by Jinny W
Disclaimer: I'm just playing with Paramount's toys. No infringement intended etc.
I realised the other day that I hadn't written a Resolutions story yet. Shame on me. This is the result. I'm not overly fond of this story, but I've been wrestling with it so long I decided just to let the damn thing go.
Summary: When a mysterious illness incapacitates Chakotay, Kathryn is forced to confront her feelings, and they finally talk about what happened to them on New Earth.
Without taking her eyes off the padd she was reading, Kathryn's practiced hand reached for her coffee mug and lifted it to her lips in one smooth motion. She took a sip.
She frowned at the cold liquid that half filled her mug. Hadn't she only replicated this ten minutes ago? Kathryn glanced at the chronometer, surprised to find that nearly forty minutes had passed. It wasn't often she got this involved in reading the latest Astrometrics reports. Admittedly today she had been restless. She started reading in the first place more to occupy herself than out of any real need to get them read.
She sighed and plonked the mug back down on her cluttered desk. What was wrong with her?
I need someone to talk to. The thought came unbidden. There had been little time for relaxation lately. Voyager had been running short on supplies, made worse by the fact they had just spent a month traversing a barren patch of space. A week ago they finally sighted a cluster of M-class planets. At the moment they were orbiting Ess, one of two technologically advanced planets in the area. Neelix had quickly established a rapport with a Essan trader, and had been busily bartering for engineering supplies. In the meantime, Chakotay and Tom had taken a shuttle and headed for Gouyinn, its neighboring planet. They had been gone for five days now.
Great Kath, she told herself. You miss your first officer. Real professional. She tried to shrug away the thought, but like a persistent itch it kept sneaking back into her mind.
She did miss him, she admitted finally, putting aside the report. She had come to rely a great deal on the friendship between them, especially on the routines they had built up. Dinner once a week, the occasional breakfast, coffee in her ready room, sitting on her couch talking about little things. It was all extremely comfortable.
Sometimes she was still aware of the way that he watched her with that speculative look in his eyes. She knew she had spent her fair share of time casting furtive glances in his direction when he wasn't looking. But lately it seemed that the sexual tension between them had slipped away. Not that she didn't find him attractive - she still did. But once it had felt as if a fine line separated their banter and something more dangerously intimate. Lately it seemed that neither of them were even approaching that line anymore, if it still existed. Where the tension had once seemed tangible, now she found herself wondering if he thought about her in that way at all.
She shook her head at the direction her thoughts were taking. If Chakotay had given up thinking of her in those terms, why should she care? It wasn't as if she was really going to take him up on the offer, was it? She tapped her fingers irritably on the desk top. Why was she even thinking about this at all?
You're tired Kath, is all, she told herself. Knowing that wasn't really true. She was saved from exploring the issue further by her door chime.
"Come", she called out, grateful for the distraction.
Tuvok entered, padd in hand.
"Tell me you have some good news, Tuvok", she said.
"Thankfully I am able to provide the news you desire," the Vulcan replied. "Neelix has completed his negotiations. Here is a list of the items he has been able to obtain."
He passed the padd over her desk. Kathryn took it and quickly began to scan down the list.
"Emitter coils, dilithium ore, power cells... this is wonderful work."
"Indeed." Tuvok raised an eyebrow. "Mr. Neelix was most pleased with the exchange."
"He has reason to be. Any word from the away team?"
"In their latest communiqué the Commander explained that the negotiations were proceeding satisfactorily. They have been able to obtain a sufficient quantity of food supplies, and are now bargaining for some additional items."
"Good." She nodded. "If we're finished here, we might as well head over to Gouyinn and rendezvous with the shuttle there."
As Tuvok exited she began tapping her fingers on the desk once more, concentrating very hard on not thinking about her first officer.
Kathryn smiled at her helmsman as he bounded out of the lift to take his station. Chakotay strolled after him a little more decorously.
"I take it you two had a good time."
"You bet. We had the negotiations for the supplies out of the by the second day. Then the Gouyinns insisted on taking us on tours of their provinces. I saw the most amazing gardens down there, Captain. Incredibly intricate designs. They must have taken years to put together."
She laughed at his enthusiasm. "I didn't realise you were a gardener Mr. Paris."
"Oh, I'm not. But my mother is. I can appreciate the work that went into these."
As Chakotay settled into his chair by her side she leaned over to him.
"How about you, Commander? See anything you like?"
He smiled. "Actually, I was rather taken by their market places."
"Did you do any shopping?"
