn't come this time."

The way she leaned on the word 'this' and the implications of her statement made him suck in a breath. He was already starting to feel stirrings that he had no business feeling this early. To give himself a little more time, he circled his hand around hers, lifted it and kissed the back. He laid it on her hipbone, fingers pointing to her groin. "Touch yourself."

Kathryn looked from his face, still and intense, to her hand and back again. "You want to watch?"

"A man can learn a lot watching a woman pleasure herself. She knows her own body, what works for her."

Never before had she done this with anyone watching. It had always been a private thing to satisfy her needs when there was no other way. The very idea of masturbating with Chakotay sitting beside her sent a fresh sizzle of arousal to her still swollen sex. "On one condition."

He nearly smiled. How like Kathryn Janeway to negotiate even at a time like this. "And that would be…?"

"Take the rest of your clothes off so I can watch you touch yourself too."

Her words were like a torch inside him, burning his lungs, making it impossible to breathe. The bed shifted slightly as he toed off his sandals, then he stood and shucked his pants and briefs together.

Kathryn's mouth went dry at the sight of him before he sat again. She'd only ever seen his bare chest, and that had been impressive enough. It was overload to see his smooth, strongly muscled body, sex large and heavy, half-erect again so soon. He could easily have been da Vinci's model for the statue of David. Although he'd always been fit, the constant physical labor over the few weeks since their arrival had already honed and trimmed his physique, both upper and lower body. A decadent sense of liberty surged through her - she could look to her heart's content. "You're beautiful, Chakotay."

He had been told that before and it had never mattered to him - until now. Shrugging a little, he said, "I only care that you think so. You're the one who's really beautiful, Kathryn."

It was impossible not to smile; they were so similar. "I don't really see it, but I'm glad you do."

He watched with fascination as she moved her other hand, sliding it slowly up her side to trail just the fingertips under the curve of her breast. A finger circled her nipple until it puckered before she cupped her breast and softly kneaded it. Chakotay lightly touched his semi-erect cock, moving his fingers over it until it was engorged, then wrapped his hand fully around the shaft, beginning slow strokes.

The hand on Kathryn's hip slid through her pubic hair, massaging her mons before easing further down. She shifted one leg wide, giving him full vantage. Her fingers dipped, spread the moisture around her labia, stroking gently on both sides before circling her clitoris with the tip of her middle finger.

Chakotay spread his legs and cupped his testicles with his other hand. It was difficult to know where to look; to watch her face watching him, or to watch her hands pleasuring herself.

It wasn't long before they were both on the edge. Kathryn called his name at the same moment he reached for her, falling backward so that his head was at the foot of the bed, pulling her body over his. "Take me," he growled, and she did, impaling herself on his rigid penis. He caressed one hand up her body to gently cup and knead her breast, and circled her center with the middle finger of his other hand exactly as she had done. Kathryn reached behind her to fondle his sac. Sweat from both their bodies pooled between them, adding to the slickness as they rode themselves to an overwhelming climax.

*****

From that night on, they never slept apart. They rearranged the shelter to give them one bedroom, and it actually created more space in the main room. The delightful freedom of no schedules allowed them to rise or sleep when they felt like it. The chronometer no longer dictated when they should eat, just their hunger. Some days one or both of them wanted to continue working late, so they did. Chakotay was already mentally planning a new home for them.

A mischievous side of Kathryn appeared that rarely had had a chance to be seen on Voyager where survival was the main issue. It had briefly shown itself early in the journey when she'd pretended not to know how to play pool, when in truth she was the resident expert. And also when she'd teasingly commented right on the bridge that she would come to Chakotay if she needed any advice on mating behavior. Now, she showed it again one night when he wanted to finish the section on their new bed that he was working on and she agreed to prepare dinner. Not only did she surprise him with a decent tasting dinner, but she also served it while nonchalantly wearing nothing more than one of Chakotay's shirts. When the main course was done, she wouldn't let him help to clear the table, but did it herself. He was left to watch her slim legs and the occasional glimpse of trim buttocks whenever she bent or stretched.

"Do I need to ask what's for dessert?" He'd been dealing with a major hard-on throughout the meal.

By way of answer, she unbuttoned the shirt, nipped his sun-bronzed neck and murmured huskily, "Coffee." Then she perched on the edge of the table in front of him, leaned back, and spreading her legs, added, "With cream."

He knew the crew would never recognize their supposedly straight-laced captain, but Chakotay could see her clearly. Kathryn was ingenious, intriguing and at times, infuriating. She was strong, smart and sexy; powerful, passionate and playful. She was all of that and so much more. And she owned his heart.

Most days there was a sparkling energy to her that was captivating. But not on the day after the violent plasma storm that destroyed all her scientific equipment and experiments. As they worked together to clear the debris and make repairs, Chakotay was aware that she was very subdued. She didn't speak much, although it was she who came up with the idea of how to fix the roof of their shelter. Her latest theory regarding a cure for extricating them from their confinement had shown promise, and he knew she had to be hurting that all the hope she'd still held was totally gone. This was now their life.

So that day as they worked together, he told her stories in an attempt to take her mind off her loss, her disappointment. Stories from his heritage, from his life on Dorvan before the Cardassians came, lighthearted stories from his time in the Maquis. He made her laugh a few times, so he knew she'd make it through.

