I recently heard and loved the Heather Nova song London Rain – it’s on the soundtrack to the film Notting Hill as well apparently. But anyway, some of the lyrics made me think of a story idea and this is the result. It’s just fluff really.
‘So keep me, in your bed all day,
Nothing heals me like you do.’
Kathryn Janeway closed the door behind her and slumped back against it. It was a huge luxury to be alone after three days of almost constantly having someone with her. She felt as though she had been talking for that whole period, without much in the way of a pause. The silence felt incredible, soothing. Not as good as a bubble bath but it would have to do. Wearily she pushed herself forward and took a few steps into the room, the fatigue rolling over her as she moved.
Dimly she recognised that it was hot – uncomfortably so, which left her facing an unpalatable choice. She could either turn on the air conditioner – a machine which had rattled so loudly fort he last two nights that she had hardly slept. Or, she could try to open the window and hope that the pollution didn’t make her sick. The window won and she struggled with the mechanism that opened it for several frustrating minutes, until it finally capitulated, grunting in resignation as she managed to push the glass up, far enough to put her head out.
There was a slight breeze, which meant it was fractionally cooler outside than inside; however, the gentle movement of the air meant that the smell of the pollution, chemicals and smoke was much worse than before. She closed her eyes again and was
Unspeakably angry with herself when a tear crept out of the corner of her eye and rolled down her cheek. It was foolish to be upset, it was only a short diplomatic mission. So what if it wasn’t happening in the most ideal of circumstances. It didn’t really matter that she and Neelix were being treated with such suspicion and belligerence, if they got what they had come for.
The heat wasn’t helping, or her lack of sleep and with the way she’d been followed and watched almost constantly since arriving, it was hardly surprising she was feeling a little fractious. But, it wasn’t quite that simple, something about this Planet had got to her, got under her skin. Perhaps it was the grinding poverty of the people she had seen in the two hours she’d managed to shake off her minders and actually walk around outside. Perhaps it was the affluence of the diplomats and the Ministers she’d met, their lack of concern for the people less fortunate than themselves, their lack of foresight was infuriating. The Planet’s environment was all too obviously being slowly poisoned, but no one in a position of power seemed to care about the fumes and the smog. They existed in biospheres where the air was fresh and clean, they almost seemed to prefer to believe that their Planet had no problems at all.
It wasn’t a pleasant first contact and if she didn’t need to be here, didn’t need minerals for Voyager, she’d be only too happy to leave. It was ridiculous and childish of her she knew and totally unprofessional but all day she’d been fighting the rising realisation that what she wanted to do was go home. What she really wanted to do was be back on Voyager.
The chime of her comm badge was an interruption she could have done without. ‘Chakotay to Janeway,’ in spite of herself she smiled, wondering if he just had fantastic timing, or if he had known – instinctively that he ought to contact her.
‘Janeway here,’ she responded, trying to inject a note of animation into her voice.
‘You missed your check in Captain.’ Not telepathy or instinct then, but good, old-fashioned protocol. ‘Is everything all right?’
‘I was just trying to get some fresh air – it’s a balmy 42 degrees Celsius down here and the air quality is, well, quality is a misnomer. Other than that things are fine.’
‘You sound tired.’ She knew then that he wasn’t on the Bridge.
‘Making yourself at home in my Ready Room Commander?’
‘Oh yes,’ he sounded amused. ‘I’m just thinking about a new colour scheme.’
‘I hope for your sake that’s a joke.’
‘Wait and see.’ A slight pause and then, ‘are you really all right Kathryn?’ A good question that, the answer a complicated one.
‘I’m tired and I’m hot; the officials we’re negotiating with are, unpleasant.’ Was this a secure line? She thought suddenly, did she even care if it wasn’t? ‘ The Planet’s in a mess, the people I’ve seen outside the biospheres are unhappy and Ill. The Government doesn’t seem to care; as long as the standard of living of it’s Ministers and officials isn’t effected. I don’t want to negotiate with these people, I think you could say I’m struggling with my command objectivity.’
‘It doesn’t sound much fun.’ He responded mildly.
‘It’s awful, but I have to get through the negotiations.’
‘Do you know how much longer they’ll last?’