"A little. There was this one stall owned by a woman who made the most delicate pieces of jewellery I've seen in a long time. All hand carved, very skilled art work. There was this one piece -"
He broke off, frowning.
"Is something wrong?"
He shook his head slowly. "I don't know, I just felt -"
A sudden spasm of pain caused him to cry out, then he slumped in his chair, motionless.
"Doctor to the bridge", Kathryn snapped, "medical emergency."
The doctor ran his tricorder over Chakotay's inert form once more, his forehead wrinkling in concentration.
Kathryn shifted impatiently beside the biobed, crossing her arms tightly across her chest.
"What's wrong with him, doctor?"
"I can tell you that part of his neural tissue has been infected. But I don't know how, or by what."
He leaned over and pressed a hypospray against Chakotay's neck.
"Infected?" Kathryn said. "The biofilters didn't pick anything up. Is it contagious?"
The doctor shook his head. "No, I don't think so. But I'd like to scan Mr. Paris as well, just to be sure."
She slapped her commbadge. "Mr. Paris. Report to sickbay immediately."
"Aye ma'am", Tom's voice came back.
"I've been able to stabilize his condition", the doctor said. "Standard anti-viral agents have halted the spread of the infection. But until I find out what did this to him, I can't repair the damage already done."
"Keep me posted doctor."
He nodded, absorbed in his work. As Kathryn stepped through the sickbay doors, she glanced back at Chakotay's motionless body. She swallowed heavily, and forced her face back into its captain's mask.
Chakotay paused, holding the brush in mid-stroke.
"This isn't easy you know."
"That's why you're doing it."
"Glad to know you trust me."
"In this state?" Kathryn chuckled. "It's you who's trusting me not to hurt you if you pull too hard."
"Well hold still then".
Chakotay resumed his brushing. He lifted a section of Kathryn's hair and used his left palm and fingers to hold it separately from the rest, then began slowly working at the knots.
He sighed. "If you don't hold still, Kathryn, this is going to take forever."
He bent closer to her head, eyes narrowing in concentration.
"So, are you going to tell me how you actually did this?"
She sighed. "Okay. But promise you won't laugh."
"Why don't I believe you?"
"Because you're getting paranoid."
"That must be it."
"So?" He pulled a twig out of her hair and began working on the knot that had formed around it.
"I saw this amazingly beautiful bird when I was checking my traps. But it kept flying higher than the tree line and I couldn't get a good look at it."
"So you decided to disguise yourself as a tree."
"No." She chuckled. "Ouch!"
"I thought if I climbed one of the trees I'd be able to get a better view."
"Only the branch was a little less stable then I anticipated."
"You fell out of a tree?"
"Into a bush," she admitted.
Chakotay chortled but quickly bit back his amusement.
"I thought you'd find that funny."
"I'm just glad you weren't hurt."
"Only my pride."
He worked in silence for a while longer.
"Well, I'm nearly done here."
Kathryn sighed. "Maybe I should have just got you to cut the whole lot off."
"Cut off your hair?" Chakotay sounded mildly horrified at the suggestion.
"It's just hair", she said, turning to face him. "It grows back."
"But you have such beautiful hair."
He pushed back a few tendrils that had snaked over to hang in her face. The touch of his fingers burned on her cheek. She stared at him wordlessly and he returned her gaze.
After a few moments she swallowed and looked away.
"Well, if you're done I have a few things to finish up with the traps," she said, standing.
"Sure", Chakotay said. He fingered the brush thoughtfully as he watched her hurry from the shelter.
"I'm very sorry to hear that, Captain." Minister Perel shook her head. "I've never heard of such a condition. Was your other crewmember affected as well?"
"No, only my first officer. Minister, we don't mean to imply any blame on your part, but I'd like to send down a team to investigate -"
"Of course, Captain." She nodded towards someone off screen. "I understand your crewmembers spent some time apart while on our planet, and that each had used the services of a Gouyinn guide. I'll contact those guides, and they can show you where each of them went."
"Thankyou." Kathryn rubbed her forehead unconsciously, trying to relieve some of her tension.
"I myself spent some time with your first officer", Perel added. "I'd be happy to help you. He was quite a remarkable man."
Kathryn blinked slowly. "Yes, he is," she said quietly.
She terminated the connection and stared blankly at her terminal screen, lost in thought.
It was raining. Great big drops of water splashed on her face, trickled in rivulets along her arms. It wasn't cold though, and she smiled at the tactile pleasure of the water dripping down the back of her dress.
Chakotay peered at her from the doorway of the shelter.
"What are you doing out there? Its raining."
