Disclaimer: It's Paramount's playground and all the play equipment belongs to them. I'm just borrowing.
Summary: Kathryn is suffering a case of the homesick blues, and I steal blatantly from Real Life(tm) for this one.
Chakotay felt himself slowly rising towards consciousness. His bed was pleasantly warm and he rolled over onto his right side, wriggling into the mattress and pulling the blankets higher over his bare shoulder, ready to slip back down into sleep again. As he drifted off he realised that something was not quite right.
The uneasy feeling quickly jerked him awake. He rolled onto his back and stretched his left arm out across the mattress. Nothing. He inched his fingers further across the bed. Still nothing. He pried open his eyes and turned his head to stare blearily at the empty space beside him. With a sigh, he glanced at the chronometer by his bed. 3 a.m. Reluctantly slipping out from under the soft blankets, he reached for his robe and shrugged it on.
Chakotay tugged the cool material around his body, fastening the robe with clumsy fingers. He padded across the carpet towards his living quarters. The door slid open quietly, and he paused in the doorway, surveying the room. The lights had been turned on. Although the illumination was low, he blinked and rubbed at his eyelids with the heels of his palms.
As he adjusted to the light, his gaze was drawn towards Kathryn who stood near one of the windows. She stared out at the stars, her hands encircled protectively around a mug of steaming liquid.
"Early morning?" he called out, his voice husky with sleep.
She glanced at him with a humourless smile then turned back to the window.
"I didn't want to wake you. I was tossing and turning."
He gazed at her for a few moments longer, taking in her soft robe and rumpled hair.
"You know drinking coffee this late won't help you get back to sleep."
"It's hot chocolate," she replied absently, taking another sip.
Chakotay began walking towards her.
"Now I know something's wrong," he said.
As he reached the window he placed his hands gently on her shoulders and kissed the back of her head.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Crispy fried noodles," Kathryn said immediately.
"Crispy fried noodles," she repeated.
Chakotay frowned. "That's what I thought you said. Planning a midnight snack?"
She shook her head. "No, I just woke up and I wanted crispy fried noodles. But I'm not really hungry."
"I see," he said slowly. It took his sluggish brain a moment to process this information.
In the meantime, Kathryn took a long drink from her mug.
"I used to go to this great noodle bar in San Francisco, just a couple of blocks away from headquarters," she explained eventually.
"I don't know it."
"Oh." She sighed. "That's a shame. They make the most amazing fried noodles. It's the sauce I think."
"Have you tried replicating some?"
"Wouldn't be the same," she said. "Even if I could get the spices right."
She drained the last of her drink, rested the mug on the sill and crossed her arms. Chakotay slid his hands down her shoulders and upper arms, then wrapped his arms loosely around her waist.
"This isn't about noodles, is it?" he asked.
Kathryn sighed again. "No, of course not."
He kissed the top of her head and pulled her closer. She leaned back against his chest, drawing comfort from the recently-in-bed warmth that his body radiated.
"We'll get there eventually, Kath."
"I know," she expelled a breath. "I believed that yesterday. I'll believe it tomorrow. Right now I just feel awful."
"We could always go to the holodeck if you like, and -" he began.
"No", she cut him off, shaking her head, "I checked. They're both booked."
"At 3 a.m.?"
"Must be one of those magical nights", she said wryly. "Anyway", she continued, "I've tried that before. I still couldn't get the sauce right. It just made me feel worse."
They were both silent, watching the stars drift past the window. Chakotay rested his cheek against her head, breathing in the scent of her hair.
"Spiced apple punch," he said suddenly.
"What?" He could see Kathryn's reflection frowning in the window.
"There was a café I used to go to regularly, before I left Starfleet. They made this warm apple drink, with cinnamon and I don't know what else." He smiled at the memory. "I'd sit on a stool by the window on cold days and drink it and watch the world go by. I've tried dozens of different recipes, but I can't get it quite right."
She sighed. "It sounds good."
"It was," he agreed.
"My mother's brownies," she said wistfully. "Warm from the oven."
"My father's mushroom soup," he returned.
"Sitting on our porch, watching my sister paint."
"Watching the sun rise over the beach."
"Sitting and staring at a field of corn."
"Swimming in the gulf of New Mexico."
"Diving in the quarries on the Mars colony."
"Falling asleep to the sound of rain on the roof."
"Being hugged by my mother," Kathryn said softly.
Chakotay bent his head lower and kissed her on the neck.
"Come back to bed, Kath", he said.
She sighed. "Alright. I'll be there in a minute."
He kissed her again then let her go. In the doorway he paused for a moment then turned, his hand resting against the frame to hold the door open.
"Itchy feet", he said, with the beginning of a smile tugging at his mouth.
Kathryn half-turned in confusion. "What?"
"Whenever I spent too long on earth," he explained, "I'd get itchy feet pretty quickly. I'd want to be travelling out in space again."
"Oh". She put her hands on her hips and thought for a moment.
"Family functions with distant relatives," she said eventually. "They were pretty awful."
He chuckled. "Those dreadful meetings with the brass at headquarters that just went on and on."
She made a face and turned further towards him. "Getting sunburnt when I forgot to take my prevention shots."
"Going for weeks without a bath in the Maquis. I don't miss that."
Kathryn wrinkled up her nose. "Ugh."
"Exactly", he grinned.
"Running into 'old friends' that I'd rather never have to see again," she offered, getting into the swing of things.
"Running into ex-girlfriends who never wanted to see me again", he countered.
She laughed shortly and closed the distance between them.
"Having to take you home and watch you being interrogated by my overly curious family."
He smiled and took her hand in his own.
"Me having to suffer interrogation by your family."
Chakotay tugged on her hand. "C'mon", he said softly.
She smiled at the pleasant reminder of what she had found here on Voyager, and let him pull her back into the bedroom. The door, irritated at being held open for so long, shut with a hiss of satisfaction behind them.
~ Jinny's stories ~ feed the author ~