That evening, her shoulders ached, so he offered to massage them for her, sharing that his mother had trusted only him with her sore neck. Kathryn smiled and accepted, coyly commenting she was already very aware that he had good hands. Touching her silken hair distracted him for a moment, but he was able to loosen up a few of the knots in her upper back. Once again, he was totally aware of her as a woman he desired and deeply cared for.

Kathryn stood, hugged and thanked him, saying that one thing she definitely didn't miss was having to adhere to protocols and parameters about command distance. Stretching up to kiss his cheek, she went to bed, while he stayed up for a while to finish his project. It was a short time later that she reappeared, sitting again across the table from him. Her expression was sad.

"Tell me another story, Chakotay."

At the sight of her wide blue eyes and unhappy face, his brain betrayed him, rendering him unable to recall a single solitary tale to give her. So he just began to talk. He told her an ancient legend about an angry warrior who found peace joining his life with a woman warrior, swearing to always be by her side and make her burden lighter. He concluded the story by saying, "And in this way, he also found love."

Her look was somewhat skeptical. "Was that really an ancient legend?"

She'd caught him. Glancing away with chagrin, he admitted, "No, but it made it easier to say."

Tears started in her eyes, and this time her expression was full of tenderness. She stretched her hand toward him, palm up. After a moment, he met her hand with his own, and their fingers slowly linked. It felt like there was a breathless pause in the universe as everything stood still in another pivotal moment where a lasting commitment was forged in the furnace of time.

Her voice was shaky. "I love you too, Chakotay."

His face crumbled and he leaned over their joined hands. As she felt his lips and then his tears touch her fingers, she bent over him, stroking his hair. She heard his whispered words, "I love you so, Kathryn."

In all their shared passion, they had never said the words before. Her own tears spilled on his temple as she whispered back, "I know, I know."

That night their loving was tender and poignant, a joining not just of bodies, but of hearts and souls. Chakotay lay between her legs, buried deep inside her. Their torsos and arms pressed against each other, both hands linked flat against the mattress. It was slow, tenderly intense and satisfyingly complete.

Afterwards, Kathryn lay against Chakotay's broad chest. His hand stroked absentmindedly along her arm that was draped across him. Knowing that she loved him, his spirit was more at rest than at any other time in his life. He wondered how things might have been on Voyager and if they would ever have progressed to this point. An unpleasant thought popped into his head, and he stiffened slightly.

Kathryn felt the change in him immediately and lifted her head. "What?"

His hand continued its idle stroking for a long moment. "Hypothetically speaking, what would happen if Voyager was to discover a cure and return for us?"

"Well, first off, if they went to the Vidiians for it, I'd throw the whole lot of them in the brig for disobeying orders."

He looked at her askance. "The whole lot? Kathryn, there wasn't room for all the Maquis in Voyager's brig, so how do you think you'll get the entire crew in there?"

There was a glint in her eye. "Squish 'em in. After all, you remember Admiral O'Grady's favorite quote in his command class, don't you?"

He nodded. "He that cannot obey…"

" - cannot command," she finished off.

"But how would just the two of us run the entire ship?"

"Oh, we'd let them out after a while," she assured him, "but not until we've had a chance to enjoy having the bridge all to ourselves." The tip of one finger ran down the middle of his chest and abdomen. "Did I ever tell you about my fantasy of us alone together on the bridge?"

"No." He groaned as her questing hand traveled southward.

"I must do that sometime." She stilled her hand. Kathryn knew what he was really concerned about. "Chakotay, do you think that you're just a convenience to me, because there's no other choice on this planet? That I'm just after your body?"

His carefully schooled features confirmed her suspicion. "It's happened before."

Oh, there was a world of hurt in those quiet words. Such a man - strong, vulnerable, honorable, as well as incredible sexy and an amazing lover. "Did you know there's another part to that ancient legend of the angry warrior?" she asked.

At his headshake, she continued. "Well, it seems that the warrior woman was drawn to the angry warrior from the moment he magically appeared before her. But she was committed to another, and even though he was so very far away, she held fast to that commitment for a long time. But she could not deny the growing need to have the angry warrior wholly in her life. Through the many dangers that met them, he showed himself to be a man of truth and honor. But one day, they both caught a strange disease, for which their medicine man could find no cure. It forced their two tribes, who were now one, to have to abandon them on a deserted island, and it was then that the woman warrior and the angry warrior revealed their hearts to each another. Hearts that were full of love, never to be parted again, no matter what else life brought them."

Kathryn could feel his heart pounding under her hand and watched as his eyes closed and he drew in a shaky breath. "Chakotay," she waited until he was looking at her again. "As beautiful as your body is," she kissed his chest, "that's not the only reason I love you. I love who you are, the man that you are."

Rolling on top of him, she swirled her tongue around his nipple, hearing him suck in a breath. She planted kisses as she slid down his body. "And I'm going…to have to…punish you…for thinking I'm…" She stabbed his belly button with her tongue, causing his stomach muscles to clench. "…that kind of a girl."

Chakotay's chest was heaving and he looked down his body to where she lay between his legs. Her hands grasped his hips and her face was so close, he could feel her breath on his fully engorged sex. His voice was hoarse. "So, what's my punishment?"

She lowered her head and gave him a thorough tongue-lashing.

The End

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