Chapter 3: The Toughest Away Mission
They arrived back in Kathryn’s quarters. After settling in with a cup of Vulcan tea for Chakotay and a glass of milk (he insisted!) for Kathryn, he was the first to speak. “Kathryn, I want you to know how much this means to me. I know the next 6 months will be difficult at best…”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kathryn piped in quickly with only a hint of a smile.”
“It just means that I know how important Voyager and her crew are to you; and, I know you want to be everything to everybody…but…”
“But, you are going to have to make yourself and our baby the number one priority in your life for the next few months. And, if you won’t, then I’ll have to make it my personal mission to do that for you.” He said the last bit with a smile forming on his lips. He wanted her to know he was serious; but that he was going to enjoy this as well.
“Chakotay, I appreciate your concern; and, I promise to take good care of both myself and the baby. Please be patient, though, something tells me I’m not going to make a good pregnant Captain!”
“Fair enough. Now, first things first, when you are going to tell the crew?” Chakotay, feeling as though the worst of his conversation was over, settled back into the cushions of the couch and pulled Kathryn to him. His arms went around her and he let his hands rest on the small swell of her stomach. His face was dangerously close to her hair. There was something about her hair that always drove him crazy. It reminded him so much of her personality…smooth, strong, and fiery red! God, how he loved her hair. He could remember the first time he had touched it…there on New Earth…what a night that had been…the sounds of Kathryn’s voice brought him back to the present.
“I’m not sure, Chakotay. I just hope I find the right time and way to tell them before they figure it out on their own.”
“What do you mean?”
“Problem #1: Neelix’s cooking. How in the world am I going to go in there each morning and not only be forced to smell the cooking, but to eat it as well? The mere thought of it now almost sends me to the lavatory!” Kathryn’s expression was comical; but, he could tell she was concerned. “And, Chakotay, I could go on. How long do you thing this uniform is going to conceal my burgeoning figure? It barely conceals anything now!” Her exasperation was growing by the moment.
“Well, Captain…” Chakotay chuckled as he began, “First, I disagree, your uniform hides a lot now that I know what the woman underneath looks like; and believe me, I was looking! Second, I guess we’ll see just how tough you really are tomorrow morning in the mess hall, now won’t we?”
Kathryn turned to look at him with a look of mock hurt on her face, but it quickly turned into a smile and he was rewarded with a chuckle from her as well. “Well, I guess these next 6 months will be the toughest away mission I’ve ever been on especially when that mission takes me to the mess hall!”
They both broke out in a fit of laughter and soon found themselves holding each other in an intimate embrace. Chakotay turned serious as he turned Kathryn’s face to look at his. “Marry me, Kathryn. I want our child to have the benefits of a true family. You and I have joined our bodies, minds, hearts and souls I want us to join our lives. I want us to be together officially.”
He waited and watched the myriad of emotions that were crossing her face. “Oh Chakotay, I don’t know what to say.”
“Yes is a nice place to start.” Chakotay replied with a soft smile.
The one word response caused his heart to skip a beat. She had actually agreed. No discussion, no debate, no argument, no protocol…just yes.
He was about to pick her up and carry her into the bedroom when she burst off the couch and headed for the bathroom again. Before he rose to follow her, he smiled to himself and thought, “It’s gonna be a long 6 months!” As he made his way to the bathroom with a smile on his face, he called out “I’m coming, Kathryn!
Chapter 4: Coffee for the Captain?
Time: Next Morning
Kathryn awoke first to the soft sounds of Chakotay’s snoring. Her head was snugly placed in the crook of his arm. She lifted herself slightly to take a look at the wonderful man sleeping next to her. She couldn’t believe how fate (or Q) had brought them to this point. Never in her wildest imagination would she believe that she would have a love affair with her First Officer, much less have his child while commanding a starship 70,000 light years from home. And, not to mention, agree to marry him as well. A small smile spread across her face as she quietly watched. Her hand absently strayed to the ever increasing swell of her stomach. She decided to slip quietly from the bed. Careful not to wake “the charming prince”, she laughed to herself as she remembered the events that predicated the Doctor assigning Chakotay that name. She carefully replaced the covers and placed a feather light kiss on the tattoo she had grown to love so much.