‘Not really, they’re not exactly co-operative, but then I don’t suppose I’m coming across as a paragon of grace and virtue.’ The frustration, the emotion was uncharacteristic, she felt like a tired child having a tantrum. But talking to Chakotay could be remarkably calming. ‘Apart from your plans to redecorate, tell me what’s happening on Voyager.’
‘It’s been quiet - Tom and Harry took Seven and B’Elanna to the Captain Proton programme. B’El was so offended that she deleted it and replaced it with a Risan bar programme complete with male dancers in various states of undress. Seven told me she found the programme of more intrinsic educational value than Captain Proton.’
‘I’m sorry I missed that.’
‘Shall I ask B’Elanna to copy the programme for you?’ He enquired archly.
‘Oh, I’m sure I have it already.’
‘What else is happening?’ He mused, she could see him, in her minds’ eye, absentmindedly tugging his ear as he tried to think of another story for her entertainment. ‘Oh yes, the Doctor wants to organise another photo lecture, but I persuaded him to wait until you got back, I know you wouldn’t want to miss that. And Naomi dropped off an assignment you’d given her. What is it, quantum mechanics? I took a quick look and couldn’t make head nor tale of it?’
‘It’s Italian Chakotay, I’m teaching her Italian.’
‘Why didn’t I think of that. Are you feeling better now?’
‘A little, thank you.’
‘It’s not like you to get so – upset.’ The overtone of worry and protectiveness in his voice made her realise again how fortunate she was to have him for a friend.
‘You caught me at a bad time. I was just pondering the difference between what I want to do and what I have to do.’
‘What do you want to do?’
‘Well, right now I want to be back on Voyager – but I want a day to myself, a day of doing nothing, a day of feeling safe and warm, as though I have no responsibilities, no demands on my time.’ Her eyes slid shut as she continued, gathering momentum as she lost herself in the fantasy. ‘I want there to be rain outside my window so I can feel lucky to be indoors. I want to be able to see the rooftops of other houses from my window and feel removed from the city and I want you to keep me in your bed all day.’
It was easy to talk to him when she couldn’t see his face, too easy in fact, because the words slipped away from her without her realising what she was saying. There was a strangled gasp on the other end of the comm line.
‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ She buried her face in her hands, not quite believing that those thoughts had slipped from her lips. There was a long silence.
‘That can be arranged you know, if you’re serious.’ His voice was careful, but a little husky as though he were having trouble speaking. ‘Are you serious?’
She could still say no, laugh it off as a joke, retrieve their friendship and leave it at that. Venturing into the uncharted waters of intimacy was risky, fraught with dangers, their friendship was too precious, if things went wrong, it would never be salvaged, their command relationship was too important.
‘Yes.’ She said in a whisper, surprising herself, ‘I’m very serious.’
‘You won’t be sorry.’
‘I know.’ She smiled suddenly, wiping a stray tear from her cheek.
‘I’m going to rearrange the rotas right now, before you change your mind.’
‘I’m not going to change my mind.’
‘When you get back we’ll brief the crew on the negotiations and then go off duty for a whole day.’
‘I just want…’
‘I know rain outside the window, a big warm bed to curl up in, coffee,’
‘As I said, that can be arranged.’
Two and a half days later Kathryn Janeway sipped a cup of coffee and looked out of the window across the rooftops. It was a satisfyingly grey day; with dark clouds and a steady drizzle that showed no sign of stopping any time soon. A perfect day to be indoors in fact. Crossing the room she shrugged out of her robe, putting the coffee cup on the nightstand and turning to the bed. The cat was stretched out in the space she’d occupied before she’d gone to find some coffee. Sighing she scooped the animal up and sent him on his way, ignoring the disdainful mewing and sliding under the covers.
‘What possessed you to include a cat in this programme?’ She asked as she curled her body around Chakotay’s.
‘I thought it was a nice touch, homely.’
‘You like cats, I like dogs, this relationship will never work.’
‘The cats and dogs will have to learn to get along.’ He moved so that he could put his arm around her, his lips nuzzling her bare shoulder.
‘I thought we were going to get some sleep?’ her voice cracked midway through the sentence, desire surging through her as he used his teeth to make her shoulder and then his tongue to caress her. She didn’t even bother with pursuing her question, his hands had started to move over her body and it was suddenly difficult to concentrate. ‘Gods you’re good at this.’
His laughter vibrated against her skin, ‘I’ve been trying to tell you that for five years my love.’