This story is a sequel to "The Rose” and recounts what happens to Janeway and Chakotay "the day after” their encounter with a special rose from the planet Fantasia.
As usual, the characters belong to Paramount - but the storyline is completely mine. Your comments are always welcome.
Without further ado,
The day had seemed to take an eternity for Kathryn Janeway. Since her conversation with Neelix that morning and his admitting to the whole truth about the flowers they brought on board Voyager, she had been unable to think of anything else. Luckily, there had been little excitement in the Delta quadrant that day and nothing on the ship that required her direct attention. Well, nothing other than her First Officer. Since their eyes had met as she walked on the bridge this morning, they had avoided eye contact. They both knew something was happening between them - but only Janeway was privy to exactly what acted as a catalyst to that event. That rose had started something between them that she wasn't quite sure how they would finish.
Finally, the chronometer signaled the end of her shift. Standing, she smiled, "Mr. Tuvok, you have the bridge.” As she walked off the bridge, she knew she would get the one thing she needed to work through this - time. "Good night, Commander” was all she could bring herself to say.
"Good night, Captain - sleep well” were Chakotay's final words to her.
Alone in her room, she had decided to use some replicator rations to treat herself to a special dinner. After barely finishing, her thoughts drew once again to the events of the past 24 hours. One thought kept racing through her mind...
"If during the emotional contact, the two parties lock eyes for an extended period of time, they not only join bodies, but hearts, minds, and souls as well. There is a bond that will exist between them forever.”
...forever...Neelix's words echoed through her mind.
"Janeway to Neelix”
"Neelix here, Captain. What can I do for you?”
"I was wondering if I might have a word with you...in my quarters?”
"Certainly, Captain. Is everything all right?” The concerned morale officer quickly added.
"Yes, I just have a few questions.”
"On my way. Neelix out.”
Within a minute, Neelix chimed at the Captain's door.
"Neelix, thank you for coming. I just wanted to ask you, once again, if there is anything else that I need to know about possible side affects to the situation with the rose.”
"Other than what I've already explained, Captain, the only thing I can think of is the issue of unresolved conflict between the soul mates.”
"Once destined as soul mates, it is important that the two resolve any differences they encounter. This is not to say that they have to agree, only that they respect the other's position. If this does not occur, the beauty of the rose will become scarred by the presence of a thorn. You see, every thing of beauty always has a dark side. For the rose - it is a thorn. However, by caring for the delicate rose (or the relationship), a single rose can flourish to make the world a beautiful and better place.”
Now lost in her thoughts, she thanked Neelix and bid him good night. Her mind was racing. If there was one thing she and Chakotay had in their relationship...it was unresolved conflict. She shook her head soundly trying to clear her thoughts, but they kept returning to the rose. One single rose - one night - had destined her as a soul mate with her first officer...forever.
The rose: her thoughts brought that symbol back to her mind. She went into the sleeping quarters and found it there - still on the nightstand where Chakotay had placed it when he left her that night. She picked up the rose and slowly inhaled its scent. She walked to the window and gazed out at the stars while continuing to inhale the fragrance.
Suddenly she felt a warm presence next to her. She turned her head and saw Chakotay standing close once again. He slowly turned her head to look back at the stars and she began to feel a soft massage on her shoulders. Chakotay spoke softly, "Just relax, Kathryn and let me handle the rest.”
The stress and fatigue of the day had begun to wear on her and she relaxed at his touch. There was something about this man that made her lose all rational thought when he was around. All of her carefully placed logic and protocol seemed to fade like a whisper in the wind each time he spoke her name.
She lost herself once again to the sweet smell of the rose and the sensations generating from Chakotay's touch. She felt the massage continue slowly as he methodically worked her shoulders, arms and back. With the rose still in her hand, she felt her arms being lifted above her head and pressed to the window in front of her. His arms encircled her and began the same magic on her front side. She felt his face nuzzling the side of her neck and placing tender kisses on the soft scented skin.
The relaxation ceased as it was replaced with familiar, but buried sensations. Her body came alive with his touch, responding in kind to the arousal infusing every pore. She felt the back of her uniform being undone; the garment removed and tossed to the floor. The cool air mixed with the hot kisses playing across her exposed flesh. The kisses continued their path downward. She felt she might explode from the contrasting sensations: the fire from his kisses on her backside mixed with the coolness on her front pressing against the glass of the window. She thought she could stand upright no longer from the spiraling emotions threatening to explode when suddenly - she felt a sharp pain tear through her right hand...her eyes flew open and she found that she was all alone.