"I noticed that. That's why I'm here."
"Didn't your mother ever tell you you'd catch your death of cold."
She spun around, her bare feet splashing in the small puddles that were forming on the ground.
"It feels so good to be in the middle of real weather again. There's no rain in space you know. Apart from meteor showers," she joked.
She stretched out her arms, palms upwards, and watched the drops settling on her skin. He gazed at her, his expression inscrutable.
"Why don't you come join me?"
"I like being dry, thankyou"
"You can get dry again later. That's part of the fun of it. C'mon Chakotay."
She turned and began jogging away, the wet grass slapping beneath her feet. Somehow she knew without looking that he had left the shelter and was following her. She didn't realise how close behind her he was until she felt his arms at her waist, lifting her off the ground.
"What are you doing?" she struggled to turn around to see him, but he lifted her as though she was weightless and began twirling around in a circle.
"Chakotay, let me go." She tried to make her voice stern.
"I'm beginning to see why this if fun", he called out, over the sound of the rain falling.
"Chakotay-" She was swallowing her laughter now.
His strong arms were locked around her waist, his hands pressing against the damp material of her dress. Kathryn began to pound on his forearms with a clenched fist. He stopped spinning but held her centimeters above the ground.
"Still want me to let you go?"
"Don't you dare drop me in the mud. I meant to say put me down."
"Ask me nicely."
"Please put me down."
He chuckled, and she was aware of his warm breath tickling the back of her neck.
"Will I regret it if I do?"
"More if you don't."
"Okay", he said, and let her go.
Kathryn fell with a shriek. She should have only dropped a few hand spans to the ground, but her foot slipped on the grass and her legs shot out from under her. She fell in a crumpled heap with her legs beneath her.
Chakotay crouched over her, his face wrinkled with concern. "Kathryn."
He pressed his hands into her shoulders as he tried to see her face. "Are you alright?"
She was motionless for a moment, her back moving slightly up and down as she breathed heavily.
He swallowed hard. "Kathryn, I didn't mean to-"
With a sudden movement she spun around and leapt at his legs, catching him off guard, and knocking him over into the mud. She laughed, pushing her damp hair back with one hand, and using the other to propel herself back off his body.
He cocked his head to one side and made a face at her.
"You might be starting a war here. Are you prepared for the consequences?"
"Oh, boy, I'm getting scared," she teased, pushing herself up to her feet again.
"Don't mock me Kathryn," he said sternly, wiping his dirty hands on the grass.
He smiled up at her, his eyes glittering. Kathryn could feel her heart pounding steadily as the silence hung between them.
"Then I'd have to kill you."
She guffawed. "Great. Then who would you have for company?"
"There's always the monkey."
She rolled her eyes. "Now I'm being supplanted by a primate."
Chakotay smiled again. "No one could ever replace you, Kathryn."
The words were said lightly, but the change in mood was perceptible. If it wasn't for the steadily increasing rain Kathryn was sure she would be starting to blush. For his part, Chakotay merely watched her, his dark eyes carefully measuring.
"We should get back", she said, eventually, squinting into the sky. "I think the rain's getting heavier."
Kathryn held out her hand and helped Chakotay to his feet. He held onto her hand a little longer than was necessary. They walked back to the shelter in silence.
Captain's log, supplemental. We've been in orbit of Gouyinn for two days now. Away teams have collected samples of food and materials Chakotay came into contact with. So far we've found nothing. The doctor has been conferring with the Central Medical Institute, in the hope that they can give him some clues about Chakotay's condition. He's still unconscious...
Kathryn settled onto the stool that the doctor had placed beside Chakotay's bed for visitors.
"Hey there," she said softly.
"The doctor says he still can't wake you." She glanced over her shoulder to where the doctor huddled over his computer terminal.
"He's been running himself ragged trying to figure out what's happened to you. But he did say that the old fashioned method of talking to the patient might help. I don't know if he meant help me, or you."
Kathryn sighed and ran her fingers through her hair.
"I was thinking this morning, Chakotay, that you're hardly ever sick. Great way of making us realise what a good first officer you are though. I must remember this technique."
She smiled ruefully. "Tuvok has been tearing his hair out over some of the crew assignments - not that he'd admit if of course. But he doesn't have your knack for dealing with the crew's personal problems."
She frowned. "I have to remember to ask you later on how on earth you manage to get Ashmore and Boylan to stop trying to get transferred off the same shift. Tuvok keeps telling them they're being illogical, but it doesn't seem to be having much effect."