As Kathryn left the room, she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror. She saw a pale woman whose blue eyes were brightened by the royal blue silk nightie she was wearing. Her hair was brushed and tied back in a ponytail. Seeing the ponytail brought back the memory of last night. She and Chakotay were just about to be intimate when her stomach revolted yet again. She had bolted into the bathroom to begin another bout of vomiting. Although to call it vomiting was not accurate anymore. The lack of food in her system had brought on dry heaves which were much worse. She had felt particularly drained after this most recent episode.
Chakotay once again had comforted her and decided that she needed more than words this time. Running a warm bath, he carefully undressed her and helped her into the warm, soothing water. Once she began to relax somewhat, he began to wash her hair. Her eyes closed as she remembered the sensation of his fingers in her hair…gently massaging and working the lather throughout her tresses. Then she felt the warm water cascading down both her back and front as he rinsed her auburn mane. He soaped up a cloth and began to gently wash the rest of her body. She smiled as she remembered how he had lingered at certain spots of her anatomy. While still covered in soap, he began to rub her neck and shoulders. As she began to murmur soft words of encouragement to him, he allowed the path of his hands to explore further. He gently caressed her breasts, circling them with his fingers until they were taut in response. He then moved lower to her feet and began massaging them, continuing his trail up her leg. She whispered to him, “It seems to me that a bathtub was where this all started.” He smiled as he remembered when Q had sent Kathryn and him back to New Earth to the bathtub he had made for her during their initial stay there. He gently replied, “Yes, I do believe you are correct. But, this time, the purpose is relaxation for a weary and pregnant Captain…so don’t get too excited on me, ok?”
“Fair enough.” She was entirely too relaxed at this point to argue with him. Not that it would have done her any good. He was getting very good at winning arguments with her. She made a mental note to herself to work on that!
Once he had finished washing and rinsing, he helped her up and gave her a towel. Smiling in his direction, she informed him, “Something tells me I’m going to be a very spoiled, pregnant starship captain.”
“That is my goal, m’lady.” Chakotay then wrapped the towel around her and dried her hair, finally tying it up in a ponytail. He helped her into the blue nightgown and they had fallen asleep discussing names for the baby.
During the course of reliving her memory from last night, Kathryn had taken up a place on the couch in the sitting room. Both her feet and back were propped with pillows (per Chakotay’s strict instructions!). She had started to read one of the several PADDs spread out around her.
Chakotay stood at the door of the sitting room just watching her (and secretly pleased that she had followed his instructions regarding her feet and back). Kathryn realized that he had entered without even looking up. “Did you know that Bajoran herbs are recommended during pregnancy?” She asked.
“Well, I’m not sure about that. But, did you know, Captain, that food is also highly recommended?”
“Not if it’s Neelix’s.”
“Come on Kathryn. I’ll give you a neck rub later, IF you agree.” He promised with another one of his disarming smiles.
She tossed one of her pillows his way and teased, “That’s blackmail, Commander; and, entirely unfair!” Rising she took his hand as he led her to the shower to start their day.
About an hour later, the Captain and Commander exited her quarters hand in hand on their way to the mess hall. Chakotay wouldn’t admit it, but he was holding her hand to keep her from bolting once they got close!
The closer they got to the Mess Hall, the more anxious Kathryn got. Chakotay was practically whistling and bouncing while they walked. By the time they reached the turbo lift, Kathryn’s anxiety was getting to her.
“If you don’t stop that whistling, I’m going to ring that beautiful neck of yours; and, what a waste that would be.” Although she was smiling, her composure was slipping a bit.
Chakotay feigned innocence and simply replied, “What?”
“You know exactly what! Now stop it. I would advise some discretion here, Commander.”
“Why Captain, whatever could you be talking about?”
His smug smile made her want to throw him in the brig for the next few months or so; but, she contained that thought for the moment anyway. “If you don’t stop looking like the cat that just swallowed the mouse, the crew might suspect that…”
He couldn’t help but interject at this point, “…that a very beautiful and stubborn Captain is having my baby?”