It all had been a dream - a hallucination of some type induced once again by the scent of the rose. She looked at her hand that now had blood dripping down on to her uniform. A thorn from the rose had imbedded itself in her hand.
She tried to remove it herself, but it had imbedded itself deep within her hand. "Well, this will be an interesting one to explain to the doctor,” she murmured out loud as she began to make her way to sick bay to have the thorn removed.
Meanwhile, in the quarters right next to the Captain's, a different story had evolved:
Chakotay was pacing around his quarters, berating himself for the way the day had transpired:
"Good night Captain. Sleep well.” I can't believe that was all I could say to her after all we have shared. I know she doesn't want to talk about it, but she has to! She's always trying to hide her emotions - I've never met a woman who hides them as she does. I've been with her enough to know that under that calm exterior is a passionate woman just waiting to be released. I know I'm the man to do that for her. I just need to convince her to see things the same way I do - there's a way we can work this out - I just have to be patient.
Unable to come to peace with his thoughts, Chakotay decided to contact his spirit guide for a vision quest. He opened the bundle and laid out each piece ceremoniously. "Akoochemaya, we are far from the spirits of our ancestors...”
Chakotay opened his eyes to become acquainted with his surroundings. He felt an unnatural pull in the direction of a bright light. Being accustomed to strange things happening during these visions, he followed the light with no apprehension. Then he saw her...standing by the window...holding the rose.
He followed the pull of the vision until it left his spirit standing right behind her frame. She was looking out at the stars and inhaling the fragrance of the rose - "their rose.” He could sense that she was troubled and fatigued - the day had been long for her as well. Out of instinct he began to massage her shoulders - murmuring words of encouragement for her to relax. It was the strangest sensation - he knew he was still physically in his quarters; but, he could smell the fragrance of the rose and he knew she could feel his touch. It was as if he was really there. Once again, the scent of the rose took over his senses. He placed Kathryn's arms above her head and encircled her waist with his arms...she felt so good. His caresses were almost worshipful as he strove to bring her pleasure and the release she so deeply craved. He inhaled her scent as he nuzzled her neck - oddly enough it registered to him that her scent was now the same as that of the rose. He undid the back of her jumpsuit and began to trail hot kisses along the soft satin skin of her back. He moved in behind her and reached up to cover her hands in his. As his hand covered the hand holding the rose, his fantasy was ripped apart with a searing pain in his hand.
He awoke from the vision to find his right hand bleeding - as though a thorn was imbedded in it. Unable to stop the bleeding himself, he decided a trip to sick bay might be necessary. As he made his way to see the Doctor, the only thought that kept running through his mind was, "Well, this will be an interesting one to explain to the doctor.”
Part II - SickBay
Kathryn arrived at sickbay only moments before Chakotay. The Doctor was examining her hand.
"Now, Captain...would you please explain to me how this happened?” the Doctor asked.
"I'd rather not go into all the details, Doctor. Suffice it to say that I was enjoying the rose when I apparently was lost in my thoughts and held the rose too tightly causing the thorn to imbed itself in my hand,” the Captain replied in her most "please let that be a sufficient explanation” voice.
"I see. Well, in the future, I suggest you leave the rose in the vase while 'enjoying' its beauty.”
During the Doctor's dissertation, Chakotay walked in and observed that the Doc's attention is focused on Kathryn's right hand. A closer inspection revealed that a thorn was in her hand.
"Kathryn, are you all right?”
Startled, she replied, "Umm, I'm fine - just a minor accident. Chakotay...what are you doing here?”
He sat down next to her on the biobed and captured her gaze. "Just a minor accident, too.” He lifted his right hand for her inspection without taking his eyes off of her.
She finally broke the gaze to see that his right hand was bleeding in precisely the same place her hand was. She looked back up to his eyes to see a questioning look tempered with love and concern.
The Doctor completed his treatment and looked carefully at both of them before stating, "You, two are free to go. I would suggest that you both be a little more careful when 'alone' in your quarters.”
Both hurriedly said,”Thank you, Doctor.” and quickly made an exit.
In the hallway, Chakotay caught Janeway by the shoulders and looked directly in her eyes. "I think we need to talk.”
