Kathryn woke the next morning feeling calmer than she had in weeks. She was lying on her stomach facing away from the other side of the bed. She took her time coming back to consciousness, and when she was reasonably awake, turned her head. And found Chakotay propped up on his elbow, staring at her. Her sleepy eyes took in the way he looked remarkably comfortable in her bed, and what she could only describe as an amused twinkle in his eyes.
"What are you doing?" she mumbled, allowing her eyes to slip shut again.
"Watching my captain sleep," was the instant reply.
Stifling a yawn, Janeway smiled.
"Why?" she asked.
"Because I so rarely get to see you this relaxed when you're awake. Or this still."
"Mmm…." was her only response. He should know by now she wasn't a morning person without the requisite infusion of caffeine. And if he didn't know it by now, he was going to learn quickly.
She might have dozed back to sleep at that point, but then she felt his fingers tracing slowly over the bare skin of her shoulders. His touch was enough to penetrate her sleep-infused mind. She opened her eyes again.
"Hi," Chakotay said.
Janeway smiled, almost shyly.
"Hi," she replied.
"This isn't quite where I expected to be this morning," he said, dropping his head off his propped hand and looking at her earnestly, eye to eye.
"This isn't quite where I expected you to be this morning either," she said. "Aren't you supposed to be on another continent? You seem awfully real."
Chakotay smiled at her joke.
"Still no regrets?" he asked. His tone was light, but Kathryn knew the weight in the question, what he was asking her.
"None," she said firmly, her eyes locked on his. She turned her body toward him, and reached across to lay her palm against his cheek. "I told you once I couldn't imagine a day without you. That's truer today than ever."
Chakotay smiled and Kathryn could see his shoulders relax. He turned his head to kiss her palm, and leaned forward to kiss her mouth. It was no less electric than the night before.
Finally drawing away from him, she glanced at the chronometer on the wall.
"We have to be at the staff meeting in a few hours, and I have a few things I need to look over. We have to get up." The words didn't have quite their intended effect as Chakotay was busy tracing kisses down her neck, and she might have moaned slightly just as she finished her sentence.
"What if I don't want to get up? What if I want to stay right here with you all day?"
"Can't," she said, managing to push away from him slightly, which was difficult when what she wanted and what she was saying were in direct opposition to each other. "We have to get up," she repeated.
"No," Chakotay whispered, his arms tightening around her, his lips at her ear.
"I'll have you court marshaled for disobeying a direct order," she said, wriggling away from him just enough to narrow her eyes at him.
"Oh, yeah?" Chakotay replied, not seeming the least bit worried. "And what are you going to do when I tell the court that you were severely out of uniform when you gave that order?"
Kathryn grinned. "You wouldn't dare."
"Wouldn't I?" he asked in mock seriousness, raising his eyebrows.
Kathryn laughed, a full laugh that she felt throughout her body.
"Come here," she said and reached for him, already sliding her leg over his hip, intending to show him exactly what the benefits were to having his captain severely out of uniform.
An hour later, and Kathryn managed to extricate herself from Chakotay's arms and climb out of bed. As she found her robe and wrapped it around herself, Chakotay lifted his head to look at her.
"Come back to bed," he tempted her.
She shook her head at him in disbelief. "We're already running late because you wouldn't get up the first time. Is this what I'm going to have to deal with on the ship? Insubordination? Laziness?" With a jolt, she realized that with those words it was the first time she alluded to their relationship when they got back to Voyager. She expected a feeling of panic to hit her, but nothing came. She discovered she liked the thought.
"Yes, I didn't mention it? I'm useless at least twelve hours after making love to beautiful captains."
Kathryn rolled her eyes at him.
"Because we're running late, I'm not even going to ask you what other captains you've been making love to. Although there better not be any. Staff meeting, remember?"
"They can wait."
"Oh, all right," he grumbled, tossing back the covers and getting out of bed. Dear God, it took all her self-control for Kathryn not to push him right back into bed and forget she had a senior staff to meet or a ship to captain. She cleared her throat and looked elsewhere, but Chakotay had already caught her staring and grinned at her. He started walking toward her, looking hopeful, but Kathryn held out her hand.
"The shower is that way," she told him firmly, pointing down the hallway. Chakotay stopped, seeing he wasn't going to win this one.
"I supposed they gave you a real one?" he asked hopefully.
Kathryn smiled. "Of course."
As he turned toward the bathroom, Kathryn asked, "Do you want anything for breakfast?"