She was exasperated now. “Chakotay!”
“We’re barely into this thing and you’re already blurting things out loud. If you can’t keep a secret any better than that, how are we ever going to keep this from the crew especially Neelix until the right time?”
Chakotay began laughing. Once they were in the turbo lift, he started, “I can just see it right now. Neelix announces the benefits of leola root juice for the expectant mother and doesn’t rest until you get at least 16 oz per day.” He was about to continue with his scenario when he noticed the look on Kathryn’s face. She appeared as though she believed what he was rambling on about could actually become a reality.
“Computer halt turbo lift.” The second it stopped, he took her face in his hands and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. The tenderness of the kiss eased her expression somewhat and she smiled, “What was that for?”
“For being the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in any quadrant chartered or unchartered.”
He stopped her before she could finish by placing a finger over her mouth. “It’s going to be alright. I promise. I’ll keep your our- secret until the time is right to share it with everyone, ok?”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too. Computer resume turbo lift.”
As they entered the Mess Hall, the Alpha shift was busily finishing their breakfast in anticipation of the start of their day. The first smells of breakfast hit Kathryn like a wall. It took all of her willpower and Starfleet training not to turn tail and run. Chakotay gently placed his hand behind her elbow to remind her that he was there and supporting her.
She smiled, took a deep breath, and then turned to Neelix. She put on her best Captain’s face and began, “Good morning, Mr. Neelix.”
“Good morning, Captain. My you like a little pale this morning. I hope you are alright. I’m sure a good breakfast will fix whatever is ailing you.” Neelix began in his usual chipper voice.
Forcing the panic back down into the pit of her stomach, she weakly smiled back, “I’m sure you’re right, Mr. Neelix.”
He placed a glob of something Kathryn couldn’t quite identify on her plate. The consistency and greenish color did nothing to help her already unsettled stomach. Chakotay noticed that her face was beginning to turn the same greenish color and quickly grabbed the plate from her.
“I think I’ll eat this, Captain, if you don’t mind. Perhaps, you would like some wheat toast and juice?”
Grateful, she looked first at the Commander and then at Neelix. “Yes, I think that would be wonderful. Thank you, Commander.”
Neelix was nonplussed, “Ok, wheat toast and juice it is. Can I also pour you a cup of coffee, Captain?”
Tom and B’Elanna had been watching the events unfold from their table. They had quietly come up to stand behind the Captain and Commander. Upon hearing Neelix’s question about the coffee, Chakotay, Tom and B’Elanna all shouted at once, “NO!”
Startled, Neelix looked at them in shock. Kathryn was glaring at them. If looks could kill, Voyager would be minus three senior officers at that moment. Neelix, who was still bewildered, waited patiently for the Captain, expecting some type of explanation.
Searching frantically for a plausible excuse, Kathryn began, “I’m sorry, Mr. Neelix, you see the Doctor has asked me to cut back on my caffeine levels he thinks it makes me a little too jumpy.” She cut a glance to the party of three as she added, “Although, in light of recent events, I think I will ask him to restrict Mr. Chakotay’s, Mr. Paris, and Ms. Torres’ consumption as well.”
“As you wish, Captain.” Neelix responded still not quite sure of what was going on, but he vowed to find out. The smile was back on his face again, “One juice and toast coming right up!”
The remainder of the breakfast passed without incident. It wasn’t until the four were about to leave that another slip occurred which would cost the Captain her secret. They were just about to exit the Mess Hall when Janeway turned to Tom and B’Elanna and said, “I’ll see you on the bridge, Lieutenants. I have some interesting ‘projects’ for you to work on with Commander Chakotay today.”
Knowing they were probably in for scrubbing some plasma warp conduits with toothbrushes, Tom smiled and said, “Aye, Aye Mom see you on the bridge.”
Everyone within earshot seemed to have caught the distinct difference between Mom and Ma’am and the world seemed to stop at that very moment. All faces were turned on the now agitated face of Captain Kathryn Janeway whose angry glare was turned on a very embarrassed Lt. Thomas Eugene Paris.