"Let's see... what else is happened right now... Ensign Culhane and Mr. Rogers are continuing their little war of practical jokes. Culhane reprogrammed the replicator in Roger's quarters so it would only produce something they call jello. An oldie but a goodie," she commented dryly.
"Neelix is trying to organize yet another talent night. He seems convinced that if he nags enough he will eventually get me to sing something. Can you imagine that?" she rolled her eyes. "Couldn't do it to save myself."
Her fingers played idly with the fabric of the sheet which covered his chest.
"B'Elanna has been running her engineering teams through training exercises with Seven-like precision. I think they're all a little scared of her at the moment. Worrying about friends does bad things for her disposition. I think she misses you. We all miss you," she added. "Even Neelix has been a little mopey."
She leaned forwards towards him, running her fingers tentatively along the edge of his hairline and across his tattoo.
"I know I miss you", she whispered.
As the sickbay doors swished open she jumped guiltily and snatched back her hand.
"Hello Captain", B'Elanna said, hiding a smile at what she'd just witnessed. "How is he?"
She shook her head. "The same."
B'Elanna sighed and pulled up another chair. "I thought I'd give my engineering crew a break. Before I broke one of them," she added.
"It's been tough on all of us."
"I know captain." She seemed about to say something else but thought the better of it.
Kathryn slid off her chair and smoothed down her uniform.
"Well, I'd better get back to the bridge."
B'Elanna nodded and watched her captain leave the room, before she leaned over Chakotay.
"I sure hope you can hear whatever it is she's been saying to you," she commented, glancing speculatively again at the door.
"What are you doing?"
Chakotay jumped at the sound of her voice.
"Kathryn. I didn't here you coming."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. Mind if I join you?"
"Of course not."
Kathryn settled down on the rock next to Chakotay, tucking her legs underneath her as she sat cross-legged. The river flowed past them fairly shallowly at this point. His bare legs were dangling over the edge of the rock, leaving his feet just below the water's surface.
"So what are you doing?" She glanced at his legs. "Apart from washing your feet, I mean."
He shrugged. "I don't know, actually. I came down here for a swim to cool off a little. I sat down, took off my boots, and tested the water. Then I guess I just got sidetracked. So I've been sitting here thinking."
Kathryn smiled. "We're lucky there's nothing resembling Piranhas in the water then."
"That's a cheerful thought."
"Mmm. What are you thinking about?"
Chakotay shrugged again. "Voyager."
He splashed his feet in the water. "Wondering how far they've gone. What they've all been up to. If they're okay."
"I'm sure they're okay."
"I hope so."
"I've been thinking about my sister, Phoebe."
"It's her birthday today," she said softly.
"I'm sorry Kathryn. You must miss her."
"More than there are words for."
Chakotay reached over and took her hand in his, folding his warm fingers over hers.
"Yeah, I know, its hard. Even when you're with someone that you -" he fumbled over a word and looked away, before continuing, "- someone that you care about, it can still be incredibly lonely without all your friends, your family."
She nodded, blinking back the tears that were forming under her eyelids.
"Hey", he said, tugging her hand. "We'll be okay. You'll see."
Kathryn squeezed his hand back, watching the way his feet moved beneath the water's surface.
"Yeah", she said quietly.
Kathryn sat up with a start at the sound of the ready room door chime.
"Come," she called out, shaking her head as though that would clear away the lingering feelings left by the memory. Her hand tingled as though Chakotay had only just let it go.
Tuvok entered with a padd in his hand.
Kathryn tried to ignore the barbed thought that immediately sprang to mind about Tuvok's timely interruptions. It wasn't a very charitable one, but then, she wasn't in the most charitable of moods.
"What have you got for me, Tuvok?"
"The away teams have reported in Captain. We have been unable to find anything that would account for the Commander's condition. Science teams have tested the food he consumed, as well as the samples the Commander and Mr. Paris initially collected. We have examined the guided tour routes they both took through the Northern province. None yielded any further information."
Kathryn sat up straighter as a sudden thought struck her. "You said guided tours Tuvok."
Tuvok nodded. "During their time on the planet, both Chakotay and Mr. Paris were accompanied by a Gouyinn guide. They have been most helpful in assisting us to trace their steps."
"But were they with the guides the entire time?" she asked. "Chakotay mentioned something about visiting a market place. I got the impression that was an informal trip."
"I would have to check if that location was included in our data", Tuvok admitted.
"Get on it," Kathryn said. "I'll be in sickbay."
"Has the commander's condition changed?"
She shook her head. "No. I just want to talk to the doctor about something."
go on to the conclusion