"Agreed.” With that, they walked silently to her quarters.
Once inside and situated with two cups of Vulcan tea, Chakotay began. "I'm a little confused by all of this. Any chance you could shed some light onto our situation?”
She hesitated slightly before she began; but then proceeded to bring him up to date on her conversations earlier that day with Neelix. He listened intently - his heart alternately beating rapidly and stopping mid beat when he heard her say, "....soul mates, forever.”
Sensing that she still had not come to grips with this situation - he opted not to push too hard. He began with, "So, how does all of this make you feel?”
Frustrated, she stood up and flashed him a look that would make others withdraw. "I don't know how I feel! I lose control one time - ONE TIME and now, less than 24 hours later, I'm in a situation that feels totally beyond my control.”
Now that she had begun, she was unable to stop. "I can no more explain what happened tonight, than I can explain what happened last night. You are an important part of my life - but I have responsibilities...to my crew, to my ship, and...” she hesitated, "...to Mark.”
"Regardless of how I may feel for you and how we may now be bound for life....I can't abandon those responsibilities...no matter how much I may want to. I....we...have to find a way to deal with this....We have to Chakotay.”
With that confession, she sank to the couch, feeling like a rose whose petals had been pulled one by one until there was nothing left but a bare stem with thorns - exposing her innermost self to him.
Knowing that she had given all she could give and feeling more love for her than he had ever felt for another woman, he took her in his arms and just held her.
"My beautiful, Kathryn. I love you. I have since the moment I laid eyes on you and will until the day I die.”
He held her for a while longer - gently caressing and comforting her. He broke silence, "Computer, play musical selection Chakotay Alpha 5.” The music to Bette Midler's "The Rose” began to softly fill the room. When he felt that she was a little stronger, he lifted her face to look into his and continued...
"We are like this song, Kathryn, in so many ways. Our love brings pleasure and pain to our lives. Although, I may not like the fact that you would let your responsibilities and fears - whether founded or not - stand in the way of our happiness, I made a pledge to you...and I intend to keep it. Do you remember when I promised to be by your side - doing whatever I could to make your load lighter?”
She slowly nodded her head yes as her thoughts returned to New Earth and a happier time. The story of the ancient legend brought her not only to tears, but also to their first deeper, meaningful touch. It was a time when all of her responsibilities seemed so far away....but, that time was no more. She brought herself back to the present and to Chakotay's words as he continued...
"Nothing has happened to change my mind. I love you, Kathryn. I want to be a part of your life, regardless of what that part may be. I will always hope that someday you will change your mind and join with me - body, mind, and spirit. But, until that day, whatever role I may play in your life, will have to be sufficient. Rest assured, I will never stop trying to convince you, but I won't pressure you. Do you understand what I am saying to you?”
"Yes, Chakotay, and....thank you. You are unlike anyone I have ever met before and likely ever will again. You are and will continue to be my soul mate - no matter where the treks of life may take us. You will always have a part of my heart. I don't know what the future may hold; and, maybe someday, we can be together as you have described. Until that day, though, I count myself richly blessed to have you with me.”
Having expended all of their energy and emotion, they simply held each other. Finally, Chakotay broke the embrace, but only enough to place a feather light kiss on Kathryn's lips. The kiss deepened as the pain and anguish of each of the participants surfaced in the form of raw need. Their lips communicated all that they would not or could not say as their separation neared. Finally, with tears in their eyes, they broke the connection. Each looked at their right hand where the wound from the thorn had begun throbbing from the increase in circulation.
Remembering Neelix's words from earlier that evening, Janeway held her right hand up. Following her lead, Chakotay grasped her right hand with his. The action created a bond between the two...their locked eyes communicated volumes as they, once again, looked into the windows of each other's souls. A bright light shone between their joined hands causing each to pull back.
As Kathryn looked at her hand, she noticed the scar from the thorn was gone. Chakotay's was gone as well. Smiling up at him, she recited, "...a single rose can flourish to make the world a beautiful and better place.”
Smiling back at her, he replied, "You, my precious flower, make the world a beautiful place. Now, Captain, I believe that duty calls. We are due to report for duty in 15 minutes, I suggest you freshen up a bit and I'll meet you there.”
Feeling the weight of the world had been lifted, even if temporarily, from her shoulders, she bid Chakotay goodbye and began to prepare herself for another day on Voyager.
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