Chakotay made a face. "Depends. Are you making it?"
Kathryn made a face right back at him. "No, I'm not. Since our return, though, I've rediscovered the joys of not being on replicator rations."
"Amen to that. What are you having?"
Kathryn gave him an offended look that he even had to ask. "Coffee."
Chakotay shook his head with a knowing smile. "Coffee is fine," he said, padding off down the hall. And as Kathryn headed for the kitchen, she heard him call out, "And maybe some eggs and toast!"
Kathryn went to the kitchen, and just as she started the coffee brewing, her door chime sounded. Kathryn looked toward the door in surprise, and then flicked her eyes to the chronometer on the wall. It was still early. Who on Earth would be visiting at this hour?
Tightening the sash of her robe, Kathryn walked over and keyed the door open. And found B'Elanna Torres standing there.
"B'Elanna," she said, not able to keep the surprise out of her voice.
"Captain," B'Elanna said, quickly taking in Janeway's state of dress, or lack thereof. "Ah…good morning. Is this…do I have the wrong time?"
"Wrong time?" Janeway echoed, still not clear why B'Elanna was standing there. Just barely, she heard the shower turn off, and she prayed Chakotay would stay in the bedroom. She also winged a prayer that B'Elanna's hearing wasn't that good. She didn't want to explain this quite yet without preparing what she was going to say.
B'Elanna looked confused. "You asked me to come by before the meeting? So we could go over a few of Voyager's upgrades beforehand. When we spoke last week. But if this is a bad time…."
Oh, God. Yes, it was all coming back to her now. But last week she'd been rather…distracted, and after she'd spoken with B'Elanna, she'd forgotten to make a note of it.
"No, Lieutenant, it's not that. I'm sorry, it's just–"
And just as Kathryn was about to make an excuse and send B'Elanna on her way, Chakotay chose to make his entrance. It was exquisite timing.
"Kathryn, did you leave me any coffee?"
When thinking about the moment in the future, Janeway would be hard-pressed to say who was more stunned right then – Chakotay, who was, thankfully, wearing his clothes, but still rubbing at his hair with a towel, clearly fresh out of the shower, stopping short as he discovered the two women by the door; she herself, mid-excuse, wearing what she was sure was a hand-in-the-cookie-jar expression; or B'Elanna, whose eyes widened to an unprecedented size upon Chakotay's entrance, and was now gaping, her head swiveling between her captain and her first officer.
Chakotay was the first to speak, but just barely.
"B'Elanna…." he managed, stepping toward her. B'Elanna, for her part, closed her mouth, and her expression took on a Cheshire cat smile.
"Chakotay," she said, her arms now clasped comfortably in front of her as she regarded her friend's discomfort with obvious amusement. "Looks like you beat me to this morning meeting. I was worried that I was going to be late, but I have to say, it never crossed my mind to shower at the captain's apartment. That must have been a real time-saver."
Janeway groaned inwardly. The last thing she needed was this to get around Voyager's crew before she and Chakotay had a chance to figure out how they were going to present it.
"B'Elanna," she spoke up, drawing the younger woman's attention back toward her. "This isn't quite what it looks like."
B'Elanna's smile widened.
"With all due respect, Captain, I think it's exactly what it looks like."
Kathryn glanced at Chakotay who was walking closer to them, a grin tugging on his mouth as she tried in vain to explain his early morning presence in her apartment. It was clearly a losing battle.
"Maybe it is," she finally allowed. "And I know what you must be think–"
"No, Captain," B'Elanna interrupted. "I doubt you do."
That stopped Kathryn short. She raised her eyebrows, waiting for her engineer to continue.
"What I was thinking was," B'Elanna continued, "and I mean this very sincerely – it's about damn time."
Kathryn could only stare at her chief engineer, a decidedly un-captain-like response, she knew, but she simply didn't know what to say. Chakotay, on the other hand, didn't seem to have the same problem. He looped his arm around her shoulder, and smiled down at her and then at B'Elanna.
"Well, now that that's settled, I think the coffee's probably ready. Care to join us, B'Elanna?"
B'Elanna nodded. "I'd love to."
Kathryn allowed Chakotay to turn her and point her toward the kitchen. She looked up at him.
"Is this the sort of response we're going to get from the rest of the crew as well?"
Chakotay grinned and winked at her, and suddenly Kathryn felt completely at ease.
"I wouldn't be surprised."